Sorry. I’ve taken it long enough, and I just can’t stay quiet about Sarah any longer. Here’s the thing I hate most about the Sarah Palin phenomenon: you can’t criticize her. If you’re male, you’re a sexist; if you’re female, you just hate her because she’s beautiful. And there’s no argument to counter that. It’s like the old joke about asking when you stopped beating your wife. As soon as you start to say, “But I never…”, you realize you’ve been trapped. If you’re a liberal critic, that goes double for you, and if you’re a liberal critic in the media, triple. Said another way by Judith Warner of the NY Times:
“The idea that women with a “major education” think they’re better than everyone else, have a great sense of entitlement, feel they deserve special treatment, and are too out of touch with the lives of “normal” women to have a legitimate point of view, is a 21st-century version of the long-held belief that education makes women uppity and leads them to forget their rightful place. It’s precisely the kind of thinking that has fueled Sarah Palin’s unlikely — and continued — ability to pass herself off as the consummately “real” American woman. (And it is what has made it possible for her supporters to discredit other women’s criticism of her as elitist cat fighting.)”–July 9, 2009
That’s why I have viewed the reactions of conservatives over the last week with great glee. They aren’t so easy to dismiss. First there is David Brooks, who technically isn’t a conservative, he’s a moderate, but he’s the most liberal of the people I’ll refer to here, not counting Warner. His op-ed In Search of Dignity concludes that Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford have none; Obama does. To quote him: “Then there was Sarah Palin’s press conference. Here was a woman who aspires to a high public role but is unfamiliar with the traits of equipoise and constancy, which are the sources of authority and trust.” He says worse, but you get the drift.
Then there was Russ Douthat who wrote about Palin and Her Enemies. He’s quite a bit more sympathetic to Palin than most, but he says she should have said no to John McCain. Well of course. But her ego would not have allowed that.
Now today, there is Kathleen Parker, who I guess is pretty enough and conservative enough to get away with her criticisms. Her column from yesterday begins:
“WHEN YOU’RE up to your waders in barracuda, blame the media.
And quit your job.
And say you did it for the people.
And hire an agent.
And try to keep a straight face.
On your way to the bank.”
Parker ends her column by saying that if this is altruism, “there’s a lakeside house in Wasilla with a fabulous view of Russia you’re just gonna love”.
By far, however, the comment that struck home with me was by, of all people, Jeb Bush. (What is the world coming to?) Here’s a summary from CNN Political Ticker, although the actual interview with Jeb is in Esquire magazine. There’s a link to it in the CNN article if you’d prefer to go to the source. The relevant quote:
“Told that Joe the Plumber had briefed congressional Republicans on Gaza, Bush launched into a defense of intellectualism. “I think it’s okay to have a deeper understanding of things. I think it’s okay to talk in three-syllable words. The world we’re living in is incredibly complex,” he told the magazine. “And simplifying things to the point where you’re misunderstanding where we are as a nation isn’t going to help people overcome their fears or give them hope that they can achieve great things. I don’t get inspired by shameless populism.” Shameless populism? He may have been talking about Joe the Plumber, but who else does that remind you of? Also when asked who he thought the leaders of the Republican Party are, Sarah wasn’t mentioned.
So while listening to Sarah’s garbled speech and cutesy folkisms (Only dead fish go with the flow? Huh?) may make me grind my teeth together, I am comforted by this prediction: she will never be either President or VP. The Republican Party will not let that happen. I’m not sure she’ll ever make it to Congress either. Maybe she should try to run for mayor of Wasilla again, if there are enough people even there who still trust her.