One reason I went into an extended hiatus was that I felt my mood becoming more and more political, and I almost certainly would have seen my content skew that way much farther even than it did during the 2004 election, and I would almost certainly have been authoring political rants not much different from the better-written rants you'll find elsewhere in Left Blogisan; and my political output would have been nothing but rants seeing as how my own level of policy knowledge isn't that high. When, during the election cycle, it turned out that the stories that had me most tempted to chuck the hiatus and return to blogging with all guns blazing were political ones, I decided that I'd made the right decision to sit out the whole thing.
Not that I wasn't mildly entertained by watching Republicans make asses of themselves, over and over, repeatedly. That is always fun. Here are the ones that I thought were their Greatest Hits for this year's version of Republican dumb rhetoric:
10. Michelle Malkin and the Rose Tosser of Doom.
When Barack Obama appeared alongside John McCain at Ground Zero in New York City to pay tribute to the people slain in the attacks of 9-11-01, both men laid roses on the site. McCain apparently stooped over to gently lay his rose, while Obama did the "light toss" of the rose that will be familiar to anyone who's ever been at any kind of such event where flowers are being laid. Michelle Malkin, however, decided as she always does, to find symbolism, and thus absurd amounts of Hissy Rightie Rage, in Obama's tossing of his rose. How that woman gets angry at so much stuff and somehow doesn't suffer coronary events on a regular basis is beyond me (unless, of course, she isn't human, which is always possible).
9. Foreign Policy Talking Point Follies!
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has never visited Russia, nor has she ever weighed in on a single issue pertaining to anything at all to do with Russia, nor before her selection as Republican Vice Presidential nominee did she ever show any evidence in her career of having ever much thought about Russia. None of that mattered, though, because the GOP was there to tell us that merely living near Russia (because at their closest points, Alaska and Russia are about fifty miles apart, even if Juneau, where Palin actually does her job, is nowhere near the part of the state that's close to Russia) counted as serious foreign policy street cred. Well, OK. For a time the last couple of years I lived one apartment building away from former Buffalo Bills defensive end Anthony Hargrove, and during the football season, I can sometimes hear the cheers of the crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium, as it's all of two miles from Casa Jaquandor (as the crow flies). That should count as football experience, by GOP logic. I expect my call from FOX Sports for my commenting purposes immediately!
8. The Bridge of Nowhere County
There are songs that come from the fresh-slain moose, from the spatter of a thousand oil wells. This is one of them.
Once upon a time there was a lonely woman named Sarah who lived in a little town in Alaska. Somewhere nearby, nearer than Russia at least, some rich powerful people wanted to build a really big bridge, and a photographer came from National Geographic to photograph it. He was disappointed to learn that the bridge hadn't been built after all, and in fact wouldn't be built because lovely Sarah had called up Congress herself and said "No thanks!" (she called 1-900-CONGRESS and spoke to a fine man named Brett Longhandle, who thought she'd called to talk about something else entirely). But this photographer was thrilled that lovely Sarah's husband was out of town, hunting wolves from an airplane, and he and she enjoyed a thrilling affair. Alas, neither could tear themselves away from their lonely real lives, and thus they parted, heartbroken but in love forever. Their love might have been consummated by that beautiful Bridge of Nowhere County – but alas, she'd been for it before she'd been against it.
7. "Where is John Galt when you need him?"
The other day, Glenn Reynolds's wife "Dr. Helen" wondered why someone doesn't "go John Galt", as in, just pick up their marbles and go live somewhere to forge a new Libertarian free-market paradise. I suspect that this hasn't happened, and isn't likely to happen, because this is the real world and not a VR-simulation for the ejaculative pleasure of people who can't quite figure out that maybe, just maybe, the real world doesn't work quite the way it did in Ayn Rand's novel, because Ayn Rand's novel was, you know, a f***ing novel. Go ahead and fantasize about somebody fulfilling the dream of being John Galt or whatever, folks. I'll indulge my own fantasy of a farmboy from a desert planet being revealed as the last in a line of monastic Knights with mystical powers which he'll use to save us all from death at the hands of a giant space station.
6. "Introspection? I got yer introspection right here, pal!"
A prominent teevee political commentator the other day lamented the tone of our political discourse today. That would be completely unremarkable, except that the commentator so moved to a bout of reflection over the "tone" these days was...
[wait for it]
[still wait for it]
Bill "Maybe San Francisco should get hit by terrorists" O'Reilly? No way! Shut up!
5. Rudy Demonstrates His Amazing Familiarity With Urban Life!
Rudy, who was Mayor of New York on 9-11, gave a speech at the Republican National Convention in which he reminded everybody that he was Mayor of New York on 9-11, just in case anybody forgot that he, Rudy, was Mayor of New York on 9-11. Rudy. Mayor. New York. 9-11. In his speech he decided to give the faithful a bit of red meat, tearing into Barack Obama's resume, openly mocking the idea of a "community organizer", saying that he didn't even know what that was. You'd think that a Mayor of one of the world's largest cities would be passingly familiar with the idea of community organization, but you have to cut Rudy some slack here; in the seven years of his Mayorship prior to 9-11, he was able to do little else other than prepare for 9-11, since he knew he'd be Mayor of New York on 9-11. "Mr. Mayor, there's a community organizer from the Bronx here to see you." "Don't bother me with that! I'm gonna be Mayor on 9-11!"
