The Morning After

It was a giddy five days, wasn't it? I remember it well. There were blogs, and jokes on the Internet, and bets were made about how long it would last, how soon there would be a resignation. I made one of those bets myself. I said, within the month. Gone within the month. But five days passed and the vice-president was still there.

I'm referring, of course, not to our short happy fling with Sarah Palin, which ended last night with her completely terrifying speech in Minnesota, but to the week that Dick Cheney shot a friend in the face, didn't even go to the hospital to see him, and somehow, after a week, was still standing, as powerful as ever. These Republicans don't go away, and they never admit a mistake, and sometimes, when I remember this, I wonder how I ever forgot it, much less how I ever bet against it.

I forget what I know about conventions too, until I'm reminded every four years. The Democrats are always messy, multi-colored, a civics lesson in democracy, at times a nightmare of what can happen when people find their voices and won't stop talking. This year they had an abbreviated roll call, and the states all went through their introductory paragraphs ... the great state of Whatever ... the home of the God-Knows-Where Water Gap ...the place where daffodils bloom all year long ... and it made me misty thinking of the first night I ever heard a roll call. It was 1956 and I was camping on the rim of the Grand Canyon, listening to the radio and writing down the numbers on a piece of cardboard as the states decided whether Estes Kefauver or John Kennedy would be the vice-president on a ticket headed by Adlai Stevenson, whom I loved with all my heart. It was a thrilling night, and alone in the dark with my portable radio, I felt as if I were part of absolutely everything that was great in the universe.

Then of course, there are the Republicans, and I always forget them too. I forget how white they are, and mean-spirited, and thin-lipped. I watch them and I think, is anyone buying this? Does anyone think we're better off today? That we're "winning" the war? That teaching creationism is simply a matter of exposing students to both sides of the question? That it's sexist to wonder whether a mother who just months ago committed to a Down syndrome child ought to be running for vice-president? Does anyone think that executive experience trumps wisdom and intellect? And who are these people who rise to their feet and cheer loudest when they hear the words "Off-shore drilling"?

But the Republicans do it better. They present a united front. They wait for the applause, they don't roll over it in the interests of keeping the speeches short and on time. They ride the news cycle, they twist the truth, they stick to their talking points, they blah into the wind, blah blah blah blah blah, and in the end, they're still standing.

Now what?