Night Of The Long Forks



Is this over yet?

I think it is. Not that the Republican Party ever expected, or probably ever even really wanted, McCain to win — can you picture them laughing over cigars in the back room, and saying “hell, why not this chick?” — but good heavens, I’ve seen people hang on by their fingernails before, but never by their tooth enamel. Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin.

What can you say about her, that she hasn’t already said herself?

This isn’t a bad Disney movie (God bless you, Matt Damon!), this is a bad Disney sitcom — Sarah Palin has about as much business running for Vice-President as does Mary-Kate Olsen. How did this happen? Who let it happen? It’s a slap in the face, isn’t it?


Standing a little ways back from the trainwreck, you can see the real story here: young well-spoken reformer-type dude and seasoned, slightly saucy Senate lifer go toe-to-toe with the oldest and most conflicted Presidential candidate in U.S. history, and a glassy-eyed chick from the sticks whose every folksy facial tic screams “help me, I can’t swim”. So, was this ever a contest, and did anyone who put the package together ever really want it to be one?

Has this all been some kind of joke, all along?

It is beginning to look like rather a cruel one; and if McCain hadn’t sold himself down the river, and if Sarah didn’t hold such loathsome views so dear to her chest, I’d feel like the pair of them deserved my sympathy. As I said once before, I’ve always kind of liked McCain, and…uh, well I’ve always been a big Tina Fey fan, too. And I’d like to visit Alaska one of these days. But that’s as far as it can go, I’m afraid. This was never about the election, I now perceive: the Republican brass had to know the odds were heavy against them from the start. And as (again) I said once before, the coalition that sustained Bush over two terms could never, by any means, have been expected to hold up indefinitely…so pandering to them, I submit, was already a lost cause. So…if it wasn’t about all that…

Then what was it all about?

In a certain light, it looks like what it was about was breaking John McCain. A little backroom butchery, scores settled, accounts squared, and a bit of a pound of flesh into the bargain. I speculate, of course: I can’t know any of this to be true, and in fact I don’t have the slightest inkling that it could so much as be capable of being true…I just made all this up, just now! But from a certain angle, in a certain light, this looks just exactly like a nice, neat frame-up. It looks like Carrie, crossed with The Candidate…it scans like a great American tragedy. In the movie — and in a couple of years a person could write that movie — obviously what happens next is that somehow, some outlier event crashes through the black window of probability, like Bigfoot’s hand…and after finally having made his peace with this deeply damaged situation, after acknowledging to himself after long and painful self-examination that it would be a disaster for his country if he were to win over his opponent, and the ultimate betrayal of what he stands for… at that very moment, impossibly, John McCain wins the election.

And Sarah is terrifically excited. She comes right over to his house. “John, John…can you believe it? We WON! We actually WON!” Dancing on the carpet, hands in the air: “THANK YOU, GOD!!! WOO!!!

And McCain slumps down in a chair, just like Redford in The Candidate.

“Come on, John, where’s your booze cupboard? Let’s have a drink! Let’s celebrate! Let’s PARTY!”


“Johhh-OHHHHHN….Jonno…Johnny-BOYYYY…where’s the chamPAGne…”

“Listen…Sarah…we should…now is a good time, we should really sit down…you know, have a real talk about…”

“Oh, John, really? Listen, let me tell you something…MIS-ter PRES-ident…you know how I got where I am today?”

“Uh…you were a hockey mom?”

“No, silly.” Sarah leans close. “John, I know exactly how you’re feeling. I’ve felt the same way myself, lots of times. Trust me, it’s okay. It goes away.”

“You, uh…”

“Don’t you get it, John? I was never a soldier, like you. I never had a war story. I didn’t grow up in a military family. I didn’t even do well in school. I wasn’t born to do anything. You wanna know what puts me in touch with the heartland, with real Americans? My whole life, I’ve been faking my way through everything. Being a Mom? I had no idea how to do that shit, it wasn’t my plan, it just happened. I just tried the best I could to look like a Mom, and hoped no one would notice I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing half the time. I didn’t even know how to breast-feed, I felt like a failure. You know? And as for Mayor? For the first week I was Mayor, I just kept the door locked all the time and pretended I was in a meeting with somebody important. It was just like high school, John! I hid in my gol-dang locker! And Governor, God, don’t get me started on being Governor…!”



“You don’t normally swear this much, do you?”

“John, I hunt fucking moose. In Alaska. I try not to swear around my kids and around voters, but otherwise I swear like a motherfucker, okay? It keeps me young.”


