In this last terrible week of this presidential campaign, the one everybody keeps calling “historic”, it’s getting difficult to keep side-stepping all of the political poo piles that litter our daily lives, but this one in particular may go down as the defining moment of the Republican ticket ’08. Warning: It’s painful to watch.
Anchorwoman Katie Couric’s “pop quiz” interview administered to Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin on network television completely tanked the momentum Palin had brought to the McCain campaign. Up to that point, John McCain’s surprise choice for Vice Presidential running mate had whipped up the conservative base of the Republican Party almost to the point of speaking in tongues. The religious right had their creationist and pro-lifer, so called fiscal conservatives had their reformer, and on top of all that she was, well…hot. Nothing gets those family values types going like the naughty librarian look. Suddenly the McCain thing wasn’t looking quite as sickly as it had only a few weeks before.
For their part, Democrats, or more importantly their proxy attack dogs in the net-root community, were loading up everything they had and taking square aim at the former beauty queen from Alaska. She faked pregnancies. She banned books. She abused her power. She was racist, an insult to feminism, and she was cruel to animals to boot. To them, the mere fact that she wasn’t Joe Liberman was evidence enough that McCain pandered. In spite of all this Palin had weathered the storm fairly well up to that point, until it was time to do the networks.
First crack was given to ABC’s Charlie Gibson who drew first blood when Palin couldn’t explain her stance on the Bush Doctrine. In fact, it looked like she didn’t know what the Bush Doctrine was. It turns out she’s not alone. However, the recent Democratic primary race with Hillary Clinton had raised issues of sexism in politics and with all the journalistic posturing Gibson came across as a bully. Those sympathies helped Sarah live to fight another day. Unfortunately, her next big network appearance was with NBC’s Katie Couric, and it was going to be hard to paint Couric as a sexist.
The interview, taped and then aired over the period of a week on network TV, was described as “water torture” by some in the McCain camp – and they know torture. When Palin settled into her standard talking points routine describing her disapproval of Roe V. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, Couric pounced, asking the Governor what other Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with. When Palin attempted to skirt the question with more rhetoric, Couric didn’t let go. The answer provided was basically, ‘I’ll have to go look something up on Google and get back to you.’
Most people didn’t even see the actual interview but the damage was done. The result was a candidate that looked like the bubble-headed faker the left so desperately wanted her to be and a boon to Saturday Night Live’s dreadful ratings. It sucked the oxygen out of the Republican ticket and has allowed their rivals to maintain a narrow lead in the polls.
Here are a few SCOTUS cases that Sarah Palin should have mentioned in that interview – because they stink:
Dred Scott V. Sanford (1857) — In this case the court found that southern slaves were not citizens and had no rights under the Constitution. And just for good measure, in their decision, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney and the southern majority declared that the Congress had no right to ban slavery. Assholes.
Plessy V. Ferguson (1896) — Established the “separate but equal” doctrine. To his credit, one justice, John Marshall Harlan, dissented stating in his opinion that “The thin disguise of ‘equal’ accommodations…will not mislead anyone.” but it was enough to allow Jim Crow laws to restrict the rights of US citizens for a century after the abolition of slavery.
and on the flip side of that coin is:
Grutter V. Bollinger (2003) — Upheld the University of Michigan’s policy of considering race as a part of its admissions process despite previous court rulings that limited affirmative action.
Had Palin cited that one alone it would have triggered a mass orgasm in the conservative community, or at least the closest thing they can have to one. And if that wasn’t enough:
Kelo V. City of New London (2005) — This case allowed the city of New London, Connecticut to take property from one private party, i.e. poor people who can’t afford lawyers, and give it to another private party, see rich developers FTW, using the government’s power of Eminent Domain and condemnation.
If it turns out that the race for President finishes as closely as it seems it might, then it all may come down to the missed opportunity to bring up any one of these cases. There are certainly others in the court’s two century existence, but this would have at least kept Ms. Couric at bay, that is until she asked the governor how a bill becomes law.