Putting the Sideshow into Perspective

The New York Times op-ed writers have been doing a good job of covering the Sarah Palin sideshow. Frank Rich did a perfect blog wrap-up of what’s wrong with her last week:

She didn’t say “no thanks” to the “Bridge to Nowhere” until after Congress had already abandoned it but given Alaska a blank check for $223 million in taxpayers’ money anyway. Far from rejecting federal pork, she hired lobbyists to secure her town a disproportionate share of earmarks ($1,000 per resident in 2002, 20 times the per capita average in other states). Though McCain claimed “she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities,” she has never issued a single command as head of the Alaska National Guard. As for her “executive experience” as mayor, she told her hometown paper in Wasilla, Alaska, in 1996, the year of her election: “It’s not rocket science. It’s $6 million and 53 employees.” Her much-advertised crusade against officials abusing their office is now compromised by a bipartisan ethics investigation into charges that she did the same.

And that doesn’t even include Palin’s greedy little habit of billing the taxpayers of Alaska for the nights she spent — at home. Another Times columnist, Gail Collilns, had a different (and very funny) take on things. She took a question-and-answer approach to soothe Democrats’ ruffled feathers:

But the vice president isn’t supposed to get any attention, and all people can talk about is Palin, Palin, Palin!

True. I think that’s because she’s from Alaska. It’s got that frontier aura that we’ve missed since all the cowboy television series were canceled a generation ago. Plus, it gives us the opportunity to talk a lot about moose, which are a funny animal no matter how you slice it. If Palin had been a deer-hunting mom from New Jersey, John McCain would have gotten no post-convention bump whatsoever.

McCain, by the way, is the Republican nominee for president. You may remember him from the Sarah Palin convention in Minneapolis, where he gave a speech and was congratulated by Sarah Palin.

This isn’t an accident. Rick Davis, who is John McCain’s campaign manager, said in an interview with the Washington Post, “This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.”

It would be nice if the country and world were humming along so nicely that we could talk about moose and lipstick on pigs and whether or not Sarah Palin is hot.

But in case you thought Sarah Palin actually was newsworthy, the Huffington Post offers a handy summary of what’s actually happening, which includes the future of US global leadership (dwindling), the stock market (diving), another massive bank (in danger of collapse), problems with Iraq safety and its parliament, the economy (weakening), unemployment (rising), and US – Russia relations (deteriorating).

Oh, and that doesn’t even include climate change, which is melting the arctic ice, warming seas and strengthening hurricanes, and is now classified by the Center for Naval Analysis as a US national security threat.

Maybe if we paid more attention to that stuff, and less to the cult of personality, we’d see what the rest of the world sees (they prefer Obama to McCan by a margin of four to one).

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