Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> Mark Crispin Miller: Why they chose Sarah Palin--and what to d
nettime's_roving_reporter on Thu, 18 Sep 2008 07:36:22 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Mark Crispin Miller: Why they chose Sarah Palin--and what to do about it


   Friday, September 12, 2008

   Why they chose Sarah Palin--and what to do about it 

   Strategists say that Mr. McCain can now count on a more motivated
   social conservative base to help him in areas like southern Ohio,
   where the 2004 race was settled.
        --The New York Times, Sept. 7, 2008, A1

   In investigating the 2004 election in Ohio--examining pollbooks,
   talking to pollworkers and election officials, as well as reading
   local newspaper accounts --we could find no data of a late surge to
   the polls by born-again Christians. What we did find is certified
   voting totals in areas favoring Bush that didn't match the number of
   voters who officially signed-in on the poll sign-in sheets.
        --Email from Bob Fitrakis, Sept. 7, 1008

   To understand how Team McCain intends to get away with stealing this
   election, we must recall how Team Bush got away with it four years
   ago. (Those aren't two different teams.)

   The plan for stealing this contest has everything to do with the
   ostensibly surprising choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP.

   Here's why:

   1. Election Day, 2004: The Myth of Bush's Christian "Surge"

   First, let's recall that, after the 2004 election, everybody said that
   Bush had won because the true believers of the Christian right had
   come out--or, rather, poured forth--in unprecedented numbers, often at
   the last minute, to support him. Of course, by "everybody," I'm
   referring to the entire commentariate, both mainstream and
   left/liberal. On TV and in print, in news analyses and op-ed articles,
   they all said that Bush/Cheney had been re-elected by America's
   "values voters."
   And they said it with a certain awe--as well they should, since Bush's
   victory was a sort of miracle. He had disapproval ratings in the upper
   40's: higher than LBJ's in 1968, higher than Jimmy Carter's in 1980.
   Nor was he very popular in his own party, as many top Republicans came
   out against him--including moderates like John Eisenhower, rightists
   like Bob Barr, and many others such as William Crowe (chair of the
   Joint Chiefs under Ronald Reagan), General Tony McPeak (former Air
   Force chief of staff and erstwhile Veteran for Bush), libertarian Doug
   Bandow, neocon Francis Fukuyama, Lee Iacocca and Jack Matlock, Jr.
   (Reagan's ambassador to the USSR); and many other, lesser figures in
   his party also publicly rejected him.

   And so did sixty (60) newspapers--all in "red" states--that had
   endorsed Bush four years earlier: two thirds of them now going for
   Kerry, the others none of the above. American Conservative, Pat
   Buchanan's own magazine, ran endorsements of five different
   candidates, only one of them for Bush. And 169 tenured and emeritus
   professors from the world's top business schools all signed a
   full-page ad decrying his economic policies, adducing them as reasons
   not to vote for him. (The ad was written by top faculty at his own
   alma mater, Harvard Business School.) The ad ran in the Financial
   Times, which, like The Economist, endorsed John Kerry.

   And still Bush won, despite such big defections, thanks to that
   enormous turnout by the Christian right, as everybody kept on
   saying--even though there were good reasons to be very skeptical about
   that notion.

   2. Election Day, 2004: There Was No Christian "Surge"

   First of all, that talking point came from the Christian right itself,
   whose members certainly had every reason to exaggerate their clout.
   That they thus credited themselves, and that the claim was duly
   amplified by their own party and its propaganda organs (Rush Limbaugh,
   Fox News, et al.), should have been enough to make all non-believers

   And non-believers should have been especially suspicious of that claim
   because there's not a shred of evidence to back it up. On the other
   hand, there's solid evidence that that immense, last-minute vote for
   Bush was nothing but a propaganda fiction, cooked up by Karl Rove to
   mask his party's theft of that election.

