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EDITORIAL Unreality TV pparently, A John McCain won’t let Sarah Palin out of his sight. They’re together everywhere you look. That short leash will make campaigning in all the key states difficult. But she’s got to be trained to talk to the press. I wonder what Charles Gibson had to promise to get that first interview. World leaders like Putin won’t lose much sleep over the prospect of negotiating with someone who’s afraid to meet the press. On the night of Palin’s acceptance speech, the Republican strategy became clear. When the former beauty contestant, who shoots moose and advocates hunting wolves from helicopters and airplanes, marched out the fishermanunion steelworker husband with the DUI, the baby with disabilities, the unwed, teenage daughter and the kid who knocked her up, she became the lead in our highest-rated reality show. With less than two months until the election, how were the rich, bland Republicans going to redirect the imagination of voters from Obama’s fresh face and inspiring rhetoric, and from the hard-charging, street-fighting, foreign-policy expertise of Joe Biden? The answer: Create a game show in which the fate of the world hangs in the balance. You nominate a youngish woman with a story that could have won a washing machine on Queen for a Day back in the 1950s. Then you play To Tell the Truth, trying to find out who she is and discovering she is less prepared for governing than panelist Kitty Carlisle. Do the voters have time to wait for the smoke screen to lift so they can figure out what Palin stands for? What does it mean that the second woman \(and reproductive rights, disdains the science of global warming and evolution, and believes Alaska is the launching pad for the Rapture? \(No room for Joe Lieberman on that rocket ship to What does that say about our politics? The cynicism of McCain’s pickthe future of this country and the security of the world be damned for an election trickand the lies it is founded on appeal directly to what Hannah Arendt \(in called the “explosion [of] categories of thought and standards of judgment.” The Republican candidates are counting on this country’s strong streak of knownothingism. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Richard Hofstadter called it “the disdain for refinements in ideas, the subordination of men of ideas to men [this was 1964] of emotional power or manipulative skill,” tying blessed ignorance directly to this country’s evangelical roots. Joe McCarthy depended on it. Reagan thrived on it. Bumbling W won two elections by portraying thinkers like Gore and Kerry as out of touch. It’s a Karl Rovian game. The troops of distortion are massed in their bunkers, ready to saturate our consciousness with sound bites about lipstick on a pig or sex ed in kindergarten. Every day a new distraction from the real issues. Are we going to judge the self-styled hockey mom on her recommendations for solving the home mortgage crisis or on her willingness to skydive onto the infield of a NASCAR race with George H.W. Bush strapped to her chest? With less than two months left, will Tom Brokaw and Charles Gibson call her out for not telling us what she really thinks about the economy or the war? How long will the mainstream press let McCain hide behind the skirts of this novelty act? Do we need Jerry Springer to make them tell us what they really stand for? Geoff Rips THE TEXAS OBSERVER I VOLUME 100, NO. 18 I A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor Ronnie Dugger CEO/Executive Publisher Carlton Carl Visiting Editor Geoff Rips Managing Editor Brad Tyer Associate Editor Dave Mann Publisher Charlotte McCann Associate Publisher Julia Austin Circulation Manager Sandra Beckmeier Art Director Leah Ball Webmaster Shane Pearson Investigative Reporter Melissa del Bosque Poetry Editor Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editor Rusty Todd Staff Writer Forrest Wilder Editorial Interns Elisabeth Kristof, Mary Tuma Contributing Writers Nate Blakeslee, Robert Bryce, Emily DePrang, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Steven G. Kellman, James McWilliams, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross, Andrew Wheat Staff Photographers Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum, Steve Satterwhite Contributing Artists Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Doug Potter Editorial Advisory Board David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid, Rusty Todd Texas Democracy Foundation Board Melissa Jones, Jim Marston, Mary Nell Mathis, Gilberto Ocarias, Jesse Oliver, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, Geronimo Rodriguez, Sharron Rush, Kelly White, In Memoriam Molly Ivins, 1944-2007 Bob Eckhardt,1913-2001 Cliff Olofson,1931-1995 Frankie Carter Randolph, 1894-1972 The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040-4519/ righted 2008, is published biweekly except during January and August when there is a 4 week break by the Texas Democracy Foundation, West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. E-mail [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page . Periodicals Postage paid at Austin, TX and at additional mailing offices. Subscriptions One year S32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13 per year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 pre paid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Books & the Culture is funded in part by the City of Austin ‘1’4’2 through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts. SEPTEMBER 19, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3