From brokenSoldier, who finds it sickening—which it is—a Salon writer recalls the morning she spent ghost-writing letters to the editor for the McCain campaign:
It is the day after Sarah Palin’s speech at the Republican convention. Today, she is our main subject. The others are already enthusiastically hammering their keyboards. I am struggling with a tiny writer’s block. “Dear Editor …”[McCain campaign worker] Phil Tuchman has handed out model letters, and talking points and quotes from Sarah Palin’s speech. But whom do I want to be?
Let’s loosen up my fingers a little first — and my principles, too. Am I actually allowed to make up letters? At the moment, it seems to be the only way to demonstrate how this is done in a campaign. So yes. I start practicing attractive sentences about Sarah Palin:
“Her biggest plus to me is that, besides being amazingly smart and qualified, she managed to remain a woman like us. She is the PTA hockey moms. She is the working mothers of special needs children. She is every caring mother of a challenging teenager.”
Her pregnant daughter Bristol (17) is not a talking point. A talking point is her son Track (19), who will be deployed to Iraq.
“And most of all, she is just like any mother of a child who deploys to Iraq in the service of this country.”
Now we are getting somewhere. I look around. I type:
“My son, too, is there.”
Oh god, you liar. Now build up suspense. New paragraph.
“And my heart needs him back safe so much.”
Yes, yes. Well done. Another paragraph — why not? Now let’s pump some iron in that mother, for after all, we are not with the Democrats here. Look up the right, patriotic phraseology in the model letters.
“But when I see him again, I also want to see his face glow with pride. Just like the day he told me he enlisted.”
Yes, like that. And now full speed in the direction of McCain’s plans to continue the war. Sell that war. With a mother’s heart.
“That is why Senator John McCain could count on my vote from day one.”
But whatever happened to Sarah Palin in this story? I gaze out of the window. This takes 10 minutes. Then:
“With Sarah Palin, I have even more reason to trust in victory. She represents my heart.”
Hmm. Does that sound like total doublespeak? Or does it sound like logical reasoning to a McCain supporter? I cannot come up with anything better.
“Sincerely …” I leave the dots for somebody else’s signature.
Does Phil Tuchman want to read it?
Phil bends over my computer screen and reads. This takes a while. I am expecting roars of laughter or to be kicked out. Then he says drily: “I like that. It appeals to the hearts of people. Can you write more letters?”
Apparently the McCain campaign takes these letters, shows them to supporters in “battle states” who sign the letters, and then bulk-mails them to newspapers in those states. Sickening? Certainly, but also not surprising. Putting one’s name to opinions manufactured by someone else, and letters one did not write oneself is classic authoritarian-follower behaviour. I can totally buy that from hardcore Republicans.