   To begin with, that fiction is preposterous on its face, since there
   were nowhere near enough of such right-wing believers to account for
   the incumbent's staggering advance, as Bush reportedly received 11.5
   million more votes than he had won four years before. And how many
   evangelicals did that surge include? According to Karl Rove himself
   (among others), there were 4 million evangelicals who had not voted
   for Bush/Cheney in 2000. So, even if Rove managed to get every single
   one of them to vote for Bush this time around (and it's unlikely that
   he did), they could not possibly have made so big a difference--unless, 
   of course, their numbers somehow magically increased inside the polls, 
   like Jesus's loaves and fishes.

   In any case, Bush seems to have done worse with evangelicals than he
   had four years before. Consider how his "base" performed, in fact, on
   that Election Day, as measured by the National Exit Poll (and
   scrupulously analyzed by Michael Collins, whose essay, "The Urban
   Legend," is included in Loser Take All). Close study of the numbers in
   2004 reveals that there was no big national surge of "values voters":
   on the contrary.

   First of all, the nation's rural vote declined, dropping from 23% to
   just 16% of the overall national vote; and Bush's total rural vote
   went down from 14 million to just under 12 million. And while the
   nation's small town vote increased substantially--by 88%--those voters
   did not favor Bush as they had done four years before, but opted in
   near equal numbers for John Kerry. Of those 9.5 million votes, Bush
   got 4.9 million, while Kerry got 4.7 million. (In 2000, Bush had won
   3.1 million small town votes, to Gore's 2 million.) And then there
   were the voters in the suburbs, who did come out for Bush in greater
   numbers than four years before--but hardly by enough to make for a
   decisive jump of any kind, as Bush won 28.3 million of those votes, to
   Kerry's 25.6 million.

   Thus was there no elevated turnout in those regions where most "values
   voters" live--nor did the post-election polls suggest that "moral
   values" drove Bush/Cheney's startling re-election. On Nov. 11, Pew
   published the results of their most precise survey of the electorate.
   Having asked Americans to name the issue that most concerned them as
   they cast their ballots, Pew found that Iraq was Number One, noted by
   25 percent, followed by "jobs and the economy," noted by 12 percent,
   with 9 percent invoking "terrorism." Only 9 percent named "moral
   values" as their main concern--with only 3 percent of them referring
   specifically to "gay marriage" (and another 2 percent referring to the
   candidates' own private lives).

   Those numbers tell a very different story from the one hyped proudly
   by the men atop the Christianist machine. In particular, they said
   that they helped Bush prevail through their well-managed opposition to
   gay marriage--which Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council,
   called "the hood ornament on the family values wagon that carried the
   president to a second term." That there was evidently no such wagon
   did not blunt the impact of such theocratic propaganda, which quickly
   resonated all throughout "the liberal media," so that it now stands as
   the truth.

   Indeed, it was accepted as the truth so quickly that it went
   unquestioned even after the dramatic mass reaction to the Terri
   Schiavo case a few months later, when Bush and the Republicans in
   Congress intervened in that domestic tragedy, trying to force the very
   outcome that the Christianists were calling for: "Americans broadly
   and strongly disapprove of federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo
   case," ABC News reported. The public supportedthe removal of Schiavo's
   feeding tube by 63% to 28%, according to the network's polls.

   And so it was throughout the media. According to USA Today, 76%
   disapproved of Congress's handling of the case, while only 20%
   approved. CBS News found that 82% believed that Bush and Congress
   should have stayed out of it. And so it went, with poll after poll
   confirming that the Bush Republicans' attempt to force their "moral
   values" on the situation was appealing only to a small minority, a/k/a
   the fringe. "When nearly 70 percent of the American public disagrees
   with you," wrote Eric Boehlert at the time, "you're out of step with
   the mainstream."

   That strong reaction by (at least) two-thirds of us was far more
   telling than the press, and most top Democrats, were willing to
   perceive, and so they couldn't, wouldn't see the awful truth: Either
   We the People had abruptly given up our "moral values" since Election
   Day, or our apparent vote for Bush was a deception, based on vote
   suppression and election fraud committed in Ohio and elsewhere
   throughout the nation.

