The meaning of Palin


 

Dahlia Lithwick writes the best account I’ve read yet of what Sarah Palin is all about. I especially like this fragment: “…while it’s all well and good to be mavericky with one’s policies, it’s never smart to be mavericky with one’s message.”


 
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The meaning of Palin

  1. I find analysis of Palin by liberals to be lacking because I don't think they really understand what motivates Palin and her followers. The best thing I read about Palin, it compared her to Ross Perot, was at The Corner and written by Angelo Codevilla earlier this week.

    Codevilla wrote:

    "The distinctions between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, are being overshadowed by that between what we might call the “Court party” — made up of the well-connected, the people who feel represented by mainstream politicians who argue over how many trillions should be spent on reforming American society, who see themselves as potters of the great American clay — and the “Country party” — the many more who are tired of being treated as clay."

    Perot's "appeal was simple and powerful: The U.S. government and the top rungs of American society, he argued, are filled with incompetents at best, corrupt losers at worst — people who make no sense and don't like the rest of us. Unlike the rulers, he spoke ordinary English, like one of the ruled who had had enough."

    • I would hardly call what Palin spoke 'Ordinary English'. It had more in common with Engrish.

    • This is an excellent analogy, not least because Perot, like Palin, is batshit crazy.

    • " I don't think they really understand what motivates Palin."

      I don't think Palin knows what motivates Palin (or if she does, she's doing a good job of keeping it secret). She was essentially a blank canvas for folks to interpret whatever image or message they chose. "Maverick" only means something if you have a plan to do something against the grain. Identifying with ordinary people is great, but it's not the same thing as having a clue about serving their interests. I think, in those respects, the Perot comparsion has its limits. The man had pie charts. Lots of them. They made no sense, but at least he had a plan.

      I've never quite understood the desire to have politicians "like me". I don't want my mechanic to be like me, I want him to be able to fix my car. I don't care if my doctor is a great dinner companion, I want her to keep me alive. While the professionalization of politics has become a real problem, I'm not sure eschewing smart, well-connected candidates will solve anything.

      • "While the professionalization of politics has become a real problem, I'm not sure eschewing smart, well-connected candidates will solve anything."

        SeanS – I am big fan of these koans you write occasionally. You seem to believe that there is a problem but getting rid of the people who are creating the problem won't solve anything.

        I am on of those who wants pols to be 'like me' but it doesn't mean they have to be exactly like me. It doesn't matter if your mechanic or doctor are like you because they are not in charge of your life. I bet you would want your mechanic and doctor to be like you if they controlled your life to the extent that pols do.

        I think the support Palin gets comes from people who are tired of the ivy league mafia that's taken control of the top layers of power and who look after their own.

        • "You seem to believe that there is a problem but getting rid of the people who are creating the problem won't solve anything."

          At the end of the day, citizens get the government they demand, though a combination of voting and ongoing communication (protest, support, etc.). So long as the public generally chooses to remain disinterested and lazy toward their governance, not much will change. Focussing on an imagined cabal of elites bent on furthering their own interests sounds like the remedy, but may in fact be a false solution to the problem. That's why you and I can often agree on the challenges/problems at hand, but can still disagree as to the solution.

        • "I think the support Palin gets comes from people who are tired of the ivy league mafia that's taken control of the top layers of power and who look after their own."

          Because that really changed when Dubya got in.

    • How about this, from a Republican, as cited by Andrew Sullivan:

      "Right now, the frustrating thing about the GOP is it appears to be searching for meaning, and finding it in an obsession with protecting anyone who will raise their banner. Instead of being policy-based, the GOP leaders apparently think my vote is analagous to rooting for a sports team…This Palin nonsense took me over the brink: why is my party defending her? What exactly is she doing that adds any value to America? Yet, no one seems ready to denounce her. "

      "Palin really doesn't stand (in actions, not words) with any of my party's principles. The GOP has many faults, but they've traditionally been a party which was strong on integrity and consistency. Now I see a party that continues to deny environmental dangers, advocates over-action in Iran, and argues against necessary – albeit distasteful – public bailouts. All to differentiate themselves from the Dems… and if the GOP is content to market themselves as anti-Dem, instead of pro-value, I'm switching my registration."

    • I think that nails it. To me, Palin's main strength is integrity, i.e., honesty. She fought the oil companies to a standstill, and she didn't have any truck with Stevens and Young (two Court Party relics if there ever were any).

      She didn't join the "old boy network" in Alaska, she didn't "go native," she didn't "go along to get along."

      She has honesty and (dare I say) GOODNESS. That adds a special edge to liberals' hatred for her.

  2. I'm somewhat sympathetic to Palin, but I feel this article was very close to the mark. My only quibble with it was failing to understand Palin's loathing of the media vis-a-vis the treatment of her family. But other than that, hard to disagree with the author. Nice find.

  3. I liked, "Once you understand that Palin's only actual message is the importance of loving and understanding Palin, it becomes easier to understand why she quit."

  4. I don't know about the piece as a whole, but that quoted line is indeed pithily accurate.