"When the people of Iraq are liberated, we will again have written another chapter in the glorious history of the United States of America."What's the difference between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey?
--John McCain, March 19, 2003
Tina Fey would make a good president. With her years as head writer of Saturday Night Live in her resume, Fey has more proven leadership and management performance than 99.99 percent of the politicians in this country, including and especially Palin.
And unlike John McCain, Fey isn't bat guano crazy, and she knows how to clean her room, and she can control her temper, and she isn't 72 years old.
I said some time ago that as president of the United States, John McCain would be the most dangerous man in the history of humanity. The only thing that keeps me from amending that statement is the fact the Sarah Palin is a woman. At this point, I'm not sure which scenario frightens me more: If President Grandpa lives through an entire term or if he doesn't.
I've held off doing lampoons on Palin because both her detractors and supporters have been doing such a good job of it. What's not to satirize? My favorite looney tune in praise of her foreign policy credentials came from neoconservative stalwart Frank "Bull Goose" Gaffney, who said that as Governor of Alaska, the state closest to our old Cold War nemesis Russia, "Sarah Palin would know more by osmosis--if nothing else--about the necessity for U.S. anti-missile systems than either Messrs. Obama or Biden." Frank has clearly absorbed more right wing Kool-Aid by osmosis than any living being other than, perhaps, Bill Kristol, whose dad Irving still holds the patent on the original formula.
I finally—weeks after the fact—forced myself to sit through the video of Palin's acceptance speech at the Republican Convention. The ovation her appearance prompted reminded me of The Beatles' premier on Ed Sullivan' show. (What do die-hard Republicans and hysterical teenage girls have in common?) Palin's speech ultimately moved to the subject of her political opposition and, as Republican political speech so often does, devolved into schoolyard taunting. It was like listening to Jesse Ventura in tight pants doing cast off Don Rickles material: Hockey mom hurls cheap insults to the approval of thousands of adoring hockey pucks.
(Oh yeah, another difference: Tina Fey is funny.)
Her address was so devoid of substance that only one aspect of it warrants specific mention: the part that begins: "It was just a year ago when all the experts in Washington counted out our nominee because he refused to hedge his commitment to the security of the country he loves."
This is part of team McCain's "principled stand" meme, the one that says he was willing to throw away his chance at the presidency by backing the surge strategy. A lot of folks have swallowed this fair tale, including, not surprisingly, Tom Friedman of the rudderless New York Times. "I respected Mr. McCain's willingness to support the troop surge in Iraq, even if it was going to cost him the Republican nomination," Friedman wrote on September 16. Friedman. Brother. I'm still trying to figure out what color the sky is on that flat world of his.
Straight Talk, No Chaser
Though only a few of us are saying so, McCain's endorsement of the surge strategy was the antithesis of political courage. It was more of a Hail Mary play. In December 2006, the month before the surge strategy was unveiled, and McCain came out in favor of it, he was far from the hands-down favorite to take the GOP nomination. At that point he was behind Rudy Giuliani in the polls, and Fred Thompson was waiting in the wings for the right moment to transmogrify himself into the next Ronald Reagan. McCain, whose organization was never quite organized, needed the backing of the premier policy and lobbying force in conservative circles. Fortunately for him, just then the neoconservative bund was looking for a new sock puppet to endorse its latest plan to keep the United States in an eternal state of war.
On January 5, 2007 McCain and gal pal Joe Lieberman showed up at the American Enterprise Institute to endorse Fred Kagan's "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq" presentation, and became the crown/clown prince of the warmongery.
In summer of 2007 Straight Talk McCain claimed on CNN that "I was the greatest critic of the initial four years, three and a half years. I came back from my first trip to Iraq and said, ‘This is going to fail. We’ve got to change the strategy to the one we’re using now.’” But the truth is that McCain was a vocal supporter of the strategy in Iraq and then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's "small footprint" approach up until the November 2006 elections when Congress got a new majority party and Donald Rumsfeld got the boot.
Once committed to the surge, McCain was determined to make it sell. It was in April 2007 that McCain flew his other paramour Lindsey Graham to Baghdad on the taxpayers' dime to help General David Petraeus stage an outdoor market shopping spree that featured a security force of over 100 heavily armed troops and a brace of Blackhawk helicopters that McCain and Petraeus hoped nobody would find out about.
In her speech, Palin echoed the McCain mantra thanks to his steadfast support of the surge, "victory" is "within sight." Like McCain and his henchpersons, Palin didn't bother to detail what that state of affairs consists of and how it came about.
General Petraeus boasts of "enormous progress" in Iraq because "We have gone from a situation where 14-15 months ago there were 180 attacks a day in Iraq. Now there are on average about 25 attacks a day." Iraq's population is roughly 10 percent that of the United States. If we "only" had 250 bombings, shooting, mortar attacks etc. related to sectarian strive per day in this country, would you consider that "victory" was "within sight?"
What gains have been made came about as a result of Petraeus following the standard operating procedures from his first two tours in Iraq. As commander of the Mosul district and later as the officer responsible for training Iraqi security forces, Petraeus achieved short term gains by handing out guns and bribes like iPods, accepted his end of tour medal, and got out of Dodge before the time bombs he left behind blew off his successors' baby makers. Upon taking command of the Iraq theater of war from Petraeus, General Ray Odierno cautioned that the gains made in Iraq "are fragile and reversible." I imagine Odierno plans to spend a lot of time in his new job sitting on his body armor with his legs crossed.
This is the smoke and mirrors "success" John McCain takes credit for now, the same John McCain that Sarah Palin lauds for "his commitment to the security of the country he loves."
To summarize: Tina Fey would make a good president and she's funny. Sarah Palin is a joke who has a serious shot at making George W. Bush the second worst president in U.S. history.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Russ Wellen's interview with Jeff at The Huffington Post and Scholars and Rogues.