The Lipstick on the Pig

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah Palin, certainly an appealing figure to many normal Americans, is the lipstick on the pig of the McCain candidacy. I did not watch -- but did read -- her address to the RNC, intrigued as I was by the following choice remark about Barack Obama: "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."

This dig, by the way, essentializes why a little lipstick might go a long way in this year's presidential pageant. But I'll risk gilding the lily by throwing in another good one: "My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of 'personal discovery.'" Barack Obama has so little in the way of tangible accomplishments -- is such a lightweight -- that almost any adult with a modicum of a sense of personal responsibility will feel faint at the prospect of having such a flake for President.

I feel faint at the prospect, and yet I may vote for the man anyway.


It is true that Barack Obama, empty suit that he is, comes closer than any candidate in recent memory to making "experience" an actual argument in favor of his opponent -- rather than the red herring it usually is in elections. Just ask yourself of any welfare state politician: "Experience? At what?" to see what I mean by "experience" normally being a red herring.

Since Obama has no meaningful experience (including in the proper sense for a government official), this question should be directed at John McCain in order to see why we want the empty suit. But it isn't, because we all like sane, responsible, down-to-earth, but tragically-misguided Sarah Palin. Surely, she is responsible. Surely, she cares about America. Surely, she wouldn't help a traitor get elected.

A traitor is the only worse thing that could happen to our country than a flake, and that is because of what he would do with his experience and competence. It is hard to imagine a reassuring figure like Sarah Palin helping this to happen, and yet that is exactly what might be going on: We can take as indications the delirious joy at her addition to the ticket from some quarters and the blind rage from others.

To understand that she is doing this and why, we need only turn to her speech, where the terrible truth is laid out plain as day, only to be missed by a nation of nearly-blind men.

Palin said the following of McCain to reassure us that there is a better alternative to Obama in this election. This pair of lines drips with unintended irony:

For a season, a gifted speaker can inspire with his words.

For a lifetime, John McCain has inspired with his deeds.
Among the authoritarian McCain's deeds are restrictions on political speech that have been metastasizing to the point that private citizens are being hounded by federal officials merely for advocating ... that the government protect freedom of speech!

I guess when one man forcibly prevents another from speaking, that man will stop inspiring with his words.

And if we permit ourselves to focus selectively on the past heroism of the one man, I guess we can be inspired by those actions. Too bad that the inspiration, misguided by that lack of context will cause us to vote away more of the protection of our inalienable rights by choosing him as our leader.

And notice that McCain has endangered that most important political right in the name of "reform", of which Sarah Palin is also a champion. I will not belabor the point, but I have said it before and I will say it again: You can't fix what is inherently broken. A government apparatus premised on the massive violation of property rights for the purpose of passing out unearned loot is corrupt by its very nature. Or, as I once put it:
Such grassroots efforts as "Pork Busters" form when enough people become outraged at such things as that infamous "bridge to nowhere" -- and yet nobody challenges the massively larger larceny cum vote purchasing that is the welfare state, and which makes such relatively penny-ante outrages possible at all.
Palin at once point speaks of sending "a large share of [Alaska's oil] revenue back where it belonged -- directly to the people of Alaska". She may feel that she did the right thing then, but the fact remains that the state should never have had its hands on any of that money in the first place.

Widely-accepted socialist fictions to the contrary, there is no such thing as collective "ownership". The only way to end government corruption is to separate the government from the economy. I don't particularly fault Palin for failing to see this, but the fact that she does not calls into question her judgement of McCain as the right man to send to the Oval Office.

John McCain is, by far, the more competent of the two presidential candidates. Unfortunately, he is highly skeptical of individual rights, indifferent to (and admittedly ignorant about) economics, and shares many of the same goals as his opponent (e.g., limiting our ability to use fuel via "carbon caps" and "making you work" via national service). He will not be using his competence and experience to protect our individual rights, but to endanger them with goals that contradict their protection.

I oppose the goals of this year's de facto "Unity '08" ticket, and the best way to ensure that they will not be achieved appears at this juncture to have the incompetent half of that ticket, Obama-Biden, at the helm and frustrated by a mutiny of congressional Republicans, who will fend off many of these programs only if a Democrat is pushing them.

As evidence of McCain's competence, notice whom he picked as his running-mate. He is not oblivious to the fact that he already has Alaska, a small state anyway. Palin is there to make his candidacy look different from his opponent's, while balancing Obama's charisma long enough to give us a glimpse at the secret nothing inside. To make us run to him for lack of a better option, and ironically, for the very reason we should be headed in the oppositie direction.

