food for thought- american politics

A few pieces in the media recently caught my attention.

First, Saturday Night Live invited Sarah Palin to guest star on their show last night. In it, Tina Fey was doing a mock Palin press conference, and using the podium to mock the media and its interaction with the candidates over the course of the election, and more precisely revealing Obama as a much more suave and eloquent candidate than Mr. McCain. The second piece was a rap song by Amy Poehler as Palin, rapping about her candidacy: her unusual circumstance as governor of Alaska, her husband, Russia, and moose. All the while Sarah Palin participating and looking on as back up hype man from some early 90's rap video.

Second, was the Al Smith memorial dinner, both Obama and McCain had a chance to speak on the mic, and both dropped some pretty funny lines directed at each other's political party. While formalities remain strongly enforced, and much of the banter and outward displays of respect came off as false, there is something to be said about opponents being able to stomach either other in the same room.

Third, was Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama on Meet the Press. In it he brought up the most important question American editors and Muslim Americans have been asking since the campaign started: Is there anything wrong with running for office and being Muslim?

Maybe because i haven't gotten my much needed dose of political commentary from the King of American Politics Jon Stewart, but i was pretty impressed by the actions of these prominent political figures.

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In the first piece, Palin came into the show knowing fully well that the American people (eh at least us east coast liberals) see her as grossly inexperienced, rural and quite ditzy. She came onto SNL whilst editorials and conventional wisdom stated the Republican Machine made a big mistake in appointing her as VP candidate. She knows as well as the rest of the Republicans do that they're likely to lose. But they can't completely give up, and this was indicated by what Palin said before Amy Poehler performed the rap piece. It seemed like Palin was supposed to perform the rap originally, and Poehler would do it in case Palin wasn't comfortable. Palin said something along the lines that if she did the rap, it would cross the line and hurt the campaign.

She was right.

It would have LONG TERM NEGATIVE effects on her image as a Politician. Can you imagine that in a country where a presidential nominee effectively lost the primaries because he let out an all to emotive "yeah!" during one of his rallies?

What then would happen to the career of a conservative, pentecostal, republican woman politician rapping about herself as "hot for teacher" and shooting moose in Alaska?

So she avoided the song, but by her very presence on the set, it revealed a sense of optimism for me, that maybe not everything about liberal democratic politicians is a dirty realpolitik game. (hmm too many loaded words, i'm trying to say that politicians are people too)

Second piece: normally I'm the first to say that Republicans and Democrats at the higher levels are the same poison with different labels, but the last 30 years (and some would argue since the 1950s) or so with the Republicans they're becoming dominated by neo-conservative ideology. Google Irving Kristol & the Godfather of Godfathers Leo Strauss for some insight into it.

Yet this dinner of partisan politicians, with their joking, fronts of cordiality demonstrated the maturity and the best of Westernized institutions of Democracy. The third world can't do it, and its because tolerance for opposing views and ideas is relatively lower compare to the first world. Let me be clear, this doesn't mean the first world is morally superior at all, its just that civilization here has gone in a direction where tolerance on the individual level is accepted, but at the level of social ideologies and notions of competing hegemonies (capitalism vs socialism, secularism vs. religiosity) the first world has made it clear what it will and will not tolerate.

This brings me to the third piece: Colin Powell endorses Obama for all the reasons we want to hear: he's got good rhetoric, he's got confidence, and he's highly intellectual. and the fact that they're both black actors. what the fruit? dave chappelle? hehe just makin sure i'm not boooring you, tim.

Powell comes out guns blazing at the republicans, he actually says the Republicans are being drawn too tightly into neo-conservativism and its skewing their view on what's right for the American people. thats exactly what Bacevich was saying, and he's still a conservative in the most honorable form of the word.

Powell drew attention to the whole "you can be anything but a Muslim politician" vibe that's been going on since people found out Obama's daddy was a moooslim from Kenya, and he lived in a mooslim country, and his first name is a variant of "blessing" and middle name is "good", both in arabic. He said head on, that there's nothing wrong if Obama was a Muslim and American, affirming that Muslims don't have some secret agenda and that indeed they are normal humans. For Powell to say that, it not only enhanced my view of him as a man of integrity (even after his role in the iraq debacle) but it really said something that not everyone who's influential is a slave to warped manifestations of real politik.

All in all, the three pieces gave a little silver lining in the clouds, and indeed God knows best.

See the links:

Palin on SNL

Al Smith Memorial Dinner

Colin Powell Meet the Press

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Oh amidst all the feel good domestic politics, remember to stay balanced. isn't there a worldwide financial crisis?