Thursday, September 04, 2008

Of Lipstick and Pigs -- err, Pit Bulls

I don't think anything I can write could be more sexist than that joke, Sarah.

And we don't want to hear any whining about how "the boys are being mean to you" since you've taken the gloves off. Community organizers have to be ready to defend themselves against hostile neighborhood bullies, after all ...

(Following is a summary of what others are saying. Essentially the divide is continental; their side is positively orgasmic, our side is repulsed. Oh, and Matt in the comments in the prior posts is looking for a quarrel. Does anyone wish to accomodate him? I won't have time for that today. Or tomorrow. Maybe on the weekend ...)

Virtually all of the conservative commentariat, and a greater-than-would-care-to-admit-it share of the liberal commentariat think that Sarah Palin hit a home run tonight. I guess I'm just going to have to stick my neck out (along with Josh Marshall) and disagree. ...

I think some of you are underestimating the percentage of voters for whom Sarah Palin lacks the standing to make this critique of Barack Obama. To many voters, she is either entirely unknown, or is known as an US Weekly caricature of a woman who eats mooseburgers and has a pregnant daughter. To change someone's opinion, you have to do one of two things. Either, you have to be a trusted voice of authority, or you have to persuade them. Palin is not a trusted voice of authority -- she's much too new. But neither was this a persuasive speech. It was staccato, insistent, a little corny. It preached to the proverbial choir. It was also, as one of my commentors astutely noted, a speech written by a man and for a man, but delivered by a woman, which produces a certain amount of cognitive dissonance.

In exceedingly plain English, I think there's a pretty big who the fuck does she think she is? factor. And not just among us Daily Kos reading, merlot-drinking liberals. I think Palin's speech will be instinctively unappealing to other whole demographics of voters, including particuarly working-class men (among whom there may be a misogyny factor) and professional post-menopausal women.

The irony here, of course, is that hers was a purely political speech. No issues were actually addressed... none. A catalog of Republican talking points was delivered, very well I must admit (to the extent that crap can be presented artfully). It was red meat for the base, but it is very difficult for me to see how it was in any way intended to address, say, independents. Nothing at all was said about Palin's social conservative views... opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest, her introduction of religious cant into discussions of war, her attempts to remove library books because their content did not suit her "Christian" views, etc. There is a lot more to say about Gov. Palin than was revealed in this speech... and I am depending on Obama's campaign staff to say at least some of it. (For the record, none of what I am thinking of has anything to do with her family life. However, her possible abuse of power as governor in "troopergate" does come to mind...)

And honestly... any former Hillary supporter who flipped to McCain/Palin in response to this speech must not have thought things through very thoroughly. People do not, by and large, vote their gonads, and that's about all Palin has in common with Hillary.

I am at a wonderful age. I am young enough to appreciate a woman's pleasant packaging (Stella's, for instance) when it is relevant to her relationship to me, and old enough mostly to ignore such good looks when her role in my life is that of potential commander-in-chief. In the world of government, as the old saying goes, form follows function. I am more convinced than ever that Gov. Palin could not function effectively as president any more than could the much older top of the GOP ticket. Indeed... I believe she would be a disaster as president.

Now, we know Palin to be a fringe member of the Republican right. We know her to be a petty, small-town dictator bent on settling small scores, banning books, and generally operating in a manner beneath the dignity of an already insignificant office. We know that she carried that attitude to Juneau when she became governor 18 short months ago, and that she's under investigation for abuse of that office. We know that she was either a member of, or a fellow traveler with, the secessionist Alaska Independence Party as late as the mid-Nineties. We know that she believes that God wants her to build a natural gas pipeline in Alaska.

But she won't be a fringe character tonight.

She won't admit to corruption, or champion Alaskan secession, or proclaim that God gives her personal advice on infrastructure policy. She won't list books that she wants banned, or name US Marshals that she'd want fired if elected Vice-President. Nope. She's going to come across as a mainstream American soccer hockey mom, who can't understand why people are being so mean to her. She'll speak in vague generalities about the problems that face the nation, and will wrap herself in the flag and in motherhood. She's going to read a good speech, written by professionals, off of a teleprompter, and she'll do so with a smile. She's going to appear distressingly normal. And as such, she's going to, at least in some small measure, succeed -- at least for tonight.

Thanks to the soft bigotry of really low expectations.

(T)he media coverage of the Palin story has been well within the bounds of responsibility. (McCain campaign advisor Steve) Schmidt is trying to make it seem otherwise, a desperate tactic.

There is a tendency in the media to kick ourselves, cringe and withdraw, when we are criticized. But I hope my colleagues stand strong in this case: it is important for the public to know that Palin raised taxes as governor, supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, pursued pork-barrel projects as mayor, tried to ban books at the local library and thinks the war in Iraq is "a task from God." The attempts by the McCain campaign to bully us into not reporting such things are not only stupidly aggressive, but unprofessional in the extreme.

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