The Lowe Down

Category: Sarah Palin (40)

Chan Lowe: Sarah Palin goes for the greenbacks


Nobody is more dismayed about this turn of events than I am. Along with the rest of my colleagues in the editorial cartooning business, I was fervently hoping⎯no, praying⎯that Ms. Palin would conclude that the only way to save America from its socialistic death spiral was for her to offer herself up in patriotic service to the nation and constitution she holds so dear.

Little did I realize that Ms. Palin’s brand of demonstrating her allegiance is of the more mundane kind, that being the amassing of as many images of Benjamin Franklin and other famous dead presidents as she can.

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Chan Lowe: Infamous Bachmann Newsweek cover


There are several sub-themes to the growing Newsweek/Bachmann controversy that bear exploring.

I’m speaking of the now-famous cover photo that portrays presidential candidate Michele Bachmann looking…well…fervent. Her supporters are claiming that the Newsweek editors are subtly trying to sabotage Ms. Bachmann’s campaign with the general public by portraying her as unhinged.

In addition, the National Organization for Women has rushed to her defense saying the photo is “sexist.” Evidently, sexism trumps Roe v. Wade in the pantheon of NOW priorities. It’s hard to see, however, how the photo is sexist. You want a sexist photo? Look at the cheesecake number Newsweek did a few months ago of Sarah Palin in hot pants.

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Chan Lowe: Rick Scott, American hero


Without even trying, Florida Gov. Rick Scott could turn out to be a national hero.

That’s right, after a mere seven months in office, he’s become so unpopular in the Sunshine State that he’s now a liability to his party. The Republican hierarchy is worried that, thanks to his abuses, Floridians in November of 2012 will fail to pull the lever for the Republican nominee at all, or worse, vote for Obama in retaliation.

There is no strategy for a Republican to win the required number of electoral votes next year without taking Florida. In effect, Scott may singlehandedly save feckless Obama-hating Americans from accidentally electing the likes of a Bachmann or a Palin.

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Chan Lowe: Look out, Sarah Palin


Those who would lump Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann together as the Genuine Article and Mini-Me are not just being unfair to Ms. Bachmann, they’re fooling themselves. Yes, both women are outspoken and conservative, and draw support from the same constituencies, but Ms. Bachmann’s performance last night at the Republican debate demonstrated that she is no Sarah Palin, and I mean that in a good way.

If you knew about Ms. Bachmann beforehand, and you’ve heard some of her more memorable lines (my favorite being the time she called for a media investigation of her colleagues in the House to ferret out those who harbor un-American thoughts), you’d know that she marches to her own drummer, to put it diplomatically.

Like so many people who are just a little, um, off, she can do an astounding job of impersonating a sane woman when called upon, as she did last night. She was well prepared with set-piece answers, spoke easily on her feet, and she had that requisite fire the pundits are always looking for.

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Chan Lowe: Sarah Palin ratchets up the campaign


This is just a muscle-flexing exercise. It’s a smack with a rolled-up newspaper to remind the little people⎯like Pawlenty, Romney, Huntsman and especially that cut-rate knock-off, Michele Bachmann⎯who’s got the real clout.

All she has to do is get on the back of a Harley and the media is breathlessly galloping in her exhaust. Look, I’ve just done a cartoon about her. She’s toying with us; she won’t even release her schedule. It’s like hide-and-seek, played with marionettes.

You’d think we’d have learned something about being played after the Trumpstravanganza. But, like Trump, Palin sells. Sarah backslid a little after the Gabrielle Giffords overstep, then Trump eclipsed everyone with the birth certificate brouhaha. It was time to get back to the top of the marquee. We obliged.

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Chan Lowe: Mitt Romney, in your face


The cleverest description of Mitt Romney I’ve heard is that he reminds one of the villain in a Lifetime movie. It’s a little inaccurate, though, because for him to be a villain, he’d have to be interesting. For him to be in a television movie, he would have to be a successful actor, which he could not be with a voice that sounds like the computer-generated prompts in a corporate telephone menu.

I dwell on silly issues like these because they matter to people more than they would like to admit when it comes to voting for the person who will occupy their TV screens for the next four years. It’s like voting on a temporary member of the family who will be present when you’re sitting around the dinner table, getting ready for work, or feeding the dog. This person must wear easily.

Wearing easily will be Mitt Romney’s strength. He needs this strength because conviction, consistency, and dependability are not among ones he can claim. While his party remains indifferent and even hostile to him at the moment, he knows that his very lackluster qualities are what ultimately will endear him to GOP leaders. He does not irritate moderates, as Palin, Bachmann and Gingrich do. He is ruggedly “presidential-looking,” a term we cannot define, but which we know when we see it.

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Chan Lowe: The tsunami...what really happened


Admittedly, this cartoon is speculative, but it’s certainly as plausible as the brave Minutemen who fired the shot heard round the world at Concord and Lexington, New Hampshire (Even then, the Colonials knew it was going to be the first primary state, and accordingly relocated the border with Massachusetts until the skirmishes were over).

