Digging into the Veeps blog archives, Bill Kelter’s unpublished chapter on vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. [September 3, 2008.]
ST. PAUL - No one really expected she’d be a shrinking violet. Sarah Palin proved to be every bit the fighter that early news reports and anecdotal accounts have indicated she’d be. Politics may be a bloodsport, but Campaign 2008 is going to be Rwanda. Governor Palin threw down tonight and the red-meat Red Staters loved every fang-dripping word of it.
Which is not to say that Joe Biden won’t still hand her her ass when it comes time to go head-to-head on counter-terrorism, tax policy, foreclosures, the canard of offshore drilling, book banning, creationism, fringe secessionism, and the pathological stalking of one’s brother-in-law outside his living room window. And as we speak the press is making disturbing discoveries faster than the first sweep through John Wayne Gacy’s crawlspaces.
The delegates are rapt this evening, and they should enjoy their moment, because it might not play in Peoria. Ron Reagan noted tonight on Air America that this is all eerily reminiscent of Goldwater ’64, McGovern ’72, and Bush ’92, where the party hardcores got everything they wanted and blew the rafters off their respective conventions halls with their passion–and had their doors blown off come November after their rabid intensity simply didn’t play out on the hustings.
You can’t go wrong with kids, and Sarah rightly trotted them all out tonight, though I think she was trumped by Senator Biden’s plethora of kids and grandkids that he rolled out after his speech one week ago tonight.
Babies test through the ceiling, and nothing was cuter than Sarah Palin’s daughter holding the Palin Son, Trig, wetting her fingers and patting down his errant strands of his infant hair. This was political stagecraft at its finest, and if it has the desired effect, it’s going to make America forget about the dumptruck-sized load of tainted Governor Paloin soil extracated since she was tapped as Senator McCain’s running mate five days ago–two days before they frantically started vetting her.
The Kool-Aid vendors went dry tonight at the Xcel Energy Center. And Levi cleaned up quite nicely. Air America’s Thom Hartman has always complained that the Republicans have the edge in stagecraft over the Democrats, and the GOP proved that tonight. Joe Biden and Barack Obama nailed it over two consecutive nights last week, culminating with Senator Obama’s seismic address before 84,000 party faithful at Invesco Field last Thursday, but we haven’t been talking about that since John McCain chose Governor Palin as his running mate last Friday morning.
She came out with all guns blazing tonight and kept those trained on Senator Obama and his wife, trotting out the old saws about Michelle Obama never being proud of her country and Barack Obama deriding Pennsylvanians and Ohioans as bitter because they were gun owners and church-goers. Like most of the Obamas previous critics on these rickety points, Governor Palin didn’t muddy the waters with context.
“Al-Qaeda terrorists plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.” Except for the vast majority of them who were turned in falsely by their tribal and community enemies and are being held on heresay without any evidence that they ever plotted against anyone except for someone from a neighboring village who dissed their sister. And it’s our tax dollars that are keeping them contained, fed, and held without trial just to demonstrate our vigilance against fake terrorist patsies.
With the possible exception of our internment of the Japanese during World War II, which continued for a comparatively–comparatively–reasonable three years at most (and should have been a head-slapping and head-hanging learning experience for us as a nation), I don’t remember anything in our admittedly spotty recent history of justice that has involved holding hundreds of men and women prisoner for five and six and seven years on end without offering them the courtesy of defending themselves against the crimes we’re charging them with. If they’re guilty, fine, let’s let a tribunal sort that out, and then punish them accordingly. If they’re not, they not only don’t deserve three hots and a cot, but the cause of world peace wouldn’t be upended by sending them back to their homes and families, where they were before they were falsely accused and shipped off to Cuba. Even a kangaroo court would have demonstrated at least a flimsy pretense of justice. With a few exceptions, we’ve barely afforded them that charade. But whatever, justice is a malleable thing in the 21st Century. We do what we can.