   * * * *

   Thus the myth of that immense, last-minute Christian turn-out was a
   rationale concocted to "explain" Bush/Cheney's re-election--and the US
   press immediately bought it, out of a clear eagerness to close the
   book on that election right away, and thereby black out all the
   glaring signs of fraud throughout Ohio (and Florida, and elsewhere).
   Indeed, the press at once laughed off the "theory" of widespread
   election fraud, dismissing all the facts as fantasy; and in their
   place it offered fantasy as fact (as they had done before, and have
   done since).

   And so, because the media never did revisit the 2004 election, that
   groundless "explanation" quickly hardened into gospel (so to
   speak)--which brings us to the present, and the strategy for stealing
   this election, too.

   3. Election Day, 2008: Another Christian "Surge"?

   The choice of Sarah Palin has been widely and repeatedly assailed as
   evidence of John McCain's "bad judgement." Certainly that choice was
   very bad. Indeed, it may prove to be catastrophic. But to take it as a
   sign of John McCain's mere recklessness is probably a big mistake.
   First of all, there is no reason to believe that the decision really
   was McCain's, since Karl Rove's minions are in charge of his campaign,
   which means that Rove himself is running it (as he evidently has been
   from the start). And while it surely was a rotten choice in moral
   and/or civic terms, it certainly was not an instance of "bad
   judgement" in Rove's moral universe, where winning is the only thing
   that counts; and Sarah Palin was selected so that (she and) John
   McCain could "win"--and, even more important, get away with it.

   They picked Palin not because she is a woman, and might therefore
   appeal to diehard Hillary supporters. They picked Palin because she is
   a theocratic true believer, who has the Christianists all swooning at
   the prospect of her reign (which will commence as soon as Jesus
   answers all their prayers for John McCain's quick death). To get some
   sense of their millennial excitement, read this excerpt from an email
   recently sent out by one of them, to others of her kind:

     I believe you are aware that Dutch Sheets
     [http://www.dutchsheets.org/] was used by the Lord to call
     prayer before the 2000 election that was so close. He said this
     morning that this election is perhaps even more critical than 2000
     because of the Supreme Court. If the right political posture is not
     elected, we stand to lose decades of progress and the results could
     be enormous. Last year Chuck Pierce and Greg Hood prophesied that
     in 2008 we would not be electing a president but a vice president.
     Dutch said he could get no release in his heart to back Huckab[ee]
     even though he was pressured by many in the body of Christ.
     Huckab[ee] is a good man and a strong believer, but he was not
     God's choice. Dutch also told us that he knows a man who gave
     McCain a prophetic word that McCain had made a vow to God when he
     was at the bottom during his POW days and now God was calling in
     that vow. McCain was visibly moved by this word.

     Dutch was traveling to Texas on Friday and when he landed in the
     airport his wife called and told him to get to the TV asap. He
     watched McCain introduce Governor Palin and he said he began to
     weep, even though he knew nothing about her. He asked God, "What is
     the significance of this 44-year-old woman?" And he saw the clock
     said 4:44. He asked the Lord what that was all about and the Lord
     said, "Ezekiel 44:4." "He brought me by way of the north gate to
     the front of the temple; so I looked, and behold, the glory of the
     LORD filled the house of the LORD; and I fell on my face. NKJV
     ..... North gate representing Alaska [sic].

   And so on.

   Such fervor, which now unifies the Christianist community, was not
   stoked merely by the sight of Palin's glowing kisser on TV. More
   importantly, the governor became the instant darling of the
   Christianist far right once all the top dogs of the theocratic
   movement looked at her, and pronounced her good. To some extent, she
   was their choice--and so it's wrong to claim, as some indignant
   pundits have, that Sarah Palin "was not vetted." The governor was
   vetted by the Council for National Policy, the secretive and highly
   influential steering committee of the Christianist far right, which
   seeks to junk the Constitution and replace it with Leviticus and other
   flights of Holy Writ.