Or as credible as how someone’s passion for his country prompted him to commit adultery (“Oh, God…oh, God…oh GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!”).

One of the oddities about listening to the utterances of people like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich when they address friendly crowds is that they can say the most preposterous things, and no one among their nodding listeners ever steps up to correct them, or bursts out laughing at their inanity.

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Chan Lowe: Breast feeding with Michelle, Michele and Sarah


Nothing gets the right wing more lathered up than Michelle Obama, Wife of the Great Pretender, opening her mouth to render an opinion--even if it’s about something as innocuous and well-meaning as encouraging mothers to breast feed.

Michele Bachmann was first to screech off the mark, skillfully framing the issue as an attack on the IRS for declaring that breast pumps were medical devices for the purposes of tax deductions and medical flex accounts. Another overreach by the Nanny State, she said. This, of course, conveniently overlooks the fact that Tea Partiers are supposed to be against taxes of any kind, so technically, the decision ought to have pleased her.

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Chan Lowe: Michele Bachmann's America


Now, if George Santayana had been a real American instead of some foreign born, Harvard-educated elitist pinhead, his famous quotation would have read more like this: “Those who cannot remember the past can simply make it up as they go along.”

To say that Michele Bachmann doesn’t care when she is caught fudging a variety of issues is to not give her enough credit. Like Sarah Palin, she is actually proud to be exposed, for it makes her the butt of snarky attacks from elites, and victimization is an essential component of her equation. It reinforces her bond with her followers.

In an earlier posting, I indicated that Bachmann was eclipsing Palin as the darling of the Right. It isn’t just because we are growing weary of Sarah and her tweets and Faceburps; it’s also that Bachmann takes her fierce, willful ignorance one step further.

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Chan Lowe: Michele Bachmann rises


Just as we are finally becoming oversaturated with Sarah Palin, her tweets, her Facebook postings, her bull’s-eyes, her surveyor’s marks, her book signings and her narcissism, we learn that⎯like a female version of John the Baptist⎯she has only been preparing the way for the one who is to follow.

For a couple of years now, Michele Bachmann has lurked on the lunatic fringe, not exactly a household name. But she whose unabashed and unapologetic verbal bombs make Ms. Palin, by comparison, seem like a model of statesmanship is about to catapult herself onto the national stage in the form of a Tea Party (she is its self-proclaimed Grande Dame) rebuttal to both the President and the Republican establishment.

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Chan Lowe: A prayer for Sarah Palin


The big question, at least among the chattering classes, is whether or not Mama Grizzly will run for president.

I may come to regret saying this, but I think not. She’s having way too much financial success with her other endeavors, and why should she besmirch a good brand by becoming a candidate and having to face the ravages of rivals and the "lamestream" media?

Much more fun than speculating on the future meanderings of the Wilderness Princess is watching other Republicans duck and weave when asked whether they think she’s qualified for office. They’re handling her with kid gloves in the event she declines to go for the gold, because they don’t want to alienate her easily offended constituency. Her vengeful fans, everyone knows, will crawl to the polls if necessary to smite her detractors.

Should she actually run (a prospect the White House salivates over), people like Mitt Romney and Tim (Who?) Pawlenty will have to figure out how to discredit her with drive-by jabs in such a way that her image will sustain damage by a thousand cuts while leaving her attacker undiscovered.

Running against Sarah in the primaries will be a dangerous, delicate task. The stakes are high, too. The Holy Grail of the Republican Party—the unseating of Barack Obama in 2012—hangs in the balance, and will likely be lost if she wins the nomination sweepstakes.

Not to mention the carnage her general election candidacy will wreak on the down-ticket races. Yes, the resulting bloodbath could be more sickening than, say, the slaying of a caribou on a reality show.

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Chan Lowe: John McCain and Don't Ask, Don't Tell


Since we’re in full confession mode this week, and I’ve already revealed that I’m harboring strangely positive thoughts about Hillary Clinton, I might as well go all the way and declare that I am deeply disappointed by John McCain.

Yes, ten years ago, when he was running in the Republican primary against W., I thought (as did many Americans), “Here is an honorable man. I might not agree with his politics, but he appears to have the integrity I find lacking in so many pols today.”

Somewhere between then and now, Big John sold his soul to the forces of darkness. We won’t even talk about his rank opportunism in plucking Sarah Palin out of obscurity—an act for which the nation still suffers.

Formerly a moderate on immigration reform, he demonized aliens in a craven⎯albeit successful⎯attempt to beat a rabid conservative in his recent reelection bid.

Now he plays the spoiler as ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, using one dilatory tactic after another to block the open integration of gays into the military. He called for a study. It was completed, but the results did not comport with his wishes. He wants another study.

