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The inexplicable career of Sarah Palin continues, as her followers, whoever they are, have managed to turn having prematurely quit the only government job she’s ever had as a kind of promotion, or at the very worst, a lateral move. Proving herself a quitter at one more career, and sacrificing the one chance she had at establishing something, anything, like real leadership experience doesn’t seem to have had much effect on the faithful, at least according to Palin’s champions. (See Star Parker, here, explaining that a poll which indicates that twice as many people having a negative reaction to her Nixonian resignation speech as a positive one in no way hurts her chances of becoming President in 2012.)

Who, exactly, comprises Sarah Palin’s political base? The pundits are constantly trying to convince us that it’s made up of “real America”, that largely fictional demographic of simple working-class folk whose credo of Bible, billfold and belligerence carries them through every travail and without whom no one can win an election. We’re also frequently assured by these professional propagandists that she is beloved by women, sportsmen, cockroach capitalists, and the Religious Right. But is this accurate? It seems more that she represents a sort of caricature, a cartoon of these subgroups held by the creepy campaign strategists of the right. Her position as a champion of the working class is too easy to assail; though not born rich, she’s fully embraced the heartless arriviste bootstrappery of the New Right, and her husband’s role as a union man won’t fool any real unionists (who will simply note her preeminence in the nation’s most anti-union party) or placate real conservatives (who already hate her for her state’s dependence on so many federal aid programs.

Likewise, her ‘strong-woman’ role is a joke to anyone who really along those lines; most female voters who were drawn to Hillary Clinton (or, for that matter, most female voters who were drawn to Margaret Thatcher) found the appeal in her policies, not in her mere lack of a Y chromosome. Her policies are, if not explicitly anti-woman, at least aligned with those of the party perceived as anti-woman, and if she were ever to express any kind of progressive sexual politics, or to define her womanhood as a quality that exists absent a defining male presence, she would be thought of by the Republican right in the same way as Michael Steele: a demographic token who got beyond her place.

Genuine sportsmen find her air-spotted wolf hunts detestable; genuine small businessmen are distrustful of her selective policymaking as regards federal regulation and government assistance; and to the Religious Right, she is a woman of dubious parenting skills, no one to be ashamed of, no doubt, but not nearly vociferous enough to stand as a national symbol of their ethos. Even traditional neo-conservatives frown on the lawsuit-happy hatchet-woman she became after her Checkers speech. Aside from the rump organization of morons who have had nowhere to go since the Know-Nothing Party fell apart, her main constituency, more and more, seems to be that curious segment of the G.O.P. who do things based on their crude calculation that it will ‘piss off the liberals’. This has probably won a few elections here and there, but as far as I can see, every liberal in America is loudly cheering for Sarah Palin to stay in the public eye for as long as humanly possible.

Recent polls show that almost no Republicans take her seriously as a party leader; any reasonable reading of the 2008 election shows that her presence hurt rather than helped John McCain’s chances; and her own unpopularity with liberals, combined with the rather vocal elements of the conservative movement who are likewise disenchanted, gives her numbers that rival those of George W. Bush’s second term. Unless you think her boosters are moles planted by the Democrats to make the GOP look bad, the only explanation is that the party is pulling a Herb, putting a deliberately horrible spokesperson in hopes that the negative reaction alone will propel her to the stars.

Remember Herb, the cretinous spokescreature for Burger King in the late 1980s? Exactly.


Jul. 13th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
Because she's saying she wants to go around campaigning for anyone who "believes the right things", including democrats, I have this horrible feeling that she's got this game plan to tack her name onto anything she wants to fail. But then, that might actually make me respect her some amount, so probably not.
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
She'd have to do something just shy of but possibly encompassing suicide to get me to respect her.
Jul. 13th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
There's a segment of the American population that is made up of married-with-kids women who read the Bible and Oprah books, who watch The View, who lipserve liberalism, who believe that the best a woman can be is a mom. Oh, but wait! A mom who can make the rest of America just like your neighborhood?! Hooray!

Palin is a hero to them for looking good, raising kids who TRY HER just like their kids do, who isn't "afraid" to be a bold woman like they think they could be if they just had the opportunity.

