Wednesday, January 06, 2010


I have been a tad out of touch since we bought the restaurant… We DO listen to the radio in the kitchen at the cafĂ©. But after three years, the fact that every radio station we can pick up has a playlist of about ten songs that they crank out over and over again until you can’t stand it anymore led me to a dangerous decision. About a week ago, I rekindled my relationship with public radio. I decided, what the heck, I’d rather listen to “Talk of the Nation” than some pre-pubescent pop star whining through her latest smash hit for the umpteenth time. Now, I’m not so sure I’ve made the right choice. Because the political acid is starting to burn a hole in my gut right next to the cavity created by my job. Maybe not good for my health…

Seems there is a new book out there that has been stirring up the political scene: Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. It is supposedly a minutely researched expose of the highlights, and lowlights (of which there are surely many) of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Now, I have not read the book, nor am I going to promise to, given that I finished exactly three books in all of 2009. But my observation isn’t about the book, it’s about the firestorm it has created.

We on the left are still wondering what the hell qualified Sarah Palin for the attention she received as a candidate in 2008; and why the hell anyone still cares about her now, a year past her ignominious and well-deserved defeat. So, when additional tales of her incompetence and ignorance come to light, we can’t help but yuk it up a little at her expense. Game Change first hit the shelves a few weeks ago, and left-wingers took the opportunity to use it to poke fun at Sarah Palin. And of course it wasn’t all light-hearted, good-natured joshing. There are those who are aware that someone needs to make every effort to make Sarah Palin go away for good.

We hardly finish tittering over Palin’s miscues when we are assailed by a barrage of smear over Harry Reid’s comments as quoted by the authors of this same book. “Harry Reid is a racist!” “Harry Reid insulted the (not-yet) President!” “Harry Reid should apologize!” “Harry Reid should resign!” Note, please, that as far as I know NONE of these calls for Harry Reid’s head came from members of the black community (with the exception of RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and we all know where his loyalties lie…) and certainly not from the President himself. Everyone is mystified, even the authors of the book, that this particular aspect of Harry Reid’s involvement in President Obama’s campaign is the one that everyone has chosen to focus upon. After all, the point of the story was to illustrate Reid’s contribution to Mr. Obama’s victory.

What’s not to get, here? Let us not forget that across the aisle sits the party, not of “equal and opposite reaction,” but of “insane and hyperbolic over-reaction.” The party for whom the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are two of the more (in)famous mouthpieces. The party that, after years of practice, has honed “smear” to a stiletto point; and can—and does—launch it with the deadliest accuracy.

We snicker behind our hands about Sarah Palin, and they launch a full-scale “Daschellism” against Harry Reid. And no one gets the connection?

There are two morals to this story: First: Sarah Palin is the right wing’s Sacred Cow. (Love that imagery, don’t you?) Frighteningly enough, she represents redemption to many in the Republican Party, certainly to the rightest and shrillest wing thereof, and she will be defended with every weapon at the party’s disposal.

Lesson the second: We can't out-smear the Republican party. Democrats are so far behind in this particular arms race that it doesn’t do for them to even attempt to engage the enemy on this field. This is one game at which we can not beat them. And, in my opinion, trying to do so only raises the snarky political noise to a pitch that will surely turn all our brains to mush. If it hasn’t already.

So, here’s an idea for the Democratic Party:

Why not DO something? Why not accomplish something for which history, and possibly even the voting public, will reward you? Why not earn the public’s trust, instead of trying to out-yell the other guy for it?

Just a thought…