I'm disinclined to post this here, at the risk of seeming a gloater. But...
Remember: This is from Fox News, so it has to be true.
So: Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a continent? Didn't know which countries were in NAFTA?
I've tried to avoid suggesting that Gov. Palin is dumb, instead chalking up her obvious deficiencies to a lack of knowledge and lack of preparation. However, there comes a time when lack of knowledge and lack of preparation are so severe as to be indistinguishable from rank stupidity. It would appear that Gov. Palin found the sweet spot on this spectrum.
Not that you can, but if you can remove ideology from the equation, it becomes pretty clear: John McCain selected this woman as his running mate. You don't have to like Barack Obama or Democrats to think this decision alone made McCain undeserving of the presidency.
Today's Andy McCarthy Award for Silliest Thing Said in Politics Today goes to Jonah Goldberg, who offers this sterling insight:
Now that McCain has lost, and Sarah Palin has time to reintroduce herself down the road, the anti-Palin conservatives will almost surely look foolish in retrospect.
Hey, if Palin emerges down the road having done some preparation to talk about national issues in an articulate and intelligent manner, more power to her. But that wasn't the case this fall. (Or do you want me to play the Couric interview again?) Palin might be a good conservative candidate in the future -- but she was most assuredly a poor pick now. That will still be the case with hindsight, no matter what she does to build her reputation from here on out.
To all my monkey friends in California:
I have cast my vote in the hotly contested state of Pennsylvania, where people will be carefully watching the results. It's fun to live in a swing state. I feel sorry for those of you on your way to cast your votes for John McCain in California, knowing there's no way in heck he's actually going to win a single electoral vote there.
Democracy is fun! I hope you get to experience it someday!
Nothing. Sorry. Just figured we needed one more polite yelling at each other before election day. While everybody's still talking to each other.
Finally, my little series concludes. Here's one of my main points:
He’ll never be confused for George W. Bush. I’d like to give you a wonky reason as my primary reason, but this is what it boils down to for me. I want a president who governs with his head instead of his gut. I want a president who doesn’t believe that bluster and toughness are the same thing. I want a president who is capable of self-doubt, but not crippled by it. I want a president who is less likely to decide that protecting America requires sacrificing its ideals. These are what Republicans call “character” issues, and in my judgment, Obama — in his public life, at the very least — has tons of it. Simply put: He’s got the temperament and smarts for the job. I can’t say the same thing about our current president (who is smart, but never got into practice using his intellect in a productive way) or the current erratic and hot-headed GOP candidate.
As always, I welcome arguments.
Continuing my series of Philadelphia Weekly posts explaining my vote for Obama. Today, my note of caution:
Unless he’s got a trick up his sleeve that nobody’s ever seen before, Barack Obama will not turn the United States into some kind of grand utopia. There are a couple of reasons for this: First, a president isn’t in control of every event and outcome; it’s very possible that — had 9/11 never happened — George W. Bush would’ve served four or eight years as the country’s amiable caretaker. History had other ideas and they ended up both facilitating and revealing the worst impulses of Bush and everybody around him. So history may well have a few ideas during a Barack Obama presidency that will test him as a president and reveal flaws that we can’t yet discern.
Plus, I say, nobody can live up to the hype. And, yeah, there's been plenty of hype.
...it really is annoying when celebrities meddle in politics.
And Robert Davi? HUGE in Minnesota.
I promised not to force-feed the thousands of words I'm writing this week about my vote, but I thought I'd give you some chunks. Today's installment: Why I can't vote for John McCain.
Here's a crucial moment in the five reasons I list:
Yesterday, I praised John McCain for advocating for the surge. I still believe that if you’re going to fight a war, you should at least try to do it competently. McCain, unlike the Bush Administration, had that going for him. But he made a terrible, irrevocable error in judgment in supporting the original invasion. He still says that was the right call. He is so completely wrong on this issue that, in my mind, it disqualifies him to be the president of the United States.
Come visit my blog at Philadelphia Weekly if you want the rest.
Cross-posted from my other digs. Don't worry: I won't inflict the entire series on you.
We're barely a week away from the election. You probably know whom you're voting for by now; I certainly do -- and God bless Ralph Nader.
