The first thing that struck me about the Republican National Convention in St. Paul was the stunning lack of diversity. Only the GOP is capable of making Minnesota whiter. Into this cocoon of Caucasians stepped the ultra-pale John McCain and his moose-whacking VP, Sarah Palin, who together could have billed the ticket as "Powder and Gun Powder."
This convention proved that the GOP does not run on actual persons or positions, but manufactured personas and plot lines. The phony dog and pony show began with the enormously wealthy Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, who oddly condemned the snooty northeastern elite. This pampered pretty boy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, yet he haplessly works to fool blue-collar conservatives into believing that that the shiny utensil is aluminum. Has any politician ever been more "Full of Mitt?"
The most fantastical fiction of the week was the Cinderella story of "Sarah Palin." The only White House anyone ever thought she would live in was an igloo, yet there she was on America's largest political stage. The joyous thrill from her two main constituencies -- the religious right and the tabloids -- was palpable.
Palin portrayed herself as a reformer, even though she was for the infamous, "Bridge to Nowhere" before she was against it. She touted her experience as head of Alaska's National Guard, until it was shown that she had not made one executive decision in this capacity. Then, she was lauded for her anti-corruption efforts in Alaska, even as she was under serious investigation for abusing her power. Most disturbing, Palin described herself as an advocate for special needs children, as she cut the state's Special Olympics budget in half.
It is scary to think that McCain believes Palin has enough foreign policy know-how to run this nation during a time of war. Indeed, his vice presidential pick did not get a passport until 2007. There are literally college-age backpackers traipsing around hostels in Europe with more overseas experience.
As for McCain, convention speakers endlessly recounted his time as a POW. It truly was inspiring the first twenty-seven times I heard it. I suppose reliving the past is what a candidate, no matter how heroic, must do who has no plan for the future. McCain's speech was as empty as the vault used to hold the national surplus after eight years of Republican rule.
It was also fascinating to watch McCain portray himself as an agent of change. His message essentially was to re-elect Republicans to reform America from the mess that the same Republicans got us into. This was highlighted by the GOP's Herculean efforts to render George W. Bush invisible. If they had shoved Bush any deeper into the closet, he would have bumped into Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID).
Cheering on the sidelines was baroness Cindy McCain, wearing an outfit that Vanity Fair priced at $300,000. Republicans went bonkers when John Edwards got a $400 haircut -- yet seemed ambivalent about her majesty's opulent costume. I suppose the GOP is the party of the working class, if you count the minions toiling on Cindy's dress, jewelry, make-up and hair, as well as tending to McCain's private jet plane.
The convention's most pleasant surprise was its lack of overt gay bashing. Perhaps, attacking gays is not polling as well as it did only a few years ago. Or, maybe "Family Values" was an inappropriate theme considering Palin's "Family Vaudeville."
But, gay Log Cabin Republicans had little time to rejoice before Palin's church said that being gay was a choice. The Wasilla Bible Church was caught promoting Focus on the Family's Love Won Out conference, with a Bible insert that said, "You'll be encouraged by the power of God's love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality."
It is imperative that Palin answers whether she agrees with the views of her church. If she does, Log Cabin should immediately withdraw their endorsement of McCain. Unfortunately, Palin will not talk to reporters until the GOP believes she is ready to go without her training wheels. The smokescreen her campaign is using to justify her silence is that she should not have to discuss her religious beliefs. Interesting, how a woman who recently asked Alaskans to pray for a natural gas pipeline now believes religion is off limits.
If Palin says that she endorses Love Won Out, it could cost McCain the election. Consider this: In 2000, national exit polls put the gay vote at 4 percent, with 25 percent saying that they voted for Bush. This translated into one million gay votes for W., which may have cost Gore Florida and New Hampshire.
While homosexuals can't be turned into ex-gays, Palin's support of such ministries could create enough ex-Republican gays to swing the election in favor of Obama.