Let us, today, together, conduct a thought experiment. You know what a thought experiment is, I'm sure. All the really smart people conduct them. And I mean the really, really smart people. Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, they conducted thought experiments. For instance, picture in your mind a pick-up truck speeding through the night at the speed of light with a little boy in the back shooting BBs from his Red Ryder straight backwards, also at a velocity equal to the speed of light. So, are the BBs traveling at the rate of 186,000 miles a second minus the 186,000 miles a second that the truck is going in the opposite direction?
Hold on. Don't panic. Before you collapse from the math anxiety you never shook off from Mr. Fricke's geometry class, that was just a quick example of a thought experiment. We're not going to try to solve that one here. I just meant to show you the sort of thing Newton and Einstein sat around thinking about because their interest was in getting at some universal truths. And possibly because they didn't have TV.
No, the thought experiment I want to conduct is much simpler. No numbers involved, just a dab of imagination and some of what I call "that-ergo-this thinking." (Some people call it "logic," but that's another concept which turns so many of our neighbors into quivering lumps, I use the phrase, "that-ergo-this." Or, for those who missed out on the joys of Mrs. White's Latin class, "that-thus-this.")
And here it is, today's thought experiment: Imagine that Barack Obama had chosen Hillary Clinton as his running mate. Given that premise ... ergo ... would John McCain still have picked Sarah Palin to be his?
See, that wasn't so hard. I'll bet you solved it in no time. Clearly, McCain wouldn't have picked Palin, not if her direct opponent would have been Clinton. Clinton in the race would have canceled out Palin's entire raison d'etre. (Or "reason for existing," for those who missed Mademoiselle LaPorte's French lessons.)
Which means (ergo) that Palin was picked only to exploit any lingering regret among disappointed Clinton supporters.
Which means (ergo) that McCain could give a rat's ass about Palin's qualifications to manage the country should he die.
Which means (ergo) that McCain has put winning an election over any consideration of what is best for the United States. There's just no other way for it to shake out, is there? It's as simple as 1+1=2.
Which means (ergo) those people commonly referred to as the "Republican base" won't get it.
It's a trend we've watched develop since Nixon was in the White House. Simply put, whenever Republican leaders get into trouble with the voters because of something stupid they did or are doing, they just re-group and come fighting back with even more profound, even more intense stupidity.
Remember Watergate? Illegal wiretaps? Coverups? The Constitution being ignored? Rabidly loyal fall guys going to prison?
Or the Iran/Contra affair? Clandestine operations without the approval of Congress? Making covert deals with terrorists? Coverups? The Constitution being ignored? Rabidly loyal fall guys going to prison?
Or the Silverado Savings and Loan scandal? A failure in the regulatory oversight of financial institutions? Americans losing their economic security? Massive government bailout at taxpayer expense? A fall guy or two going to prison and hardly anyone else being held accountable?
Well sure you remember all that. And you believed, by virtue of such travesties having happened, we would have learned from the stupidity and fixed it. That's what we elitists would call a "rational response." You believe that when the situation gets as obvious as a scandal or a criminal conviction or a crisis, somebody will do something to correct the situation so it can never happen again.
Sadly for America, Republicans don't think that way. When they see a financial crisis brought on by ideology-driven deregulation and greed, they demand more deregulation and reward the greedy.
When they see a deficit grown to ruinous proportions by irresponsible tax cuts and an irresponsible war, they demand more tax cuts and more war.
When they see an administration running out of control because Congress didn't put its foot down, they demand even less oversight by Congress.
When they see a crisis of leadership generated by a few criminal acts, they demand that criminality be extended to massive proportions, and they insist that if the president wants to break a law, the president can.
When they see rabidly-loyal fall guys facing prison, they demand presidential pardons, and when they see the Constitution being ignored, their only demand is that no one messes with the Second Amendment.
And now, they have brought us back to where we were eight years ago, only more so. Eight years ago, the people whose only consideration for picking our national leader seemed to be "Is he a normal guy like me?" gave us George Bush, based largely on the premise he was an Evolution-denying, Rapture-awaiting, elitist-scorning, anti-choice normal guy like them.
Ergo, it turned out exactly as would be expected whenever an unqualified, uncurious, unthoughtful and unreflective ... normal ... man acquires such power. That-thus-this. You and I see the relationship, don't we ... the cause and effect, the inescapable progression from one catastrophic blunder to the next? We understand that because they put a stupid man with stupid ideas into the presidency (ergo), one stupid thing after another has befallen our nation. How could it have unfolded otherwise?
Yet what is the Republican solution to the chaos they have bequeathed us?
No, it's not John McCain. They never cared much for McCain in the first place, and he is now no more than an unfortunate incidental to their solution. He's the nose-picking cousin your hot date must drag along to the movie or else she can't go. He's the unsightly wart they have to live with ... for now.
No sir, they offer an even more unqualified, uncurious, unthoughtful, unreflective, Evolution-denying, Rapture-awaiting, elitist-scorning, anti-choice option than Bush. They have re-grouped and fought back with even more profound, more intense stupidity ... and given us Sarah Palin. And hey, the unsightly wart can't live forever.
Let us end the day with another thought experiment: Imagine President Palin.