Almost every day in my eighth summer, I was sent to my room
for some infraction or other.
We lived in Pasadena, on the rim of the Arroyo Seco, and on one such day as I sat in my room, looking out across the Arroyo at the San Gabriel Mountains, I had a sort of epiphany: When I was younger, a baby probably, I had fallen out of the sky and landed in the wrong house, a house in which the people spoke a language I didn’t understand.
That was why I had to spend so much time in my room.
Several years later, I learned that they were all Republicans. My parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and all thrir friends and friends of the friends — a universe of Republicans. And me.
That flock of Republicans I grew up among was nothing like the current flock of Republicans. They did not gather in arenas, wear funny hats, wave signs, applaud and cheer endlessly, or chant slogans. They believed that the government should be neither seen nor heard, and that its primary responsibilities were keeping taxes low, streets clean and safe, unions out of their companies, and itself out of their lives.
Clearly, as the alien, the dissident, I must be a Democrat, the ”bad seed” that had somehow breached the line. At 16, I began hectoring my father about the need for unions, and the older I got, the more “radicaI“ I became. eologically, the only thing we had in common was our horror at Richard Nixon’s profoundly dirty tricks.
I was reminded of all that this week as I watched the Republican convention. They made a lot of noise, but they didn’t seem happy. No wonder. They had put George W. Bush in the White House and given him a second term. and he had made a shambles of America, and, in the doing, had committed high crimes and misdemeanors, but had apparently got away with it, and would go home to Crawford leaving the mess to them.
Their leaders spent most of their time attacking Barack Obama’s alleged lack of experience rather than offering solutions for the multitude of problems that are Bush’s legacy and their inheritance.
When the problems did come up, the alleged solutions sounded very much like the same old Republican mantra.
Given all that, it’s no wonder that the surprise vice-presidential candidate, Alaska governor Sarah Palin, was such a hit. She’s Mary Matlin and Lynn Cheney put together – tough, sharp, sarcastic and absolutely sure of herself. And she told a joke. The only difference between pit bulls and “hockey moms’ is lipstick.
Palin is a “hockey mom,” of course.
What John McCain referred to as ”floor noise” at the beginning of his acceptance speech turned out to be an abbreviated demonstration by an Iraq war veteran who was protesting McCain’s continuing Senate votes against vets’ benefits. The vet was hauled off, and McCain began his speech, much of which, ironically, was devoted to his five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
The plight of Iraq vets was mere “floor noise,” an annoyance to be got rid of , while McCain’s oft-told experiences as a Vietnam POW 35 years ago got 20 minutes or so on national TV. Again.
The people in the hall were properly subdued, or simply bored during their candidate’s POW saga, but when McCain spoke of the bi-partisan approach that would mark his administration, they were visibly troubled. For three days, party loyalists had trumpeted the GOP as the party of mainstream America, while consigning the Democrats to the lunatic fronge, and now their candidate was proposing a…partnership with…the enemy.
So the GOP has a new star, Sarah Palin, who will be kept “under wraps” until she “gets up to speed on the issues,” a presidential candidate whom it still doesn’t trust (his first choice for veep was a Democratic senator, for God’s sake), a nation in shambles made by them and their disgraced President, no fresh, workable solutions for the problems. And Carol Rove.