Two-thirds of service members surveyed say they don’t care about the sexual orientation of their comrades. The Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs want DADT repealed. They attest such an action won’t harm the military in the long run. An overwhelming majority of Americans favors repeal. What dwindling group of troglodytes is McCain fronting for at this point?

Yes, John McCain served honorably in war, fighting to protect the sacred rights of Americans. Since that time, he seems to have forgotten that meant the rights of all Americans, not just the ones who vote in Arizona’s Republican primary.

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Chan Lowe: The Wikileaks debacle


I used to think that Hillary Clinton was too strident, too self-centered, too opinionated and too vindictive to be President. Since then, another personage of the female persuasion has grabbed the center stage of politics, and by comparison Hillary seems like an exemplar of cool-headedness under fire.

Considering the plateful the incoming President was handed back in January of 2009, it has become more apparent than ever that simple, cold competency was and is the foremost quality needed in our leader in these tough times. The jury’s still out on Barack Obama in that regard, but Hillary has left no doubt that she possesses it in abundance.

I make light of her in this cartoon, but right now I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather have in the hot seat when there’s so much ’splainin’ to do, as Ricky Ricardo might say. Not only is she handling a touchy situation with the same grace she displayed during the Monica Lewinsky circus, she might yet make a silk purse out of this mess.

Take, for example, the Gulf States’ constant behind-the-scenes badgering that we waste Iran and President I’m-A-Dinnerjacket for them. Now⎯thanks to the Wikileaks cables⎯ it’s out in the open that they, we, and Israel are all on the same side. You know that Arabic cliché, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend?” Peace agreements have been forged on shakier grounds than this, and Hillary definitely has the resourcefulness to uncover opportunities in our newly revealed camaraderie.

May the Force be with you, Madame Secretary.

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Chan Lowe: Free advice for President Obama


Being president is one of those jobs that is far more complex than outside observers⎯particularly the Greek choruses on both ends of the political spectrum⎯will ever be able to understand.

They look at it through their narrow prisms: Is he being the president we wanted him to be? The one we voted for? Is he being even more irresponsibly extreme than we imagined?

Only when you’re in the hot seat, though, can you truly comprehend the expectation that you’re meant to be the President of the entire United States and all its citizens, not just the Tea Party, the moderates, your liberal base, or whatever pressure group one might think of.

This is why the White House has to field simultaneous complaints that Barack Obama is both the most radical socialist who ever occupied the building, and that he is a sellout who only pays lip service to progressive causes.

Every group has advice on how he can succeed, if he would just do it their way.

But then, none of these people is the leader of the free world, when every utterance and action can have grievous consequences, and must be weighed in advance with great deliberateness. So, it’s easy to carp when you’re just doing it to hear your brains rattle, and everything is risk-free.

Just ask Sarah Palin.

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Chan Lowe: Bristol Palin's triumph on DWTS


All right, maybe this isn’t as important as abolishing congressional earmarks or extending tax cuts for the rich, but Bristol Palin’s advancement to the DWTS finals seemed to be all anyone was talking about down at the plant this morning.

Mrs. Lowe-Down, who is the household authority on this and American Idolatry issues, allowed as how the relative dancing prowess of the contestants left no doubt that poor old Brandy had gotten screwed. I did witness the live announcement that she had been eliminated, and the news was greeted in the studio with slack jaws and booing. And those were just the judges.

There are ugly rumors going around (which I have done my best to stoke in this cartoon) that it wasn’t Bristol, but in fact her mother for whom many of the viewers were voting. I don’t feel this is inappropriate, because the line between politics and entertainment has grown so fuzzy as to be indistinguishable of late.

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Chan Lowe: Post-election reality check


My favorite period of any election cycle is the first few days after the polls have closed and the outcome is decided, when the party that won drops the façade and begins carefully recalibrating its campaign rhetoric to reflect reality.

This is when we find out how they really plan to use their newfound “mandate,” and what they admit that they can’t possibly do and never really thought they could but didn’t want to tell us until it was too late to take our votes back.

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Chan Lowe: Republican victory


Reduce the deficit! Halt runaway spending! Starve the beast! Shrink government! It’s time to take our country back!

All lovely-sounding slogans, designed to snag votes. Something that House Speaker-elect Boehner and the rest of the Republican establishment know, however, is that actually making good on the exhortations is a much tougher proposition than shouting them out from the cheap seats.

We have learned from this election that in these times of extreme hardship, the American people are nothing if not impatient. It doesn’t matter who got us into the mess, it only matters that two years have passed since the last election and things aren’t getting better.

The Republicans and their Tea Party wing did an admirable job of getting themselves elected without having to delve into specifics. Let’s face it, there are two ways to reduce the deficit: raising revenue and lowering expenditures.

Since a Republican House will never raise taxes, that leaves cutting programs (the part they avoided talking about during the campaign). The military and national security are off the table, they tell us, so that leaves…

Social Security? Can’t cut people already getting it, or even people who are old enough to smell it. They’ve all paid into the system already. Young people? How can you expect them to keep paying in if you welsh on their future benefits?

