Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Smart Choice

On the last glorious days of August, when cicadas sing and the only news one wants to hear is radio news from the dashboard of a sharp convertible, the presidential campaign is all about Sarah Palin.

Another terrible storm approaches New Orleans, but here in the north it's incredibly nice outdoors. It's a transcendentally glorious late-summer day, as was yesterday, as will be tomorrow.

I'm going to drive back to Eden to get some just-picked corn. This summer's plentiful night-time rains made the stalks tall and the crop big. It's sweet, too, from the long warm sunny days. I'll get tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries, and maybe a few pots of fall chrysanthemums. I'm going to harvest some basil from the garden -- a second harvest in October will give us plenty more -- and I'll grab another few bunches of lavender so that the girls can make sachets. I'm going to take a long run and then, until dinnertime, I'll laze around in the hammock strung between the big pines, listening to the cicadas and watching the small birds way away up amidst the boughs.

On those rare visits indoors, no doubt I'll hear more from the 24-hour tv news squawk, including more about how President T. Boone Pickens has decided to make national energy policy all by himself. President Al Gore has been making global climate policy for some time now. Nobody elected either of them, nor does Gustav have a mandate to smash New Orleans again, but these processes are built into the earth's DNA. It is inevitable that storms come to New Orleans in August. It'e inevitable that big men will tell us what to do.

The temporary storm of politics and elections will come after this glorious sun dims. Govenor Sarah Palin will be the deciding issue in this election. She is governor of a state about as populous as a mid-sized American city. She has roots in the Mountain west where Democrats had hoped to pick up some electoral votes.

One would shrug about all this, except for the bizarre assertion that Sarah Palin has "taken on the big oil companies." On a day like today, when the reality outside our minds is so special and compelling, the un-reality of that statement briefly distracts.

Sarah Palin is a politician from a state whose economy and workforce and politics are completely dominated by the world's largest oil companies, companies whose windfall profits have been so big for so long that Alaska citizens actually get cash handouts because of them. It's the oil consunption of 300 million Americans that has made it possible for the half-million Alaskans, from whose state so much oil is pumped, to get a tax break and a cash handout. It's just weird that Sarah Palin's allies tell national news reporters that she, not America's oil-use, creates good things (like tax cuts) for Alaskans, when it is our consumption of Alaska oil that makes that world turn.

On such a glorious morning as this, it is easier to think about Sarah Palin's bright smile than about such stuff. Politics is an annoying intrusion, like a loud lawn-mower, but this statement nudges one to contemplate just how dominant energy will be in our politics, and thus how brutally clever politics it was for John McCain to choose Sarah Palin -- the positive, oil-savvy, smiling advocate of drilling, snowmobiles, hunting, church and drilling.

The smart choice today is to reach for the sunscreen.

Far, far away in far-off, unthinkable November, I have no doubt that the Hillary Clinton voters of Pennsylvania and Ohio will do what they'll do, which is vote Democratic. The Oil State governor who brought a Down syndrom child to term will energize the voters who are spending this Sunday morning differently than am I, as I appreciate God's creation informally, without any company but yours, rather more in the great American tradition of Henry Thoreau than in the great American tradition of Jonathan Edwards, Charles Grandison Finney and Pat Robertson.

They're all going to do what they're going to do, and Sarah Palin, the Oil governor from the place near Russia, this woman, not energy policy per se, will be the reality, the bellwether, for it is she whose words, gestures and story will decide voters. It's already been calculated who will do what in response to Sarah Pailn, which is why she now has a national political presence.

But not today. Here's hoping that everybody in New Orleans evacuates safetly and returns to damp but intact homes in a few days, but meanwhile, I'm off to get some more corn, tomatoes and maybe some of those shiny purple eggplants, just-picked.

No comments: