WRITINGS BY JEN SORENSEN
"THE FINAL COUNTDOWN"
Below are excerpts from my 2008 election blog, which you can read in its entirety on the C-VILLE Weekly website.
Thoughts on the Women for Obama Rally
September 18th 11:30am
Yesterday's Women for Obama rally, while decidedly light on attacks on the McCain campaign, contained the single most important message the Dems can deliver about McCain and women: that McCain failed to show up for the vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and that he later said he would have voted against it .
If ever there was an opportunity for McCain to stand up for women, this was it, and he blew it big time. You want to stand up for women? You vote for equal pay for equal work. You don't recruit an embarrassingly unqualified, anti-choice, intellectually incurious, Trojan horse whackjob to curry favor with the ladies. As I jotted in my notebook while I listened to pay discrimination victim Lilly Ledbetter yesterday: "Palin seems like an absolute disgrace compared to this woman." And Ledbetter isn't even running for office.
Michelle Obama noted that many people present may not had heard Ledbetter's story. I believe it, and I wonder why that is. Kudos to the Obama campaign for having her speak on the trail; however, her story -- and the fact of McCain's opposition to equal pay -- needs to be put forth much more forcefully. Honestly, McCain's rejection of the Ledbetter law should be a running joke by now.
Amazingly, many followers of Trojan Horse candidates like Palin do not understand that they are a tactic -- a tactic towards greater inequality. Party operatives who put up such candidates know exactly what they're doing. Palin is a living contradiction in that she would never be in the position she's in had it not been for progressives who fought for decades for women's rights. She's a cynical ploy, folks. Hence my cartoon for this week. You might also want to read my cartoon about Lilly Ledbetter.
If you missed my pictures from the rally, check 'em out here .
$700 Billion: That's a Lotta Food Stamps!
September 23rd 12:39am
Republicans' fixation on welfare never ceases to amaze me. Many times throughout this campaign season, I have heard the familiar refrain of "I won't vote for a Democrat because I don't want my taxes going to some lazy bum who refuses to work," or something to that effect.
Oh, what a simple world these people live in. I only wish I lived in a world that simple, where my biggest concern was -- god forbid -- my tax dollars going to a couch potato. In this time of economic collapse, melting polar ice caps, war on multiple fronts, and a criminal health insurance system that is literally killing people, these bots continue to drone on about welfare, as if this were just any election, at any place in time.
Never mind that most welfare recipients aren't lazy bums , but people suffering from dire circumstances -- often disability -- and that two-thirds are white, with many living in poverty-stricken rural areas (contrary to the inaccurate stereotype of the "Cadillac-driving black welfare queen" -- thanks, Reagan!). I think it's safe to say assumptions about race feed into the right's welfare obsession.
Speaking of welfare, did you hear the one about the Bush administration wanting to cut a $700 billion blank check to Wall Street with no strings attached? That's an unfathomably huge gift from taxpayers to the very wheelers and dealers who got us into this mess. Now that's rewarding personal responsibility!
As for the candidates themselves, both Obama and McCain have called for more oversight, but bear in mind that McCain's economics guru and potential Treasury Secretary pick Phil "nation of whiners" Gramm was a great champion of the deregulation that led to this glorious moment. (Gramm stepped down from his formal role with the McCain campaign after the "whiners" comment.)
I don't know about you, but I'd rather give a hand to some poor, laid-off soul in a gutted manufacturing town than to a Master of the Universe. But maybe that's just me.
Pallin' With Palin at the Richmond Raceway
October 14th 12:21am
Is there really anything more red than going to a Sarah Palin rally at a NASCAR speedway in the capital of the Confederacy on the holiday celebrating the European conquistadors' arrival in the Americas? If there is, I don't want to know.
Palin, along with hubby Todd and country crooner Hank Williams, Jr., stopped in Richmond Monday afternoon, following a Monday morning appearance with McCain in Virginia Beach . When I heard that the event had been moved from the smaller Arthur Ashe Center to Richmond International Raceway due to overwhelming public interest, I wondered whether this might be Palin's answer to Obama's speech in Mile High Stadium.
