Monday, March 29, 2010

Sarah Palin and the Power of Myth

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 8:22 PM


In the wake of the passage of federal health-care reform, Arizona Sen. John McCain started off last week with a promise to stop working with Democrats for the rest of the year, even if he thought the legislation was the right thing to do.

Way to put country first, John.

He ended the week by reuniting with former running mate Sarah Palin, the gal he plucked from the obscurity of Alaska and transformed into a GOP superstar. It was the first time they’d hung out since McCain’s staff told her she couldn’t do her own concession speech on Election Day 2008.

Dressed in a sassy leather motorcycle jacket, Palin attracted thousands of Republicans to the Pima County Fairgrounds.

McCain got to bask in her glow, but the coverage underscored by our senior senator’s central problem as he campaigns against former congressman and radio talk-show host J.D. Hayworth in the August GOP primary. The New York Times noted that five out of six attendees interviewed at the fairgrounds loved Sarah—but they weren’t so sure about McCain.

If facts mattered, McCain’s history would make him the kind of Republican that Palin would normally campaign against—and in order to build him up, she had to present an image of him that was in stark opposition to reality. (But then again, Palin’s a specialist at that sort of thing.)

Myth One: Palin told the crowd they needed to “send the maverick back to the United States Senate.” But the maverick John McCain—the guy who used to support cap-and-trade policies to fight global warming and opposed the Bush administration’s tax cuts on the basis that they would bust the budget—has given way to an ill-tempered old-timer who just wants to find a comfy stall inside today’s GOP stable.

Myth Two: Palin joked that McCain’s maverick ways “haven’t always won him friends in the Washington, D.C., elite machine.” But if anyone was friendly with the media elite and Democrats in Washington, it was McCain, who used to refer to the press as “my base.” How many

Sundays go by when he’s not making the rounds on the talk shows?

McCain has mostly been lacking friends among the hard-right Republicans he’s now trying to win over, not among fantastical “elites.”

Myth Three: Palin credited McCain with putting Republican Scott Brown over the top in the Massachusetts Senate race, saying the pickup-driving pin-up was “a critical vote against big government.” But the pro-choice Brown was one of only four Senate Republicans to vote for a big-spending Democratic jobs bill last month and, as a state senator, supported a health-care reform bill that’s remarkable similar to the national one just passed by Democrats. That sounds like a RINO to us!

Myth Four: Palin said that McCain has “spent his entire career fighting for common-sense, conservative solutions that Arizona needs.” But that spin will come as a surprise to Arizona conservatives who have watched McCain work with libs to oppose drilling in ANWR, push for campaign-finance reform that recently got tossed by the courts and support an immigration-reform proposal that provided a path to citizenship for people who have entered the country illegally.

Politics is certainly about building myths. But shouldn't the rhetoric have some relationship with reality?

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