4. Musical Taste is Shaped By Wartime Trauma!
At one point, the subject of the candidates' favorite music came up, and John McCain admitted to liking ABBA. Now, I like ABBA a lot myself, so I thought, "Hey, cool, maybe I'll vote for him." Well, OK, no, I didn't really say that; I'm one of those silly people who vote about issues and stuff, not who looks best aiming a shotgun or whatever. But liking ABBA's fine by me; same with George Bush the Elder's famed dislike of broccoli. I didn't vote for him, either. So what's the problem here? The way the McCain people managed to make this about McCain's favorite talking point about himself, by claiming that McCain can only claim ABBA as his favorite group because the evolution of his musical taste was stunted by, you guessed it, his years as a POW. Wow! I had no idea he was a POW! You'd think that little tidbit would have turned up once or twice during the campaign, wouldn't you? How about that. Say! I like ABBA too! Do you suppose I could have been a POW and not have known about it?
3. Brother Jonah Explains It All To You!
There was a brief flap back in September when the Obama campaign released an ad portraying John McCain as being out of touch, the main content thereof being the fact that McCain, by all reports, is not especially tech savvy; he has no idea how to send his own e-mails or pick his own websites, for example. As attacks go, this wasn't all that biting (although you'd like a President to be at least a little bit familiar with the driving infrastructure of the current economy of the country, assuming that the guy vying for that job has any notions of what the current economy is like in the first place, a notion that McCain went to great lengths to disavow), but in charged Jonah Goldberg, on whom one can always count to say something laughably dumb about anything. The reason John McCain doesn't send e-mails or use any technology whatsoever? Why, because of his injuries sustained when he was a POW! Really? He was a POW? Holy shit! Who knew! Of course, a photograph surfaced almost immediately of John McCain using a BlackBerry, making Jonah's argument look about as stupid as...well, a Jonah Goldberg argument. I literally laughed out loud as soon as I read that one.
2. Rich Lowry is Buyin' What Bob Dole is Sellin'!
I had Jonah's "Being a POW forever froze McCain in 1977" argument at number one on this list, until someone else interceded. And really, it took a lot to dislodge Jonah from the top spot, because it's frankly a Herculean task to look dumber than Jonah Goldberg. But someone pulled it off! Who? Well:
To judge by the polls immediately after the Vice Presidential debate, most people were more impressed by Joe Biden's obvious command of what he was talking about than Sarah Palin's attempts to show how she's “one of us” or whatever that fake folksy act of hers is. Whatever. Most people saw through Palin. But not Rich Lowry, God bless him! He saw Sarah Palin and, well...remember in the movie Wayne's World, when Wayne first lays eyes on Tia Carrere, she's suddenly surrounded by a halo of glittering starlight and the soundtrack plays “Dream Weaver”? Well, that's apparently what Rich Lowry saw when he looked at Palin and saw naught but right-wing talking point hotness:
I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it.
I assume that by the way his Little Private was saluting, Lowry rushed right off to enlist in the Alaska National Guard, so he could answer directly to Governor Palin and answer her call to defend the shores of the Aleutians from the onrushing hordes of Russian invaders.
Over at Kung Fu Monkey (follow the above link), John Rogers described Lowry in this moment as "the guy who thinks that the stripper really likes him." Or, as Wayne and Garth might say, “Shuh-wing!”
1. "With our combined strength, we can rule the USA as father and son!"
So after I had to bump Jonah Goldberg from the top spot on this list, I figured Rich Lowry would have it for the rest of the election season. Surely nothing dumber could erupt from the increasingly deranged right wing in this country that Lowry's public act of erectile function, and maybe, in fact, nothing dumber did, because there's a critical point at which one leaves "dumb" behind and crosses the border into "sheer batshit lunacy". Well, there sure was a lot of that, too: Obama's a Socialist, Obama's gonna take all your guns and your money, Obama likes terrorists and hates Israel, Obama was born someplace other than the place his birth certificate says, yada yada yada. Crazy stuff, and laughably crazy stuff, but still garden-variety lunacy from the party of "Bill Clinton's a murderer!". The grand prize in Crazy was still to come, though, because I'd forgotten about...a little blog called "Atlas Shrugs".
Enter Pam, the generator of that blog's fountain of lunatic rantage, who uncorked the hypothesis -- incredible if true! -- that Barack Obama is actually the son of Malcolm X!
It's a good thing it's a long time to 2012, because they're going to need some work to get dumber between now and then. But for now, thanks for the entertainment, Republicans! We'll see all of you in 2012.