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By C. Antonio Romero

SAN FRANCISCO, 4 NOVEMBER 2008 - Oh, muse of history, repeat your song as farce - perhaps the last language the modern ear can parse.

What Sarah Palin lacks in foreign policy experience, she surely makes up in ignorance. The proof is in the pranking she suffered today, at the hands of two Canadian comedians who convinced her (and her campaign staff) that she was talking with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Related Story:
Is John McCain the American Nicolas Sarkozy?

Our coverage of the 2008 election explored links between John McCain's campaign and Sarkozy back in May: a meeting between their campaign strategists; appeals to nationalist pride; an anti-Muslim, anti-black subtext meant to rile the folks in the heartland. And McCain's visit last winter to see Sarkozy on his way home from Iraq may have given the two men a chance to swap tips, as well as shaking hands.

But at the time, Sarah Palin was not yet in the loop, and France was not on the list of countries whose heads of state Palin got to meet and greet in her September debutante crash course.

So, apparently, she never learned that Sarkozy does not speak English. Or that heads of state are unlikely to phone vice presidential candidates to make small talk without preconditions, even if, like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Colombia, those states are global hotspots tied, in one way or another, to American interests. And her experience with political satire was apparently limited to her brief exposure to the writers of Saturday Night Live (where, it must be admitted, she played along with some nasty jokes at her expense).

So, when les Justiciers Masqués (Marc Antoine Audette and Sébastien Trudel of CKOI, Montreal) threaded their way past Palin's staff and got the candidate on the phone for about five minutes, she was defenseless.

Click to listen... Sarah says: "Oh, have we been pranked?"

Palin can take some small comfort in the knowledge that Sarkozy himself was once pranked by the diabolical duo, and strung along for a good three minutes. And she does a fair job of being congenial, flattering and on-message when those skills are the only ones at her disposal. And her gushing account of how she and McCain are confidently closing the gap in the campaign is... well, her job.

But listen to the call, and hear her miss one slow-pitched clue after another (catalogued at length at Buzzflash ) that this caller is having her on. Eliminate the impossible, and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth: Sarah "I always do that!" Palin is, deep down, thick as the proverbial brick.

And John MccCain has made a dangerously mistaken choice in asking that, in the darkest hour that can face a country like ours, we put our faith in her as our disaster recovery plan. And in so doing he calls his own judgement into the gravest doubt, and creates a kind of Darwinian litmus test for the voter and the party: to think the Palin pick makes sense as more than a cheap sideshow trick is to prove yourself unfit for the future.

Too much is at stake in today's election. Too much has gone wrong, in the last eight years, to be set right easily. And too much more can happen in another eight years: eight years of misrule, that has led an America I barely recognize to a desparate juncture from which there is no way back, and from which the way forward is strait indeed.

Whatever America thinks elections are about, whatever makes America like people like George W. Bush and Sarah Palin (that is, people like themselves), whatever America thinks makes us "real" Americans, we must put those ideas about ourselves behind us, and figure out a real Plan B.

We must renounce the cult of the ignoramus. We must turn our backs on the intellectually lazy narcissism of the last eight years, or indeed the last twenty, since the Berlin Wall fell, and history became a mission accomplished, and Afghanistan went from being the Soviet's problem to nobody's problem, and we dreamed that we had the world to ourselves, that we knew what this was all about, that it was in fact all about us.

We cannot renounce the ability to dream: but we must dream the kind of dream that, rather than being the empty fulfilment of a wish, gives us an outline that only years of clear-sighted struggle can fill in. And to be sure, we must dream of tomorrows that are better than the today we have, if we are to have any chance to build them.

But we must - all sides, as a people - stop dreaming that dreaming is all that we need to do. And we must, must, must also regain our sense of the here and now, of perspective, of playing for real stakes, of the bite of the real.

And we must not stop thinking about tomorrow. For it will not, as we were once warned, soon be here. It is here already, driven into the present by the whirlwinds that have blown through Bourbon Street, Wall Street and now Main Street. And coming right behind it are tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

Yesterday's gone. Tomorrow, whatever it may be, is another day. To get to tomrrow from yesterday, each of us will need our own confidence, courage, humor, cunning, steadfastness, empathy, and originality.

Whatever else Barack Obama brings, win or lose, let us experience him as the alarm that re-awakened us to the need to seek these things within ourselves and each other. Otherwise the American revolution will become nothing more than a grim footnote to someone else's history.

C. Antonio Romero is the Nouveau and Technology editor of He last wrote Sarah Palin: A Six-Point Plan for Her Debate with Joseph Biden.

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