Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sarah Palin: George W. Bush 2.0

When Facebook dramatically changed its format last month, users were in an uproar. They either couldn’t or didn’t want to navigate the new format. How could they not be allowed to opt-out? Why couldn’t things just stay the same? Alas, the great wheel of progress rolls forward.

On November 4, voters will be faced with a similar dilemma. The current administration has expired. A new format will take place on January 20, 2009. But what hasn’t been articulated, at least thus far, is exactly what kind of an upgrade we’ll be getting. Senator Obama promises a totally new platform, a complete reboot. A Palin Vice Presidency offers something less dramatic, albeit no less violent: George Bush 2.0. By “2.0” of course I’m using internet-speak to say the second version. But, as in Web 2.0, the second version doesn’t just mean new, it means improved, updated, and expanded upon.

In this case we have George Bush, an underexperienced president that has failed us from day one while giving a wink to the American people and a cold shoulder to the world. George Bush 2.0 is fresh (With a new gender!), harder hitting and more galling (Now even more disrespect and arrogance!), more provincial (From deeper in the wilderness! With even less familial connection to the East Coast establishment!), and even more fundamentalist in Christian belief (Dinosaurs now only 6,000 years old!). Sarah Palin, my friends, is the George Bush that George Bush could only dream of being.

Barack Obama has been hammering John McCain as the new standard bearer of George Bush’s failed policies. Understandably, it is not in Senator Obama’s strategic interest to address the vice presidential candidate and acknowledge her as an equal. But, as her rally attendance numbers have shown, she is an energizing force in parts of the country where Senator McCain is simply seen as the least worst option. In the popular Governor Palin we have a politician that would not only carry out Bush’s policies with even more conviction, but would exceed all measures of ignorance and arrogance, something John McCain just hasn’t quite mastered.

The key to understanding George Bush 2.0 is to understand the failures of George Bush 1.0 (much to the chagrin of George Bush 2.0) and then adding flat out lies. George W. Bush had to learn foreign policy on the fly, while Al Gore sighed and tsk-tsked in the background. George Bush 2.0 takes it to the extreme by unabashedly defending the value of being able to see a foreign country from her home state. When asked to defend the claim that her position as commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard, McCain aides and Palin cannot site one specific example of a decision Gov. Palin has had to make. Most importantly, after defending her position as a government reformer over and over based on her stance against the so-called “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, it was revealed that she in fact fully supported the bridge until the funding had been retracted by the US Congress. Not only does she not have the experience, like Bush 1.0, but she will blatantly lie and stretch the truth on tangential examples of her preparedness to lead.

She’s not lying about her smalltown life in Alaska, as her lack of international travel can attest to. This is completely acceptable and not to be mocked. But she may be cynically playing up her down home, folksy language for political gains. Compare her gubernatorial debates in Alaska in 2006 to her Vice Presidential debate with Joe Biden last week. In her gubernatorial debates she is professional, stern, and while not always on topic, eloquent. She presents a serious face, ready to take on serious challenges. In her Vice Presidential debate, she uses the word ‘darn’ three times in the first ten minutes. She winked more often than she gave a straight answer to a question. It’s as if she and the American people were a part of one big inside joke that Senator Biden and Gwen Ifill just didn’t get. One might reasonably expect that if Gov. Palin can be so professional in her role as gubernatorial candidate, she might equally rise to the occasion for an unarguably more important job interview as Vice Presidential candidate.

The new George Bush 2.0 has a disdain for history and level of disrespect for facts that was unimaginable under the beta version. On multiple occasions she has disparaged Senators Obama and Biden for pointing fingers at the Bush administration while they campaign on forward-looking platform of change. While certainly resisting exploding into laughter during the Vice Presidential debate, Senator Biden simply said, “Look, ‘Past is Prologue,’ Gwen.” Obviously studying history is too elitist for Bush 2.0. But since Bush 2.0 is such a populist, surely she saw The Dark Knight this summer, along with millions of other Americans. At a crucial moment in the psychological adventure that is Bruce Wayne, a young Wayne is schooled by his father, “Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

The fact is, for every time Bush 1.0 has proven his incompetence in the past, Bush 2.0 will be there in the future to not only carry it out, but also defend it. For every ounce of make-believe cowboy in George 1.0, there’s a real-life moose hunter in Bush 2.0. For every media blockade in the Bush 1.0 Administration, there will be a snarky, condescending attack on the media from Bush 2.0. Palin has proven herself to be more genuinely incompetent, less well-read, more condescending and cynical, and less prepared to lead than the administration that preceded her.

So when McCain and Palin’s “Brownie” starts doing a “heckuva job”, at least we won’t be surprised. We’ll have to take it as a genuine statement. We’ll also know exactly what we got ourselves into.

UPDATE: David Brooks gets it perfectly

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