I kid. Barack Obama's got my vote, and I'm frankly excited about this: For the first time in my life, I'm voting in a swing state. Unlike my years in the wilderness of Kansas -- where the GOP candidate will always get the electoral votes, even if he's caught with a live boy and a dead girl -- my vote might make a difference in the outcome. I feel a little more democratic.
I'm going to get into the reasons why I'm voting for Obama over the next few days. But while I'm doing that, I want to examine the question of McCain or Obama? from several different angles:
• Why I can't vote for John McCain.
• Why Barack Obama might not live up to the hype.
• Why I'm voting for Barack Obama, anyway.
And, as a postscript: Why liberals should want a strong, smart conservative movement to get its act together.
But first: McCain. Here are four reasons he might not be the worst president ever:
• He's (mostly) against torture. The United States' decision to torture terrorist suspects -- and to do so, frankly, with the silent assent of much of the American electorate -- represents perhaps the greatest moral failing of my country in my lifetime. Growing up in Reagan's America, the lines were always pretty clear to me: There were the Bad Guys and there were the Good Guys. We, of course, were the Good Guys. And part of what made the Bad Guys bad was their brutal treatment of opponents, both real and suspected.
The United States has often fallen short of pristine morality, of course, but the ideal was still there. And because it was still there -- because we judged ourselves against that ideal -- we could still have faith that we were on the right side.
• He doesn't think global warming is a hoax. Again, this is something of a rarity in his party. And thinking seriously about the issue of climate change will be required of the next president -- even if only peripherally -- because other issues that matter, such as terrorism and energy, are bound up with this matter as well.
If McCain is elected, we might well have a "Nixon to China" moment on climate change, finally able to move the American debate beyond the "Is it real?" question to "How do we address it?"
• He actually has a history of bipartisan action. Who knows if that will survive the election, but McCain really has bucked his own party -- on issues from judges to immigration to campaign finance reform -- and worked with Democrats on issues he judged important. After eight years of a presidency that tried to muscle its opponents into submission, that attitude would be a welcome change.
• He was in favor of the surge. The Bush Administration made two monstrous mistakes going into Iraq. First, it invaded Iraq. Second, it did so in a dumb way, without enough troops to keep the peace after Baghdad fell.
I'll address why McCain was wrong to back the invasion tomorrow. But if you're going to invade a country, invade it right. And if you're going to continue to occupy a country that you shouldn't, well, again: Do it right. John McCain was wrong to want to invade Iraq; but he had a better idea of how to get the job done once the United States committed itself.
None of this means I'll be voting for McCain, of course, and tomorrow I'm going to get into the reasons why. But most presidents are neither great nor disastrous; they simply do the job until the next president comes along. Like those other presidents, McCain would probably be a mix of good and bad.
Just in case you don't get the reference:
Apparently all defenders of freedom are not created equal. And, apparently, it's OK to cast Democrats in the role of those who commit massacres against their own people.
I'm not really outraged. I'd have to expect better from The Weekly Standard to feel outrage.
Charles Krauthammer castigates Barack Obama's lack of experience:
Who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m.? A man who’s been cramming on these issues for the last year, who’s never had to make an executive decision affecting so much as a city, let alone the world? A foreign-policy novice instinctively inclined to the flabbiest, most vaporous multilateralism (e.g., the Berlin Wall came down because of “a world that stands as one”), and who refers to the most deliberate act of war since Pearl Harbor as “the tragedy of 9/11,” a term more appropriate for a bus accident?
This is the first I've heard that using the word "tragedy" is a sign of some kind of squishy soft-on-terror appeasement. Unfortunately, Krauthammer doesn't really enlighten us as to the proper SUPERLATIVE term to describe 9/11 -- although he did, a few years ago, say that we shouldn't refer to 9/11 as a tragedy but as an "act of war." Why can't it be both? Unless, of course, you're posturing in order to make your political opponents look like soft-on-terror squishes.
If "tragedy" doesn't cover it, I'm afraid we're going to have to start adapting English in the German method, by combining lots of words together to convey the sheer awfulness of 9/11. Something like "Osamaandtheterriblehorriblenogoodverybaddaytragicactofwar." I'm just spit-balling here.
