McCain's contempt

You may not have realized it, but the entire Republican National Convention was actually a literary plot to get J.D. Salinger, who hasn't published anything in Sarah Palin's lifetime, to come out of retirement.

Yes, I know Salinger is almost 90, and for all I know his brain has turned to Cream of Wheat. But how could the author of the Catcher in the Rye resist the opportunity for the perfect sequel, the Levi Johnston story, told in the first person? Just think of it! You are an average, loutish, scraggly bearded, indifferent, 17-year-old student.

You sullenly and defiantly define yourself as a "fuckin' redneck," and put it out there on MySpace, for all the world to see. Your hobbies are "kickin' ass and playing hockey." Your career prospects are not so hot; you've already got a criminal record. But you do have a pretty hot girlfriend, who is none too bright herself, but has warm spaniel eyes and adores you. You get it up her, but aren't careful enough. She's knocked up. She doesn't believe in abortion, and what's worse, her mother is the goddamn governor!

Game over! Life over! Whaddafuck do you do now? And then, in a blinding flash, you are transformed into a national hero of the culture wars! There you are, on the front page of The New York Times, a paper you never heard of but which they say is very important, being welcomed to the convention by the presidential nominee himself, a man who was pretty old when you were born!

There you are, sitting clutching the hand of the divine, gum-chewing Bristol, who's wearing a too-tight dress intended to emphasize her pregnancy, with millions staring at you both on national network TV!

Admit it, something is happening here, and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Johnston? You are indeed the quintessential, and quintessentially clueless ... Catcher in the Wry. That reverie made me happy for an hour, till I realized that I wasn't in an opium dream, or an early Woody Allen movie. What it was instead was a highly dangerous insult.

The Republicans and John McCain insulted — not necessarily in this order — our intelligence, this nation and the world. He may have insulted women, worst of all.

With that one single stroke, John McCain proved that he is not fit to be our president. It is the most important and most powerful job in the world, carrying with it the possibility of blowing up the planet — and the demand that you find a way not to.

You have to make life-and-death decisions, have a clear philosophy of where you want to take the economy, have the seasoning to deal with leaders from altogether different cultures. Sarah Palin is simply not ready to be president.

Frankly, I believe she is wrong — dangerously wrong — on virtually every issue, from the environment to wanting to teach creationism in school.

Yet, I would say that if I agreed with her on every thing.

We need to look at the cold, blunt truth: This woman was mayor for six years of a town that had 5,000 people, and where an administrator did most of the actual work of running things. Then, a year and a half ago, she became governor of Alaska. This is a state that has a lot of area, but half the population of Oakland County. L. Brooks Patterson is more qualified to be president.

What her selection says is that John McCain has no grip on reality, and that he cynically sees all women as interchangeable vaginas, something we should have known.

Was wanting a woman on the ticket an acceptable political maneuver? Absolutely, and I can think of two who are far more qualified, both of them Republican U.S. senators from Maine.

Olympia Snowe is the same age as Hillary Clinton (61) and has been a senator for 14 years. She is highly respected, intelligent, serves on a number of key committees, and is married to a former governor.

Susan Collins is 55, has served for two terms, and had pledged not to run again. She is single, Roman Catholic, one of the Senate's top homeland security experts. Both have consistently won easily in a state that has become more and more Democratic.

They would bring balance to the ticket — and quite possibly four electoral votes. I do not agree with them on many issues, but both have credible credentials to be president if necessary. If you want a small-town feel, Collins was born in Caribou, Maine.

But John McCain chose Caribou Barbie instead. Palin's main supporter at the convention, washed-up actor Fred Thompson, touted her as the only candidate who knew how to skin a moose. Let's get real, people.

Touting Sarah Palin for president is simply not responsible behavior. John McCain is 72, and is probably aged even more for having been tortured for more than five years. Additionally, he has repeatedly had life-threatening cancer. Not to mention that a nut with a cheap rifle or concealed handgun could, if they get lucky, take him or any president out any time.

Ronald Reagan was shot and almost killed two months into his first term. Does anyone want to take a chance on Sarah Palin running this superpower on March 30, 2009? That could very easily happen.

Barack Obama took someone as his running mate who knows more about foreign policy than he does. Joe Biden also has an ego and is no shrinking violet. If he disagrees with President Obama, everyone knows that he will speak up and argue with him.

Sarah Palin could easily be John McCain's daughter. Thirteen years ago she was a snow machine salesperson with a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Idaho. Can you imagine her arguing with the great war hero on matters of state?

Can you imagine John McCain asking her for an opinion on any serious issue? We live in a complicated and dangerous world.

We have just seen an example of McCain's "ready, fire, aim" style of decision-making. Frankly, I want Bristol Palin's baby to grow up in a world we can all live in, and putting grandma a heartbeat away from the presidency isn't the most sensible way to make that happen.

Sensible savings: Detroit doesn't exactly have excess money to throw around, and here's how the city can save $3 million — if the City Council hasn't already blown it by the time you read this: Forget the idea of having two special elections this spring to replace the now thankfully departed mayor. The special elections make no sense, given that there are regularly scheduled elections next year, anyway.

Soon-to-be Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. has more than enough legitimacy to govern for a year. He was by far the top vote-getter in the city when he was re-elected to the council three years ago, becoming council president.

Right now, we are facing a primary next September and a general election in November. If the city adds on another primary in February and a general election in May (for a term lasting all of seven months) the politicians will spend the entire next year campaigning.

There is a whole whale of a lot more that we need our leaders to do, starting from the moment the fumigators leave Kwame Kilpatrick's former office.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Contact him at [email protected]