By lex, on October 29th, 2008
Long post below the fold, for those interested.
An occasional reader sent me a private note last week that I’ve been meaning to get around to, but haven’t quite found the time:
First, I want to say that I’ve been reading your blog for years, and I’ve made comments to your posts a couple of times, and submitted some plane.pr0n once, I am not a contributor to the Flight Deck, and am therefore probably unknown to you.
You are, in my opinion, one of the most eloquent, reasonable, and level-headed people whose blog I read, which is why I’m directing the question below to you rather than to another blogger I read (I read a lot of gun blogs, which, unfortunately, are populated mostly by politics posts rather than pictures of gun pr0n or range reports), or one of my rabidly conservative, ill-spoken dog-park or pub friends (not that you’re rabid or ill-spoken, but all my conservative IRL friends are).
Because I expect a reasoned, thoughtful, and lucid answer.
Why the love for Sarah Palin?
I mean, I get the whole librarian MILF thing, but you’re a smart guy. Come on, would you really want her to be running the country if Mr. McCain doesn’t make it through his term?
It just seems to me, as an outsider, to be kind of cheer-leading, go-team chest beating rather than reasoned, thoughtful opinion.
I mean this in the most sincere, non-partisan way.
I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, and I have no party affiliation, and no tie to either’s ideology. In 1988 & 1992, I voted for George H.W. Bush. In 1996 for Clinton, in 2000 for Gore, and in 2004, as I will do in 2008, I threw my vote away by giving it to the Libertarians.
I find myself to be mostly a three-issue voter: I’m pro-gun rights, pro-gay rights, and pro-choice. Which, to my liberal friends, makes me a crazy. And to my conservative friends, the same thing.
Neither of this election’s candidates particularly float my boat on these issues. If it were a McCain/Ron Paul ticket, I’d vote Republican without giving it a second thought. Obama and someone other than Biden, maybe, but only because of the pro-choice thing.
Obama’s positions on gun control, and his cowardice at embracing civil rights (i.e. opposing gay marriage (fifty years ago I would not have been allowed to marry my Chinese wife, due to similar laws prohibiting interracial marriages (I am white)), and his, uh…general creepiness keep him from getting my vote.
Anyhow, back to Gov. Palin. To this citizen, she seems like a (forgive me) total fracking idiot, (though my opinion may be biased because all I know of her is what I’ve seen on TV), and having chosen her as a running mate makes McCain look to be at best, ill-informed, and at worst, to have really rotten judgement.
So. I hope none of this offends you. If it doesn’t and you wish to turn this into a blog post, I humbly and respectfully request that you withhold my email address and my surname, as I would really rather remain un-Googleable and not receive posts from Internet crazies like me.
It’s a legitimate, thoughtful question. And it deserved a thoughtful response. But I’ve pretty much been maxing out my CPU cycles at work – as you can probably tell – and haven’t had the time to pen an answer worthy of the question.
Which is why I received this in the mail so gratefully (quoted at length, since I couldn’t find it on line)
Prioleau Alexander, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, and a graduate of Auburn University, is a former Marine officer, an advertising veteran, and a conservative-libertarian, gun-nut, religious wacko with anarchist leanings. His wife, Heidi, and their three dogs are okay with that.
The Abyss Between Us.
by Prioleau Alexander
The 2007/2008 War for the White House. There are those that say it’s the worst race ever, and those that say it’s the tightest race ever, and those, like me, who say it’s pretty much politics as usual: My Guy, Yea! Your Guy, Boo!
There is, however, one new phenomenon in this year’s race that baffles me, and I can say with confidence it is a new phenomenon in American politics. I’m speaking of the left’s searing hatred of a vice-presidential pick, Governor Sarah Palin.
Where does this come from? What is it about her that inspires such white-knuckled rage? I’m a conservative, and I think Barrack, Joe Biden, and runner-up Hillary have goofy political ideas, but I don’t hate them. I’m happy to admit, in fact, that they are all smart, ambitious, inspiring to their followers, and savvy. I also admit to finding them to be elitist, affected, racist, and narcissistic, but I don’t hate them; it takes a lot to inspire that emotion in me.
But Governor Palin? If you have access to the Internet, you already know what I’m talking about– there is fury amongst tens of millions of Americans at the mere mention of her name. According to these haters, she’s not just dumb, but she’s an embarrassment. She’s not just unqualified, but she’s proof that John McCain is an idiot. She’s not just a deeply religious, but she’s a close-minded, hateful bigot.
“You betcha”, to coin a phrase; a bigot married to an Eskimo; happens all the time.
