I was sitting at my favorite watering hole a few days ago when I received a call on my cell phone. It was a friend of mine from Madison County. Although he is not very political and ordinarily prefers not to discuss politics, he is nevertheless, keenly aware of what's going on in the world. I often consider that he usually avoids political discussions because the state of the world is very painful for him. On that afternoon, our conversation went something like this:
"Hey R," I said, "What's going on?"
"What a bunch of sh*t!" he responded.
"What sh*t are you talking about? The stuff is flying everywhere these days."
"I'm talking about the g*d dam*ed election! It's just f*#cking entertainment - a puppet show to keep everybody occupied while they get away with all kinds of sh*t everywhere else in the world!"
The conversation continued for awhile of course, but my unpolitical friend gets it, if you catch my meaning, and I certainly cannot disagree with his observation of either the presidential race, or current events in general. The current debate between the two major presidential candidates and their running mates should be viewed as an insult to the intelligence of every American. Therefore, it is truly sad to observe just how many millions of voters are emotionally caught up within the trite sound bites that we are being treated to; these, including references to lipstick on a pig or the possibility of Barak Obama having been exposed to Islam as a child.
The show that we're being treated to, particularly at the hands of the Republicans, is truly a spectacle. There are images of Governor Palin holding her youngest child, who was born with down syndrome. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself of course, but the subliminal message here is clear; I chose to have this child in spite of his/her birth defect and therefore you should believe in continuing your pregnancy to term as well. It is absolutely amazing that such messages and similar statements coming from the Alaskan governor have electrified, not only the Republican party's evangelical base, but many American independents as well.
So why does so much of this appear to be nothing more than persuasive entertainment? The answer lies in the fact that very little of substance is being discussed before the voters. Additionally, contradictions in the presidential candidate's talking points abound. Was it all that long ago that John McCain had made the argument that Barak Obama was too inexperienced in foreign-policy matters to hold the office of president? Suddenly, Governor Palin, who has less such experience than Obama, was chosen as McCain's running mate and since then, has been put on display as one who shows good judgement. Cindy McCain, went so far as to say that Palin has foreign-policy experience simply because Alaska is geographically close to Russia (Is this where the canned laughter comes in?). Today, it's not experience that matters, but good judgement. This was exactly the argument that Barak Obama was making only weeks ago; apparently, it has now been hijacked by the Republicans.
Even here however, it should be evident to all that this argument about good judgement is completely bogus. If any of the readers here saw Governor Palin's interview with Charles Gibson, it would likely have been apparent that Palin's good judgement is as equally horrifying as her understanding of the facts.
Consider this: While discussing Iran's alleged ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon, Palin kept referring to that country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as the one seeking a nuclear device. In truth however, it is the Ayatollah Khamenei, who is Iran's spiritual and political leader. If Iran has any desire to acquire nuclear weapons, and the evidence is to the contrary, it would be Khamenei who would be responsible for their development and use, not Ahmadinejad.
Even more horrifying than Governor Palin's apparent ignorance of Iranian government was her inability to answer properly when Gibson asked her about the so-called Bush Doctrine, a recipe for pre-emptive war. Governor Palin's apparent willingness to go to war with Russia, a country that has the world's second largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, should horrify everyone on the planet. In speaking about defending the former Soviet State of Georgia against Russia's aggresion, Governor Palin referred to that country as a "democracy." The facts however, show that it is hardly a democracy; Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is highly unpopular in his own country due of allegations of corruption, and it was he who gave the order to launch genocidal attacks upon the civilian population in the province of South Ossetia; most of whom incidentally, are of Russian heritage.
All of the above evidence should seriously undermine Republican attempts to maintain control of the White House. The problem is that the image being presented of Sarah Palin as being the gun-toting, elk-hunting, anti-choice hockey mom is apparently overwhelming any intelligent criticism of her and John McCain's candidacy. Meanwhile, the deceptive political attack ads continue while Barak Obama, once considered to be inspirational, seems to have resigned himself to playing a leading role in a game of "you said/no I didn't say." Justin Raimondo, the editor for Antiwar.com recently referred to this national debacle as a "Punch and Judy Show."
Mr. Obama is apparently trying his hardest to shed any appearance of being liberal. This appears to be the Democratic leadership's greatest fear and once again, they and their candidates are determined to show that they can out conservative the conservatives on many issues, particularly, on the issue of terrrorism. It is my opinion that they are almost completely disenfranchising their more progressive base - simply in order to avoid being called names such as liberal or soft on terrorism.
All of this and more is happening on the stage set before us. Meanwhile, our relationship with Russia is becoming more strained by the day, U.S. forces have launched raids into Pakistan and reportedly, the Pakistani military has begun firing upon American personnel. Martial law has been declared in part of Bolivia as a U.S. supported coup is being attempted against that country's legitimate democratically-elected President, Evo Morales, the U.S. economy is in deep trouble, powerful corporations with the full support of the Bush Administration are unravelling environmental safeguards and launching an all-out assault upon our national treasures, and a war with Iran may still be in the cards - soon!
It is difficult to believe that, even as all of the above is presenting itself upon the national and world stage, all that we the people get sadly, is a puppet show.