It's 2008. The country is mired in a deadly, costly war in Iraq. We are engaged in another critical war in Afghanistan, where the Bush administration, distracted by Iraq, has taken its eye off of a resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda. We live in an age of terrorist threats. Our economy is in recession, or at best, on the verge. Oil and gas prices are at record levels. We're saddled with record debt. Inflation is increasing. Consumer confidence declining. Unemployment up, real wages down. A tanking stock market. Our educational and health care systems trail the rest of the Western world. But what's become the central theme in the Republican's insatiable hunger for the White House? Abortion. That's the issue they think will most energize and rally their base as well as independents. That abortion is enough to divert voters' attention away from the miserable failure of the GOP's last eight years in power, and the fact that it's nominee, Sen. John McCain, offers nothing more than another four of the same.
McCain's appointment of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate is a cheap attempt to play this incendiary card. She's hard-core anti-abortion. The GOP's banking on her evangelical street-cred to outweigh the fact that she has virtually no experience whatsoever to be placed in such a critical position in national politics. It's the same old Republican bait-and-switch game. When the shit starts to hit the fan, they toss out the social hot-button cards--religion, gay marriage, abortion--to appeal to the lowest common denominator in the electorate. It's dumb-down-America time. Once again, they're trying to get Mr. and Mrs. Middle America to say, "Sure the Republicans and George Bush have let me down...sure, the party isn't offering anything different this time around. I don't have enough money to pay my bills, fill my car with gas and take care of my kids...I can't save any money...my wife lost her job...my groceries keep going up...I don't have adequate health coverage...but hey, I'm voting for McCain and Palin because they'll fight to prevent some sleazy New York liberal women from getting abortions." But will Americans, even Republicans, vote against their own economic interests yet again as they did in 2000 and 2004?
But to the religious right, the stakes are even higher. The GOP's message is not just about abortion per se. The Rovian promise to its myopic base is that the McCain/Palin ticket will stack the Supreme Court with Justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. Indeed, with two vacancies likely to arise within the next president's term, this issue is a major one, and the Repubs are pulling out all the stops. When it comes to God, faith and family values, many Republicans have a funny way of ignoring everything else, even at their own expense. And McCain and Palin know this. And they're milking it for everything they've got because they have little else to run on. It certainly isn't McCain's command of economics, nor is it Palin's national security experience. And when it comes to "family values," McCain's infidelity, Palin's teenage daughter's unwed pregnancy, her abuse-of-power investigation, or her husband's DWI certainly doesn't paint a Rockwellian picture.
In fact, McCain's national security "expertise" is highly overrated. He unconditionally supported the Iraq invasion, helped Bush take his eye of Afghanistan and al Qaeda, and continues to be a reckless war-monger. That he was "right" about the surge should impress no one. Did anyone honestly believe sending in 20,000 additional toops would not have a positive impact in decreasing the violence in a very specific area like Anbar Province? His support for the surge was and remains irrational, as it, like the war itself, has failed to create a sustainable, self-governing American-style Democracy in Iraq, which was the goal (something McCain and the Repubs like to forget). Shift to abortion, abortion, abortion. Divert and distract. It's the classic Rovian playbook.
This time around, in 2008, voters should reject the abortion issue just as they should gay marriage, gun control and anything else that simply doesn't matter. Our nation's in the shitter, for Fuck's sake. They should go to the polls to protest their colossal outrage that Bush's elective vanity war in Iraq has made us and the world less safe from our real enemy, al Qaeda, and that our anemic economy is killing them. But will they....
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