Of course, in the face of a tragedy -- yeah, I said it -- like 9/11 the humble thing might be to recognize the limits of language in expressing our horror, and to cut other folks some slack in their descriptions. But there's no political advantage to be gained from that.
I didn't check in with any of the other Monkeys here before making this statement, but I wanted to go ahead and make a declaration of intent.
We're less than two weeks before the election. Emotions are going to get high. Ben and I will confront each other politely; Z and I will be spanking each other with little mercy; I don't even want to think what Brad's going to do to me.
Robb and I will probably high five on some things and draw knives on the others. And David: He'll just taunt me about the parties I'm missing.
But when all is said and done, I don't doubt the good faith and good will of the people I'm arguing with here. They're my friends. I intend (and hope) to act in that spirit. Even if they're wrong about everything.
Via TAPPED, it's good to see McCain supporters standing against ugly bigotry:
The "Obama is a socialist" meme is alive and well on the right:
In a radio address on Saturday, Mr. McCain said that “at least in Europe, the Socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives.” Asked in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” whether he believed that Mr. Obama’s plans amount to socialism, Mr. McCain said, “I think his plans are redistribution of the wealth.” Pressed again on the subject, Mr. McCain said, “That’s one of the tenets of socialism.”
That was Saturday. Here's McCain on Sunday:
“I’m going to spend a lot of money to bring relief to you,” Mr. McCain pledged to cheers at a rally here Sunday.
Anyway, since this seems to be the growing narrative by Republicans, let's make something clear: What Barack Obama is proposing -- a tax cut for people making less than $250,000 a year -- isn't socialism. It is (as Republicans like Ronald Reagan might once have said) letting middle-class taxpayers keep more of the money they earn to support themselves and their families.
Sure: The tax cut will be offset by a tax increase of 3 percent on people making more than $250,000. And to some extent, I suppose, that's redistributionist. But Colin Powell actually had a pretty good take on this during his Obama endorsement on Sunday:
"Taxes are always a redistribution of money. Most of the taxes that are redistributed go back to those who pay them -- in roads and airports and hospitals and schools," President Bush's former secretary of state said. "And taxes are necessary for the common good, and there's nothing wrong with examining what our tax structure is or who should be paying more, who should be paying less.
"For us to say that makes you a socialist, I think, is an unfortunate characterization that isn't accurate."
Right. Until Republicans propose doing away with all taxes altogether and close up shop on government, they're also pursuing policies that redistribute wealth, to an extent. That would make them -- by the definition that seems to be in play now -- socialists as well. Only their redistribution scheme benefits people who are already rich, as opposed to the rest of us.
But is that a fair definition of socialism? Of course not. The L.A. Times actually had a pretty good nut graf on this the other day:
Socialist theory calls for collective ownership of most private enterprise and for an egalitarian society. Karl Marx argued that socialism was a transitional phase between capitalism and communism.
So here's the question: Which private enterprise has Barack Obama advocated "collective ownership" of? Which industries has he said -- or even hinted -- that we should nationalize?
On the other hand, the Bush Administration just partially nationalized the nation's biggest banks. That's a step or two beyond even the wildest fantasies of any Democratic president since Harry Truman. What's McCain call that?
WALLACE: But, Senator, you voted for the $700 billion bailout that's being used partially to nationalize American banks. Isn't that socialism?
MCCAIN: That is reacting to a crisis that's due to greed and excess in Washington.
And what this administration is doing wrong, and what Paulson is doing wrong, is not going out and buying up home loan mortgages, home mortgages, and giving people new mortgages at the new value of their home so they can stay in their home.
They're bailing out the banks. They're baling out these institutions.
WALLACE: But you voted for that.
MCCAIN: Of course. It was a package that had to be enacted because the economy was about to go into the tank.
So McCain -- along with Obama -- voted for the closest thing to actual socialism this country has seen since the Great Depression. And he says the Bush Administration hasn't gone far enough. But he has the temerity to call Obama a socialist. At this point, though, if we're to call Obama a socialist and pretend that McCain doesn't have similar (only more elitist) instincts, then the word "socialism" has no meaning.
