By C. Antonio Romero
SAN FRANCISCO, 4 NOVEMBER 2008 - Oh, muse of
history, repeat your song as farce - perhaps the last
language the modern ear can parse.
What Sarah Palin lacks in foreign policy experience, she surely
makes up in ignorance. The proof is in the pranking she
suffered today, at the hands of two Canadian comedians who
convinced her (and her campaign staff) that she was talking
with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Our coverage of the 2008 election
explored links between John
McCain's campaign and Sarkozy back in May: a meeting
between their campaign strategists; appeals to nationalist
pride; an anti-Muslim, anti-black subtext meant to rile the
folks in the heartland. And McCain's visit last winter to see
Sarkozy on his way home from Iraq may have given the two men a
chance to swap tips, as well as shaking hands.
But at the time, Sarah Palin was not yet in the loop, and
France was not on the list of countries whose heads of state
Palin got to meet and greet in her September debutante crash
So, apparently, she never learned that Sarkozy does not speak
English. Or that heads of state are unlikely to phone vice
presidential candidates to make small talk without
preconditions, even if, like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Colombia,
those states are global hotspots tied, in one way or another,
to American interests. And her experience with political satire
was apparently limited to her brief exposure to the writers of
Saturday Night Live (where, it must be admitted, she
played along with some nasty jokes at her expense).
So, when les Justiciers Masqués (Marc Antoine Audette and
Sébastien Trudel of CKOI, Montreal) threaded their way past
Palin's staff and got the candidate on the phone for about five
minutes, she was defenseless.
Palin can take some small comfort in the knowledge that Sarkozy
himself was once pranked by the diabolical duo, and strung
along for a good three minutes. And she does a fair job of
being congenial, flattering and on-message when those skills
are the only ones at her disposal. And her gushing account of
how she and McCain are confidently closing the gap in the
campaign is... well, her job.
But listen to the call, and hear her miss one slow-pitched clue
after another (catalogued at length at Buzzflash )
that this caller is having her on. Eliminate the impossible,
and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth:
Sarah "I always do that!" Palin is, deep down, thick as the
And John MccCain has made a dangerously mistaken choice in
asking that, in the darkest hour that can face a country like
ours, we put our faith in her as our disaster recovery plan.
And in so doing he calls his own judgement into the gravest
doubt, and creates a kind of Darwinian litmus test for the
voter and the party: to think the Palin pick makes sense as
more than a cheap sideshow trick is to prove yourself unfit for
Too much is at stake in today's election. Too much has gone
wrong, in the last eight years, to be set right easily. And too
much more can happen in another eight years: eight years of
misrule, that has led an America I barely recognize to a
desparate juncture from which there is no way back, and from
which the way forward is strait indeed.
Whatever America thinks elections are about, whatever makes
America like people like George
W. Bush and Sarah
Palin (that is, people like themselves), whatever America
thinks makes us "real" Americans, we must put those ideas about
ourselves behind us, and figure out a real Plan B.
We must renounce the cult of the ignoramus. We must turn our
backs on the intellectually lazy narcissism of the last eight
years, or indeed the last twenty, since the Berlin Wall fell, and
history became a mission accomplished, and Afghanistan went
from being the Soviet's
problem to nobody's problem, and we dreamed that we had the
world to ourselves, that we knew what this was all about, that
it was in fact all about us.
We cannot renounce the ability to dream: but we must dream the
kind of dream that, rather than being the empty fulfilment of a
wish, gives us an outline that only years of clear-sighted
struggle can fill in. And to be sure, we must dream of
tomorrows that are better than the today we have, if we are to
have any chance to build them.
But we must - all sides, as a people - stop dreaming that
dreaming is all that we need to do. And we must, must, must
also regain our sense of the here and now, of perspective, of
playing for real stakes, of the bite of the real.
And we must not stop thinking about tomorrow. For it will not,
as we were once warned, soon be here. It is here already,
driven into the present by the whirlwinds that have blown
Street and now Main Street. And coming right behind it are
tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
Yesterday's gone. Tomorrow, whatever it may be, is another day.
To get to tomrrow from yesterday, each of us will need our own
confidence, courage, humor, cunning, steadfastness, empathy,
Whatever else Barack Obama brings, win or lose, let us
experience him as the alarm that re-awakened us to the need to
seek these things within ourselves and each other. Otherwise
the American revolution will become nothing more than a grim
footnote to someone else's history.
C. Antonio Romero is the Nouveau and Technology editor
of Culturekiosque.com. He last wrote
Sarah Palin: A Six-Point Plan for Her Debate with Joseph
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