So why the hate? Poor Dan Quayle was the butt of a billion jokes, but people didn’t hate him. What are the reasons Governor Palin inspires such an emotion? Let’s explore a few ideas that come to mind:
She’s beautiful. No two ways about it, she’s America’s hottest governor from America’s coldest state. Not only is she beautiful, but she’s just had a fifth kid and still retains a body that would bode well in a bikini. I think her beauty is most horrifying to the grim-n-grumpy feminists on left, who are far more comfortable with female politicos that angrily eschew things like looks and fitness: Madelyn Albright, Janet Reno, and yes Hillary. Pretty girls are the butt of these smart women’s jokes, because pretty girls have it all handed to them on a silver platter, right? Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of beautiful women who hate Sarah Palin, but it’s for a different reason. They hate her for her stunning, meteoric success that she rose to become Governor in a male-dominated state, while remaining married to her blue-collar husband, while raising five children, while being involved in church and athletics and now she’s potentially one heart-beat away from being President! Beautiful women just don’t do that because they don’t have to, of course: maybe marriage, a career, and school board, but not that level of success. For a beautiful woman to see another beautiful woman put in such hard work, ugh. It’s hateful to be reminded of one’s decision to take the bench early, I guess.
She’s married to a man’s man. For the last forty years, the hard left has sought to recreate American men and American women as American human beings, as if we are somehow differentiated only by reproductive organs. Men should cry more. Women shouldn’t cry at all. Men should be sensitive. Women should be tough. Men should get manicures. Women should compete harder in sports. The destination is a mushy, gushy middle, where everyone is equal, and equally unattractive to the opposite sex. And you know what? There’s been a lot of success in this area. Grim-n-grumpy feminists wake up in the morning with the Pillsbury Doughboy next to them. (Boy, that’s a turn-on). The Pillsbury Doughboy looks in the mirror and sees, surprise, surprise, what he’s become: Effete and helpless. Then comes Todd Palin. He works the nightshift; in the oil industry; in Alaska. He races snow mobiles. He’s got a flat belly. And he’d kick your ass in a bar fight. He’s everything the Grim-n-grumpies strangled out of their husbands, and both parties in the bed know it. That’s cause for a lot of hate.
She’s apparently happy. The twenty-year marriage, five kids, started life without a trust fund, didn’t marry money, works sixty hours a week; just two of these horrifying afflictions would have the hysterics on the left on meds and in therapy. And yet, Sarah Palin is not only surviving, she’s thriving. She seems to be happy. She talks about her husband as still my guy. She looks like she’s having fun when she gives speeches. What’s not to hate?
She’s low-maintenance. Sarah Palin can stalk, shoot, and field-dress a moose. She lives above the Arctic Circle. She snowmobiles with her guy. She ran against her own party to become Governor in an uber-macho state and maintains 80%+ approval ratings. She and her husband pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. They work as a team. She is, quite literally, the polar-opposite of Hillary Clinton. She seems to offer evidence that you don’t have to be a bitch to make it. She seems to demonstrate that a sham marriage is not a pre-requisite to making it big. She is hardest, meanest dose of reality a Hillary supporter could ever be forced to see; and the result is hate.
She makes clear the inexperience of Senator Obama. Barrack Obama has less that 200 days service in the United States Senate. He has zero executive-level experience. None. In fact, at one point he pointed to his campaign as his executive experience, as if running for President makes you qualified to be President. Personally, I have no problem with Obama’s lack of experience. Hell, I think I could be President, sipping on martinis and taking advice from my hand-picked advisors. But the problem with Sarah is this: A leftist cannot rub her face in the dirt of experience without stuffing Barrack’s in there too. She has executive experience as a mayor and a Governor, and he has none. Zero. And the fact that Obama supporters are put in a position where they have no choice but to sound stupid and hypocritical in discussing Obama’s superior qualifications well, hatred is the only viable emotion.
She is one of us. This, I think, is the thing that inspires the deepest hatred. You see, Americans love their champions and leaders up on a pedestal, invincible and removed. We like our sports heroes to embarrass and crush the challengers. We like our movie stars nothing less than perfect. We like our politicians to be members of Mensa, or brilliant orators, or war heroes, or fabulously wealthy aristocrats who’ve never worked. Why? Because we love our stars not for the light they shine down on us, but how far away from us they are. Sarah Palin reminds us of how little most of us have achieved,that 99% of us are mere scrappers, vying for 2,010,000th place. She is the American success story of a woman who took what she was given, and multiplied it one-hundred fold.
And for that, I love Sarah Palin. And even if she fades into political obscurity in the next two months, I will always remember 2008 as the year I was, probably for the last time, inspired by an American politician.
There’s a lot of psychologizing going on in there: Not every prominent feminist looks like a lemon-biting sack of potatoes, maybe not even most of them. Certainly not Camille Paglia, the feminist intellectual (no, that’s not an oxymoron) who positively gushes * over the Alaska governor (while remaining committed to voting for Obama).
