Sooner or later, the American media and the American voter are going to look up from the salacious and seemingly endless scandals generated by Sarah Palin's short political career and see the real significance of this moment in the 2008 campaign: the mask of the 'maverick' has been torn off John McCain to reveal the face of Captain Chaos.
That name came to me like a bolt of lightening as I watched Joe Lieberman's soporific and disingenuous speech to the RNC, last night.
Watching Lieberman try to use the full force of his condescension to quiet the Palin storm unleashed by McCain, was like watching an elderly substitute teacher try to calm down a class of 5th-graders bouncing off the wall from too much candy and soda. In vain, and with much vanity, the not-Democrat from Connecticut tried to re-impose the time-tested image of John McCain as a 'maverick,' in a futile attempt to put the political perfect storm of the century back into the familiar bottle of Republican branding:
Governor Sarah Palin, like John McCain, is a reformer who has taken on the special interests and reached across party lines. She is a leader we can count on to help John shake up Washington.
That's why the McCain-Palin ticket is the real ticket for change this year.
The Washington bureaucrats and power brokers can't build a pen strong enough to hold these two mavericks.
And together, you can count on John McCain and Sarah Palin to fight for America and to fight for you! And that's what our country needs most right now.
'Shake up Washington?' That one will surely end up as the punchline of a joke in at least one late-night monologue. After a string of scandals that includes falsehoods about foreign policy experience, a shotgun wedding, and charges of anti-Semitism (all in one week!) one wonders if the buildings in Washington could withstand the sheer force of continuous scandals a VP Palin would unleash on that town.
But here is the point that hit me as I fought off sleep during Lieberman's speech: Forget Palin!
The sad truth is that when the Republican Party came up with a plan to make sure hurricane Gustav did not engulf the RNC, they had their eye on the wrong storm. The real source of chaos they should be worried about is the candidate at the top of the ticket.
That's right: this whole week of Palin scandals is not fundamentally about Palin. The real subject of the mess that now consumes our entire national media is not the morals and values of a first-term governor from Alaska, but the leadership style of a 22-year veteran of the Senate who now claims that he has the capacity to be President of the United States. It's not about Palin--it's about McCain.
Holy October surprise! If picking his VP unleashed this much chaos on the country, imagine what will happen if John McCain were to try to make a more substantial and significant executive decision.
My hands start to shake just thinking about it.
Take Iraq, for example. Few Americans have even considered that there might be a person with less executive skill and less ability to rein in the mess in that region created by the Bush administration. But what would happen if suddenly a "President McCain" were in charge? I can answer that question in one word: chaos -- lots more chaos (OK...that was four words).
Frankly, the Palin mess raises a whole range of questions that neither the media nor the American public have really given much thought--because the true leadership style John McCain has been snowed over by so much bunk about McCain the supposed 'maverick.'
In reality -- down here on planet Earth -- John McCain is no maverick. He is 'Captain Chaos.' And he does not 'cross party' lines or 'break with tradition' as the 'maverick' moniker would have us believe. What McCain's leadership actually produces is not 'change,' but chaos.
Iraq not a good enough example? Consider what would happen if Captain Chaos took hold of the economy by the horns. 'A bull in a china shop,' is what would happen -- not a horse bucking in a field.
What would chaos mean for the already ailing U.S. economy?
It would mean a dollar that goes through the floor even more and inflation that skyrockets. Gas at $6 per gallon and milk at $8.
It would mean mortgage rates that burned through families' rainy-day reserves, and college loan payments that ballooned beyond control.
It would mean prescription costs that made ordinary medicine untouchable, and hospitals stays so costly as to be unrealistic.
I know the Democrats have been saying that John McCain as President would be a 'third term' of the Bush administration. I get that point. But the Palin mess that has completely engulfed the RNC, the media, and just about every kitchen table, car pool, and water cooler in America -- speaks to another possibility: McCain could take the country to depths of chaos hitherto unthinkable, even during the the past 8 years of the Bush administration.
Given all that, at the very least, I expect never to hear anyone in the media ever again call John McCain 'maverick.'
Crossposted from Frameshop.