(And I love the guy in the video above, who hates Obama's socialism and wants to keep riding his Harley on "free American roads." Um, those roads were paid with using your tax dollars, bud. They help get goods to market. They're anything but free.)
The L.A. Times today carries a story about how American carmakers are trying to literally retool so they can produce fuel-efficient European style cars that gas-and-cash-conscious customers are now seeking out:
Ford will shut down this half-century-old plant next month and begin the arduous process of converting it to a factory in which the current European version of the Focus will be built in 2010. Ford is also preparing to retool truck factories in Louisville, Ky., and Cuautitlan, Mexico, to make five more European-style compact cars for the U.S. market.
"This is critical for us," said Bill Russo, Ford's head of manufacturing, walking past rows of roof assemblies in the Michigan Truck Plant's body shop. "We absolutely need to make more smaller vehicles as soon as possible."
In the meantime, the Times says, U.S. automakers are losing sales to Toyota and Honda, which are already making the small cars customers here need and want.
In any case, you know who is going to pay for the industry's retooling, don't you? You, the taxpayer, thanks to a $25 billion auto industry bailout Congress approved that kind of got lost in the haggling over the $700 billion Wall Street bailout that was going on at the same time.
But it's worth asking if the industry would be going through quite the same pains now if the Republican Congress had been willing to raise fuel efficiency standards back in 2003. Back then, Sen. Trent Lott led opposition to an increase in fuel standards:
By a 65-32 vote, the Senate turned back a proposal offered by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., that would have required automakers to produce a fleet average of 40 miles per gallon by 2015, a dramatic increase from the current 27.5 mpg now required.
Instead, senators approved by a 66-30 vote an industry-supported measure that turned the issue over to the Transportation Department, which will be required to take into consideration an array of issues -- from job losses and highway safety to economic impact on U.S. auto manufacturers -- before any rule change can be made.
"What about choice? This is still America," said Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. He brought to the Senate floor a picture of a European mini-car, declaring, "I don't think we should be forced to drive that automobile."
It's worth noting a couple of things:
• The bill was rejected by Republicans nearly two years after 9/11 and after the invasion of Iraq, when it was clear to just about everybody that reliance on foreign oil was creating national security problems for the United States. But according to Trent Lott, driving small cars was too humiliating a choice to enhance our national security.
• That raising fuel efficiency might've been somewhat painful for manufacturers five years ago. But they're going through a LOT of pain right now anyway, which might've been mitigated somewhat if they'd managed to go along with doing the right thing back then.
As it happens, the same industry that rejected slightly tougher federal regulations is more than happy to accept federal financing to stay afloat. That's a redistribution of my money to big business. Funny how the free market is willing to accept "socialism" during tough times, eh?
From the Washington Post:
(Rich Little tells the story of doing Reagan in front of Reagan himself. Reagan was amused, says Little, and responded with some impressions of his own -- Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Truman Capote. "Well, what did you think?" Reagan asked. "Keep your day job," shot back Don Rickles, according to Little.)
Reagan doing Capote? It's probably best that wasn't seen publicly. Might've changed the outcome of the Cold War.
Apparently it's not too early for the Republican Party and the conservative movement to start tearing themselves apart over John McCain's (apparently) imminent loss: Chris Buckley -- son of conservative lion William Buckley -- has had to resign his column from the conservative National Review because he endorsed Barack Obama.
“It upset a great number of people - a huge number of canceled subscriptions, apostasy, the whole thing,” he said from Washington.
When he offered his resignation to the magazine’s editors, “I was sort of hoping for, ‘Well, let’s think about it,’ ” Buckley said. “But to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I didn’t leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me.”
There's no evidence from what I can tell that Buckley isn't a conservative. It's just that he's not equating that with being a Republican. There is a difference -- but apparently National Review doesn't know it anymore. It used to.
I've not yet got around to reading anything by the Czech novelist Milan Kundera, but I don't think that disqualifies me from noting this story in today's Times:
In a revelation that could tarnish the legacy of one of the best-known Eastern European writers, a Czech research institute published a report on Monday indicating that the young Milan Kundera told the police about a supposed spy.