-- CAV

P.S. It occurred to me some time ago that this election has been like a final culmination of a steadily-diminishing political discourse. Americans value their freedom, but do not fully realize that government controls endanger it.

At the same time, we are so far down the slippery slope that politicians are loathe to speak in anything other than vague generalities or aphoristic sound bytes that can mean almost anything to anyone. If they were more specific, they'd risk having their power grabs exposed for what they were. Far safer, electorally speaking, to say nothing at all -- or damn near exactly what the other guy is saying.

The candidates personify this. Barack Obama has been called (and I think has bragged about being) a sort of human "Rorschach test", being an unknown and unexamined quantity that can't be pinned down. McCain's candidacy was all but left for dead at one point -- a fact which exempted him from the nastiest part of the primary season. He is here now because he was the last man standing on the GOP's side.

Overall, our nation is suspicious of clear political agendas (and rightly so, given that all the popular ones today are anti-freedom), but until the proper basis for freedom is well-known, politicians will have no individualists to "pander" to, and none will offer a coherent alternative to the current march towards tyranny.

This post was composed in advance and scheduled for publication at 5:00 A.M. on September 4, 2008.


: Minor edits.
12-4-08: Added hypertext anchor.


Mike N said...

Great post. Your mention of Obama's portrayal of himself as a Rorschach test, a blob with no consistently identifiable shape, shows us how these two candidates are very similar epistemologically. McCain portrays himself as a maverick who refuses to conform to any identifable shape. Both want to reserve the right to act on their feelings, or, pragmatically.

Gus Van Horn said...


And that is indeed a very interesting way of looking at the two heads of the "Unity '08" coin, on whose flip we WILL lose.

mtnrunner2 said...

>Palin at once point speaks of sending "a large share of [Alaska's oil] revenue back where it belonged -- directly to the people of Alaska". ... the state should never have had its hands on any of that money in the first place.

Exactly: money earned by oil companies, expropriated from them via taxation, and then given to those who didn't earn it. How inspiring -- NOT.

Of course the amount of the "gift" to the public was small, and could probably be passed off as a tax refund on their household taxes. However, it's obnoxious to be granting tax breaks to individuals while increasing them on corporations. Can you say "beasts of burden"?

And anyone who would advocate a windfall profits tax at all is no friend of justice or freedom, and they either don't understand economics or don't care if we have prosperity.

In other words, the same old Republicans.

Gus Van Horn said...

The kind of mentality that passes for "pro capitalist" today so thoroughly fails to ever question the propriety of government confiscation of wealth that such "dividends", and other nonsense (e.g., "rebates" and "tax incentives") seem like staunch defenses of property rights to many.

And Palin is the more "fiscally conservative" of the two!

Ad Hoc Committee for Property Rights said...

Palin is certainly very easy to like. But her pro-life position is very troubling, particularly since she really means it. Bringing a child with Downs syndrome into the world is monstrous. To impose that on others is beyond words (at least in polite company).

Gus Van Horn said...

I completely agree.

Inspector said...

"Just ask yourself of any welfare state politician: "Experience? At what?" to see what I mean by "experience" normally being a red herring."

funny you should say that. Great minds, right?

Great post, Gus. Linked you on up.


Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks, Inspector. Glad to see that you've moved to a platform more conducive to blogging.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is awesome. Have you seen the idiots squawking about the 'lipstick on the pig' phrase that obama used the other night?

It's a fitting description, to be sure. Obama wasn't even talking about Palin, but they conjured up that he was. I guess such comments on pigs and lipstick make people think about Palin.

Jim May said...

Oh wow, it's funny to read this "lipstick on a pig" post *after* Barack Obama sort-of said the same thing today...

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks, Anon and Jim.

Yes. And it's fun to imagine (but almost certainly, it's just imagining since this phrase is so common) that Obama got wind of this post, and then inexpertly tried to inject the phrase, apparently playing into McCain's hands ... only to send the public to this post.

Alas, I only got lots of "Google juice" for this post last night, but no links from heavy-hitters, giving me at least the grim satisfaction of being right.

And besides, I'm pretty sure Obama was provoked into his gaffe by Palin's joke about the difference between a pit bull (or some other ferocious animal) and a "hockey mom" being lipstick.