August 29 is the date when two of my best buddies from high school were born, so it used to be a happy day and to some extent it is. But on this day 9 years ago, the day Michael Jackson celebrated his last birthday on Earth, the 2008 Republican candidate for President of the United States, Arizona Senator John McCain decided to celebrate his 72nd birthday by introducing his running-mate: then-governor of Alaska Sarah Palin.
She has now faded from memory, a political has-been that should’ve been a never was. But she’s not gone because our country became wiser and realized the horror that would’ve been having the most ignorant person to have a real shot at national office in recent memory a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
No, the country didn’t get wiser. It decided that it needed someone who was even more ignorant, someone who had less finesse, someone who didn’t even have the semblance of experience. They voted for Donald Trump. A man with Palinesque levels of ignorance but with money and name recognition.
Like Palin, he didn’t even fake having any interest in policy, at least Paul Ryan plays a policy wonk on TV. Like Palin, Trump weaponized resentment toward people of color and immigrants. She used her “real America” phrase to convey the sentiment that Trump converted into “make America great again.” And like Palin, Trump seems uninterested in the process of governing considering public service a moneymaking scheme. After her and McCain’s unsuccessful bid to run the Executive Branch, she quit the position of Governor halfway through her term to try a career in reality television, leveraging her new national profile. She failed to become Donald Trump, while Trump was able to become and exceed Sarah Palin.
When my friends ask why I don’t like the “maverick” McCain, this is why. At some point in the 2000s I bought the maverick image. Frustrated with the G.W. Bush years I wondered what would have been if John McCain had won that primary in early 2000. Never mind that his maverick schtick is all pose and no substance. Even after derailing the whatever the name of the last Republican health care plan earlier this summer I still can’t forgive him for his recklessness. He ruined my memory of 8/29 as the happy day when tow of my best buddies from my school days get temporarily older than me. I hope it did the same to his. Nine years ago a Donald Trump wannabe became potentially the Vice-President of the U.S., today her image mentor is the President. Thanks for nothing John McCain.
Image: Left to right: Todd Palin, Sarah Palin, Cindy McCain, and John McCain. Rally in Fairfax, Virginia on September 10, 2008. Photo by Rachael Dickson. CC license Wikimedia Commons