And I’ve had the pleasure over the course of my life to know and work with many powerful and beautiful women who have most decidedly not “gone to the bench” and relied upon the kindnesses of strangers. But even if stereotypes are demeaning when applied to an individual, there’s a reason why stereotypes exist: There’s at least a grain of truth in there, or else no one would get the point.
To add my own little twist, let us stipulate up front that Mrs. Palin is a striking woman. If she looked a little more like Helen Thomas, say, than her own dear self, my enthusiasm for her meteoric rise might be ever so slightly attenuated – but then Nixon won the 1960 debate with John F. Kennedy, for those who listened in on the radio. For TV viewers he got shellacked. It’s not just guys who can’t control their hormones – for good or ill, we all respond favorably to a symmetrical face and favorable lines.
And anyway, let’s be realistic: For any rational mind, Sarah Palin’s beauty is to be appreciated coolly, and at a distance. Like a great work of art, it is meant to be enjoyed – but not touched. Given the relative merits of my own domestic situation, I’ve no intent to jeopardize the very highly favorable gig I’ve got going Chéz Lex, even if it were remotely possible to sneak past the Secret Service (and her daunting, dashing and athletic husband of 25 years) in order to place on display these my austere gifts. I pass beautiful women on the street every day – I live in Southern California, remember – without even giving them a second glance.
Or a third, anyway.
She’s a fetching, intelligent, successful woman, personally and professionally. A woman with her own mind, loving and a protective of her brood. For the normally aspirated, red-blooded, heterosexual American male, what’s to hate?
Alexander touches on the executive experience issue: I happen to believe that leadership is scalable. If you can lead small, you’ll be able to lead big, given the right moral fiber to help you get the big things right, a good set of advisers and a little bit of time. She’s certainly “smart enough” for the job, and given her undeniable political skills and nuanced grasp of complex issues close to home, I have no doubt that she’d be a quick study on the national and international stage. After all, most of their contemporaries considered Abraham Lincoln to be a country bumpkin and Harry Truman to be an out-of-his-depth haberdasher, but history has treated them very well. On the other hand, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter probably top the list of the last half century’s presidents for sheer intelligence, but the former was an amoral snake in a suit, while the latter was a hopeless mess.
I also love the way she enrages all the right people. Not just the misogynists, of course. But the rest of them:
The surprised Columbia J-School grads forced to drop their façades of weary, worldly cynicism and scramble like fourth graders at the bell, pens in hand to Alaska – Alaska, of all places! – in order to grub through trash cans and gin joints in search of dirt, any dirt at all. Who, in an ugly and self-reinforcing frenzy, dropped their treasured (if battered) mask of impartiality to reveal themselves as hateful, naked partisans.
The women’s rights advocates – faced with the best opportunity in a generation to inspire young women and girls across the land to break their shackles of self doubt by elevating a woman right through the glass ceiling to the pinnacle of power – who were suddenly forced to explain why they were only in favor of improving the lot of certain kinds of women. That The Sisterhood had standards, standards that included looking the other way when a grotesque power imbalance allowed a male president to diddle an Oval Office ingenue – and lie about it in court – but that excluded actual women, successful, self-made women, who wouldn’t agree to play the victim game. I loved hearing these people try to explain why a movement dedicated to fighting against the patriarchal orthodoxy as a way of honoring the value of all women’s contributions to society considered heterodoxy of conscience unforgivable. That “pro choice” really was only a code for “abortion”, because choosing life – especially the life of a handicapped child – wasn’t really a valid choice.
I love the angst engendered in those of fawning, second class minds convinced that only first class minds had the right to govern, or even the right to enter the scrum, that ruling class class defined exclusively to those children that had done well enough by age 18 – or who had been born into fortunate circumstances, or both – to get into Harvard or Yale. Thence into the cocooned mind-hive of the coastal elites, from whence they could all rub elbows, the Elis and Harvard grads right there alongside the J-School grads, at all the best cocktail parties in Georgetown and Manhattan. Who looked down their noses, these masters of the universe and their cherished sycophants, at the rest of America. An America that not only pays their wages, but actually creates value – real value – in all the many, vast marketplaces of a great nation.
As a conservative, but no Republican, I’m also thrilled to death that she faced down a GOP old boy’s network that was enshrined in power either for its own sake or for the opportunities it gave them to skim from the public till and beat them into a cocked hat. It refreshes me to discover that there are still people in this world ready to step up to the plate of public service and govern from a position of principle. More like that.
I even like the way she’s stuffing McCain’s professional handlers into a sock, because it isn’t like the BlackBerry set has done done their man a favor, and all of this professional political class agonizing, pre-election fault-finding, beat-you-to-the-exit finger pointing, self-aggrandizing scapegoating and lifeboat racing is more than just a little off-putting.
And by the way, with respects to Mr. Alexander, I don’t think Sarah Palin is destined to pass into political obscurity.
She’s just too damned hot.
* 08-27-2018 Link Gone; no replacements found – Ed.