Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 22, 2009

THE INESCAPABLE CONCLUSION.... I frequently get emails from readers warning me not to underestimate Sarah Palin. She has a rabid fan base, I'm reminded, who care little for reason, and are outwardly hostile towards reality. The right-wing enthusiasm surrounding Palin, the argument goes, is cause for genuine concern.

Perhaps. Time will tell whether the popularity of idiocy can endure and grow, but in the meantime, I think grown-ups should at least be able to agree that the half-term governor has the intelligence of a wilted salad.

O'REILLY: Do you believe that you are smart enough, incisive enough, intellectual enough to handle the most powerful job in the world?

PALIN: I believe that I am because I have common sense and I have -- I believe the values that are reflective of so many other American values. And I believe that what Americans are seeking is not the elitism, the kind of a spineless -- a spinelessness that perhaps is made up for that with some kind of elite Ivy League education and a fat resume that's based on anything but hard work and private sector, free enterprise principles. Americans are -- could be seeking something like that in positive change in their leadership. I'm not saying that that has to be me.

Ladies and gentlemen, the one national political figure that can make George W. Bush look like Socrates.

Palin thinks she's qualified to lead, not in spite of her inexperience and ignorance, but because of her inexperience and ignorance. I can see the bumper stickers now: "Vote Palin '12: She Won't Bother You With A Bunch Of Highfalutin Thought And Seriousness."

To be sure, it's not easy to spin two years as a scandal-plagued governor of a state with a small population and socialized oil revenue into a right-wing platform for national office. I get that. But the way to overcome a background like this is to demonstrate extraordinary judgment, clarity of thought, maturity, and a capacity for innovative policy solutions.

"I believe the values that are reflective of so many other American values" doesn't quite cut it.

Or, who knows, maybe it does. I tend to value book learnin' and credible ideas, which no doubt puts me in the "elitism" camp.

Steve Benen 11:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (62)

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The moron has also said that "I'm a Mom, and that is the best preparation to be president that I can think of." or something like that.

Well, she is the worst mom that I can remember. She is basically a failure as a mom. Her daughter got pregnant. She took her kids out of school to go on the campaign trail with her. She paraded them around on stage. The little DS baby is sort of her Merit Badge of Pro-Life Warrior status, her demonstration that her fidelity to the Cause of Pro-Life is more important than anything, including the baby.

She's a bad mommy, plus she is an idiot.

Posted by: POed Lib on November 22, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Don't forget she was the mayor of that strip mall outside Anchorage, too.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on November 22, 2009 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

I think the biggest mistake we liberals make is in assuming that humans are logical and rational. But you don't have to study much history to see that isn't true; the human condition is that of a lunatic asylum. Vonnegut, Lovecraft, Kafka and others understood that.

People are rarely swayed by logic and reason, but by emotion and impulse, anxiety and fear. Hitler knew that; it was the secret of his success. And yet we liberals continue to believe that reform, education, technology and progress will somehow create a nice, enlightened society. The reality is that modern civilization is imploding/devolving into something very frightening.

Posted by: Speed on November 22, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

All your points are valid Steve. It's very rich that woman complaining about spinelessness in the eelights is pretty spineless herself.

"Oooooh, leading IS HARD. Those people ARE MEAN to ME! I quit."

However, Sarah should be watched with a weary eye, but not treated as the reincarnation of Reagan with Breasts.

Lack of emotional toughness is one of the biggest flaws a so-called leader can have.

One last thing, her last stop in Indiana didn't go so well as her fans (HER FANS) booed her after she quit (she did it again) signing books and left 400 people who paid for an autograph out in the cold.

Posted by: Former Dan on November 22, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

She better pick a damn good VP because she will be quitting her job about two years in...

Posted by: Dan on November 22, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

"But the way to overcome a background like this is to demonstrate extraordinary judgment, clarity of thought, maturity, and a capacity for innovative policy solutions."

But, then you would be an islamo-facist mooslim radical amurika-hatin' liberal elitist.

Posted by: Sandlapper on November 22, 2009 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe, Steve, but remember, many US Americans don't have maps.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww

Posted by: thinkocerous on November 22, 2009 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

"Ladies and gentlemen, the one national political figure that can make George W. Bush look like Socrates."

And thus, an ideal puppet for smart, capable people whose goals include emptying the US Treasury and plundering the commons for their own personal profit.

Posted by: jm on November 22, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Palin's "base" is the 23% of America's know-nothing, knee-jerking, Bible-thummping, no-health-insurance rubes. They're loud, they're committed, and they'll never make an electoral majority anywhere. So why is she in the news every day?