In any case, we’re off and running now. It’s going to be an ugly fall.
They did clean Levi up real good tonight. If he’s not already (he declared on his MySpace page that he was “in a relationship…[but] not ready for kids”), he’s probably wishing he’d gone after the gym teacher’s daughter instead, and he could at least continue being a piss-and-vinegar young boy again, as he probably should be.
Journalist Merle Stickney writes about the stars of the film, Bill and Wayne, reprinted here from Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette.
A Shared ‘Vice’ by Merle Stickney January 1, 2008
It’s their boyish enthusiasm that engages you first. Despite being nearly into middle age, they have a youthful zeal that’s infectious–no matter how oddly directed it turns out to be.
Bill Keltner and Wayne Schellaberger are the most unlikely of the many politicos that descend upon our fair state every four years. They’re not interested in who wins the nomination–well, thePresidential nomination at least.
Keltner and Schellaberger are self-proclaimed “Vice Presidential groupies”—hardcore wonks, VP obsessives, Veep “foamers” (an apparent reference to train aficionados whose hypnotic passion often makes them appear, slack- jawed, to be “foaming” at the mouth).
The story of their friendship is just as unlikely and serendipitous as the path that brings them through Iowa this year. “We circled one another for years”, says Keltner, a self-described “sometime entrepreneur” and temporary office worker from Vancouver, Washington, “in VP chatrooms, on eBay competing for Vice Presidential memorabilia, at Veep funerals and other Veep events–we were even at the Agnrew inaugural, though we didn’t know each other yet!” They met finally at Spiro Agnew’s gravesite, each leaving a bouquet of Black-Eyed Susans at the tombstone of Maryland’s favorite Greek-American son and the unlikeliest “Veep” of them all.
Says Schellaberger, an artist who lives and works in retail in the San Francisco Bay Area and is an apparent rising star within America’s courtroom sketch artist community, the two are united in their obsession with the Vice Presidents. They are single-minded in their passion, he says over breakfast at the Tic-Toc on 17th Street NE, and he seems taken aback when this reporter suggests it is a bit unconventional that they’ve arranged their lives around following Vice Presidents and their history like some people do rock musicians.
They both claim to be divorced in part because of their Veep obsessions, and 2008 finds them on the road to Washington, through the primaries and caucuses and conventions, hoping at the end of the rainbow for a Vice Presidential staff job—regardless of which party wins the nomination.
While their focus is both energetic and charming, they are by their own admission somewhat elitist and contemptuous of others when said persons’ knowledge of all things Vice Presidential doesn’t compare to their own.
Keltner seems particularly passionate and lectured this reporter for nearly seven minutes when I mistakenly identified FDR Vice President and Iowa native Henry A. Wallace as having hailed from Ottumwa.
I noticed during our interview that Keltner was using as a bookmark (he was reading a dog-eared biography of 1844 Whig Vice Presidential nominee Theodore Frelinghuysen) what appeared to be a police citation. When questioned, Keltner confessed that, earlier in their trip, he “lost my temper” in a tavern in Schuyler, Nebraska, and became involved in fisticuffs with a patron who Keltner said insulted him for his enthusiasm at the town’s namesake being Ulysses S. Grant’s Vice President, Schuyler Colfax. Keltner paid a $75 fine for misdemeanor battery for his role in the altercation.
Keltner concedes that the pair’s collective Vice Presidential acumen gives them a swagger and attitude bordering on the cocky. In the time I spent with them, I noticed on more than one occasion that they would attempt to use their considerable VP knowledge to attract women–and were dismissive of them when rebuffed.
It is undeniable, though, that they are evangelic in their fervor about the unappreciated power of the office, and as they follow the campaign trail toward their presumed ” destiny” of putting their enthusiasm to work in the number two office of the Executive Branch, they seem on a mission to not only educate the masses about the storied history and great responsibility of the office, but to beat them as if with a cudgel.
[This article is also featured on the Veeps blog, here.]