Palin, the rock star 

In one of the most improbable turns of events in recent history, last week’s Republican National Convention ended up being a smash hit. A party that was demoralized and resigned to defeat just two weeks ago has taken the lead in national polls and re-energized itself.

Down to Barack Obama by as many as 10 points in some polls, John McCain is now up as much as 10 points. And it wasn’t the stirring oratory of McCain or Joe Lieberman that turned the polls around, it was the speech by Sarah Palin.

In a single address, Palin did what many had previously thought impossible: stir the mostly apathetic Republican base into action. By using the GOP standard playbook — vicious personal attacks combined with an appeal to reward the rich — she gave McCain at least an even shot at winning the election.

In many ways, Gov. Palin is the person conservatives have been seeking for many years: an attractive, articulate, intelligent woman who believes in protecting the lives of the unborn while strongly advocating the deaths of the living through perpetual war.

No wonder Rush Limbaugh and his ilk have literally fallen in love with her, to the extent that it’s slightly creepy.

Leaving politics aside for a moment, it’s easy to see why Palin has been such a successful choice for the Republicans. Her personal story is compelling. Her personal choices regarding motherhood are inspiring and commendable. She seems like a nice lady.

And she may well have something to offer the country at some point down the road. She has the potential to do great deeds for her country. It’s obvious that she’s a gifted and talented orator.

The only problem is that the bold new vision she and McCain are offering is actually the same old George Bush vision of tax cuts for the rich, deficit spending to finance military escapades around the world and an upraised middle finger for minorities and the poor.

Listening carefully to her speech to the convention last week, one could hear vague undertones of racial politics. When she mocked Obama’s work as a community organizer in Chicago, her fellow Republicans knew what she meant. To them, aiding unemployed steelworkers is a wasteful and unacceptable form of service. The only forms of national service they recognize as legitimate are running for office and joining the military.

In response to Palin’s scathing words, Obama snarled, “Who are they fighting for?” That single question summed up the difference between the candidates and the parties they represent.

The Republicans believe in stacking the deck even more in favor of the rich and powerful. They believe in using the force and might of our military not as a tool for self-defense but as a weapon with which to punish the nations of the world.

The Republicans have no shame in exploiting the events of Sept. 11 for personal gain and for justification for everything they do. At their convention last week, they showed a video of the horrific events of that day in order to boost McCain’s candidacy, with no shame or regret in doing so.

As we mark the seventh anniversary of that terrible day this week with a solemn and dignified tribute to its victims, we should remember that the attacks of Sept. 11 weren’t directed toward Red State Americans or Blue State Americans but all of America.

George Bush used our sense of outrage and deep national grief to further his imperialistic military agenda, a sin that cannot be overstated nor ever forgiven. The Republicans continue to want to use Sept. 11 as a tool for their agenda.

Besides Sept. 11, 2001, there is another, lesser-heralded tragic date in American history: Nov. 2, 2004. That’s the date when George Bush and Dick Cheney, two self-admitted draft evaders, defeated John Kerry, a legitimate war hero, with the help of some rigged voting machines in Florida and Ohio.

Just as we were all, in a sense, victims of Sept. 11, we are also victims of Nov. 2, the date upon which the death of thousands more people — Americans, Iraqis, others — was assured. It’s the date that ensured our economy would continue to be ravaged for decades to come.

We can’t compound those dual tragedies by electing candidates who would extend that suffering for four or eight more years. So despite McCain’s admirable career of public service and despite Palin’s enthusiasm and vigor, we simply can’t afford two more mini-Bushes in the White House.

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