Posted by: Jack Lindahl on November 22, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Speed is spot on! What I want to know is how to counteract and direct the emotion, impulse, anxiety and fear toward better lives and government, rather than this rightwing radicalism. None of the books and articles on authoritarianism ever address a resolution or plan of action. IOW, how do we talk with these people?

Posted by: athena on November 22, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Athena, I'm not sure there is a plan of action. We're talking about changing human nature here, not politics. When I read Ernest Becker's "The Denial of Death" it struck me just how fragile human sanity is.

Liberals need to spend more time reading philosophy and psychology and stop thinking that every human problem can be solved with another government program.

Alan Watts on the decline of religion: "At once new myths come into being - political and economic myths with extravagant promises of the best of futures in the present world. These myths give the individual a certain sense of meaning by making him part of a vast social effort, in which he loses something of his own emptiness and loneliness. Yet the very violence of these political religions betrays the anxiety beneath them - for they are but men huddling together and shouting to give themselves courage in the dark." (The Wisdom of Insecurity, 1951)

Posted by: Speed on November 22, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Well, those acolytes she's hoping to stand on are not really reliable. She was around here signing books at a bookstore, and she didn't sign them all, and the waiting fans were vocal in their disappointment. One guy said he and his wife took the day off work and brought the kids out and spent the whole day in the cold waiting for her to sign their book, and she didn't, and they were so mad. (What type of guy takes a day off work for this?)

Anyway, she'd lost them as fans. The trouble with a cult of personality is that you have to always have great personality and please a bunch of pretty erratic people who don't make decisions really rationally.

She's never going to move beyond her base, and they're not reliable either.

Posted by: pippen on November 22, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The right-wing enthusiasm surrounding Palin, the argument goes, is cause for genuine concern.

And the corporate-controlled media's infatuation -- which overlaps quite a bit but which is not necessarily the same thing -- continues . . . for now.

But the media's love is a fickle thing. Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith both parleyed feminine appeal and limited intelligence into orgies of media attention. But when was the last time the media mentioned Paris? And is Elton John likely to write a posthumous love song to Anna Nicole?

Sarah Palin became a caricature of herself within weeks of her arrival on the national stage. By 2012 she will be a regular target of parody movies like Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans (both of which skewer Paris Hilton).

This is not to say that her foaming-at-the-mouth followers are not a danger for either an assassination or another Oklahoma City. But it won't be long before the only way Sarah Palin will make the national news will be when the Sarah Palin Sex Video is released.


Posted by: SteveT on November 22, 2009 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

It's not just the incoherence of the "values" talk.

What's truly scary about her answer to O'Reilly, is the reflexive association of intelligence with "elitism", "Ivy League" and "spinelessness".

Palin and her supporters, along with the know-nothing part of the Republican Congressional delegation, represent the most serious anti-intellectual threat to our democracy of my lifetime.

Posted by: DRF on November 22, 2009 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

To quote Peggy Noonan: "She's not thoughtful enough to know she's not thoughtful enough." But let's be clear: there is something worse than Palin as President. The PEOPLE AROUND HER who'd take ADVANTAGE of her naivete and know-nothingness to further their own agenda. To them, she would be the eternal 'useful idiot', and with actual power. So never mind cringing at her BEING Prez, cringe more at those numerous Republican Rasputins at her side whispering sweet nukings into her ever impressionable ear. Eeyikes!

Posted by: breakspear on November 22, 2009 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah is not running for anything; she is leading a movement. And as a dyed in the wool Democrat, I get what she is saying. She is blasting the Harvard educated elite on Wall Street and their enablers in Congress whose policies have decimated the lives of ordinary people. When she talks about her “common sense” this resonates with thousands of people when they see how Wall Streeters are making billions in bonuses just for manipulating money while the working class people are expected to pay for the Wall Street’s malfeasance. Don’t discount her. She has become the voice of thousands of disaffected people.

Posted by: sheridan on November 22, 2009 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Vonnegut, Lovecraft, Kafka and others understood that." speed.

Who ya gonna listen to, a boner-fide murican patriot, or a bunch of furriners?

Palin, the Bumper Sticker:

"Sarah believes in God, the Flag, and Apple Pie.
-and she can do the Hokey Pokey!"

Posted by: DAY on November 22, 2009 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Her danger, in my view, is that she's the top choice for cynics. They would vote for her in a sort of ironic f-u to the system.