“But…what was I saying? Oh yeah, but now look at me, I’m Vice-President of the United States! And you’re President! We shouldn’t ask why. Nobody knows why. And tomorrow’s gonna be rough, that’s for sure. But tonight we should WHOOP IT UP, John! Tonight we’ve GOT to whoop it up! Because we don’t know what the fuck we’re fucking well doing, and we can’t help it, and we WON! Now you can’t tell me that’s not a friggin’ ACT OF GOD, man…!”

(twirls on carpet)



“Yes, John?”

“I think we should pray.”


“Yeah, we should…you know, get down together in front of the fire here, just, um, President and Vice-President…and pray a little. You know, quietly.”

“For guidance, right?”

“Something like that, yes.”

“So with you on that, Big John. But what about the champagne?”

“We’ll have it after.”



I knew you’d come around…!

Music starts, as Sarah dances with desperate glee: “We Built This City“, by Starship. And the camera slowly zooms in on the deadpan anguish of John McCain’s face, and we fade to black.

Of course that’s not going to happen. That’s just a movie. A movie that hasn’t even been made yet. That will in all likelihood never be made.

But — just possibly — it ought to be.

“Night Of The Long Forks”. Not a bad title, eh?


What happened, here?

How in the world did things ever come to such a pretty pass?

Somewhere, somewhere…somebody is to blame. For making that movie possible. For playing chicken with the American soul.

For breaking John McCain?

Obviously, he was watching. And obviously, it wasn’t like torture to watch it: that’s a ridiculous amplification, and it trivializes the suffering of torture victims everywhere.

But, it could not have been pleasant.

And yet on the other hand, that pain must have been some sort of relief, as well.



Is this over, yet?

It seems to me as though it is.

11 responses to “Night Of The Long Forks

  1. That actually touched me, your Sarah’s “I’ve faked it all my life” bit. Somewhere between Death of a Salesman and Winston Churchill’s endless struggle with depression. It rings true.

  2. Being a Mom? I had no idea how to do that shit, it wasn’t my plan, it just happened. I just tried the best I could to look like a Mom, and hoped no one would notice I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing half the time. I didn’t even know how to breast-feed, I felt like a failure. You know?

    This is actually a lot what it’s like to be a parent. The way I get through it is by saying, “Stupid people do this successfully. If I keep calm everything will be fine.”

  3. It owes a lot to Trading Places, this scenario, but is not unpersuasive – having only discovered him this year, I’d not say I exactly like McCain, only that he is harder to completely detest than others on his team.

  4. Beast, McCain turns out to be surprisingly easy to detest. Delving into his biography beyond the self-penned version…and beyond the POW soundbites…actually reveals a person it’s hard NOT to detest.

  5. Oh, damn, not again.

    Sigh. I guess I probably knew that, deep down. I just want for there to be, like, one of those guys that’s not the devil, is that so wrong, RAB?

    I suppose it is wrong.

  6. RAB, yeah – the Foster Wallace piece is an interesting meditation on him, perhaps too postmodern, not charged enough, but I say less difficult in the sense of: a more attractive dog poo.

  7. Ha! You must be one of those “elitists” that has no faith in THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH, GOLDARNIT!!!! and wants to take away our guns and let them queers get married like reg’lar folks.

    On the other hand, more people polled said they’d rather have a beer with Obama, which means he’s in (as long as he don’t start that smart talkin’ again).

    I swear, I want to have faith in people. I try. Sometimes I even suceed. I’m hoping we don’t end up with McCain (really, read up on the guy if you haven’t. His ethics and ideas are not what I want in a president, especially after Bush), but Democratic candidates seem to have to overcome likability and connectivity issues with the public every single time.

  8. I honestly don’t see how McCain can win. I wouldn’t let Palin match my socks, and he’s not “one of” the flat-earth Republicans…how can he win? His main campaign plank is to pass the Lord and praise the ammunition, while throwing trillions of dollars into every black hole he can find. Yikes. Add to that, I’ve never seen any political campaign with such a frank commitment to, not just lies, but bullshit. If Obama can’t win against that, I don’t know how anyone could ever expect to win against anyone.

    Word of caution, though: when Obama gets in, boy are you guys going to need to hold his feet to the fire. You’ve got a nascent secret police apparatus down there, and he’s got to break it apart, and break it apart publicly. You must be able to know it’s been dismantled, see and touch its corpse. You need Nelson Mandela to be its coroner. Because, as comic readers, we know if you don’t see a corpse…

    Know what I mean? A honeymoon for Obama, just because he’s not Bush or McCain, could be disastrous. In the first hundred days, you need some shit to happen, and in a big way…

    My two cents.

    Of course if McCain were to win…just get the hell out of there, I would say.

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