Palin and Snobbery

 

During our podcast conversation about Sarah Palin, I noticed that everyone seemed to express some variant on the sentiment that they wished they liked her more because she so obviously infuriates the people they most loathe. I discussed this phenomenon in a review of her autobiography. It’s a curious kind of blackmail. Why should we pretend to love her just because pantywaist leftists are snobs about her? If the same snobs refuse to eat Velveeta, that still doesn’t mean it’s a great cheese.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @OttomanUmpire

    From your review: “Indeed it is so awful that it is almost impossible to find a single sentence in it that is not awful.”

    I don’t know about Palin’s book, but your review is terrific. Please, Harper Collins: write more bad books so Ms. Berlinski can have her way with them.

    I do have a quibble, which is too bad because it springs off one of your especially well-crafted lines: “The healthy desire for one’s leaders to empathize with ordinary people has been conflated with the desire for a leader who is an ordinary person.” Leaving aside the question of whether Ms. Palin is ordinary, conservatives indeed have a preference for leaders who are admirable yet rather ordinary (cf. WFB’s remark about the first 100 names in the Boston phone directory; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).

    Two reasons come to mind: (1) Mr. Smiths are more likely to truly empathize with a broad swath of the electorate; and, (2) leaders lauded as extraordinary are more likely to possess Fatal Conceits that mess things up royally.

    So, it’s not so much a desire for the ordinary, but a reaction against the hazards of the alternative.

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    @

    Are pro-Palin conservatives certain that her presidency would be a competent one? Indeed, her popularity derives in part from the aggravation she provokes among liberals, but this hardly suffices.

    She’s simply dumb.

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    @JamesPoulos
    Ottoman Umpire: Leaving aside the question of whether Ms. Palin is ordinary, conservatives indeed have a preference for leaders who are admirable yet rather ordinary (cf. WFB’s remark about the first 100 names in the Boston phone directory; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).

    Two reasons come to mind: (1) Mr. Smiths are more likely to truly empathize with a broad swath of the electorate; and, (2) leaders lauded as extraordinary are more likely to possess Fatal Conceits that mess things up royally.

    So, it’s not so much a desire for the ordinary, but a reaction against the hazards of the alternative.

    No doubt Palin is extraordinary. She’s extraordinarily popular — that is, more popular than, under less extraordinary circumstances, she would be. And the sources of her popularity are identity and attitude, arguably the two great foundations of the culture created by the boomer left. Liberals are aghast that a conservative could pull this off, and some folks on the right are just pleased as punch. It’s inevitable that our culture should affect our politics to some extent, but picking a President because she simultaneously utterly is yet utterly isn’t what the left expects a woman to be augurs ill for our politics.

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    @WillCollier

    I just listened to that section of the podcast, and I have to say that I was surprised at the reactions of the group, and more than a bit put off by it.

    I think there are two dynamics here. First, ever since Palin stepped onto that stage the day she was announced as McCain’s running mate, I’ve detected a signifiant whiff of Commentariat Stockholm Syndrome whenever her name comes up. After eight years of being battered in every conceivable social setting with the latest (real or imagined) Bush malapropism or how-can-he-be-so-stupid rant, I suspect a great many pundit on the right simply decided that they weren’t going to go through *that* again, and made a spot decision that Palin was getting the same kind of major media reaction as Bush, ergo, she would be Bush with a bra, and to hell with listening to all that crap any longer, I’m again’ her.

    Now I’m hitting the word limit. More in the next post.

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    @WillCollier

    To continue:

    I hate to sound like a faculty lounge Marxist, but I also wonder if there isn’t a class issue at work here. Speaking for myself, as a certified bumpkin born and raised in a small town in south Alabama, and Sarah Palin causes me no significant social discomfort, not least because I recognized her instantly. She reminds me of about 80% of the people I grew up with, and roughly 95% of the women in my family. I suspect a very many folks who grew up in metro areas (disclaimer: I live in Atlanta today) look at Palin and her passel of kids and working-class husband and think, “there’s one of the rubes who wasn’t sharp enough to move to the city.”

