I watched Sarah Palin speak to the country for the first time on Friday and cringed. As she gave her shout-outs to Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton, it seemed like the most transparent, calculated pander in modern memory. And the very idea that the Republicans believe that Hillary supporters would be easily persuaded to vote for an anti-choice, anti-science, pro-gun, pro-fur, anti-polar bear candidate because they’re feeling shafted by the Democratic party made me think that the GOP’s gone completely nuts.
But then, not so much.
Politico Joe Trippi suggested (hat tip to Queen of Spain for the link on Twitter) that this isn’t as much about pandering to politically disenfranchised women as it originally appeared. I agree. What I believe it really could be about is disconcerting.
In the 2004 election, Ohio was so finely divided, the exit polls made it look like it was going to go blue. (Conspiracy theories about vote manipulation aside, I simply thought the whole thing was unjust. Having to wait more than two hours to vote on a workday in a culture that is still largely paid by the hour strikes me as utterly unconstitutional, but I digress.)
One thing that really brought the evangelicals of Ohio out to the polls that year was a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage – they came out in those rural, red parts of the state where the voting experience is a breeze, unlike our congested blue cities. That law, incidentally, is essentially unenforceable, and has gone nowhere – making it seem, in hindsight, like a shallow yet cunning device, with its true purpose being solely to get that population out to the polls to push Bush over to a narrow victory.
Debates about experience issues aside, everything about Sarah Palin’s personal story, including today’s news about her daughter, makes me think me that she could be this election cycle’s gay marriage ban. She’s the anti-choice argument personified – someone that will bring evangelicals, who weren’t really feeling McCain fever, out to vote.
News sources say that McCain’s campaign already knew about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy and felt it shouldn’t effect her mother’s electability. Karl Rove’s general dispicable-ness in campaigning is what has made me jaded enough to believe this – but I’m starting to think that all of these complicated, personal factors that look crazy enough on the surface to be missteps of the vetting process are actually quite calculated. If that’s so – Republican strategists have sunk to new, grotesque levels, showing a willingness to subject the lives of a pregnant teen, her future child and a Down’s syndrome infant to the extremely harsh light of a presidential election just to get their guy elected. That possibility hurts my heart – the Christianity I was raised with was never so ruthless.
Please, convince me I’m crazy. No one, not even a Republican strategist, would sink that low, right?
Update, 9:41 pm: Lo and behold, here’s a story about evangelicals praising the Palins for their personification of “pro-life values.”
This post is part of the Momocrats‘ meme about Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin today.