I’m Just Not Impressed

Am I supposed to be?

Posts Tagged ‘Republican National Convention

The Thinking Reed

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So, in having a conversation this morning about Cindy McCain’s $300,000 outfit for a convention in which her husband and his supporters ranted about elitism, I had a bit of a “You keep using that word” moment. The Republican leadership do not seem to be opposed to “practice of or belief in rule by an elite” – that’s who they represent, after all. Nor can I truly believe that they have no “consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group”.

Then I realized – late to the party, probably – that elitism = intellectualism to this crowd. Which still sort of baffled me, at which point I remembered a conversation my first semester of college with a friend from high school in which she threw “You and your friends are so intellectual” at me like it was the most insulting thing she chould have said to me. Whereas she had a better high school GPA and ACT score than I had and showed no sign of changing that in college, she completely acknowledged that she had no interest in settling down with a carafe of cheap wine and bummed cigarettes for an in depth discussion of whether Kierkegaard was superior to Hagel. While I was firmly of the “hell is other people” crowd and had directed Sartre’s No Exitfor drama class the year before, she was firmly of the “hell is other people who want me to think while I drink” crowd. She did fabulously in school, got a job right out and as far as I know is wonderfully happy. If her politics are anything like what they were when she was avoiding any sort of political discussion with her radical roommate, then she is voting McCain-Palin.

Now, I certainly understood what she meant, in that I know what the words mean and what she was trying to convey. She didn’t want to think about what she had learned after she learned it. She wanted to use it, but she got no rush out of dissecting it. She didn’t like the process of struggling with a concept or not knowing what to think about something. She didn’t like engaging in discussions of the meaning of things. She was secure in her God and in her calling and that was enough for her.

Watching the wealthy, successful republicans, many of whom, I’m sure, attended the same east coast Ivy League schools they deride Obama for attending – and discussing it and chewing it over and analyzing it (of course) – I suddenly put two and two together. What they are talking about and what roomie was talking about are the same phenomena – the issue is not being successful, or even thinking that you are better than others for being successful – that after all is the American Dream.

The issue is actually thinking about what it means to be successful and questioning the status quo. There is also a classism element here – the Republicans are trying to turn that on the Dems, I think – i.e., you have to be well off and cushy to have the luxury of thinking, not doing. But that’s where I think that the ‘Pubs are wrong – they are selling the American people short by assuming that intellectual = advanced education. What they don’t realize is that “east cost intelligentsia” (of which I am one, let’s be honest) don’t own the market on reading and thinking and discussing. A lot of people sell this short, not just the Republicans. It is a mistake to assume that someone needs a college degree to think critically. It is a mistake to assume that someone must work in an office to be interested in politics. The great thing about thinking is that it can be free.  The catch is lowering the cost.


Written by emandink

September 5, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Some thoughts both about, and not about, Sarah Palin and the RNC

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I was watching the RNC last night, alternating between laughing and clutching my head to try to keep my brain from exploding.  It was like 1988 all over again up there.  In a vacuum, what I’d take from day 2 of the Republican National Convention is that the party platform has 5 main planks:

  1. Servin’ the man and bustin’ the unions;
  2. Making sure “Guantanamo terrorists” never get fair trials;
  3. Perpetuating the false association between Iraq and Osama bin Laden;
  4. Slamming “elitism” while protecting the wealthy from taxes;
  5. Pretending that the world outside their bizarre little bubble doesn’t exist.

But, cutting to the chase, Sarah Palin.
On a very basic level – or host of them, really – McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin frightens me and offends me.  Part of me thinks that this is a very sensible reaction for any liberal-leaning American to have at most actions by the GOP.  Another part of me is bugged a bit by my own reaction.

On a gut level, the part of me that desperately wants to see a woman as president in my lifetime, feels especially squeemish and hypocritical. I want a woman in the White House, but not this woman, not this party, not this way. I want to work off of a presumption that Sarah Palin was chosen because she is smart and savvy and brings things to the ticket that McCain and his people feel he needed – executive experience, youth, energy, conservative bona fides. But I can’t help but give in to the sense that she is the Republican Party’s fuck you to the Democrats and to women as a whole – that she is there for her tits and her womb alone. I find myself second guessing her in ways that I don’t think I ever would for a male candidate – whether I’m holding her to a higher standard or a lower one I’m not certain about. I’m afraid that she is being “handled” and that the Republican machine doesn’t truly respect anything about her, but is using her. I suppose that says as much about my opinion of the Republican party as it does about my opinion of Sarah Palin.

As for her background and family, etc., I don’t give two whits about the number of children she has. I don’t really care that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and planning to marry the father. I think that it’s a great object lesson about how abstinence only education doesn’t work, but I’m not real thrilled with the narrative that Bristol Palin’s life is ruined and the complete erasure in that narrative of any agency she might have. Bristol Palin may really really want this baby. She may really really want to marry her boyfriend at the tender age of 17. And legally, she has every right to do so. I think that Sarah Palin showed, at best, interesting judgement in making the decision to thrust her family into the spotlight at this juncture, but Bristol Palin’s judgement is not at issue. I hope that she is indeed happy with her choices and I wish her well.

Likewise, I am surprised that a mother of five children, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome, would decide to campaign for the vice presidency, but I don’t think any less of her for doing so. I have no idea what Todd Palin’s role is in his family – by most accounts, his job is very flexible, so perhaps he plans to be the primary caregiver.

What I don’t like about Sarah Palin can be summed up with my issues with the Republican party platform generally.  I really don’t see what the Republican party has to offer me, except – this year – a candidate with a uterus.  And I have one of those of my own, thanks. I don’t need another.

Written by emandink

September 4, 2008 at 6:14 pm