The police quickly arrested the man, Miroslav Dvoracek, who had defected to Germany in 1948 and was said to have been recruited by United States-backed anti-Communists as a spy against the Czech government. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Mr. Dvoracek narrowly escaped the death penalty, a common punishment for espionage, and eventually served a 14-year sentence, including hard labor in a uranium mine.The allegations could diminish Mr. Kundera’s moral stature as a spokesman, however enigmatic, against totalitarianism’s corrosion of daily life. (Emphasis added.)
I'm not sure that it should do any such diminishment.
The hallmark of totalitarian regimes is that they corrupt even good people. Everybody is so afraid that they'll be reported to authorities -- that their lives will be devastated -- that they cooperate with the regime in order to save their own skin. There's precious few people who have the moral backbone to stand entirely apart from such societal pressures -- and they often end up dead, in prison or in exile. (See the works of Timothy Garton Ash, or the movie The Lives of Others, for examples of this.) I can only pity Kundera if the reports (which he denies) are true.
And it's one reason we have to be vigilant in safeguarding our civil liberties, even in the United States. Because when they're gone, the results are devastating to societies and to souls.
But more than just attending the ACORN-sponsored February 2006 rally, ACORN confirms in a statement today that McCain was actually the keynote speaker!
So now, they wonder, why it is that McCain seems to have "lost that loving feeling?"
"It has deeply saddened us to see Senator McCain abandon his historic support for ACORN and our efforts to support the goals of low-income Americans. Maybe it is out of desperation that Senator McCain has forgotten that he was for ACORN before he was against ACORN," noted Bertha Lewis, Chief Organizer of ACORN.
To be fair, I'm not sure I've heard McCain attack ACORN himself. That's been left to, well, virtually everybody else in the Republican Party. And this is actually the kind of thing that makes his support from the GOP kind of soft. But it's still fun to note.
So I spent my day on a press bus. Following Barack Obama around Philly.
It was in some ways a dreary affair: Obama made four stops and gave more or less the same speech in all four locations. Also: I heard Tom Cochrane's "Life is a Highway" played twice today. Nonironically. So I'm a bit tired.
Still, I don't think you have to be a Democrat or an Obama supporter to find to be moved by what I saw today. The last stop of the day was 52nd and Locust, deep in the heart of West Philly -- a run-down (many of the neighborhood windows were boarded), mostly black neighborhood. It's where Philly's current mayor, Michael Nutter, grew up.
And I'm not quite sure how to describe what I saw.
People jumping. People waving. People smiling. A lot of joy. This was not the swooning of people in love -- an conservatives like to say -- with The Messiah. No: This was the reaction of black people moved, deeply moved, by seeing a black man on the cusp of the presidency.
Someday, hopefully, this won't be a big deal. But this is the first time in our history that this has happened. And given our history -- slavery, Jim Crow -- it's even more extraordinary. I've pointed this out before, but I'll do so again: Barack Obama was born before the Civil Rights acts of the mid-1960s, when there was still a debate in this country over whether blacks deserved equal rights, and the full force of the law to enforce those rights. We've come a long way in a very short time. It was amazing to see that celebrated today. I look forward to telling my son someday that I got to see it in person.
Yes, that Chris Buckley:
But that was—sigh—then. John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?
But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.
Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.
Interesting, that thought about what "the historical moment is calling for." I'm definitely a liberal; I'm trying to think if there would be a moment when I'd say the same thing about a Republican. Maybe 1980? I don't know. I'll have to think on that a little more.
So last night, we watched The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration. And man, was it fantastic.
Like many American men, I'm addicted to The Godfather. For me, the devotion started about a decade ago; I'd avoided seeing the movie because it was so recommended, so praised, that watching it had taken on the whiff of doing homework -- when you have to see a movie, that makes it a little less enticing, at least for me. But one weekend I was home sick, there was a VHS copy of the movie (very grainily) recorded from Cinemax, and, well I was hooked. (This, of course, was back when Al Pacino was still acting instead of SHOUTING! EVERY! LINE!)
It was the first release of The Godfather on DVD back in 2001 or so that prompted me to buy a DVD player. And it's this new release of The Coppola Restoration -- an effort to restore the film footage so that the movie looks like what audiences saw in theaters in 1972 -- that has me contemplating an upgrade to high-definition.
I didn't do that last night; instead, we downloaded the restoration from iTunes and watched it on my wife's big-ass computer monitor. That's not quite HD, but the results were still amazing. The picture was crisper, the colors popped; the final scene in the garden between Michael and Vito Corleone ("There wasn't enough time") looks like, well, art.
The story of The Godfather was always compelling. Now -- after a few decades -- the visuals match the story.
Two new polls find that Mrs. Palin and running mate Sen. John McCain have lost ground in recent days among independent voters - precisely the demographic that the "outsider/maverick/hockey mom" was supposed to attract. And the numbers suggest that Miss Fey's uncanny impersonation of the Alaska governor is playing a role.
About 33 percent of independents said the "Tina Fey effect" is hurting the McCain-Palin ticket, compared with 9 percent who said it was helpful, a Fox 5/The Washington Times/Rasmussen Reports survey says. The figures were nearly identical among independents in the survey.
Memo to Republicans: Make sure next major candidates don't look so much like major comedy stars.
My Philly neighbors at Geekadelphia found something I thought my
bitter gun nut loving friends here at IM would enjoy: AK-47 bullet ice cubes.
Geekadelphia notes: "Nothing punctuates a classy whiskey like one of these rounds."
Since there's a fondness in these parts for enjoying the demise of anti-war movies, I thought I'd go ahead and note that "American Carol" tanked this weekend.
Apparently, the moviegoing audience isn't interested from polemics from any part of the political spectrum. They just want to be entertained.
The world's "champion debate watcher" weighs in:
Joe Biden will be judged on whether he gets anything wrong; Palin, on whether she gets anything right.
See you at the live blog!
I was in the shower this morning -- where I do some of my best thinking, probably to the detriment of my actual hygene -- when I had a moment of insight: If John McCain loses this election, you can expect certain conservatives to eventually use it as a reason to condemn affirmative action, "identity politics" and any other effort to help women or minorities get ahead.
Follow me here. I think we can largely agree that McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate mostly for reasons of identity politics: McCain wanted to stick a thumb in Barack Obama's eye -- and maybe pick up a few Hillary Clinton fans along the way -- by picking a female running mate. Sarah Palin had the social conservative bona fides, so -- presto! -- she was picked. And Republicans were gleeful about turning the ol' identity game (one that they'd long decried) back on Democrats.
And then Palin started visiting the media. And in nearly every case -- with the exceptions of visits to friendly "journalists" such as Hugh Hewitt or Sean Hannity -- proved herself woefully unprepared for the job she sought. It's hard to imagine a scenario unfolding in the next few weeks in which she undoes that impression, or the damage it has created.
So if McCain loses, I think we can expect to see my predicted attacks. "See?" we'll hear -- I'm guessing at The Corner. "Promoting somebody just because they're a woman or black only does damage."
And to an extent, I suppose, they'll be right.
Conservatives would contend otherwise, but I've always thought that (for example) affirmative action -- at its best -- creates a more meritocratic society. In education, it provides opportunities for people to obtain qualifications that would've been difficult for them to otherwise obtain. And in the professional world (in which your ability to do a job is only part of the reason you get hired; often, it also includes who you know), it provided opportunities to break through the network of "good ol' boy" defenses to allow qualified people -- people from outside the GOB network -- and chance to penetrate the inner circle.
Has this system been perfect? Of course not. And those imperfections have allowed conservative critics to paint affirmative action, identity politics, etc., as the precise opposite of a meritocratic system. And because they saw those efforts in caricatured terms -- "Give a minority a job, regardless of other qualifications." -- they stumbled badly when they used Palin to try to play the game.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both the fruits of a Democratic Party system that has made real efforts to reach out to women and minorities. In other words: Yes, they got to where they were in large part because they were a woman and black, respectively. And yet: I think it's established by now that -- whatever you think of their politics -- they're both familiar with the issues facing this country and the political landscape it's played on. They're qualified for the job, in other words.
Sarah Palin isn't. But that will be ignored in the campaign aftermath -- assuming, again, that McCain loses. There's a joke that Republicans have proved the inefficacy of government by their own ineptness at running it. I think we're about to see a similar dynamic with identity issues.