One of the tactics that creationists use is what I call “words as weapons.” What they say has no intrinsic meaning; instead, they are simply a way to manipulate people into joining their political agenda (this is why many around these parts, including the Mad Biologist, call them Liars for Jesus). The choice of Palin by the McCain campaign means McCain has adopted the same tactic of lies. This shouldn’t be shocking: after all, the theopolitically conservative Uruk-hai are an essential part of his electoral strategy.
When McCain, for months, accuses Obama of being an inexperienced lightweight, and then selects Palin, when even Republican supporters of her governship claim that she isn’t ready for the job, the problem isn’t that this ‘undercuts his message.’ The problem is that McCain never meant what he said (boldface mine, italics original):
Obama’s supposed “lack of experience” was the fig-leaf of legitimacy for out-and-out racism and character assassination. Without it, McCain had nothing to say–at least, nothing he could say without losing the support of independents and Democrats who still considered him a man of integrity, whose support was vital to him, if he was to win…
But, of course, the real lynch-pin of these attacks was their bullying nature. If Obama would not stand up and defend himself against these attacks, he would be perceived as weak–like so many Democrats before him, but to do so effectively, he would have to confront a whole galaxy of rightwing assumptions, including the entirety of McCain’s mystique. And somehow manage it without coming off as an “angry black man” or appearing to contradict his own pledge of civility and respect for his opponents.
This, of course, is precisely what Obama accomplished at the convention, with the assistance of the rest of the Democratic Party. Hence, the Palin announcement, as an act of desperation by McCain. But the Palin announcement undermines everything that went before it. It reveals two months of John McCain building his entire campaign on a lie. Clearly, McCain never considered lack of experience a crucial factor in presidential politics. If he did, he could have picked any number of Republican women as his running mate–Kay Bailey Hutcheson, Olympia Snowe, Christine Todd Whitman, and Condoleeza Rice, just for starters.
There is simply no way around it: McCain’s campaign against Obama’s lack of experience had no more integrity to it than Bush’s campaign against Iraq as somehow responsible for 9/11. You simply cannot believe anything the man says.
Alternatively, McCain earnestly believed what he was saying until it became politically inconvenient, at which point he changed his beliefs. Neither option is good.
Related post: Michael Kinsley thinks so too:
When Republicans aren’t complaining about someone’s lack of experience, they are calling for term limits.
That’s why the important point about Palin’s lack of experience isn’t about Palin. It’s about McCain. And the question is not how his choice of Palin might complicate his ability to use the “experience” issue or whether he will have to drop experience as an issue. It’s not about the proper role of experience as an issue. It’s not about experience at all. It’s about honesty. The question should be whether McCain — and all the other Republicans who have been going on for months about Obama’s dangerous lack of foreign policy experience — ever meant a word of it. And the answer is apparently not. Many conservative pundits woke up this morning fully prepared to harp on Obama’s alleged lack of experience for months more.