Medicare? “Huh, whassat? We’re gonna have to start paying for Grandma’s dialysis? NO WAY, BOZO!”

And--finally--earmarks, which amount to almost nothing compared to the rest of the budget, anyway. “You mean we ain’t gonna get that civic center (or fairgrounds, or underpass, or highway spur) our congressman promised us after all?!!? We’re votin’ Democrat next time!”

Congratulations, Mr. Speaker…and our condolences.

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Chan Lowe: Christine O'Donnell's witchcraft denial


The media, both “lamestream” and proprietary, have it wrong when they use the term “anti-incumbent fervor.” The words aren’t specific enough to properly convey the mindset of a large proportion of this year’s voters.

The ire directed at current officeholders is really more of a resentment that there seems to be an entitled class of rulers, of beltway-savvy elites who don’t connect with the fears and aspirations of your average Wal-Mart shopper. The anger at government is about the distance that has grown between it and the people from whom it used to derive its legitimacy, before it fell into the clutches of special interests and individual self-interest.

The Democrats think they’re onto something by highlighting the zany comments of some of the wilder right-wing candidates as way of slapping lethargic voters upside the head.

This strategy could well backfire. Average Americans⎯upon hearing that someone dabbled in witchcraft, doesn’t believe in evolution, or thinks that government shouldn’t be telling a private business owner that he is required to allow minorities into his store⎯may respond by saying, “Yeah, by golly! I can identify with that!”

Best to ride it out. Let the nation have its convulsion at the polls, then sit back and enjoy the show. You think these candidates look clumsy on the stump? Wait until they galumph into the halls of congress, and are forced to confront the intricate, exhausting, inglorious and unlovely process of actually trying to run a government.

Who knows? They might even take a cue from one of their greatest avatars, throw up their hands and quit in the middle of their terms.

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Chan Lowe: Rise of the Tea Party


None of this would be happening if we weren’t feeling economically insecure.

When people are fat and happy, they don’t care much about politics. Why fix something if it ain’t broke? As long as you are free to splurge on flat-screen TVs, iPads, SUVs and vacation getaways, then finance your sprees by taking out another mortgage on your house, you don’t sit around whining about having your constitutional liberties taken away.

If those halcyon days were still with us, Sarah Palin would be just a better-than-average-looking footnote in history, Glenn Beck would be calling high-school football games for a small-town radio station, and Barack Obama would be sailing toward reelection in 2012.

Our current national unrest is evocative of that experienced in the 1920s during the runaway inflation in Germany, when families brought their life savings to the market in a wheelbarrow to buy a loaf of bread.

In those days, the anger and frustration reached such a boiling point that every political party had its own paramilitary wing composed of thugs who went out to crack heads in the streets. It was only a matter of time before the frantic and demoralized populace tired of their weak central government’s lack of ability to maintain civil order and provide them with a basic living. They ultimately turned to someone who promised deliverance.

The irony, of course, is that in so doing they sacrificed every personal liberty they ever had.

In other words, it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs…in a much more far-reaching sense than merely determining which party might win a by-election in November.

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Chan Lowe: Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin speak


There has been some delirious chatter in the wake of Glenn Beck’s March to Reclaim America’s Honor about a “dream” ticket involving him and the nation’s favorite Mama Bear.

Professionally speaking, I’m all for it. I don’t care who’s at the top of the ticket. What a gift such a candidacy would be for any cartoonist.

Unfortunately, it will never happen, for several reasons: first, the one I’ve alluded to in this cartoon, which is that there isn’t room on the same bumper sticker for these two enormous egos.

Let’s hallucinate for a moment and imagine that a Palin/Beck or Beck/Palin combo actually won in the 2012 election. I can visualize a scuffle on the inaugural dais while they try to rip the Bible out of each other’s hands to be sworn in as the chief, each citing constitutional chapter and verse in support of his or her own position.

But it will never get that far. Remember that when a president or a vice-president gives a speech somewhere, they’re expected to do so for free. No fees…public speaking is included as part of the job description. I doubt either of them would be willing to take the pay cut.

Besides, it’s a lot easier to take shots from the peanut gallery than to actually be responsible for doing something. Ms. Palin proved this by resigning from a job that demanded too much in the way of accountability for her actions.

Finally, let’s not forget other sizeable egos waiting in the wings. Newt “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” Gingrich is prepared to assume the office he has always felt was due a man of his gargantuan intellect, and then there’s one who makes Glenn Beck look like a finely-tuned scientific balance scale by comparison.

Michele Bachmann for President. Talk about “I have a dream.”

…That’s mine.

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Chan Lowe: Glenn Beck reclaims America


What does the Glenn Beck rally to reclaim America have in common with the mosque in Lower Manhattan?