Posted by: JWK on November 22, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Speed, I don't mean to change human nature, merely guide and direct the more negative impulses toward constructive approaches. That's what education does: teaches that there are more options and how to use them. We need to learn how to talk with scared people, how to calm them, and how to channel their feelings for a better result. Above all, help them understand that they DO have some control over events. The main problem is that fear and reason are direct opposites. If the fear is overpowering, reason doesn't have a chance.

'Tis a conundrum!

Posted by: athena on November 22, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

If we ignore the Republican party's yahoos, ignoramuses, hucksters, hatemongers, liars and shit-heads, we risk ignoring the Republican party altogether.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on November 22, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the booboisie." -- H.L. Mencken. As Frank Rich correctly notes in today's NYT,it's not about Palin's intelligence and education (or the lack thereof). It's about her spellbindingly demagogic ability to connect -- on a purely visceral level -- with the incoherent, rage-filled keening of the paranoid right. Her trademark brand of fact-free nativist know-nothingism feeds -- and feeds upon -- the darkest fears of the farthest reaches of the far, far right. And this constituency of ignorance has succeeded in hijacking one of the two major political parties in this country. Yes, I'd say it's time to take Palin seriously, because yes, it CAN happen here.

Posted by: Kuyper on November 22, 2009 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

It comes down to this: do you/we trust the judgment of a the electorate - subject as it is to manipulation/money - or not. I submit we have reason to answer that question 'yes' or 'no', or put another way 'Obama' or 'Reagan'.

For me, I trust the majority ultimately to see Palin for the hopeless and pathetic small town beauty queen she is. I am not as frightened of the no nothing stream in American politics, as bad as it is, as is Frank Rich.

Posted by: robert on November 22, 2009 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

sheridan said:
She is blasting the Harvard educated elite on Wall Street and their enablers in Congress whose policies have decimated the lives of ordinary people. . . . Don’t discount her. She has become the voice of thousands of disaffected people.

Robert Reich graduated from Dartmouth and taught at Harvard. Paul Krugman got his B.A. from Yale, his PhD from MIT and teaches at Princeton. They both saw the most recent financial collapse coming years ago.

In fact, the country would be doing much better if Obama listened to them rather than to Geithner and Summers.

Please be more specific, sheridan. It's not Ivy-leaguers, or even Harvard grads that are the problem (although Larry Summers got his PhD there). It's the Harvard MBAs that are the morons.


Posted by: SteveT on November 22, 2009 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

I work with a biracial (i.e., half black, half white) woman who was raised by her white grandmother. She told me she didn't vote for Obama because she couldn't "identify" with him or other black people because of her upbringing. I pointed out that Obama was also raised by white people. She didn't bite. I thought that was such a strange comment.

The part I can't get over is how so many americans won't vote for somebody unless they can "identify" with him/her. What does that have to do with competence, I want to know? I want somebody competent to run things, not somebody who's just like me, 'cause I know I damn well know somebody like me isn't qualified to run the country. I just don't get this weird idea that if somebody is like you they should run the country.

Posted by: marai on November 22, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Palin is always talking about how people with a good education don't work hard. Obama got a good education BECAUSE he worked hard.

And as for him not understanding the real world -- community organizing in the inner city world of Chicago has got to be as real as it gets. I know -- I work in an inner city neighborhood. What's more raw and real than that?

Posted by: tina on November 22, 2009 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding Sarah Palin:

She has a rabid fan base, I'm reminded, who care little for reason, and are outwardly hostile towards reality. The right-wing enthusiasm surrounding Palin, the argument goes, is cause for genuine concern.

The same argument can apply to the libertarians and rabid crazies who support Ron Paul. Ron Paul peaked at about 10% of the Republican base for a reason. It's also true of the LaRouchies, although the LaRoushies didn't and don't have the fundamentalist xtian crazies as a support base the way Palin does.

An earlier similar movement was that of Ross Perot. They paid a little more attention to appearing sane in public, but weren't all that good at it. The motive that drove them - to change Washington to something they found more personally congenial - was much the same. Only the PR tools were different from those of Palin, and that reflects the publics they tried to motivate to gain power.

Palin is not going to run for President. She isn't interested in working that hard. She is after celebrity and money, and she has been since she was a high school athlete and a runner-up beauty queen. You will notice that she has never been an endurance runner. She sprints, then quits when losing. She won't compete when she doesn't think she can win with little thought, work or change in herself.

