Monday, September 29, 2008

We Are Going To Get What We Deserve

Compare these excerpts (below the fold).

Spoiler alert! Sarah Palin makes George W Bush look like a master of oratory and coherence.

From the second presidential debate in 2004, moderated by Bob Schieffer (emphasis mine).

Keep in mind that, after four years in the White House, the Bush administration had not yet created a single job, being the first administration since Herbert Hoover's that had a net job loss. The only thing Bush could claim as a success (and even that was debatable) was the bipartisan passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (which later on has come under lots of criticism). In that perspective, read the following exchanges.
SCHIEFFER: Let's go to a new question, Mr. President. Two minutes. And let's continue on jobs.


Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?

BUSH: I'd say, Bob, I've got policies to continue to grow our economy and create the jobs of the 21st century. And here's some help for you to go get an education. Here's some help for you to go to a community college.


You know, there's a lot of talk about how to keep the economy growing. We talk about fiscal matters. But perhaps the best way to keep jobs here in America and to keep this economy growing is to make sure our education system works.


No, education is how to help the person who's lost a job. Education is how to make sure we've got a workforce that's productive and competitive.

Note that Bush did not really answer Schieffer's question. Also note that the solution he proposed did little or nothing to solve the immediate problem that people how had lost their job (many, under his first term), and that it would be a medium to long term solution, if it was a solution at all.

And again, later on:
SCHIEFFER: [...] The gap between rich and poor is growing wider. More people are dropping into poverty. Yet the minimum wage has been stuck at, what, $5. 15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it time to raise it?

BUSH: [...] let me talk about what's really important for the worker you're referring to. And that's to make sure the education system works. It's to make sure we raise standards.

Listen, the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act when you think about it. The No Child Left Behind Act says, "We'll raise standards. We'll increase federal spending. But in return for extra spending, we now want people to measure -- states and local jurisdictions to measure to show us whether or not a child can read or write or add and subtract. "

You cannot solve a problem unless you diagnose the problem. And we weren't diagnosing problems. And therefore just kids were being shuffled through the school.

And guess who would get shuffled through? Children whose parents wouldn't speak English as a first language just move through.

Many inner-city kids just move through. We've stopped that practice now by measuring early. And when we find a problem, we spend extra money to correct it.

I remember a lady in Houston, Texas, told me, "Reading is the new civil right," and she's right. In order to make sure people have jobs for the 21st century, we've got to get it right in the education system, and we're beginning to close a minority achievement gap now.

I remember my disbelief at the rambling, diversionary answer the President gave, which contained ridiculous statements like "Reading is the new civil right" and "we now want people to measure -- states and local jurisdictions to measure to show us whether or not a child can read or write or add and subtract," in answer to a question about the gap between rich and poor and the minimum wage. Not in 1894, mind you. In 2004.

I have an especially vivid memory of how stunned I was when the President said "the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act when you think about it." I was as stunned then as when I heard President Bush give this answer to a divorced mother of three, in Omaha, Nebraska, on Feb. 4, 2005: "You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." (Listen to the clip at

The truly appalling thing was the sound of people clapping in the audience. There should have been an insurrection at the townhall meeting, but people were clapping instead.

I thought, at that moment, America cannot be so stupid to reelect this moronic charlatan, who thinks that we are so easy to dupe that we cannot see through his bullshit.

Well, as it turns out--thanks to the help of vote suppression tactics that disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Democratic voters in key states, and god knows what other electronic shenanigans--I was wrong.

That is why, four years later, I am more than a bit uneasy about the Republican choice for vicepresident, a woman of little knowledge and low intellect, who rose to the top of Alaska's politics through god knows what tricks, and whose only qualification for the job was her ability to mobilize the Evangelical troglodytes who are soooooo excited about McCain's choice of a running mate, a woman who believes in Young Earth Creationism and who thinks a rapist should be able to choose the mother of his child (while making the woman pay for her own rape kit).

Sarah Palin may very well become the next President of the United States. As Fareed Zakaria said on CNN this afternoon, the actuarial data is not encouraging, there is actually a 1 in 5 chance that she may succeed President McCain before the end of his term.

The answers she gave in recent interviews with Charles Gibson and Katie Couric are more moronic than those George W Bush gave in 2004 to Bob Schieffer, and to a transfixed American public.

Palin on McCain as a regulator, with Couric:
COURIC: You've said, quote, "John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business." Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

PALIN: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie - that, that's paramount. That's more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

COURIC: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

PALIN: He's also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about - the need to reform government.

COURIC: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you've said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?

PALIN: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.

COURIC: I'm just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

PALIN: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.

Palin on her foreign policy credentials, with Couric:
PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It's funny that a comment like that was kinda made to … I don't know, you know … reporters.

COURIC: Mocked?

PALIN: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.

COURIC: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.

PALIN: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there…

COURIC: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.

And finally, Palin with Couric on the Wall Street rescue package:
COURIC: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries? Allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy? Instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That’s why I say, I like ever American I’m speaking with were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the tax payers looking to bailout.

But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy– Helping the — Oh, it’s got to be about job creation too. Shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americas.

And trade we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive scary thing. But 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation.

This bailout is a part of that.

Notice the last sentence in bold text? Isn't it a frightening echo of the answer George W Bush gave to Bob Schieffer four years ago?

The point of this really long post, I guess, is this: How you vote reflects on your education and your intelligence. It shows not only what your values are, but how informed you are, and to what extent you are capable (or incapable) to see through the spin and the bullshit that candidates dish out to you. How you make your pick shows how (and if) you think about the candidates and the issues. What kind of country you want to build for yourselves? What future do you want to leave your children? What do you wish to reward: lies, spin, personal appeal, and gut decisions? Or thoughtfulness, competence, and the ability to think complex issues through and make informed decisions?

What I am really asking is: America, how lucky will you feel, on November 4th? Lucky enough to reward ignorance and stupidity, again?

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