Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Two For The Money

No more confessions from me - I've done bared ma soul. But to make up for the lack of intellectual substance in my Palin-phobia, here's two good perspectives on Why Sarah?:
There can be no doubt that they picked Palin strictly as a stick to drum up the victimhood narrative--small town, hunters, big families and most importantly, women. Had Barack Obama picked Hillary Clinton, there simply is no way they would have picked Sarah Palin. To the McCain camp, Palin isn't important as a politician, or even as a person. Her moose-hunting, her sprawling fam, her hockey momdom, her impending grandmother status are a symbol of some vague, possibly endangered American thing, one last chance to yell from the rafters "We wuz robbed."

. . In election season, there is a price for being turned into a symbol. When actual journalists, with a rep to protect, show up, they are going to do their job. Which brings me to the sexism of John McCain. He knew full well what Sarah Palin was going to face if he nominated her. He knew that reporters would go through her past, that they'd quizz her on the present, that she would need to be ready, and he shunted concern aside, and tossed her to the wolves. Think on that for a mement. For one last run at the White House, he risked a future star of the party he claims to call home. How do you do that?"

So I understood Palin, from the outset, as basically the latest installment in a generation-long project of bird-flipping from the right. Beginning with Reagan, the GOP has come to understand that when it runs with amiable dunces—even putatively amiable dunces—at the top of the ticket (Reagan, Bush II), it kicks butt and (as Atrios succinctly puts it) pisses off liberals; when it runs old-school government-and-civics types who understand things like parliamentary procedure and know the names of furren leaders (Bush I, Dole), it doesn’t fare so well (Bush I won but quickly squandered the party’s Reagan Dividend; meanwhile, Quayle kept alive the attack-on-eloquence-and-arugula). The idea, of course, is to run “ordinary people” (even if they hail from families who have been among America’s political and economic elite for generations) against us Volvo-driving liberal elitists. You know that already. McCain/ Palin merely seemed the most outrageous gambit on this culture-war front, the most deliberate and direct assault on the idea that being reasonably informed about shit should be some kind of prerequisite for the presidency.

. . too many liberals and progressives continue to think it’s all a matter of being the smartest person in the room. There are plenty of Republican-voting people out there, I said, who are resentful and (guess what) bitter . . . because they truly believe they are being governed by high and mighty muck-a-mucks who sneer at their pastimes and their cherished local traditions, and they don’t see Obama (or Hillary either!) as someone who’ll give them the time of day. If this election gets framed as Ordinary People against Mr. Extra Extra Smart, I thought, the Democrats are going down in flames.

. . But then a non-imaginary interlocutor said a most interesting thing. (It was a dinner for twelve people, and I didn’t catch his name, or I’d tell you.) He pointed out that the right-wing culture war against pointy-headed intellectuals does not extend to the judiciary. On the contrary, he said, it’s as if they’re willing to run a cephalopod and a bag of hammers for the executive branch (I don’t think these were his exact words), but they actually recruit and train all their intellectual firepower for the courts (those were pretty much his exact words). And, of course, he’s right: Scalia, Alito, Roberts—these are all graduates from Pointyheaded Liberal Elite Law School, Evil Genius Division, and the glaring exception, Clarence Thomas, was a Palinesque conservative-affirmative-action fuck-you payback for the rejection of Elitist Evil Genius Robert Bork.

And the right-wing noise machine got the memo, too: witness the fact that everyone on the right, even down to bottom-feeding shriekers like Michelle Malkin, duly took up their torches and pitchforks when Bush nominated Harriet Miers. I was wrong, I realize now, to have called Palin Harriet Miers 2.0. Because Harriet Miers was ridden out of town on a rail, in a matter of days, by many of the same people who are now digging in, doubling down, and rooting hard for Palin against the mocking liberal elites. When it comes to the highest court in the land, these right-wing hacks don’t put up with no second- and third-stringers.

By the way, the second quote, Bérubé, linked to the first, Ta-Nehisi Coates, as part of his argument. If I ever get linked by the second-best blogger on earth (next to Billmon), I'd explode, so I don't know how Coates is handling it. Probably by swilling something appropriately elitist.

End of the argument is that This Shit Plays, and plays with some substantial part of the electorate. The part that feels justified in being outraged over one red cent being taxed from their paycheck, the manger scene being moved from City Hall to the Baptist Church, the minorities demanding more than what JoeBlow thinks he gets, the flaming queers, and any ban against weapons designed for more than shooting lower animals.


iamcoyote said...

I just love Berube! He's funnier than hell, and smarter than all of us combined.

Anjha said...

I do not feel sorry for her. That is what they want.

McCain is the biggest asshole in the world and I knew it - even more - the second that he picked her.

I remember that moment, at his rally, when he did it I just about fell over. It seems like a year ago because my life has been turned upside down since, but he is a dick.

Seriously, I would like to know who really picked her and I think we all know who would really be running the show if they get into office and she is president within a couple of years.


McCain wants this so badly he will throw anyone overboard or under the bus; unfortunately he is not savvy enough to figure out the he is the one actually being played in this. Not Palin. She was picked as the front person for the coup of this country.

Seven of Six said...

Palin is still under investigation in Alaska! That's what I don't get!