At the moment she is in the position to hire a ghost writer and a publicist to handle the strategies for building on her strengths and minimizing her weaknesses, but her weaknesses are big ones. She can't govern successfully and quit the (failed) Alaska governorship to avoid letting is be more obvious. It was too late.

Her goal is to cash in on her mostly accidental celebrity.

Now the rabid right-wingers themselves are another issue, one addressed by Dave Niewert at Orcinus and in his book "The Eliminationists." But they are crazies with or without Palin, and she adds very little to their mix.

Posted by: Rick B on November 22, 2009 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

DAY, you comment well. The Know-Nothings would not know that 2 of the 3 were Americans and the third lost family to the Holocaust.

I'm hoping that the Palin Puppets split from the Republican party (and the Dems stay intact) which would help keep the U.S. safe from another Bush-type debacle.

Meanwhile, remember that she serve Alaska well, not as governor but by quitting early. Once the madness of national attention infected her fevered, mostly empty, formerly pretty head, she inadvertently the best thing for her state. She did this by removing the most cancerous thing infecting it's body politic. The irony, of course, is lost on Republicans.

Posted by: BuzzMon on November 22, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

...a scandal-plagued governor...

Palin's administration was a circus, yes, but the scandals turned out to be more smoke than flame. Neither she nor her subordinates were ever found to be complicit of any serious wrongdoing, unlike her predecessor.

Posted by: Grumpy on November 22, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Reading over at mudflats.net this weekend was a blurb about Sarah and health insurance. I will post the excerpt:

"Page 221
She says she’s up to the challenge. They’re everyday Americans and will appeal to voters. They know what it’s like to have to make payroll. They know “what it’s like to be on a tight budget and wonder how we’re going to pay for our own health care.” >>>SCREECHY BRAKE NOISE

So does Sarah have free healthcare due to Todd?

Posted by: avahome on November 22, 2009 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

To SteveT - I am sure that the Palinistas aren’t into nit-picking as to which Eastern elitist went to which Eastern elitist school. All they know is that those folks on Wall Street are earning billions while gambling at the Corporate Casino. When the Corporate gamblers lose, the taxpayers have to foot the bill. Makes me angry too.

Posted by: Sheridan on November 22, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Tina (12:52 pm above or click this link)

Community organizing in a Chicago ghetto is the urban "real world." Alaska is the rural "real world." Ask a sociologist what they mean when they say that we each create our own reality by the meaning we attach to our social interactions.

The political problem America has is that the nation has become predominantly culturally urban rather than rural, and the rural elites who have dominated this country since it was founded do not want to give up power.

This is the core of Digby's "two tribes." It was recognized by the founding fathers when they wrote the Constitution so that power was distributed to the smaller states so that the large cities could not dominate the nation.

This is the core difference between the liberals and the conservatives. Conservatives have no tolerance for the urban culture and refuse to even recognize its legitimacy. That's what Palin is expressing.

[I think the link above will work. I won't know until it is posted.]

Posted by: Rick B on November 22, 2009 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Speed. Alan Watts has made me think harder and to better effect than anyone else. He gave "religion" a good mental workout. Turned me into a taoist.

Posted by: Cal Gal on November 22, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

At some point the the question: is Beck/Palin a threat to progressive success, or a symptom of conservative collapse (or both)? has to give way to: what happened to the political skills Obama demonstrated in 2008?

Palin, Beck, and Fox have served up softball pitches for the Obama admin to whallop on as metaphors for the opposition to his agenda. That is, the GOP is even worse than you thought when you voted for Democrats in 2008.

Instead, Palin/Beck are treated as the reason why policy must be moderate. On HCR the prez and co effectively are saying that even though public option won't do any of the crazy stuff Palin and Beck say it will, the fact that they say it at all means we have to consider dropping it.

Hard to believe that during their big policy/political mission, Obama's team had the time to dish dirt on John Edwards and quietly ditch the spokeswoman who took on Fox.

Posted by: angler on November 22, 2009 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

She indeed makes Bush look smart but remember he opened the door by grimly warning that Gore would bring "thinkers and planners" into government.

I wish someone in the media had the nerve to ask how her logic would play out. She wouldn't want Ivy Leaguers in her cabinet or Supreme Court?

I agree she's not as scary as the people who promote her. They know better. She can't seem to help herself. And though I tend to discount her chances as a candidate, the kind of mentality she represeents lives on and encourages smarter people to dumb down their message.

Grassley, Mitt, Lamar Alexander, etc, etc.

Posted by: MissOtis on November 22, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

a fat resume that's based on anything but hard work and private sector, free enterprise principles.