Even if you’re willing to give Mr. Beck the benefit of the doubt (and I’m not) that he really, truly, honest to God didn’t know that August 28th happened to be the anniversary of the March On Washington and one of the greatest speeches ever delivered in American history, it would still be appropriate to use his own argument on him.

Yes, he has every right to schedule his rally on the anniversary date and in the same venue as the “I Have A Dream” speech of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to invite Sarah Palin⎯who may not even know who Dr. King was--to speak as well.

His right is guaranteed by the same First Amendment that prevents government from interfering with religious groups’ right to build a house of worship wherever they want to.

Neither the date⎯August 28th, nor the place⎯the Lincoln Memorial, is sanctified by law. That combination of date and place, however, is revered and “hallowed,” to use a word that has been slung around a lot lately.

So, just because Mr. Beck can hold his rally in that place and at that time doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do, particularly if it is no more than a thinly disguised attempt to stoke hatred between groups of Americans and to aggrandize his ego.

And then, there's the possibility that he is doing it on purpose just to stick it to somebody, in which case I wouldn’t want to come anywhere near the bad karma he is surely amassing for himself.

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Chan Lowe: Bristol Palin takes it on the road

bristol.gifBack during the 2008 presidential campaign, when Sarah Palin and her family were introduced to America in all their homespun glory, I couldn’t help but imagine what the Republican spin machine would have done had Joe Biden’s daughter been the one to get pregnant out of wedlock as a teenager.

Because it was Sarah Palin’s daughter, however, the pregnancy became a celebration of life and an affirmation, somehow, of the emblematic American family.

Hypocrisy is a commodity that has never been in short supply in American politics. The latest, most titillating case is that of U.S. Congressman Mark Souder of Indiana, a fierce protector of traditional family values (with all the usual anti-gay riffs), who just resigned from office.

Not only did he have sex with a staffer, but he even sat for a video interview with her touting the virtues of abstinence. He probably feels that his guilt is mitigated because, unlike Rev. George Rekers, he sinned with a woman. After all, people have standards.

The Palins deserve credit that Bristol went ahead and gave birth to the child, which is now being raised as a member of the family. Regardless of what certain parties might allege, nobody is “pro-abortion.”

Fortunately for the Palins, and unlike many families with unwed teenage mothers, they have plenty of resources to give the kid every possible advantage. I’m sure Bristol will prove to be an exemplary mother.

It’s unseemly, though, that she now plans to hit the road as an exemplar of empowerment and teenage chastity. As far as living with the consequences of one’s youthful errors, hers is by far the exceptional case, and it would be tragic if easily influenced children took the wrong message from her life story.

It isn’t as though she needs the money.

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Chan Lowe: Sarah Palin's so-called endorsement

klein.gifSometimes, the better part of wisdom is to just shut up.

But, as we know, Sarah Palin has acquired many things in her brief trajectory through the political heavens, and the better part of wisdom is not one of them.

Earlier this week, she endorsed Allen West, a war veteran who is running to unseat Rep. Ron Klein in Dist. 22.

I'm sure there's nothing wrong with Mr. West, and probably plenty that's right with him, but if I were he I wouldn't be trumpeting that endorsement on my campaign bumper sticker, at least around that constituency.

For starters, that district runs mostly along the Atlantic shore in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, two of the most liberal in Florida. Second, the slight Republican majority isn't primarily made up of the mad-at-the-world, fire-breathing, gun-toting, chip-on-their-shoulder Republicans to whom Ms. Palin might appeal.

No, they're more the "Get off my beach! I own it up to the mean high tide line!" Republicans. Socially moderate. What we used to call "Rockefeller," or "Country Club" Republicans.

In other words, the whole district is probably alienated by shrillness in all its forms, whatever wing it may come from.

So, congratulations on that endorsement of yours, Mr. West. If you're lucky, the voters will forget about it by November.

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Chan Lowe: Congressional death threats

patriotx.gifWhen a conflagration erupts, who is most to blame—the person who brings the can of gasoline, or the one who hands him the match?

There has always been a restive undercurrent in this country, the rugged individualists who feel that any government encroachment into their lives is too much.

What is different now is that cynical, self-serving politicians are stoking the fears and anger of these people and inciting them to perform acts of violence against an imagined threat.

You want to talk takeover? How about the Supreme Court case of Bush v. Gore in 2000, when the justices⎯in a five-to-four vote⎯arbitrarily decided to stop the vote counting and declare George W. Bush the winner?

Maybe my memory is faulty, but I don’t recall anyone making death threats against Chief Justice Rehnquist at the time. I would say that that act was far more injurious to our individual liberties than the health care reform vote.

The malcontents should just suck it up and wait until November to vote the scoundrels out. That’s what real democracy is about. It isn’t about “taking back” your country by force or intimidation if you don’t like the way Congress is voting.

As for the inciters, they may be sorry someday that they ever unleashed this angry animal. It could turn around and bite them right in their craven behinds.

