Remember Sarah Connor?
In the first “Terminator,” she was the apparently simple-minded young woman who found herself at the center of history, with the fate of all mankind hanging on her courage, intelligence and resourcefulness.
And, as all of us who loved the movie know, Sarah came through.
In choosing Sarah Palin, John McCain activated that powerful archetype — the plucky young woman who perseveres against all odds. It’s an ancient story, one that’s retold in different forms from generation to generation, inspiring and empowering.
Stunned Dems were paralyzed by the choice. They knew immediately that McCain might have snatched away the election with a single devastating move.
There’s no counterpart in American politics to McCain’s daring gambit. In warfare, yes — think of Washington crossing the Delaware, Hannibal at Cannae, MacArthur at Inchon.
But perhaps the best metaphor comes from chess.
Study the games of Bobby Fischer, the American prodigy who fell into madness at the height of his powers. Fischer attacked his opponent’s strengths, with brilliant, unexpected moves that even the greatest players couldn’t defend.
During the last few days, I asked a variety of men and women what they think about Palin.
She’s the anti-Hillary. She may not be snooty and smart, but she’s a tough, no B.S. kind of woman. She’s the kind of woman a guy could watch football with and not have to explain the difference between a comeback route and a corner blitz. She’s the kind of woman who understands what it’s like to feed your kids Ramen and Rice-a-Roni the week before payday.
She knows that things sometimes don’t turn out the way you want, that kids mess up and that in-laws can be hell. And yeah, she’s qualified to be president — look, it’s not as if all those supposedly qualified guys have done that great a job.
Besides, she’ll be good for McCain — he’s getting old, and she’ll make sure he stays focused and doesn’t listen to people who just want stuff for themselves. She knows the way people really live, and she’ll be there for us.
That’s taking it to the heart of the Democratic Party.
Barack Obama/Joe Biden? Just a couple of power guys in power suits, talking about stuff that people don’t much care about or understand.
McCain/Palin? A geezer with cojones and a tough woman with attitude.
So what can Obama do to take out Palin? Not much, because he can’t alter her basic narrative. If he’s lucky, some nasty bit of biography will surface that will change that narrative (Palin doing 30 days for check fraud during the 1980s? Palin dancing at a strip club? Palin clubbing baby seals?), but that’s unlikely at this late date.
He’ll have to throttle McCain in the debates, energize his youthful base, raise hundreds of millions of dollars, and hope that the voters come to their senses and fall out of love with the new girl in town.
And a little advice to the senator from Illinois: if you want to know what you’re up against, rent the Terminator movies and take an evening off to watch them. Here’s a hint — you can take on Sarah Connor, but even the liquid metal terminator failed in the end.
Meanwhile, we in Colorado might be descending into a vast political wasteland. Our tranquil lives will be disrupted — at least, until Nov. 5.
We’re October’s darling, the Reggie Jackson of national politics, according to the pundits. We’re the swing state of swing states, this year’s Florida or Ohio, the state that will determine who becomes the next president.
And if that’s not enough, we’ll have the dubious pleasure of voting on 18 statewide initiatives and referenda, deciding the fate of the county’s 1 percent sales tax and the two Douglas Bruce-authored initiatives that, opponents say, would cripple the city beyond repair.
I turned to my old pal, the Seasoned Political Observer, for advice.
What, I asked, do you make of all this?
“It’s a mess,” SPO said. “It’s like the Iran/Iraq war. I hope everything and everybody loses. There’s nothing and no one on the ballot that I would ever support.”
But you have to support the lesser evil, don’t you?
“No,” SPO said. “You do, but I don’t. I’ll be in Eastern Europe — got a visiting lecturer gig. I’m leaving next week. You want to vote for the lesser evil, that’s fine. You can have my absentee ballot and vote twice. The Republicans would love to nail you for voter fraud.”
Will the state collapse? Will owls roost in the proud towers of the Wells Fargo building while packs of wild dogs roam the deserted street below? Will it be Palin vs. Putin, and will Sarah leave Vladimir bleeding in the snow like a downed caribou? Or will Obama send McCain to the nursing home and Palin back to the frozen north?
I dunno — but, come to think of it, there is a political parallel to Palin’s sudden ascent.
Remember when the Terminator stepped off the screen and became governor of California? And we thought he was gone for good when he went down for the third time in that vat of molten steel … talk about comebacks!
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 227-5861.