Um, why does Sarah Palin think her own resume bespeaks either "hard work" or "private sector, free enterprise principles"?

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on November 22, 2009 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Yay, another Sarah Palin post! Seriously, she's all I want to read about these days. She just makes me feel good about being a human being, you know?

Posted by: Curmudgeon on November 22, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Speed 12:03 PM - click link here

You've got the right message. We are not facing political problems that can easily be solved with a new set of government programs. Your reference to Alan Watts gets right to the core.

Those myths are representative of the culture that they create and communicate. It's what I am getting at when I write about the rural conservative culture vs the urban modern industrial and post-industrial culture.

As America becomes more populated and more urbanized the rural conservative culture is being displaced in its control of political power. It's been happening since WW I. It has driven the political right from the John Birch Society and Joe McCarthy after Korea through Reagan to today. The modern craziness expressed by right-wingers like Kyl, Coburn, etc., is a symptom of the increasing desperation of the political losers in the culture war.

The Senate was created by the founding fathers (mostly wealthy rural agricultural elites) as their last bastion of power to protect them from the hordes in the cities. It is currently performing its intended function. America is about a century and a half behind Great Britain in replacing the traditional rural/religious character of its upper legislative house with one that is more democratic and modern and which has less power to prevent needed legislation from being passed.

That culture battle for political power is what's playing out in the national health care debate. Universal health care is an urban requirement that is driven by the needs of the mobile nuclear families characteristic of large cities. In a more static rural agricultural culture health care is the responsibility of the extended families, most of whom live relatively close by. When members of such rural extended families live at a distance and face problems, they generally return "home." Modern American urban families generally no longer have such rural bastions to retreat to when they get ill. the family farm has been sold and subdivided or no longer exists as an economic entity.

The problem we are having is that the two cultures refuse to even acknowledge each other. But the conservatives know they are losing, which explains the desperate craziness of statements from rural Senators like Jeff Sessions and Tom coburn as well as South Carolina's Representative (and National Guard Colonel) Joe Wilson. Since they are losing and will inevitably lose, all they can do is become more shrill and more extreme to try to rally their base to a greater degree than the liberals can rally the urban base.

The arguments will not be rational because the rationality of the system and its cultural changes do not permit the losers to use rational arguments. They lost that power during the Great Depression when the essential planks of the conservative platform were proven by events to have utterly failed to deal with modern global economic realities. Now all they have left is desperate grabs for power and efforts to delay their final losses.

Posted by: Rick B on November 22, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

And I am not kidding about that, CB. So never apologize for writing about her. Never has a total moron given more entertainment to so many with so little talent to work with.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on November 22, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

75% of Americans want Palin to be the Republican nominee for President in 2012 - half the Republicans and all the Democrats. She could be the stupidist politian I've ever seen, and that's saying something.

Posted by: Bill Jensen on November 22, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

We had 8 years of stupid, but this is ridiculous.
Now Palin is running around America who is taking care of her special needs child?

Posted by: JS on November 22, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Good question, Angler.

Where are the political skills that Obama displayed in the election in 2008?

It's my opinion that he prepared to run for President, but did not have a similar and simultaneous preparation for being President. Now he is learning on the job. It doesn't help him that the obstructionist Republicans are refusing to approve his political appointees through the Senate. This is frankly an unprecedented and incompetent level of obstructionism from the Republicans who seem to be flying as close as they can to outright treason against America without quite crossing the line.

Obama is doing his OJT Presidential learning in the face of the most daunting set of challenges any President has faced since FDR was elected. He came prepared (he thought) for the health care effort, but I think that has been several orders of magnitude worse than he expected.

He is feeling his way through that right now. He is also working on Afghanistan, holding Iraq at bay, and putting band aids on the economy that the Bush administration pushed into the crapper.

All of this is being done primarily outside the media because quite frankly the media is not competent to do anything except screw stuff up. There's one thing he brought with him from the campaign. He won the Presidency in spite of the media, not with it, and the media generally resents him because he dissed them and is not dependent on him.

We won't know what he is learning from his OJT until long after he makes his political moves, none of which are going to be made until health care is resolved. A rational health care system is the single largest long-term need America has, and he came into office to resolve it. That was and remains his top priority.

What's that old joke? "When the alligators are nipping at your butt, it is sometimes hard to remember that your goal was to drain the swamp." I don't think that Obama has forgotten his goal in spite of the many alligators and the ignorant and punitive short-term focus of the incompetent media.