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Chan Lowe: Sarah Palin's Tea Party speech

forces2.gifLost amid the weekend hoopla of the Super Bowl was Sarah Palin’s $100,000 speech to the Tea Party convention, which The Lowe-Down happened to watch in its entirety.

Assuming you missed it, she opened with a paean to the principles of the U.S. Constitution, yet later accused the Obama Administration of coddling the Christmas Day bomber by affording him his constitutional rights before enough information could be squeezed out of him. “We need a commander-in chief, not a professor of constitutional law,” she huffed.

She also sneeringly alluded to Obama as being someone who could read well from a TelePrompTer. Evidently, this is the mark of a phony, while writing crib notes (as Sarah did) on the palm of one’s hand is much more genuine and American.

But to fault Palin based on logic and consistency is to do the lady a disservice. She does not pretend to fall back on these rhetorical crutches, which are the contrivances of “elites” who would happily sell this great nation of ours out from under us if they could stop saluting the hammer and sickle long enough.

No, the coin of Palin’s realm is raw emotion, and those who paid $350 apiece to hear her speak got plenty of that, incoherent as the delivery may have been.

Ultimately, whether she plans to run for president or not isn’t really relevant, nor are her questionable qualifications to hold such an office. She only needs to know how to do one thing (and she does it quite well, thank you very much)--which is to endorse the backside of a check.

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Pied pipers of the GOP

cliff.gifIt's reminiscent of the bad old days of the House Un-American Activities Committee, the John Birch Society and the blacklist of the 1950's.

Now the Republican Party will require potential 2010 candidates to fill out an "ideological purity" form, in which they must correctly score on at least eight out of ten answers on topics such as abortion, gay marriage and taxes, if they are to qualify for national party campaign funds.

Of course, the party has a right to do this--but is it politically sound reasoning? As the GOP circles the wagons more and more tightly around its conservative core, it may develop into an effective force for anointing candidates to win primaries, but in the general election, it will be relinquishing the vast swath of moderate turf--turf most Americans feel comfortable occupying--to the Democrats.

In recent times, the Democratic Party has been more of a "big tent," embracing members from across the idealogical spectrum, including moderate conservatives who, fifty years ago, would have fallen into the "Rockefeller Republican" camp.

Since retaining or augmenting majorities in both houses of Congress is the name of the game, one has to wonder if the GOP has some kind of death wish. Maybe it simply has no credible leaders at the moment, except for the bloviators who make a living by being extremist.

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Chan Lowe cartoon: Sarah Palin, literary lioness

palinbook.gifSomehow the words "book" and "Sarah Palin" don't fit comfortably in the same sentence.

Oh, well...if George Bush Sr.'s dog could pen a best-selling memoir about his years in the White House, I suppose anyone can.

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Sarah's non-swan song


Clearly Sarah Palin articulates, in her own folksy way, a mindset that resonates deeply with a disaffected segment of the American public.

Media-bashing has always been a sure-fire applause line with the grievance-ridden Right, and she employed it skillfully in her resignation speech.

What Sarah has is what we call down here in South Florida good old-fashioned chutzpah.

It has been said--with some chagrin by the very media she bashes--that
she wouldn't even have gotten a second look if she resembled, say, Golda Meir. But that's not just a media weakness. I wonder if John McCain would have chosen her as a running mate if she didn't so energize his ticket (not necessarily his message) with her winking, sashaying Betty Boop routine.

Would the crowds have gushed so? Would she even be entertaining breathless questions about whether she plans to run for--gulp--president in 2012?

Let's face it: Sarah Palin is a media creation. She'd be nothing without us. At the same time, we send phalanxes of reporters up to Alaska to shoot video of her fishing because people can't resist watching and reading about her.

One could be offended by her callous treatment of those to whom she owes so much. On the other hand, it's one of those classic sick relationships: Please, Sarah, bash us some more! Your fans love it, and we love to disseminate it.

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Sarah Palin bails


I'm waiting for the other snowshoe to drop.

It's hard to believe that someone as politically ambitious as Sarah Palin would bail out of her first term as governor unless there were extenuating circumstances that we have yet to hear about.

If there is no scandal waiting in the wings, then Gov. Palin deserves to be thought of as a flake not fit for the presidency, regardless of one's political point of view.

Some of her admirers among the Conservative chattering classes are calling this a bold masterstroke, clearing the decks for her to come down here to the lower forty-eight and tour the cornfields of Iowa as well as the mill towns of New Hampshire.

She says she quit to pursue a higher calling. The irony is that another Republican governor, Mark Sanford, chose to pursue a lower calling, and he's still in office.

I suggest we sit tight and wait to see if this calling comes in the form of a subpoena.

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Bristol Palin touts sexual abstinence!


You have to hand it to Bristol Palin. Like her mom, she's an expert at turning a sow's ear into a silk purse.

