Xcel stage moments following Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech for her nomination as the GOP”s Vice-Presidential candidate. September 3, 2008. Republican National Convention. Xcel Center, St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo by Jon Winet
David Levi Strauss, Aperture magazine contributing editor, noted writer, and current Chair of MFA Art Criticism and Writing Department, School of Visual Arts, shares his unique perspective via daily dispatches from the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
How to Field Dress a Donkey
So a hockey mom carrying her special needs child walks into a bar, and says to everyone in and outside the joke, “What are you laughing at, asshole? Here’s what I think of your European Ideas.”
Hillary Clinton must be wondering what she did to deserve this. John McCain has, with one deft stroke, made a mockery of her campaign and everything she stands for. You want a woman tough enough to be Commander-in-Chief? Sarah Palin is so tough she doesn’t need to wear pantsuits to wear the pants. She can stand by her man and stand up to the terrorists, while her lily-livered opponent is standing around “worried that someone won’t read them their rights.” And as she marches into history, Palin has picked up the fallen banner of Hillary to use as her own petard.
Unlike Hillary and Joe Biden, she’s “not a member of the permanent political establishment”. . . yet. She’s just been a small-town mayor, which is “sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities,” and a big-state governor. Voters like governors, especially of big states. She sees this as a race between “a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single law or even a reform” and the “only man in this campaign who has ever really fought for you.” The sound of Styrofoam Greek columns falling was deafening.
Even Palin’s youngest daughter is so innately media-savvy that she turned Paul Wolfowitz’s telling rough gesture of licking his hand to smooth out his hair (in Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11) into an endearing image, using hers to straighten out her baby brother Trig’s. Bristol and Levi looked independent, unrepentant, and fierce, like they could eat the whole Washington Press Corps for breakfast, even without the help of brother Track, who’s on his way to Iraq.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden suddenly have a tremendous problem on their hands. Sarah Barracuda is the new fresh face of revenge and resentment politics, and if enough white evangelical blue-collar and middle-class voters buy it again, things are going to get very ugly. It will no longer be about ideas, European or otherwise. Making sense, telling the truth, and being right just won’t cut it anymore. John McCain has, at least for now, turned the tables, back to a Karl Rovian image- and symbol-storm, in a skirt.
Filed on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008, after the third night of the Republican Convention in St. Paul.