It's not just McCain's "bold choice." It's not just a hot hormone shot square into the gutwork of the Republican Party. The selection of Sarah Palin is much, much more.
Director Darryl F. Zanuck's 1962 film, "The Longest Day," about the Normandy invasion, got nowhere near the acclaim of Steven Spielberg's, "Saving Private Ryan," filmed thirty-six years later, but one scene in that Zanuck movie ricochets in my recollection even now.
Early on the morning of June 6, 1944, a German soldier woke up, sang a little Bavarian ditty as he splashed water on his face, clambered up the ladder to his post behind an artillery piece on the French coast, took a good look westward — and then froze. You could almost see his blood screeching on brakes and stopping cold.
On that morning he couldn't see water in the English Channel; only British and American steel and might, and ships and tanks and troops all coming at him.
I suspected the look on that Nazi soldier's face was one of those film moments that comes across even better than the director intended. However, in a radio interview, Zanuck told me, No; he knew exactly what he wanted in that German soldier's face and he worked hard until he got it. It's the look on the faces of the German firing squad about to execute Norwegian resistance heroes when the up-to-then pacifist Norwegian preacher mows down the firing squad itself with a Sten gun from the steeple of the adjacent church.
It's the face of the German SS troops in the Warsaw Ghetto when they realized to their horror that the Jews had found weapons and those Nazis were in the final seconds of their goose-stepping lives.
It's the face of slave-masters everywhere when they realize their slaves have unexpectedly turned the tables and are now in command.
At the same moment when Hurricane Ike was unleashing the forces of nature, Sarah Palin was unleashing the forces of human nature.
Once upon a time some colonists got tired of being pushed around by the king in the mother country. That gave us the United States of America.
One day the victims of Communism got tired of being pushed around, and that gave us the Poznan riots of 1956, the Hungarian Revolution later that same year, the Prague Spring, Solidarity, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of European Communism. And once upon a time the Jews got tired of being pushed around and that gave us the State of Israel and the Six-Day War.
Now it's the Christians' turn.
If the owners of Starbucks ever had to beg for a cup of coffee, that would be emblematic of the decline of Christianity in America over the shockingly-short last half-century. Christianity was once the unchallenged dominant religion of the United States. All other religions were permitted, but Christianity was in charge. If you were a believing Christian, you had a whole great nation keeping you company. If you didn't, good manners and not fear prompted you to keep your disbelief to yourself. Nobody spoke of American believers the way anthropologists speak of primitive South Sea islanders who throw virgins into volcanoes. No candidates spoke of believing Americans as clinging to religion and guns. Certainly nobody spoke of avid church-goers as ignorant and easily manipulated and led.
The new secular commanders of American culture employed no torture chambers, gulags or concentration camps. Contempt and ridicule were their whips and chains. But contempt and ridicule can get tiresome, too.
The nomination of Sarah Palin is now the Hungarian Revolution and Six-Day War of American Christians. A mother who chooses not to abort a child with Down's Syndrome. An unashamed believer in God who un-apologetically participates in the all-day-singing-and-dinner-on-the-ground style of country-and-peasant Christianity. This is primordially thrilling to millions of Christians who had grown accustomed to derision and humiliating exile to the back of the American cultural and political bus with no relief, no allies and no redemption this side of heaven.
Make no mistake. The very nomination of Sarah Palin is the revolver in the hand of the Ghetto Jew and the Molotov cocktail in the hand of the Hungarian Freedom Fighter. If I, as a Jew, am enjoying this dramatic payback, what must the Christians be feeling?
I do not pity the Democrats for their frustration, but I forgive anybody who does. It must be terrible to be bragging that Obama has registered three million new young voters and then, overnight, realize the Republicans have just energized two or three times that many scorned, "ignorant and easily-manipulated" fundamentalist Christian voters.
If I were a non-drinking Democrat, I think what would drive me to the liquor store right now is the shoe-on-the-other-foot factor of the Teflon being on the other elbow. It must be something like that Nazi soldier seeing the Normandy invasion armada, to be a Democrat smugly rejoicing as all the ugliness about Obama rolls obligingly down the drain, and then see Sarah Palin enjoy the same free bath!
From "God Damn America" Rev. Jeremiah Wright to "Didn't-Throw-Enough-Bombs" Bill Ayers to "Finally-I'm-Proud-of-America" Michelle Obama, all the negativity that might hurt Obama is lovingly sponged away by the hopelessly and haplessly biased major media.
Democrats were lulled into thinking that was normal, and now they suddenly realize Sarah Palin enjoys the same immunity with one gargantuan difference. Sarah gets her negatives overlooked by the public without the slightest bit of help from big media.
Republicans who didn't realize the cosmic dimensions of Christian liberation feared the stories of Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter, the frantically-confected scandal about trying to get her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper, the fact that she did not, in fact, sell that state airplane on e-Bay; the revelation that she had originally fought for the indefensible "Bridge to Nowhere," and other wide and yawning holes in her introductory story to America — they feared these revelations would abort her candidacy in the cradle.
However, just like Obama, Palin's popularity seemed to escalate with the ferocity of those negative revelations. Being bullet-proof is a familiar comfort with the Left. I must confess it was a bit of a thrill to feel those bullets bouncing off Sarah Palin.
Prediction: The unrelenting attacks on Palin's past will have as much success in stopping her as an imaginary line called the Belgian border had in stopping Hitler's tanks headed south into France in 1940
The notion of a McCain-Palin victory in a year of such Republican disorder — all to the tune of a category five Wall Street meltdown — is, at this point, like fine perfume; to be inhaled but not swallowed.
However, we are now allowed to believe that millions of American Christians who've long been fixated on the destination of heaven have now accepted an interim stopover at a very unfamiliar place: the polling booth.
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