Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Fisting the North Star

As they say in the 'hood, read the whole thing. As you might expect, it's a sordid little tale of a dominionist loon's shopping spree for leather jackets, Spanx, and fuck-me pumps.

But it's also a pretty thorough confirmation of basically everything you thought you knew about Sarah Palin -- the temper tantrums; the incessant lies and bearing of false witness; the unfortunate children used as props for her boilerplate rubber-chicken stops; the indifference to the actual mechanics of governance (as opposed to parroting the buzzwords of the day); the sheer vindictiveness that apparently has half her welfare state shitting its collective pants in fear of retribution (of what sort or from where, since Palin no longer holds an office, it is unclear).

The real takeaway though, beyond all the snickery gossip at the Wasilla Hillbillies and Ma's warmed-over Fertile Myrtle schtick, is what a cipher Palin really is. There's no there there; she has no ideas, no thoughts or plans deeper than memorized slogans and cartoonish rhetoric. It's not that she is necessarily incapable of learning how to implement effective policy (though she may certainly be after all), it's that it clearly bores the shit out of her.

I disliked the Clintons quite thoroughly when they were in office; the endless, self-serving triangulations on even picayune issues simply became too exhausting to parse after a while. The man could uncork an extemporaneous, honey-dripped stemwinder effortlessly, could go on for what seemed like days at will. Yet he could never quite get around to saying what he actually meant, much less do what he actually said.

However, one thing I always admired about Bill (and Hillary, for that matter) Clinton is that he is intellectually voracious. He likes ideas; he's curious about people and the world; he sees the big picture, and how all the pieces fit. All the (generally dismissive) stories in the nineties about the late-night bull sessions at the Clinton White House, Clinton and aides mowing down pizza into the wee hours, talking policy minutiae -- to me, that was the most appealing thing about the man and his governance.

It has become a common trope, when talking about self-styled "conservatives" (who are really just authoritarians, it bears repeating once again) in general, and Bush or Palin acolytes in particular, to mention their clear mistrust of even a whiff of intellectualism. They seriously don't appear to trust anyone smarter -- or more precisely, more educated -- than they are. The logical result of this is this tedious, overweening desire of theirs to puff up these thoroughly mediocre figures to near-divine status.

I have to take the opposite tack -- I find it impossible, incomprehensible, to trust anyone who thinks they already know everything they need to know. I don't get people who are never curious about one more thing, in a world filled with infinite wonderful and interesting things. They are curious about nothing, nothing at all; they seek only to acquire more toys and affirm their knuckle-headed assertions, regardless of inconvenient facts.

This dead-eyed, dead-brained view these people have of the world around them is solipsistic to its core. Rational self-interest is one thing, but these folks seem to take self-interest to a completely irrational degree, to where it is absolute in scope, but in practicality is more often than not against their own self-interest, yet strangely in accord with how they see themselves.

And so it was with Fredo, a man who was as underwhelming an intellect when he moseyed off-stage in 2008 as he was when he started campaigning in 1999. Ignorant of even basic geography (Slovenia/Slovakia; Sweden/Switzerland), possessed of no real desire to learn, he was more than happy to let a creature like Richard Bruce Cheney take the reins in the shadows. In this dark symbiosis, Cheney was equally content to let Fredo have the spotlight, play dress-up when he got bored with policy discussions, while Cheney and his minions actually ran things. Every so often Fredo, who for all his faults actually seems largely indifferent to the social hot-button issues he stoked, would toddle out and throw some red meat to the crowd, keep 'em distracted while their pockets were picked, their water poisoned, and their kids sent to some sand-covered shithole to die.

And so it would be with Palin -- she would probably be more or less harmless, other than continuing the damage to the English language that Bush proliferated with his spoonerisms and ricockulous syntax. But like Bush, her boredom with knowledge and learning, with the mechanics of governance, with the formation of plans and policies, would lead to a vacuum to be filled with like-minded ideologues. And those guys are interested and knowledgeable about those things, and are bought and paid for by the same rentier "capitalists" who bought the last regime and got return on their money, as they monkey-fucked the economy and the bottom 90% with their public-subsidy-private-profit upward wealth transfer schemes.

I dunno. If these doofuses could be countered with, y'know, facts, it might be a different story. But they can't; facts are of no use to them, or to Palin herself. Things are what they say they are, what they want them to be. They're agin' gubmint spending, less'n of course it's spent on them, then they're just okely-fuckin-dokely about it. Palin is the perfect person to ventriloquize their incoherent desires, hopes, fears, and prejudices.