   They approved this choice, because Sarah Palin is quite willing to
   promote the Christianists' apocalyptic program with a brazenness, and
   comprehensiveness, unprecedented in the history of American political
   campaigning. Her disparate crackpot policies are all expressions of
   the same extremist creed. There are, of course, all her Levitical
   sexual proscriptions: no abortions even for those women who've been
   raped (or raped by their own fathers); no sex education; no condoms.
   There are her incremental steps to Christianize the public schools:
   her moves against their secular librarians; her readiness to get
   Creationism into the curriculum. And then there is her mad
   anti-environmentalism: her tacit eagerness for further global warming,
   and, therefore, her passion for oil-drilling everywhere; her
   opposition to clean water legislation; her willingness to see the
   polar bears die off; her letting hunters gun down wolves and bears
   from low-flying planes, etc. All such reckless policies derive from an
   apocalyptic wish to see the planet die, so that Lord Jesus will come
   back here, and start kicking ass and taking names. (Palin's pastor
   holds that He will set up his command post in Alaska.)

   None of this insanity appeals to anyone outside the Christianist
   community, which is no larger than it was when Bush tried to "save"
   Teri Schiavo from "judicial murder"--or when he was anomalously
   "re-elected" by those legions of fictitious "values voters." The
   choice of Sarah Palin, therefore, surely was not based on any rational
   calculation of some real electoral advantage; for that ferocious bloc
   is far too small to pull that off, no matter how firm their conviction
   that God wants them to.

   In fact, the only way that Palin and her doddering partner can prevail
   in this election is by stealing it, as Bush and Cheney did (both
   times). Certainly the ground has been prepared for yet another stolen
   race, Bush/Cheney's party having made enormous strides in sabotaging
   our election system (while the Democrats just sat there, whistling).
   Now, from coast to coast, it's far more difficult (for Democrats) to
   register to vote, and far more difficult (for Democrats) to cast their
   votes, while countless (Democratic) voters have been stricken from the
   rolls, through purges carried out by the Department of Justice.

   Thus Bush's government has legally diminished the electorate (the
   Roberts Court approving every step). Meanwhile, the regime also
   continues to suppress the (Democratic) vote illegally, either through
   voter "caging" prior to Election Day--or, far more effectively, by
   fiddling with the numbers electronically at every level, and/or simply
   dumping countless names (of Democrats) from the electronic voter
   rolls, and/or putting far too few machines in (Democratic) polling
   places, and/or disinforming (Democratic) voters as to when and where
   to cast their votes, and/or simply scaring (Democratic) voters into
   staying home.

   That is what it takes to steal elections in America--all of that, and
   also something else: a quick-'n-easy explanation for the outcome. For
   if those final numbers are surprising, there must be some rationale
   that can (apparently) account for them. And that is why the Bush
   machine put Sarah Palin next to John McCain. By arousing the hard core
   of vocal Christianists, they prepared the ground for the eventual
   redeployment of the same canard with which they justified their last
   unlikely "win": that millions of believers did the trick.

   Indeed, it was not just the choice of Sarah Palin, but the whole
   convention, that was clearly calculated not to pull in undecided
   and/or independent voters, but to get the fringe alone to stomp and
   holler for the ticket. The party platform--crafted under the command
   of Christianist election-rigger J. Kenneth Blackwell--is a (literally)
   scorched-earth "faith-based" document, calling even for a ban on stem
   cell research in the private sector. And the convention spectacle
   itself was basically one long display of cultural resentment, with
   lots of loud, self-righteous jeering from the stage and on the floor
   (with an epic show of ridicule by that fine Christian, Rudy Giuliani).

   It was strongly reminiscent of the GOP's 1992 convention--a show that
   very clearly turned the nation off, and helped defeat Bush Sr.'s bid
   to stay in office. Team McCain decided to revive that model, not
   because the nation has turned Christianist since then, but as a way to
   motivate the fringe, and thereby make it possible to tell the pundits,
   on Nov. 5, that it was those Americans who turned the tide for John

   4. A Word to the Wise

   In fact, that claim will be the secondary "explanation" for McCain and
   Palin's "win." The first, of course, will be Obama's race, and the sad
   "fact" that America's just not ready to vote for a black man." We will
   hear endlessly (as we have already) about "the Bradley effect," and
   how it struck again, with millions of white folks who had openly
   approved Obama suddenly deciding, in the sanctum of the voting booth,
   to vote like Klansmen, thereby electing John McCain.

   And, if Obama "loses," we will also hear a lot of other "explanations," 
   each of which will suit the interests--the politics and/or pet theory
   --of the person(s) offering it.

   We'll hear from Clinton people that he lost because he didn't put her
   on the ticket. We'll hear from Michael Moore, Ralph Nader and The
   Nation that he lost because he ran too corporate-friendly a campaign.
   We'll also hear from Mark Penn and the Wall Street Journal that he
   lost because his campaign was too "populist."

   George Lakoff will tell us that Obama lost because he failed to frame
   the issues properly, Thomas Frank will note that all those
   Kansas-types are still too dim to know what's good for them, and
   Thomas Friedman (among others) will point out that Obama lost because
   he never made that crucial "gut" connection with "Joe Six-Pack" (whom
   Friedman and those others know so well). Meanwhile, many others will
   ascribe Obama's loss to all the lies and slanders heaped upon him by
   McCain's campaign and its confederates, who, we'll hear repeatedly,
   "Swift-boated" him to death, just as they did to Kerry (as if Kerry
   really lost the last election).

   Some of those assertions will be partly true--and all of them are sure
   to be irrelevant. For if McCain and Palin "win," that victory will
   either be a miracle (which is, of course, how some of their supporters
   will explain it) or just another massive rip-off, perpetrated right
   before our eyes. And no such miracle is likely; for there is still no
   reason to believe that that old man and his demented running mate have
   any broad appeal. The polls now putting them ahead are highly dubious,
   based on a ten-point over-sampling of Republicans, and crafted without
   any calls to cell phone users (who comprise a large part of Obama's

   Otherwise there is no evidence of any large-scale movement toward
   McCain and Palin--who have to trek to theocratic enclaves, like
   Colorado Springs, in order to draw cheering multitudes, while
   Obama/Biden draw them everywhere they go. With Democrats all in a
   panic, let's recall how few Americans turned out to vote in the
   Republican primaries, and how few new voters the Republicans have
   registered to date. Compare that feeble record with the vastly larger
   numbers who came out for Obama (and for Clinton), and all those whom
   the Democrats have registered to vote. Since then, the prospects for
   McCain have not improved, regardless of the spin on Sarah Palin--for
   this economy is in the crapper, and he has said repeatedly that he
   just doesn't know about such things. That issue, and his wild
   commitment to a war that most Americans oppose, make his victory in
   November quite improbable, to say the least.

   And there you have the reason why the GOP must, once again, deploy its
   giant criminal machine: to cut the Democrats' vast popular advantage.
   And it is happening right now, as you sit reading this, as each day
   brings in new reports of voters purged, machines "malfunctioning,"
   ballots slyly misdesigned, and other measures meant to benefit
   McBush's party. (The fraud is not occurring "on both sides.") Such
   evidence is far more solid than the nervous speculation that Americans
   might vote on racial grounds--or the fantasy that Sarah Palin's
   co-religionists could really win it for McCain.

   The theft of this next race is only possible because the Democratic
   Party and the media, and principled Republicans, have shut their eyes
   to this regime's crusade against American democracy. And now the only
   way to stop it--or, if it does happen yet again, resist it-- is to
   face it at long last, and talk about it openly. It's therefore not
   enough to raise more money for the Democrats, and not enough to get
   more voters registered, and get them to the polls; and not enough to
   spread the word about McCain and Palin, or to try to get the media to
   do a decent job; and not enough to fight the smears and lies about
   Obama, and to demand that he and/or the Democrats get tougher.

   While all of those activities are crucial, they'll amount to nothing
   if the race is finally rigged, and most Americans don't know a thing
   about it. And so, whatever else we're doing, we must also speak out
   loud and clear about that possibility. Otherwise, if that disaster
   should befall us, we will be as much to blame for it as those
   Republicans who pulled it off, and all those Democrats who let them
   get away with it.

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: http://mail.kein.org/mailman/listinfo/nettime-l
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} kein.org