As soon as Mr. Slowpoke and I exited Rte. 64, we hit a two-mile long traffic jam stretching down Laburnum Ave., the way to the racetrack. After crawling along behind lots of large vehicles with McCain stickers, we decided to stow our car on a residential street and walk a mile and a half to the rally. It was, as Mr. Slowpoke put it, "a blue solution to a red problem." Apparently not everyone was trying to get to the rally; one guy yelled at us twice from his van: "Vote for change!"
Based on reports of highly-charged emotions at McCain-Palin rallies, we decided to go the undercover route, which involved acting vaguely like McCain supporters. This meant no giving a thumbs-up to the "vote for change" guy. It also meant feeling a bit sheepish as I passed through a largely African-American neighborhood on my way to Oppressor Fest '08.
As it turned out, the event was not held in the Raceway stadium, which would have been far too big, but in a small adjoining field. The bleachers could only hold a fraction of the crowd; by the time we arrived, which was well before Palin began speaking, there was no line to get in -- just hordes of people milling outside the official event space, barely able to see the stage, if at all. The arrangement felt somewhat disorganized; I'd assumed the move to the racetrack meant most people would be accommodated. (Both the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the AP estimated the crowd to be over 20,000.)
The Straight Talk Express with Sarah inside (I saw The Bun quickly float by above the tops of those cars)
Where I was standing, people also had trouble hearing Palin's speech. I was right in the middle of the group (the "deaf wingnuts" as Wonkette called them, perhaps unfairly -- they were wingnuts, but not deaf) that began chanting "LOU-DER! LOU-DER!" to get the volume turned up. Palin assumed the chanters were haters and interrupted her speech to say "I hope those protesters have the courage and honor to give veterans thanks for their right to protest." Several supporters around me were clearly exasperated. "Is McCain too cheap to buy a good mic?" one guy wisecracked. Finally someone cranked up the PA system, and the crowd cheered.
Speaking of the crowd, no surprises there. It was overwhelmingly white; I saw maybe a handful of African-Americans. You had your standard Republican mix of mustachioed tough guys, button-down businessmen, soccer moms, and older folks.
Palin's speech seemed fairly boilerplate, full of stuff you've heard before. It was inane in a (relatively) normal way, instead of the way that gins up fits of rage. There was, of course, a "DRILL BABY DRILL!" moment. The biggest crowd-pleaser of the afternoon was the Redskins jersey-wearing Hank Williams, Jr. who sang a ridiculous ditty that included lines about "the left-wing liberal media" and Palin being a "good-looking dish."
Here are a few McCain-Palin supporters bearing signage:
No change for this kid!
His hat reads "Obama, Yes We Can... STOP HIM!"
That Palin is a dingdong?
So the rally was not the blood-and-thunder affair I'd anticipated. In a way, I found it underwhelming -- though that may have been due to where I was standing. It also didn't seem quite as huge to me as the news reports are saying, but I'll take their word for it.
The undercover mission concluded with this delicious chicken BBQ sandwich from the Famous Dave's stall.
November 5th 03:55pm
When I began this blog in its current form, a couple weeks after my coverage of the Democratic National Convention, I half expected it to be an exercise in masochism. McCain and Palin were riding high in the polls following her hard-edged acceptance speech at the RNC. Obama was under constant attack. The course of events seemed all too familiar.
And then something happened. Many things, actually. The first was Tina Fey's Palin impersonation on SNL. I had just asked in a post whether late-night comedians were making fun of Palin in any meaningful way, and sure enough, a commenter linked to the first Fey skit that had run a couple days earlier. All the tension that had been building up over the Palin nomination suddenly found an outlet. Her self-sabotage in the Gibson and Couric interviews only added fuel to the fire. Then came the financial meltdown, Obama's steady debate performances, and McCain's spastic devolution.
More generally, I see a shift in the culture away from the Bush-Cheney zeitgeist. In 2004, I wrote that America had become a "snorting, stomping, hate-filled beast" that I no longer recognized from my childhood. Pseudo-patriotism, extreme militarism, and self-righteous, jaw-jutting, macho posturing ruled the day. At times it felt like the country had literally become a giant Hummer. It seemed like that mindset would never end.
Those attitudes are certainly still around, but they've curdled somewhat. Katrina, Iraq , and the economy have had a humbling effect. Politicians can no longer get away with dividing the country into "real" and "fake" portions. Yet the McCain campaign acted as though it were stuck in 2004. And why wouldn't they? The same people who ran Bush's 2004 campaign were calling the shots.