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By Ray Hanania — Sarah Palin is clearly a powerful speaker, although in all honesty as I watched her read without any slipups her moving conservative perspective on the world, I kept thinking it was a monologue on Saturday Night Live and Palin was “news roaster” Tina Fey. Oh for the old days of entertainment, which is what American political conventions have become.
Neither party nor candidate this time around is any better than the other. But something must be said about a Republican convention in which our emotions, taut by a down-spiraling economy and dollar, up rising price of oil, gasoline and milk, and neighborhoods quickly filling up with bank-foreclosed homes, are exploited for political gain.
What is it about a Republican Party that can honor a man for not surrendering to torture, while it advocates the use of torture without a pang or of moral conscience against suspects denied their human rights or the ability to respond to false charges against them?
What is it about a Republican Party that can celebrate the military service of their candidate and castigate the lack of service of his Democratic opponent? And yet, for the past four years, remain shamefully silent on the factual record of a president who cowardly hid from the Vietnam War to work on his father’s friend’s election campaigns?
What is it about a Republican Party that can claim that it freed the slaves and then in the same breath unleash vicious hate-mongering against an entire religion?
How does a Republican Party declare its fortitude to stand up and pursue the war in Iraq while avoiding the real challenge of tracking down Osama Bin Laden, the real terrorist, in his enclaves in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
The Republican National Convention rolled past the drama of Hurricane Gustav, which threatened to remind Americans how an uncaring and war-consumed Bush abandoned the needs of hundreds of thousands of people besieged by Katrina?
And then the convention finally picked up speed last night, two days later, with some powerful and inspiring words from Mike Huckabee, who delivered the spirit of the Republican conservative principles impeccably and with some class, although he could have better summarized in fewer words his “classroom desk” story.
Of course, why should the Republican Party rely solely on “class” to represent itself when an election is at stake? The next person to goose-step his way to the podium was the American demagogue, Rudy Giuliani.
To a tyrant like Giuliani, terrorism is not a movement of fanaticism. It is a religion. And using religion, Giuliani can mine the fear and the hate that comes from fear to strengthen his popularity like no other person in the world has before him, except during the 1930s in Europe’s dark era of “the Triumph of Will.”
Giuliani’s hate-filled speech and vicious attacks against religions and races brought to mind an ugly image from an unspeakable era when the world learned the passioned articulate ignorant could overcome reason and fact. Many a demagogue has tried to master the world using emotionally packed phrases, words and hate-mongering, hypnotizing an entire nation to commit unspeakable acts.
Fortunately, Palin is no pansy and neither is she a trooper of the Giuliani storm. Although Giuliani’s vitriol was a hard act to follow, she managed to refocus the theme from his hate-mongering diatribe to a more issue-focused assault on Obama.
While Giuliani used hate, Palin used the humor of a TV comedian with her biting sarcasm, offering memorable punchlines like, “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?” she asked with comic punchline pause: “Lipstick.”
Palin was good. She has the charisma McCain lacks. She hit all the points about Obama’s weaknesses in her speech, with impact:
“And there is much to like and admire about our opponent.
“But listening to him speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform – not even in the state senate.
“This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word “victory” except when he’s talking about his own campaign. But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed … when the roar of the crowd fades away … when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot – what exactly is our opponent’s plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger … take more of your money … give you more orders from Washington … and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world. America needs more energy … our opponent is against producing it.”
But then she fell upon her principle to embrace the war in Iraq, pretending as many Republicans do that Iraq had something to do with al-Qaeda and terrorism and Sept. 11, 2001. In fact, if Iraq is tied to al-Qaeda, it is much thanks to President Bush who turned the once-anti-Islamic enclave for a pro-American tyrant, Saddam Hussein, into a new and more powerful battleground for America’s enemies.
Palin would never admit this because her son, like many blinded by lies and emotion, is on his way to fight in Iraq, too.
But the Iraq war was a mistake. The Iraq war has made America less safe. The Iraq war has emboldened al-Qaeda and the enemies of America. The Iraq war has helped to destroy our economy while making Dick Cheney’s Halliburton more wealthy.
And that withdrawing from Iraq immediately and abandoning Bush’s lies about the necessity to win, and refocusing instead all of our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, non-oil producing countries where Osama Bin Laden still reigns supreme, is the direction this country needs to take.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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