That's the most rational answer to your question. A lot of people hate that answer because it gives the appearance that nothing is happening. I'd be totally amazed if that were the case with the Obama administration, although with a conservative administration I'd be similarly amazed that anything of substance actually was happening.

We don't see what is happening today because the media has become the enemy of democracy and the supporters of the entrenched powers of the status quo who are the source of so many of America's problems.

Posted by: Rick B on November 22, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

From one trollop to another; Sarah , you are the worlds biggest brightest (lowest paid) political whore, except for Joe Lieberman. Ooh, I'm scared of her alright!

Posted by: Trollp on November 22, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Those Palin comments don't make sense as sentences; the sentences are vessels to hold catch-phrases. Also, I am struck by how forced and unnatural she sounds -- she's stretching or struggling, not just to think and speak, but to express what she thinks her admirers want to hear. Genuine sentiments should flow more freely. They needn't be couched in language she's uncomfortable with! Why doesn't she speak simply, if she can't manage anything more? People will criticize in either case.

Palin loves "common sense" (or the idea of it). I find it commonsensical that a poor orator should favor simple sentence structure and transparent signification. Instead, she sounds like she stood up too fast after an enormous bonghit, can't see anything but white dots, then got bonked on the head with a ball-peen hammer, finally taking the podium to deliver comments.

Posted by: Half Elf on November 22, 2009 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Palin 2012: She'll Never Talk Down To You.

Posted by: Bob on November 22, 2009 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Rick B, I'd say that since any sense of community in America is disappearing, being replaced with tract homes, big box stores, strip malls, highways and parking lots...We're ALL the losers in the culture wars.

Posted by: Speed on November 22, 2009 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

The part I can't get over is how so many Americans won't vote for somebody unless they can "identify" with him/her. What does that have to do with competence, I want to know? I want somebody competent to run things, not somebody who's just like me, 'cause I know I damn well know somebody like me isn't qualified to run the country. I just don't get this weird idea that if somebody is like you they should run the country.
Posted by: marai on November 22, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK


This peculiarity of thought also ties in with the lower/middle middle class voting against it's own interests and for the interests of the ruling class. The conservative base believes that if they pray hard enough, attend the right church, look down on immigrants and the less well off that they, too, will join the ranks of the privileged. It is an M.C. Escher view of the world. Since many of the base are fundamentalists, they are already predisposed to magical thinking. It is a small leap from one fact-free thought process to another.
On a side note,the defunding of education began with the Reagan presidency and high stakes-testing and the corresponding teach-to-the-test (no critical thinking skills for you) reached apotheosis under Bush II. In the thirty or so years since Reagan, the dumbing down of the American electorate has become truly alarming. I believe that there is a correlation between the Right's long-term political objectives... poor quality education and the rise of the teabag movement. A rational, thinking, informed electorate is much more difficult to control than a mob that is purely driven by emotion.

Posted by: therealhellkitty on November 22, 2009 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what I'm thinkin' (TM Palin)

Palin's goals:

Do my book tour - make lots of money - be supported by all those wing-nuts who THINK I'm going to be runnin' for President, but REALLY, just a fame whore.

I get to say WHATEVER I want and have to take NO accountability for it, BUT everyone will talk about me and what I say. I'll stretch my 15 minutes into YEARS of attention!!!

I'll get my own talk show (on Fox, of course) and be the girly "O'Reilly/Beck" and have a perfect platform for my insane platitudes. I AM THE NEWS!!!

Why lower myself to governing and accountability - that is SOOOO hard!

------

We, of course are the losers - because ALL politicians will be asked by the MSM about her comments on EVERYTHING - no matter how insane.

I do wonder tho, if the more we see of her the more people will dislike her - maybe by seeing her talk with empty rhetoric and nonsensical words - people will finally see the REAL her. Just like Newt and Rudy.

Posted by: Elsie on November 22, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin is not a concern.

If her fan base transfers it's allegiance to the just as crazy, but male and moderate-seeming Mike Huckabee, then we've got a serious problem.

Posted by: FreakyBeaky on November 22, 2009 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure that the moneychangers are likely to support her, on the basis that she's so stupid, she'll be easy to manipulate. Stupid she is but she's also totally unpredictable, thin skinned and apt to go off-message. We've seen it in the McCain/Palin campaign, where the two seemed to be talking at cross purposes. She'd be one hell of a "puppet" to "manage" and, whatever the big money is, it's *not* stupid.

Posted by: exlibra on November 22, 2009 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Palin may have the IQ of a pound of squash, but that doesn't matter to Republicans. She's a marketable commodity.