However, I still don't understand how these pseudofeminists have much of a vote. Even if they're Jon&Kate'ing their husbands into voting for her.
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
"Jonnenkaten", a Norwegian verb meaning "to henpeck"?
Jul. 13th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC)
Jul. 13th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
Good-looking women are used to sell cokes, fast food, clothing, etc., etc., so why not the Republican party? Seems to work for everything else. Yes, I do think politics are that cynical.
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
I would take issue with the notion she is good-looking.
Jul. 14th, 2009 01:13 am (UTC)
Compared to other Republican "leaders" even?
Jul. 13th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
Caricature -- exactly.

What is an air spotted wolf hunt? You spot the wolves in a heliocopter or something first so you know exactly where they are? Then you go down and "hunt" them?
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
Worse: you spot wolves in a helicopter, and then you SHOOT THEM FROM THE HELICOPTER, thus negating even the slightest chance that you will face any danger whatsoever from your prey. It's the laziest, most pitiful thing since those places that tie the game down and let you shoot them when they can't even move.
Jul. 14th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)
those places that tie the game down and let you shoot them when they can't even move.

You're making that up, right? Or is it a way to spot psychopaths and serial killers before they escalate to human victims?
Jul. 13th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
I grew up in Wasilla Alaska. No one I know has a very high opinion of Sarah Palin. This includes my parents, who know her, and can't seem to watch The Daily Show without a look of polite disgust masking their face.
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
I've heard she's not too popular at home. Interesting.
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC)
I believe my father's words were along the lines of, "She's a nice enough lady, but Vice President? Hell, she wasn't even a very good mayor."
Jul. 13th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
You are correct, sir.

Except for one minor nitpick: Governor was actually Palin's third government job (maybe even fourth, if you count the council gig) ... Wasilla council member (probably unpaid), mayor of Wasilla, and that oil commission thing all came first.
Jul. 18th, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
And.. AND AND she quit her position on the Alaska petroleum board, so this makes her second state-level political job that she's quit because she gets bored or irritated at bloggers or whatever. She's batting 1.000 (IQ points).
Jul. 14th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)

I know a conservative woman who strongly identifies with Palin. She also listens to Limbaugh every day. She appreciates how Palin has risen to power without the blessing of the (liberal) feminist mainstream. If she were a stronger candidate, I imagine many conservative women might agree. But Limbaugh represents the hysteria that is the right's albatross.

I think she's great. She can be a big prom queen and generally underperform in everything but ho-downs with supporters. But America loves an idiot. Don't forget that.
Jul. 14th, 2009 05:56 am (UTC)
Makes me want to buy a Sarah-Cuda bumper sticker.
Jul. 15th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC)
"A happy, sexy face on ugly emotions"..?
Frank Rich had a good piece on Palin in this last Sunday's NY Times (topped off with a political cartoon by Barry Blitt that compares Palin with both that Great White Hunter Theodore Roosevelt and Slim Pickens' Major Kong from Dr. Strangelove) that suggests that she's more of a symptom of a much deeper malaise than an actor in her own right:

"It’s more likely that she will never get anywhere near the White House, and not just because of her own limitations. The Palinist 'real America' is demographically doomed to keep shrinking. But the emotion it represents is disproportionately powerful for its numbers. It’s an anger that Palin enjoyed stoking during her 'palling around with terrorists' crusade against Obama on the campaign trail. It’s an anger that’s curdled into self-martyrdom since Inauguration Day.

"Its voice can be found in the postings at a Web site maintained by the fans of Mark Levin, the Obama hater who is, at this writing, the No.2 best-selling hardcover nonfiction writer in America. (Glenn Beck is No.1 in paperback nonfiction.) Politico surveyed them last week. 'Bottomline, do you know of any way we can remove these idiots before this country goes down the crapper?' wrote one Levin fan. 'I WILL HELP!!! Should I buy a gun?' Another called for a new American revolution, promising 'there will be blood.'

"These are the cries of a constituency that feels disenfranchised — by the powerful and the well-educated who gamed the housing bubble, by a news media it keeps being told is hateful, by the immigrants who have taken some of their jobs, by the African-American who has ended a white monopoly on the White House. Palin is their born avatar. She puts a happy, sexy face on ugly emotions, and she can solidify her followers’ hold on a G.O.P. that has no leaders with the guts or alternative vision to stand up to them or to her."

It Can't Happen Here? Sure hope not. Brrrr.