Commie chameleon

Where is McCarthy when you need him? 

The Reds are coming back and, starting in January 2009, they’ll be at your place taking the furniture and bank account, eating your children alive, and replacing your Bibles with the complete works of Marx and Che Guevara. And I don’t mean Obama. 

Much has been said about Obama’s harmless “sharing the wealth” thing, but very little about how both McCain and Palin, at one point or another, agreed with the very principle of doing the Christian thing: help those least fortunate. 

Just last month, Palin told the New Yorker’s Philip Gourevitch something that deserved no editing for grammar: 

“And Alaska — we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs. … It’s to maximize benefits for Alaskans, not an individual company, not some multinational somewhere, but for Alaskans.”

In layman — and, hopefully, better punctuated — terms, that means that Alaskans under Palin get an oil-royalties dividend each year from the state government. For much less than that, Obama was lambasted by the GOP as a socialist during the last two weeks of the electoral campaign. But Obama let the lie lie, because he was winning. Why risk telling the truth about your opponent when you can take shelter in sound bites, using cue cards meant to turn debaters into parrots? Whatever happened to a politician just TALKING to the voters? Why do they call it a speech, when it’s actually a reading (in McCain’s case, a horrible reading; could someone please tell him it’s “pundit,” not “pundints?”) 

Even opponents of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez admit that they’re brilliant public speakers. Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner accepted the presidency with an eloquent improvised speech. The late Colombian Jorge Eliécer Gaitán only read five of his famous speeches. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy greeted Pope Benedict XVI with an improvised speech. The freaking Pope! 

But American politicians are so scared of screwing up that everything is written down for them, and they just repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

Obama could have talked about how McCain’s military service is overrated. According to Rolling Stone (another commie magazine, granted), his fellow prisoners were tortured, too, but many didn’t give out classified information like he did. He graduated 894th out of a class of 899 and was known for his tendency to clumsily crash airplanes.  

And Obama could have brought up the fact that, according to a largely ignored UCLA study, “the diminished level of violence in Iraq since the onset of the surge owes much to a vicious process of interethnic cleansing,” not the overhyped surge itself. At the very beginning of the study, the authors (geographers John Agnew, Thomas W. Gillespie and Jorge Gonzalez) shed some light on why their report was virtually ignored: 

“Geographers and social scientists find it increasingly difficult to intervene in debates about vital matters of public interest, such as the Iraq war, because of the ideological polarization and lack of respect for empirical analysis that have afflicted U.S. politics in recent years.” 

The government and the candidates of both parties, instead, stick to carefully prepared sound bites — with the hope that enough people will believe them in time for the election. 

If it wasn’t for the fact that people have increasingly lousy short-term memories, words would come back and bite a candidate in the ass; in the Democratic primaries, for example, all candidates — Obama included — agreed that torture is necessary if “it would save American lives,” which is basically the same argument used by oppressive regimes, right or left, to torture their populations. How American politicians (especially the party that’s supposedly against torture) can agree that Gandhi and Martin Luther King deserve admiration yet believe in this sometimes-a-car-battery-on-your-nuts-is-OK notion escapes my comprehension. 

You can’t blame the politicians, though — we are the guilty ones. Whenever somebody speaks his or her real mind, chances are a good chunk of the electorate will get pissed or scared and vote for the guy who didn’t have the guts to tell it like it is instead of reading bullshit. We crave “mavericks,” but elect those who play it safe. 

Just ask the Real McCain, the one from 2000. In these days when, according to McRage, the ghost of “Socialism” is again looming on the American horizon, few remember that at the University of Michigan in 2000, McCain actually agreed with Obama: If you make more, pay more. 

“Why is it that someone like my father, who went to school for 13 years, gets penalized in a huge tax cut because he’s a doctor?” asked a teenage girl. 

“I think,” McCain replied, “to some degree, it’s because we feel, obviously, that wealthy people can afford more.” 

Some in the crowd reacted in horror, but that didn’t stop Karl McCain. When the girl, in arguably a great impersonation of Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, asked, “are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff?” McCain gave her a sample of the straight talk we seldom see these days. 

“Here’s what I really believe: When you reach a certain level of comfort,” McCain said, “there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.”

As The Daily Show’s host Jon Stewart said during this election cycle: “That was, of course, the late Socialist leader John McCain. I believe he passed away during the Republican primaries. He’ll be missed.” •

Enrique Lopetegui is a San Antonio-based journalist, a regular Current contributor, and as of September 19, 2008, an American citizen.