They'll dress her up and put her in front of a selected crowd who will cheer if she can get a few "you betcha's" in at the right places while stringing together talking points that have been focus group tested. If ad agencies can sell people on the "heartbreak of Psoriasis", the Republican money men can sell Palin.

The big question is whether anyone will buy Palin. I am sure that most Republicans will, Indepenents and Democrats are the ones that will matter.

Posted by: madstork123 on November 22, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

> In a more static rural agricultural culture
> health care is the responsibility of the extended
> families, most of whom live relatively close by.

Clearly you don't actually spend any significant amount of time in the rural and semi-rural areas of "Real America(tm)", nor do you have any close family living there. If you did, you would know that the state of health care in such areas is a disaster. As the medium- and large-sized towns are hollowed out by the closing of any local manufacturing employment, and the retail environment is decimated by the rise of Wal-Mart, the network of small-town doctors and hospitals has followed into oblivion. What was left of these networks were put out of their misery by the big insurance networks and hospital conglomerates who bought and closed them faster than you can say "quarterly financial statement".

It is virtually impossible to get any US-born doctor or specialized nurse to take a position (much less a practice) in even the largest town, and the immigrant doctors who will take those jobs (mostly female Indians and Pakistanis - quite a shock for many of my relatives) move back to the big city as soon as they pay off their student loans. There is no continuity of care, very long drives for any hospital or specialist care, and a desperate shortage of gerontology-related services for a rapidly aging population.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on November 22, 2009 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

> Ladies and gentlemen, the one national political
> figure that can make George W. Bush look like
> Socrates.

Can't agree Steve. My job takes me to facilities in rural areas around my purple state and the hard-red outstate areas of the next state which is dominated by a large blue city. You don't have to get very far outside the densest city areas before you start seeing and hearing plenty of hatred for Obama - heartfelt hatred - and admiration for "Sarah". Given the way primaries work, and the Pawlenty/Huckabee split in the Republican Party, I can easily see "Sarah" being nominated without ever having to go through a severe test. At that point it would come down to (a) the economy (b) what, if anything, was achieved on health care reform (c) how thoroughly Rahmbo has managed to p*** off the liberal base.

Cranky

Another interesting point to me though is that I suspect that there IS a real difference between Palin and Bush: Palin would not allow herself to be puppet-mastered the way Bush allowed Cheney & Co to puppet master him. Bush was clearly smarter and far more experienced than Palin, but he also had that weird passivity that somehow caused him to miss the fact that Cheney was really driving the bus for a full 6 years. Palin would squash any attempt to be handled in that manner.

Posted by: Cranky Observer on November 22, 2009 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Palin may wish to have tea and crumpets with the Rev. Ray Mummert who, during the Dover, Pennsylvania Creationism hoohah declared "We have been attacked by the educated, intelligent segment of the culture."

Posted by: Mark Duigon on November 22, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

I think Palin's appeal shares a thread with Obama's. Obama ran, in part, on change, on going to DC and shaking things up. The appeal of Palin, Obama(partly) and Perot is that they promise to cut the Gordian knot of the complexity of the modern world. They offer the illusion that you can charge in and somehow fix things. Recall Perot's talk that he could "open the hood and fix it."

Arnold promised the same thing when he ran for governor in CA. He was going to go through the budget and save money by cutting wasteful spending. Well, after the election he brought in someone to go through the budget and he was not able to do that. Life is more complex than that. Look at the mess CA is in now.

***
> The part I can't get over is how so many americans
> won't vote for somebody unless they can "identify" with
> him/her. What does that have to do with competence, I
> want to know? I want somebody competent to run things,
> not somebody who's just like me, 'cause I know I damn
> well know somebody like me isn't qualified to run the
> country. I just don't get this weird idea that if
> somebody is like you they should run the country.
***

Others have pointed out that our president is both a manager and a figurehead. I think this is why people get worked up about wanting to relate to the president. It would be interesting if we could somehow separate these roles. Then we could elect one person to be king (or queen) for four years and another to be the technocrat behind the throne. The royal personage would get all the TV time, cut ribbons, launch ships and such while the other would manage the countries business. In that world it would be easy to have a split ticket. Palin could be elected as powerless figurehead and Obama (or others like him) could be elected based on their smarts to run things behind the scenes.

Posted by: JohnK on November 22, 2009 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

JohnK

In other words you recommend the type of Presidency practiced by the senile Ronald Reagan and the ignorant George W. Bush. That's essentially what they did. Reagan's Chief of Staff was the operator and Cheney was Shrub's.

