Friday, September 05, 2008

Random Thoughts While Watching the RNC

There's a lot of talk about "mavericks" at the convention. The term comes from the Texas pioneer family that refused to brand their cattle. Neighbors would call the unbranded cattle were "the Maverick's." Maury Maverick, Sr., was a long-time mayor of my home town, San Antonio.

I remember his son, MM Jr., with great fondness. He was a colorful plaintiff's attorney and erstwhile liberal Democratic politician with a big heart and a compelling turn of phrase. I got to know him when I first practiced law there. He used to call me "the kid" and was a friend of my father's. Now you know who the real Mavericks were!

Someone mentioned that Gerald Ford considered putting Anne Armstrong, then the Texas Republican Party committeewoman, on his ticket back in 1976. Anne was the matriarch of the Texas Republican party and died just a couple of months ago, aged 80. Back in the 1950's and 60's, she ran the Republican primaries in our precinct out of the garage apartment in her home. She would have been tickled to see a woman on the GOP ticket.

Thinking of Anne Armstrong made me think about my grandmother a staunch Republican from the Midwest. She remembered when women got the right to vote and always preached to me "if you don't vote, you can't complain." So we both voted and we both complained!

John McCain's P.O.W. story brought reflections of the legacy of the Vietnam era veterans like El Jefe's cousins, one of whom continues to suffer the effects of his wounds. The difference in attitude at both the party conventions towards our service men and women, despite disagreements about foreign policy, must be gratifying to Vietnam vets. At El Jefe's last high school reunion, the class staged a touching tribute to those who served in Viet Nam. I remember when they were shamefully treated by their fellow countrymen upon their return from service. This is indeed a change for the better.

Babs came home for dinner last night. She and her boyfriend, Portia and DK all watched Sarah Palin's speech together last night and they are very excited about her nomination. If she comes to Houston, they will so be there. If my grandmother was still with us, she'd hitch a ride with them! But Texas isn't one of the battleground states so I doubt we'll see either ticket campaigning down here.

Now the campaign begins in earnest. It would be nice if the candidates and their surrogates and supporters stuck to debating issues and policies. But history and an understanding of human nature tell us that hasn't happened and it won't happen. Vicious personal attacks and slanders have been a staple of national elections since the early days of the republic. All sides have been, are, and will be guilty. It's the ugly underbelly of democracy and the constitutional guarantee of free speech. But it's still the best system for the government of a free people devised by the mind of man.

Let Election 2008 begin!


Rev Kim said...

Alas, we're not a swing state either, and pretty solidly red so they won't need to come here. But I would be there if they did! Palin knocked my socks off, and McCain was very good, too. I know he's not known for being the greatest orator, but he was sincere, heartfelt, and passionate - especially at the end! He did fine.

I agree with you about the personal attacks and slanders on both sides and how it's just a part of it all. I wish it weren't, but it is.

What an exciting eight weeks it's going to be!

The Vicar of Hogsmeade said...

Great post QG

Funny how Maverick has become so much a part of our vocabulary. I bet there are few who know it comes from a real live family.

Rev Kim said...

Oh, and I didn't know the story behind "Maverick." Even though I was born in Texas, we moved before I got Texas history in school!

Rev Dave said...

When I hear the word 'Maverick," I immediately hear in my head, "That's a negative, Ghostrider. the pattern is full."

joel said...

It's strange how we all know that the mud slinging is Politics as usual and yet so many of the voting public are still influenced by such tactics. So many people act without thinking.

Be well,


Elaine said...

The opening of the campaign actually strikes me as an example of what you described conventions to be in your earlier post: “tightly controlled and scripted…infomercials touting the ticket and trying to woo undecided voters.”

What we are seeing so far is certainly not free speech and open exchange. I am surprised that the McCain campaign is not allowing Sarah Palin to give interviews—even about her faith background: since the convention no press conferences and no television, radio, or print appearances where she has to answer questions and speak for herself. It was especially striking to see the other candidates questioned and interviewed on the Sunday morning shows and her absent from the scene...and not for lack of invitation. I have heard her described as “Scripted Sarah” and that is beginning to sound right. They seem to be handling her the way they have handled Dick Cheney the last couple of years: as a loose canon in danger of going off but an important icon nonetheless.

That is disappointing to me as I find her quite a compelling figure. But I am more interested in what she thinks and knows and how she reacts on issues of national import than I am in how well she is able to read a speech writer’s speech off a teleprompter. She has great timing and is quippy; but those are still borrowed words. I don’t trust the sensationalist journalism about her, but I certainly don’t trust the campaign spin either. I’d like to hear from her directly and unscripted.

I saw a clip the other day where Palin was critical of Hillary Clinton's claim that there was a double standard and and that she (Hillary) was being treated unfairly by the press; Sarah said she thought women needed to step up to the plate and show their stuff. But it seems like Sarah herself is singing that victim tune now.

I think the issues at stake in this election are HUGE. And I am thrilled to see the Republican party actually supporting a woman on the top ticket. I really hope we see Sarah unplugged and unedited soon though. I don’t think we know what we have in relation to national issues and responsibilities until we get that.

Quotidian Grace said...

I disagree that Sarah is playing the victim card. I think it is being played for her by her supporters, but I don't hear it from her. I agree that here's lots of spinning going on about her from both sides.

As you say, we haven't heard much directly from her yet. I'm looking forward to it, too. If I were her, I'd be studying domestic and foreign affairs issues as fast as I could. Obama has had 19 months (or more) on the campaign trail to prepare--she's got to get up to speed really fast.

She has certainly brought a lot of attention to the race.

Elaine said...


I continue to appreciate the thoughtfulness and tone of your blog. Thank you. You do the PCUSA proud.

You are certainly right that she has enlivened an already very interesting election season. It will be great if she starts speaking for herself. I disagree that she has not played the victim card though. The whole "eastern media elite" thing is thick with that. I just don't buy it when candidates complain about the press whenever they don't like what the press is saying. I realize she is speaking someone else's words in that speech, but she is choosing to speak them nonetheless...and to try to get traction through them. So I think she has responsibility there.

Sarah Palin seems capable enough that she does not need to do that. I think it is demeaning and I hope she shakes free soon and speaks for herself. Hopefully we have better days of real free speech ahead. There could be some very interesting and challenging discussions if they really started talking issues. We shall see.

Anonymous said...


Many, many people out in "real" America agree with Palin about the eastern elite media. I've been talking to friends, co-workers, etc...and we all think she was right on with that sentiment.

Elaine said...

I just read that Palin is going to start giving interviews and talking for herself. I think that is terrific news. I look forward to hearing what she has to say!

John said...

The election will probably be very close. So as a Florida resident, I'm looking forward to ways that we can really screw up this election for the rest of the country.