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    @AaronMiller

    Palin demonstrates the importance of charisma. I think she’s popular more for her personality than her politics. Obama won the presidency largely on charisma. Palin would, too. Fred Thompson was an example in the primaries of how platform and experience are not enough. Voters have to like the person, not just his or her policies.

    Palin also demonstrates the difference between the sorts of images that appeal to the Left and to the Right. Conservatives are attracted to the classical image of the farmer-soldier (the average Joe) who feels compelled to lead only long enough to protect or repair the old system. Progressives are attracted to the image of the wise overseer who can guide us to a Utopic vision.

    Whether or not Palin is the right choice, the GOP needs to find someone who is cheerful, plain-spoken and concentrated on getting back to what we were before.

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    @JohnBoyer

    The benefit and strength of Palin lies in her brand, in her ability to mobilize the base. Even if you think she’s dumb as rocks when it comes to particular issues, the benefit she brings to the movement (sans running for office) is significant.

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    @FeliciaB
    Michael Labeit:

    She’s simply dumb. · Jun 12 at 1:27am

    Okay, once again, I’m not going to accept the premises of the left. Why is Sarah Palin dumb? Please elaborate.

    Now, as to whether I’d vote for Palin as President… mmmm… I don’t think so. Not at this juncture. Things may change in the future. However, on June 12, 2010, she would not be my preferred candidate. Then again, neither would Mitt Romney.

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    @AaronMiller

    Felicia, I think what happened to us last time is that every candidate was lopsided on issues. The only all-round conservative was Thompson, but that grimace of his did him no favors. In the end, the conservative vote was so divided (economics – Romney, social values – Huckabee, foreign affairs – Giuliani, etc) that the undivided votes for a centrist won out.

    It could happen again. If Palin, Romney and Huckabee all run again, God help us.

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    @FeliciaB

    Aaron, you’ve figured me out (and here I thought I was being sooooo secretive and coy). I didn’t like any of the candidates running for Pres. in ’08. The only candidate who made me swoon was Thompson, doggone it! And then he up and left the race before my state’s primary (said with a high pitched whine). By the time November rolled around, I was excited about a Palin Vice President because she was sooooo much less bizarre than loony ol’ Biden.

    After reading the Weekly Standard’s article on Mitch Daniels, I’m beginning to understand Rob’s man-crush on the governor and have begun to flesh out my own imaginary world filled with honest politicians who spend all of their time trying to save the taxpayer money.

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    @DianeEllis

    I’m really curious to hear what Ricochet Contributor Matt Continetti has to say on the topic.  (After all, he wrote the book, The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star.)  Matt, your thoughts?

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    @DuaneOyen

    I refer you to my post on this subject at the podcast comment page: http://ricochet.com/conversations/Ricochet-Podcast-Episode-20-The-Year-of-the-Spanking

    No matter what people say about political economy, freedom, and for whom they would vote, Will has it right. Even young conservatives who do not start out on the East or West coasts so often follow the exact same patterns as members of Congress and Supreme Court justices- they want to belong, go to the right parties, have cool friends, and be published or mentioned non-derisively in the WaPo or NYT. The (Stockholm) NY/DC Syndrome sets in, and Palin is an idiot. And they can’t understand why she is appealing to anyone, because no one they know supports her. Nope, David Brooks and David Frum wouldn’t.

    Thompson was my guy as well. I’d love to vote for Daniels. I’d also gleefully vote for a guy who grew up blocks away from the stockyards, was the first and only member of his Democrat Catholic union-truck-driver family to go to college, and after hosting a “thank-you” cookout at the governor’s mansion for campaign workers, drove back to his house in the ‘burbs to put out the garbage can before the next day pickup.

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    @FeliciaB

    Maaaaatt. Elucidate. Please?

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    @MatthewGilley

    I’m glad to see this thread because I have misgivings about Palin, too. My hesitation primarily relates to her fitness for the presidency, which is a pretty high bar for me. That said, we need to give credit where it’s due and recognize that she seems to have a pretty good eye for viable conservative candidates and a pretty good hold on the electorate’s pulse (much better than, say, Mitch McConnell or Michael Steele). I have no idea whether it’s her intuition, her education or just plain luck, but there’s something there (even if it’s not presidential material). Let’s not toss it overboard.

    While we’re on the topic, I’m thrilled to see a discussion about conservatives’ apparent preference for the “ordinary” in their candidates. I was horrified to learn that a member of my family was voting for Huckabee in the ’08 primaries. His reason? Huckabee had “common sense,” whatever that means. (In my mind, even a dog can show “common sense” by crawling under the porch during a rainstorm.) I argued and argued to no avail that the presidency should be for people of uncommon ability. Amiable mediocrities need not apply.

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    @

    James wrote above, “Picking a President because she simultaneously utterly is yet utterly isn’t what the left expects a woman to be augurs ill for our politics.”

    At the risk of being controversial, may I suggest it also captures the real inconsistencies in Palin and inclines a person to believe, with Michael, that “she’s simply dumb”? Her abdication of familial responsibility speaks to the incoherency of her Christian conviction and her inability to recognize the most basic duties of life. While she missed all the unequivocal biblical passages dealing with the importance of the family, she somehow understands the true meaning of the more opaque New Testament prophecies and uses them to fuel her extreme Zionism.

    Her conservatism is just as inconsistent. Besides reciting neatly truncated ideas and basic truths she probably gleaned from “Reagan Economics 101,” she clearly has little understanding of the basis for any of her so-called principles. Do not believe me? A real conservative would not so quickly abandon their state – the “little platoons” of life and the nuclei of genuine reform – in favor of some dramatic effort for change in the leviathan state.

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    @DaveCarter

    A question for all please, as I am genuinely trying to understand this. I just read the fascinating article in The Weekly Standard on Gov. Mitch Daniels, his biker friends, the meal at MacDonald’s, etc. Gov. Chris Christie, with his blunt and plain-spoken manner in New Jersey elicits great cheers from conservatives as well. The appeal of both of these gentlemen is in no small part due to their identification with ordinary folks. So why are these two governors the subject of such adulation, while former Gov. Palin inspires something quite different? Is it that her “authenticity” seems contrived?

    I haven’t read her book, so there is no quibbling with Claire on that count. But my expectations of a President are different from my expectations of a writer. I worked for a few senior officers who expressed themselves beautifully and were very thoughtful, introspective, etc. They were also total careerists. On the other hand, I worked for a colonel from deep in North Carolina while I was in Korea. He spoke very plainly, with a thick North Carolina drawl. He wasn’t the best at self expression, but he had the heart of a real leader which inspired people, not least of which this NCO who to this day would gladly follow him through the gates of hell itself if asked.

    The jury, for me, is still out on Palin, but I am curious why we swoon over two people who connect with regular folks, but not so much with regard to her.

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    @TheMugwump

    I doubt Sarah Palin is presidential material, but she’s doing a bang-up job as chief morale officer for the conservative cause. Keep in mind that the conservative revival is a spontaneous uprising based on a genuine grassroots movement. We need to keep our passion burning with white-hot ferocity through election day and beyond if we expect to reclaim our beautiful republic. Sarah is keeping our bonfires stoked with every public appearance. She’s a media phenom now, and I begrudge her not an ounce of her fame and the wealth that is soon to follow. Let Sarah be Sarah and be glad she’s on our side. Should we care one way or another that she sends the left into spasms of rage? It seems to me that rage is a rather permanent component of the leftist mindset anyway. It’s not exactly a quality that allows for clear thinking. Let our opponents vote their rage if they care to. We conservatives have more important business at the moment, like marshaling our resources to retake the republic. God help us! And God bless Sarah Palin!

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    @CasBalicki

    I don’t want to sound argumentative, but having read through all the posts on this thread, I’d say that there is way too much projection going on here. We, the electorate, are, by our position relative to our prospective and actual leaders, forced into a position of ignorance. So we project our own preferences onto candidates and judge them by what we might think are their strengths and weaknesses based on our perceptions of their strengths and weaknesses. Thus to Clare Berlinski, a writer, self-expression in the written or spoken word might be paramount as an attractive quality in a president. Combine this with the fact that all but a few of us ever see our candidates and leaders close up and we are perforce ushered into a dependency on public-image. Our intellectual betters—the media—know this all too well and paint their pictures by-numbers. The result is Dave Carter’s provocative question, which I’d paraphrase as, why one and not the other? My stupidly simple answer to this great question is that we are only responding to the media feed. What always gets lost in this perfect storm of media, ideology, ignorance, and votes is the individual.

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    @UrsulaHennessey
    Dave Carter: The jury, for me, is still out on Palin, but I am curious why we swoon over two people who connect with regular folks, but not so much with regard to her. · Jun 12 at 4:46pm

    Great point, Dave. For me, it’s that Christie has a confidence and a directness with words that seems to escape Palin at key times. He cuts right to the heart of the matter. Christie knows he knows everything there is to know about the state of New Jersey, so he does not shy away from questions and answers them immediately, directly, precisely, and passionately. I used to feel the same way about Giuliani when he was mayor of New York. His clarity, coupled with an unrivaled knowledge of the complicated mess that is New York City, scored him many victories against people trying to trip him up. When Giuliani came to the big stage, I felt he lost some of this. Perhaps that’s what happened to Palin. Maybe Christie, if pushed to talk about foreign policy, would not be as appealing.

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    @ScottR

    Dave: I do not want Palin to be president primarily because I wish to avoid what Rob recently called the”high wire act” whenever someone on our side is championing our positions. I’m on edge whenever Palin speaks for fear that she’ll screw up. I just am, I think the appeal of Christie and Daniels is their regular guy feel, but without the slightest hint of a high wire act when they speak. On the contrary, the targets of their words need safety nets. That’s a big, big difference between them and Palin.

    That being said, I love Palin. And I’ll add that during the campaign there was one and only one inciteful comment made by the four candidates on the financial meltdown, and it was Palin in the VP debate: (paraphrasing) “As citizens, let’s resolve to never allow anyone to talk us into borrowing more money than we know we can afford to pay back.” She was the only one of the four who could pull off such a statement without condescension. And everything the others said was rubbish, McCain included.

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    @ScottR

    One last point: On a future podcast I’d love to hear Claire and Palin-lover Steyn go head-to-head. A clash of the Titans.

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    @DuaneOyen

    Brandon Zaffini: At the risk of being controversial, may I suggest it also captures the real inconsistencies in Palin and inclines a person to believe, with Michael, that “she’s simply dumb”? Her abdication of familial responsibility speaks to the incoherency of her Christian conviction and her inability to recognize the most basic duties of life.

    If you are going to make inflammatory assertions such as these, Brandon, I would be more impressed if you supported them rather than just throwing them out there. How do we know that the extended family compound in Wasilla operates any differently whatever from the way it has for 20 years? There are two grandparents, two sets of parents, a gaggle of kids, a semi-house-husband, and the kids freely run back and forth from one house to the other constantly. Go back and look at the video of Palin coming home after a trip, and Piper running up to the plane to throw herself at her mother, pure delight on her face. Doesn’t look like a neglectful parental situation to me. Look at the kids having fun backstage at the Tonight show.

    I guess I don’t see the problem.

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    @DuaneOyen

    Well, Brandon, we should stop the explicit theological debate due to forum non conveniens.

    And I am clearly too feminist and not sufficiently fundamentalist to qualify; I adhere to the CBE (e.g., Rebecca Groothuis) view of mutual submission, and believe that whern a husband gets it right, you can’t distinguish who is doing what to whom.