Somehow the accountability has to also flow to the executive officer, which is what did not happen in those two cases. But there wasn't much party accountability in congress, either.

That accountability is changing as we observe that the Republicans vote as a party rather than as individuals. It's a trick the Democrats are going to have to learn or fail as a governing party. The probably Democratic losses in 2010 may well be the lesson the teachable Democrats will learn party discipline from.

Posted by: Rick B on November 22, 2009 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky,

That weird passivity that Shrub had was characteristic of the older type conservatives in government. They tended to be serious about their ideology. Government can't do anything, so why try?

I don't think Palin is a political conservative. Whatever ideology she might have that overlays her own primal urge to celebrity is religious fundamentalism of the type that gets people to stand up on a stage and put on a stage show to get people from the audience to come down and perform obeisance of the stage. They also think that government is able to install the Bible as the basic rule of law and convert America back to a Christian Nation. They think the courts changed that in the past (where else can it have gone?) and the government can switch it back. So they don't have Bush's passivity. They want god-directed people running government, and Bush's failure shows that he was not god-driven and did not choose god-driven subordinates.

You are right that the the White rural voters hate Obama and love Sarah. It's classic identity politics. It's very true here in Texas, which is why Tom DeLay had such a strong hold on his district until he got indicted. Consider also Louie Gohmert who covers the Texarkana district.

Posted by: Rick B on November 22, 2009 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

breakspear, yes, that's a great point-- there are much more sophisticated and experienced pols who are using her, and their agendas have nothing to do with what her base wants or probably even what she wants. They're into power, of course, and they think they can get some advantage by pretending that she's the second coming of Reagan. Bill Kristol comes to mind. I know someone who has done a lot of work for Palin, and he's practically the image of the DC operative, and yet he'll try and talk like Palin, all golly gee whiz it's all so SIMPLE! And of course, he's more like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove-- nothing is transparent or simple. But they can use Palin to manipulate her base. I don't know how much she realizes this. Her sense of resentment is so strong (like against McCain's people), it's hard to believe she hasn't noticed.

Posted by: pippen on November 22, 2009 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

> breakspear, yes, that's a great point-- there are
> much more sophisticated and experienced pols who
> are using her, and their agendas have nothing to
> do with what her base wants or probably even what
> she wants. They're into power, of course, and
> they think they can get some advantage by
> pretending that she's the second coming of
> Reagan. [...] I don't know how much she realizes
> this. Her sense of resentment is so strong (like
> against McCain's people), it's hard to believe
> she hasn't noticed.

I dunno about that. The Republicans, particularly the big-money Repubs, have a huge problem right now in that they can't be sure that they will control the next nominee or President - even if they "make" that person. I can quite easily see a Palin or Huckabee taking every big business dollar, "listening" to every 'advisor' that the big bucks guys and neocons put around her/him, and getting the nomination and possibly the Presidency. Then turning around, dumping every single one of those Big House Republicans in the trash, and populating her/his staff and administration with true believers from the Radical Right. Leaving the money guys utterly without recourse.

I would dearly love to know who exactly thinks they are running the Republican Party right now. Up to 2006 I was fairly sure it will still George HW Bush, James Baker, and their gang, but they seem to have run out of gas. Is Rove actually running things behind the scenes? If not, who? Knowing that would tell us a lot.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on November 22, 2009 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

The part I can't get over is how so many americans won't vote for somebody unless they can "identify" with him/her. What does that have to do with competence, I want to know? I want somebody competent to run things, not somebody who's just like me, 'cause I know I damn well know somebody like me isn't qualified to run the country. I just don't get this weird idea that if somebody is like you they should run the country.

Holy crap that's it! (no, seriously) It's what America is all about. The dream. The aspiration. And the success by association. I mean, I agree and I know that I would be a terrible President of the United States. Further, I know I will never be the President. But what if... what if someone just.like.me was President? Well it'd be the next best thing to being there myself. And it makes me feel important. It fulfills that part of my brain that says, "I could be [x] if I really wanted to."

And scarily that's not something to be discounted.

Posted by: springfielder on November 23, 2009 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus. We have a couple more years before the 2012 candidates start revving up. She's going to have to come with something meatier if she wants to stay credible. At least Dubya completed his term as governor. Even if Obama struggles and his approval tanks, Palin's honeymoon with the base is going to grow stale unless she reinvents herself a little and reveals some new layer of competency or insight. There is nothing about her right now that will attract independents or democrats. