We are a stalwart and stouthearted people, and never more so than
in hard times. People weep in the dark and arise in the morning and
go to work… The waves crash on your nest egg and a chunk is swept
away and you put your salami sandwich in the brown bag and get on
the bus. In Philly, a woman earns $10.30/hour to care for a man
brought down by cystic fibrosis. She bathes and dresses him in the
morning, brings him meals, puts him to bed at night. It’s hard work
lifting him and she has suffered a painful hernia that, because she
can’t afford health insurance, she can’t get fixed, but she still
goes to work because he’d be helpless without her. There are a lot
of people like her. I know because I’m related to some of them.
Low dishonesty and craven cynicism sometimes win the day but not
inevitably. The attempt to link Barack Obama to an old radical in
his neighborhood has desperation and deceit written all over it.
Meanwhile, stunning acts of heroism stand out, such as the fidelity
of military lawyers assigned to defend detainees at Guantanamo Bay
— uniformed officers faithful to their lawyerly duty to offer a
vigorous defense even though it means exposing the injustice of
military justice that is rigged for conviction and the mendacity of
a commander in chief who commits war crimes. If your law school is
looking for a name for its new library, instead of selling the
honor to a fat cat alumnus, you should consider the names of Lt.
Cmdr. Charles Swift, Lt. Col. Mark Bridges, Col. Steven David, Lt.
Col. Sharon Shaffer, Lt. Cmdr. Philip Sundel and Maj. Michael Mori.
It was dishonest, cynical men who put forward a clueless young
woman for national office, hoping to juice up the ticket, hoping
she could skate through two months of chaperoned campaigning, but
the truth emerges: The lady is talking freely about matters she has
never thought about. The American people have an ear for B.S. They
can tell when someone’s mouth is moving and the clutch is not
engaged. When she said, “One thing that Americans do at this time,
also, though, is let’s commit ourselves just every day, American
people, Joe Six-Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we
need to band together and say never again. Never will we be
exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing
our money and loaning us these dollars,” people smelled gas.
Some Republicans adore her because they are pranksters at heart
and love the consternation of grown-ups. The ne’er-do-well son of
the old Republican family as president, the idea that you increase
government revenue by cutting taxes, the idea that you cut social
services and thereby drive the needy into the middle class, the
idea that you overthrow a dictator with a show of force and achieve
democracy at no cost to yourself — one stink bomb after another,
and now Governor Palin.
She is a chatty sportscaster who lacks the guile to conceal her
vacuity, and she was Mr. McCain’s first major decision as nominee.
This troubles independent voters, and now she is a major drag on
his candidacy. She will get a nice book deal from Regnery and a new
career making personal appearances for forty grand a pop, and she’ll
become a trivia question, “What politician claimed foreign-policy
expertise based on being able to see Russia from her house?” And the
rest of us will have to pull ourselves out of the swamp of
Your broker kept saying, “Stay with the portfolio, don’t jump ship,”
and you felt a strong urge to dump the stocks and get into the
money market where at least you’re not going to lose your shirt, but
you didn’t do it and didn’t do it, and now you’re holding a big bag
of brown bananas. Me, too. But at least I know enough not to
believe desperate people who are talking trash. Anybody who got
whacked last week and still thinks McCain-Palin is going to lead us
out of the swamp and not into a war with Iran is beyond persuasion
in the English language. They’ll need to lose their homes and be
out on the street in a cold hard rain before they connect the dots.
Garrison Keillor is the author of a new Lake Wobegon novel,
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