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    @cdor

    To all who would not have Sarah Palin as thier first choice for President, I say perfection is an admirable goal if you happen to be Sisyphus. True the woman is not exactly an off the cuff performer, especially when the intent is to destroy her. She became very defensive and guarded during the campaign. I think her self confidence is growing daily. Yes, I would have preferred she finish her term as Governor. BUT…who here believes Sarah Palin would not be doing a better job in the Gulf than Obama? Who here believes Sarah Palin would have taken over GM for the unions? Who here believes Sarah Palin would have signed a $800 Billion dollar waste of a so-called stimulus package? How about throwing bankruptsy law down the drain in Chrysler buy out? Do I even have to mention HEALTH CARE!! Have we forgotten that ignorant Sarah, from her silly little Facebook page, kept the Obama administration on the defensive more effectively than any brilliant conservative orator? And speaking of brilliant orators, Fred Thompson, God love him, but give me a freakin break. He could put a neurotic bi-polar to sleep in five minutes of monotone errs…

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    @cdor

    …and to continue briefly. Would Israel be reeling in total isolation if Palin were President? Would Iran feel emboldened? Would Turkey be moving eastward, Claire? Would Palin have nearly destroyed little Honduras for attempting to remain democratic and free? It goes on and on, and I am no soothsayer, but would that Sarah be President, with all her imperfections, instead of Obama. Praise the Lord, for all you biblical fans.

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    @

    Duane,

    Thanks for tempering my caustic remarks. My point was not that Palin has caused her family to implode. I only note the irony of touting the family values found in the Bible while placing public interests above private and domestic ones. A “semi-house husband” seems fresh, modern, and perhaps even necessary in certain situations, but it hardly accords with the Biblical model. I am certain that the Assemblies of God also have Titus 2: 5 in their Scripture. But I should be careful; some may consider me a misogynist for not taking this verse, and other similar texts, out of my Bible.

    Palin professes to value the family, yet she seems to leave most of her familial tasks to her husband. She also advocates local rule and small-town America, yet she left these lower levels, while still under an obligation to her state, for a chance to dance in the prime time.

    Whether hypocritical or simply stupid, I find it hard to take her serious. That was my point.

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    @ParisParamus

    I have so many thoughts here. I agree with the podcast consensus, however I still think Sarah Palin is brilliant. Yes, the way she speaks is somewhat of turnoff–except to the extent I know the way she speaks disgusts the “right people.” But what she says and writes is killer.

    So what’s going on? I don’t have time to explain in detail, but I will throw out the following: right-brained; ENFP; become Mitt Romney’s or someone’s Secretary of Energy, and then run for President.

    Also, does anyone wonder if she writes all of the Facebook stuff herself? It’s very good.

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    @ParisParamus

    Hillbuzz is reporting that Palin is going to visit Mme. Thatcher.

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    @RobLong
    Dave Carter: …Gov. Mitch Daniels, his biker friends, the meal at MacDonald’s, etc. Gov. Chris Christie, with his blunt and plain-spoken manner in New Jersey elicits great cheers from conservatives… The appeal of both of these gentlemen is in no small part due to their identification with ordinary folks. So why are these two governors the subject of such adulation, while former Gov. Palin inspires something quite different?

    This is the question, Dave. And I don’t know the answer — for me, anyway. But I think I turned away from Palin as a serious political figure when she just didn’t finish the job, when she quit the governor’s position in Alaska. If Mitch or Christie do that, I think I’ll have the same reaction. It’s hard to take a political leader seriously when he or she treats their one big job so frivolously. Can you even imagine Reagan resigning as governor of California? At the moment Palin quit — especially after that bizarre and incomprehensible resignation statement — I thought, okay, she just wants to be a right-wing celebrity. Nothing wrong with that, of course. She’s a thoughtful, admirable person. But for me, not a president.

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    @DuaneOyen

    I don’t disagree with Rob- as I said, she woild not be my choice for presidetn- except that she did have a point regarding the situation in Alaska. How was it good for the state that the enemy (and that word is not used lightly) could, under the law in place there, effectively shut down the state govvernment by filing hundreds of “ethics” charges, each more frivolous than the last, each tossed out after investigation? That is how Newt was effectively shut down in his last year. If there is a better alternative for the state- in this case, it appears that there was- it may be statesmanlike to embrace it. That said, it may be a pattern, given the prior resignation from the AO&GC. But appreciate her for what she is, which is plenty.

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