All teens do stupid things. Bristol figured out a way to get paid for talking about her stupid thing, in the form of giving a public service announcement extolling (choke!) teen sexual abstinence.

I don't know if young Bristol's trying to help burnish her mother's image for a presidential run in 2012, but if I were Sarah Palin, I'd be trying to keep her out of the spotlight.

After all, Sarah's shooting for the Republican primary, with all those pinch-mouthed morals voters, and having an unwed teen mother in the family displays a decidedly liberal-style cavalier attitude toward what is good and proper.

But then, if you're Sarah Palin, the Great Foxy Hope for the Conservative Future, they can bend the rules a little. Bristol's "situation" becomes a joyous celebration of life.

Now, if we could just get the girl to fly to Vermont and marry a woman...

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The remaking of Caribou Barbie


It has always been a goal of mine to contrive a way to use Burkina Faso in a cartoon. Never heard of the place? Maybe you remember it by its former moniker, Upper Volta (although, to my knowledge, a Lower Volta has never existed).

Or, maybe you don't. I felt that the more obscure-sounding places I could list, the better the humor would work. In other words, forget Egypt or Algeria.

Having now fulfilled my lifelong career aspiration, there is really nothing left to live for, professionally speaking. That aside, my feeling is that the more Sarah Palin mentions how she was wrongly characterized by her handlers in the recent campaign, the more it will remind us, four years from now, that she had a reputation as a hopelessly ditzy fashion diva back in 2008.

Helpful hint to you rabid Palinophiles out there: Those places I named are all countries in Africa.

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G.O.P. circular firing squad


Ah...just when we thought all the excitement of the campaign was over, and it was time to settle down and eat our lima beans while President-elect Obama dragged us through the fleshing-out of his cabinet...

Now comes the glass of fine liqueur at the end of a rich, multi-course meal for us political junkies. The Republicans unsheathe the long knives and begin the much-anticipated scapegoating of their own. She doesn't know Africa is a continent? Can't name the countries in NAFTA? He refused her pleas to play the Rev. Wright card? His henchpeople mishandled her?

One can only hope it lasts through the Transition, which the economic news is making drearier by the day.

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The cartoon you'll never see in the newspaper


On Election Day, I had to be ready with several alternative cartoons, just in case. The deadline for the Opinion Pages was 1 a.m. Wednesday, and there were three contingencies.
No.1: Obama wins. No.2: McCain wins. No.3: They're still counting, and we don't know by deadline.

What you see here is the sketch I had ready for an eleventh-hour McCain upset. Obviously, I never had to bother to ink it because they called the election for Obama relatively early on, so we ran that cartoon instead.

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The campaign's final days...thank God


My colleagues on the Editorial Board and I remember clearly last spring, when John McCain sat before us in a small room and declared, with a straight face, that he would run a clean and honorable campaign, one worthy of the American people.

This must have been before the Rovian pod people took posession of his brain, although one could argue that his campaign has, in fact, been worthy of the American people. We'll see after Tuesday.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that he loses, he'll have to go back to the Senate. His own party will shun him for blowing the race with his craven choice of Palin--plus they always detested him, anyway. The Democrats will despise him for the name-calling, the robocalls, the whisper campaigns, and the gutter politics. That leaves only Joe Lieberman to eat Senate bean soup with, which is like sharing lunch with that droning U.S. History teacher in high school who taught by staying one textbook chapter ahead of the class.

Technical note: Normally, I draw using brushes, old-fashioned steel pen points and India ink. Today, I thought I'd try doing the whole thing with a ball-point pen, because of the detail. Plus, the adolescent in me thought it would be cool to draw a trebuchet.

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Governor Crist gets shabby treatment


If you're like most Floridians, your opinion of Gov. Charlie runs somewhere between vanilla and French vanilla. He's a reasonably inoffensive, likable gent. Not exactly a barn-burner, but as a person, he's quite charming.

Compared to Sarah Palin, however, he looks positively Lincolnesque. Just try to put yourself in his shoes after he used his considerable prestige in our contentious state to pull John McCain's chestnuts out of the fire during the primary, when everyone had given his candidacy up for dead. This is the thanks he gets? Princess Needless Markup who played hooky during junior high civics class?

You can bet that if Charlie had been the VP pick, he'd have been able to tell Katie Couric what the Vice-President's statutory role is, and he wouldn't be dragging down the public discourse by calling his opponent a socialist, terrorist, Marxist teacher of sex ed to kindergartners.

That's probably why McCain didn't give him the job. Buck up, Governor. You're too good for it.

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For such a choice, I waited three hours in line?!!?


Normally, I don't like to rely on so many words in cartoons, but I couldn't think of a more effective way to make the point about negative campaigning... without resorting to cliches (like avalanches of mud pouring out of the TV set).

Why not list, in simplistic terms, the way each side has tried to frame its opponent in our minds? When you lay it out this way, we really see how absurd this type of campaigning is when we're staring a possible depression in the face.

