Friday, September 12, 2008

Why I'm saying sorry to Sarah Palin, and why I still support Barack Obama

"Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us"

When I first got past my reaction of "Sarah who?" to Sarah Palin's selection as McCain's running mate, I deeply regret that my next thought was how to discredit her. She was, after all, a Republican: something that after the past 8 years seemed to me to mean the same thing as "enemy". That reaction - condemning someone before I even knew who they really were - was wrong, and I am sorry for it.

Despite that, my opinion of the pick of Palin as running mate is still that it was a deeply divisive move. But I think that this is no fault of Palin.

Whose fault is it in reality? No small part of the blame needs to lie with those of us who jumped to the attack before we knew the first thing about her. Are we so upset about the last 8 years, the destructiveness and blazing hatred put out by the national Republican Party, that we will adopt the same hateful and destructive attitude towards all Republicans? I do not seek to end Republican hatred and destruction only to see it replaced with Democratic hatred and destruction.

I know that many believe that attacking as hard and as viciously as possible is the only way to effectively counter the Republicans' smears and attacks. To that I say two things. First, Sarah Palin is not like other, established Republican figures. I'm sorry if you think otherwise, but she's just not. As Governor of Alaska, she's been a long way from the follies and failures of the Bush Administration, and bringing such an outsider in to the campaign was probably the best thing that the McCain campaign could have done to burnish the national Republican party's severly tarnished image. Treating her as part of the established Republican brand is factually wrong and won't work.

Second, and most important, attacking Sarah Palin is EXACTLY what the McCain campaign wants Obama and his supporters to do. They want it so much, in fact, that they've actually been forced to distort the truth - repeatedly -in order to make it look like Obama's attacking her in the wake of his refusal to do so.

The glee which I've seen in some "movement" conservative opinion leaders when they talk about the supposed "disgusting attacks" on Palin by Obama is actually a little sickening: they like it when they think she's getting trashed, because it gives them an excuse to trash Obama. They're celebrating the idea of Palin getting thrown to the wolves, and even convincing themselves it's happening where it isn't so they can celebrate some more. The only conclusion I can come to is that they want it to happen.

While we who mindlessly attacked Palin before we truly knew who she was deserve some blame for festering the divides that have once again opened in the wake of Palin's introduction to the world stage, it is the Republican party and the so-called "movement conservatives", not Obama or his supporters, and not Sarah Palin, who have deliberately sought to create that division, and who are cynically, even gleefully, trying to exploit it to victory, no matter what the cost to America, to the world, or even to Sarah Palin herself. I include the quote from Obama's inaugural 2004 speech above to remind people that he knows the score. That is why I still support him. And I believe I can support him quite effectively without any need to get a hate-on for Sarah Palin, however much the McCain campaign might want me to.

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