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DALLAS (Reuters) – Republican evangelicals are not the only political base vice presidential pick Sarah Palin is energizing.
Democratic foot soldiers have sprung into action in response to John McCain’s running-mate’s personal attacks on their candidate, Barack Obama, her opposition to abortion rights and her endorsement from religious conservatives.
“When Palin’s radical and extremist views are combined with her inexperience and questionable record, it makes for an energizing brew more potent than Red Bull,” said Colorado Democratic leader Pat Waak, referring to the caffeinated energy drink.
Palin’s impact on the left was seen almost immediately after her rousing speech last month at the Republican National Convention, when Obama’s campaign reported the next day that over $8 million had poured into it from over 130,000 donors.
More recently, Palin drew the ire of Democrats when she accused Obama of “palling around” with terrorists because he served on a community board in Chicago with former 1960s radical William Ayers.
“Her attacks will make liberals see red,” added political scientist Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University.
The Alaska governor, skewered on late-night comedy shows and an object of liberal wrath on the blogosphere, has also proven an able fund-raiser for other secular and liberal causes before the November 4 presidential election.
Songwriter Gretchen Peters is donating the royalties from her song “Independence Day” during this election cycle to Planned Parenthood — and asks that donations be made in honor of Palin. Planned Parenthood provides women’s health-care services, including abortion clinics, and is frequently a target of social conservatives.
Peters was angered by the McCain/Palin campaign’s use of the song, which is about domestic abuse.
“The fact that the McCain/Palin campaign is using a song about an abused woman as a rallying cry for their vice presidential candidate, a woman who would ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest, is beyond irony,” Peters says on her website.
“They are co-opting the song, completely overlooking the context and message, and using it to promote a candidate who would set women’s rights back decades,” she says.
Planned Parenthood spokesperson Tait Sye said a separate online campaign to raise money on its behalf “in honor of Sarah Palin” has netted more than $1 million from over 38,000 donors in all 50 states and two-thirds of the donations are from new donors who have not contributed to it before.
Organizations and activists who support abortion rights are a base for the Democratic Party. Abortion is a sharply divisive and highly partisan issue in the United States.
Palin, who bills herself as a moose-hunting mother of five, gave birth last spring to a Down syndrome baby and strongly opposes abortion rights.
“Sarah Palin has energized the Republican base in unexpected ways and there is always countermobilization to a successful mobilization,” said Jillson.
In the battleground state of Colorado, Democratic Party officials said they were getting a boost from Palin’s presence on the ticket.
“I am meeting women who have never been involved before, and they are really energized to work on behalf of the Obama-Biden ticket,” said party leader Waak.
The factors that make Palin such a target for liberals of course are the same that have enabled McCain to solidify his support among the Republican Party’s evangelical base.
President George W. Bush, a Republican, got almost 80 percent of the votes cast by white evangelical Protestants in the 2004 election and analysts have said McCain, who had failed to really excite this group before he picked Palin, cannot win without them.
Evangelicals account for about 25 percent of the U.S. adult population, giving them clout in a country where faith and politics often mix.
I’m of two minds about how to deal with the McCain campaign’s further descent into ugliness. Their strategy is simple: you throw crap against a wall and then giggle as the media try to analyze the putresence in a way that conveys a sense of balance: “Well, it is bull-pucky, but the splatter pattern is interesting…” which, of course, only serves to get your perverse message out. I really don’t want to be a part of that. But…every so often, we journalists have a duty to remind readers just how dingy the McCain campaign, and its right-wing acolytes in the media (I’m looking at you, Sean Hannity) have become–especially in their efforts to divert public attention from the economic crisis we’re facing. And so inept at it: other campaigns have decided that their only shot is going negative, but usually they don’t announce it, as several McCain aides have in recent days–there’s no way we can win on the economy, so we’re going to go sludge-diving.
But since we are dealing with manure here, I’ll put the rest of this post below the fold.
It is appropriate that the prime vessel for this assault is Sarah Palin, whose very presence on a national ticket is an insult to your intelligence. She now has “credibility,” we are told, because she managed to read talking points off notecards in the debate last week with unwitting enthusiasm.
Over the weekend, she picked up on an article in The New York Times, which essentially says that Barack Obama and the former terrorist Bill Ayers have crossed paths in Chicago, served on a couple of charitable boards together, but aren’t particularly close. To Palin–or her scriptwriters–this means that Obama has been “palling around” with terrorists. Now, I wish Ayers had done some serious jail time; he certainly needed to pay some penance for his youthful criminality–even if most people in Chicago, including the mayor, have decided that he has something of value to say about education. But I can also understand how Obama, who was a child when Ayers was cutting his idiot swath, would not quite understand the enormity of the professor’s background. (I got to know Alger Hiss twenty years after the fact–he was a printing salesman then, a friend of my father’s–and thought of him as a sweet old man, if a good deal more liberal than dad’s other friends.)
In any case, this is rather rich coming from Palin, who is married to a man who belonged to a political party–the Alaskan Independence Party–that wanted to secede from the union. (I should add here that the Times may have been overreacting to the McCain campaign’s attack on its fairness here: the Ayers story was a nothingburger, but it was placed prominently in the top left hand corner of page one–a position that would seem to indicate that it contained important news, which it didn’t.)
Then we have the ever-reliable Bill Kristol, in today’s New York Times, advising Palin to bring up the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Palin, of course, believes that’s a darn good idea:
“To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up.”
So then, I’d guess, it would be appropriate to bring up some of the nuttiness that passes for godliness in Palin’s religious life. Leave aside the fact that The Embarracuda allowed herself to participate in a cermony that protected her from witchcraft, how about her presence–she didn’t “get up and leave”– at a sermon by the founder of Jews for Jesus, who argued that the Palestinian terrorist acts against Israel were God’s “judgment” on the Jews because they hadn’t accepted Jesus.
Speaking of Jews, the ever-execrable Sean Hannity has been having intercourse with a known Jew-hater named Andy Martin, who now wants to expose Barack Obama as a Muslim. According to the Washington Times:
In 1986, when Mr. Martin ran as a Democrat for Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District seat under the name “Anthony R. Martin-Trigona,” his campaign committee filed papers saying its purpose was to “exterminate Jew power in America and impeach U.S. District Court of Appeals judges in New York City.”
Calling all Podhoretzs! Where’s the outrage? I mean, don’t the hateful doings at Palin’s church and Hannity’s perfidy deserve a lengthy exegesis from Pete Wehner or Jennifer Rubin or one of the other empretzled ideologues over at Commentary?
As I said, I’m of two minds about this. I don’t want to give currency to this sewage, so it will remain below the fold. And I’ll try to devote the lion’s share of my time to the issues–the war, the economic crisis, the fraying health insurance system, the environment–that should define this campaign. But what a desperate empty embarrassment the McCain campaign has become.