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Sarah Palin's $150K political trousseau


Just when things are starting to settle in for the final grind to the finish line, somebody comes forth bearing a luscious little tidbit on a silver platter.

Evidently, the McCain campaign went through some bookkeeping legerdemain to make the $150,000 it spent on Sarah Palin's wardrobe legal (you see, the Feds take a dim view toward the purchasing of personal items with campaign funds). As if that weren't enough, her shopping assistant is the same guy who dreamed up the robocall campaign. It says something about what the McCain people think of Palin's judgment that they can't even trust her to choose her own wardrobe properly.

What, were they afraid she'd just take the hundred and fifty grand and go straight to Frederick's of Hollywood? That's a lot of bustiers.

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Sarah Palin the pit bull


You don't have to be in the tank for one candidate or the other to be repulsed by what John McCain's vice-presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, has been doing on the stump lately.

According to news reports, she has incited her adoring crowds into yelling terms like "traitor," "terrorist," and "kill him" when she utters the name of her opponent at the top of the ticket, Barack Obama.

Nobody is against tough campaigning, but I think many would agree that this kind of rabble-rousing is beyond the pale. It is an attempt to awaken the ugliest side of the American character, and once one gets over the spine chills at the idea of what this kind of rhetoric could unleash in the body politic, one is overcome with sadness that a man as honorable as John McCain, who has given so much to his country, has stooped this low in his single-minded quest for the brass ring.

For, surely, it is John McCain who allows Sarah Palin to continue in this vein. His advisers may have seduced him with the siren song, "You can either be principled, or you can win," but had he not chosen to look the other way while she did his dirty work for him, it would surely not happen. He probably figures there is plenty of time to regain his integrity after he's elected, but we've now seen what he's capable of.

I liked the John McCain of 2000, along with many of my compatriots. I heard one wag on TV say, "Back in 2000, John McCain said there was a special place in hell for those Bush campaign operatives who smeared him. It seems that place is now in the McCain campaign, because they're all working for him."

Yes, it's all very sad.

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Reject corner redux


A note from Opinion Page Editor Tony Fins:

Following our Reject Corner posting this week, Chan took issue with my version of events. He points out, rightly so, that his comment about Obama and not seeing anything to criticize referred to the previous few days worth of news leading up to the drawing of the cartoon and not the entire campaign. That's true. Chan has drawn critical cartoons of the Democratic nominee throughout this election.

The larger point I was trying to make is that, as editor of the Opinion pages, one of my duties is to look at the broad menu of viewpoints and topics that we offer day-to-day. It's my role to make sure that the paper offers as comprehensive a take on political commentary as possible.

This is why I shot down the Palin cartoon. I felt that we needed more diversity of topics and themes that week. For the record, I thought the cartoon was effective and funny. Just ill timed, considering what we had printed the few days leading up to this one.

My comments:

I think Tony’s statement provides an effective response to those who feel that the Sun Sentinel rushes headlong into so-called doctrinaire editorial positions. Our Opinion staff and I, personally, have been accused of holding irrational viewpoints at all ends of the ideological spectrum. In fact, we arrive at the Sun Sentinel’s institutional positions through a collegial process that reflects the varied backgrounds of the members of our staff. Tony, as he has mentioned, maintains a sense of our overall balance and direction as our editor.

In my particular case, since I sign my work, my cartoons reflect my own point of view rather than that of the institution for which I work. I am not so irrational as to dismiss out of hand the viewpoints of those who disagree with me. In fact, a commentator’s maturity derives from his ability to incorporate new thinking and opinion into his worldview when it appears to make sense. This is essential to maintaining one’s credibility as a provider of meaningful opinion. I do not dispute that I have leaned more heavily, of late, on the candidacy of John McCain. This is because he has done such an effective job of executing the news-grabbing turn of strategy that begs for an editorial response (the choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate being one of them).

As a testament to Tony’s remark about timing, the cartoon presented here--which was the subject of the aforementioned Reject Corner--will be running, appropriately, on the Sun Sentinel’s Opinion Page on Thursday, the day of the Vice-presidential debate.

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Sarah Palin and Hillary


There is a delicious irony in this whole business about Sarah Palin. I can't remember in which play Shakespeare used the phrase, "hoist on his own petard," but it certainly describes Hillary's present situation.

If she hadn't hung on all the way to the end, if she hadn't made that bitter non-concession speech, if she hadn't talked about the need for "catharsis," then maybe those of her followers who remain disgruntled females might not have been up for the taking.

John McCain might have picked another boring rich white guy, and everything would have trundled along as expected. But, no. He picked a woman, and now Hillary finds herself too clever by half. If McCain wins, she won't be the first woman anything.

Now, she's forced to work her heart out for Obama, and sincerely, really sincerely (AAACK!), hope that he wins. And wait eight whole years now for her chance at the brass ring.

Even Bill, the political genius, couldn't have prognosticated this one.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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