Saturday, October 04, 2008

The GOP In A Nutshell

Poor Joe Biden. All of the talk on the debate is focusing on Sarah Palin (natch)... her obsession with rehearsed, folksy anecdotes* in lieu of substantive answers (see this 10-minute debate summary video); how conservatives are in love with her again; and-- my favorite-- her over-reliance on note cards to give her scripted answers. Oops, there I go again, talking about the past, donchaknow!

(*As Andrew Sullivan points out, the full accent and aw-shucks folkiness is a recent invention)

But it's the blogs that have caught onto a subtle moment that's now, to me, the most telling Palin moment from her rambling. After an earlier Reagan shoutout (which all Republicans are contractually obligated to give), Palin decided to end by quoting the Gipper-
"It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free."

No one on TV paid much attention to this (it was at the end, when everyone just wanted to a) go to bed, or b) get drunk while stumbling down spin alley), but a few people at home did think to themselves... hey, what's she quoting? One of Reagan's inaugural addresses? His speech about tearing down the Berlin wall or something equally grand? Neither.

The quote is from a 1961 recording that Reagan made on behalf of the American Medical Association warning about how 'socialized medicine' proposals such as Medicare would destroy America as we know it. Yes, it was so sad when Medicare took away our freedoms... perhaps even worse than when the minimum wage and unemployment insurance raped our liberties a generation earlier.

So, yes, that's Sarah Palin talking in 2008 about protecting our precious freedoms a few of which she actually supports by quoting a nearly 50-year-old Reagan polemic against Medicare. Those are the 'freedoms' conservatives really care about (their record on freedom in general being a bit spotty these days). This choice of quote is pretty much the modern Republican party in a nutshell.

(Full Reagan audio... here)

I apologize, of course, if this post has now excluded me from induction into the Team of Mavericks that will be cleaning up Washington DC next year by sheer force of will and imagination.

[PS- I liked this Ronald Reagan a lot more. Too bad he never got to be President.]


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