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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

L'affaire(s) Palin.

Well, quite a set of firestorms which blew up, eh?

My mom's younger brother, Bob, should write a book. The stories he could tell warrant one, and I've long admired his sense of humor, which runs the gamut from understated to bawdy. Actually, me and my brother have hero-worshipped Uncle Bobby from the start. My mom's side has Danes in the family tree, and there must be something about America which lets the usually taciturn Danes hoist their freak flag. Remind me to tell you about his jalapeno cornbread and the black cocaine he calls coffee. He and my dad get along really well, which, if you knew the both of them, is something of a miracle of family amity.

Probably has something to do with the fart jokes. Like I said, freak flag flying.

Bob is an ex-hippie, a former resident of Amsterdam and long-time citizen of the great state of Alaska. He is also an unpaid spokesman for Stroh's beer, though I think he's had to wean himself off that given the collapse of the brand. His home in Seward's Folly has been the cosmopolitan Alaskan town of Talkeetna (pronounced "Tell-keet-nuh").

And I say "cosmopolitan" without a hint of irony. Alaska is America's last frontier, and can be fairly compared to a half-million square mile version of Tombstone, only with better vistas and more reliable water supplies. It draws all kinds. He walked around with a video camera for a week shooting his beloved town, and it's nothing short of rivetting. They say it takes all kinds, but Talkeetna has a few kinds yet to be catalogued. Bobby's been a dedicated employee of an Alaska utility for decades, and has built himself a "cabin" in the wilderness, right in the shadow of Denali. He's not exactly been a GOP booster. No one on my mom's side has ever been.

All of this is a long introduction to the following point: my uncle Bob is a pro-Sarah Palin fanatic.

Sure, he knows her father-in-law, but that's hardly the reason. The reason he supports her? She's a fearless politician who took on the (remarkably corrupt) Alaska GOP and has stuck to the reform agenda since she became Governor. It takes a lot to get him enthusiastic about politics, and Palin's tenure in Alaska politics has managed to do that.

My thoughts are a work in progress, but here goes.

First, if you've raised the experience issue with respect to Obama, then you have to be intellectually honest enough to apply it to Palin as well. On the other hand, if you've been willing to make allowances for Obama's thin resume', then shut your yap and go back to playing with your official Community Organizer! action figure (Now with Placard-Wielding Grip!). At a minimum, her experience compares favorably with that of John Edwards. But concerns over her experience are still eminently reasonable, and deserve exploration. And while Biden has more terms in office, there comes a point where it's more seniority than experience. Plus, being the Senatorial caddy for MBNA's licensed usury does nothing to endear the Gaffe-o-matic to me. Brief digression: that said, I suspect I'd like to crack open a beer with Biden, though. I find him a lot more of a genuine guy than I did Kerry.

Second, with respect to her family situation--the frenzy over it is ugly. CNN even sent a reporter to look into whether her youngest son is really hers. Think about that for a moment. Two days after she's tabbed as a VP candidate, "the most trusted name in news" [sic] is investigating rumors which were started on a hard leftist website. Compare the instant investigation with Anderson Cooper's agonized handwringing over "Why are we covering the Jeremiah Wright story?") I guess a news network's got to have its enthusiasms.

Obama's association with Jeremiah Wright--non-issue we're forced to talk about. Trig Palin's parentage rumors--DEPLOY! GO! GO! GO!

While a contributor to a blog that calls itself Catholic is more worked up about something that tired blowhard Limbaugh said (and is absolutely mute on the scurrilous attacks on the Palin family), it's important to remember that there just might--possibly, hypothetically mind you--be an agenda at work in the flood-the-zone coverage you are seeing.

Third (and related to no. 2)--the left, with a few honorable exceptions, has lost its mind. Hatred--simon-pure and gloating--is the order of the day. Oh, and Andrew Sullivan is officially a horrible excuse for a human being. The thought-provoking iconoclast of 2000 is dead and mouldering, and there's an intellectually dishonest shill and bad-faith poseur sitting in his place.

Fourth, and related to No. 3: Don't tell a theocrat such as myself what to get worked up about (language warning). Specifically, pregnancy out of wedlock. News flash: Dedicated Christian parents who love and are loved by their children have seen those children go astray, despite their best efforts. Be it drugs, sex, smoking, violent behavior, booze or flat out abandonment of religion, we've seen it happen. And we've seen it happen to good parents who did their best. Sure, some pharasaical jerks will get on their high horses. But most of us will sympathize and pray we and ours can avoid the same problems.

Fifth, and a tougher question: Trig and his candidate mom's schedule. First of all--to you lefties now singing the praises of stay-at-home motherhood: welcome aboard! For the entirely mercenary and cynical moment you plan to stay. Stick by the edge: it'll make your leap back off that much easier. Frankly, we don't want you all that close in the first place.

We decided that Heather would return to work after Maddie was born. If I may may be so brazen as to speak on her behalf, I think it was the longest eight months of Heather's life. Leaving her daughter tore her up, every time. But we had to. And it stopped after Dale was born, and it worked out as well as possible (albeit with some serious financial hits along the way). However, I've always said that not everyone can do this, and sometimes you have to have both working. While I think that politics is an elective job in more ways than one, it seems to be the case that this was an unexpected pregnancy. And you have to let the unexpected pregnancy take you where it will. While I'm not comfortable with the idea of the grueling campaign separating mother and infant, I'm not living in their shoes, and this is definitely a situation where everybody in the family has to pitch in.

Last and least: it looks like a good pick. She's smart, has a history of integrity in the political sphere and does have more executive experience at the state level than anyone else on either ticket. She's also held up well in the face of hideous bullshit attacks, which can be counted on to continue for the next two months.

Buckle up--should be very, very interesting.

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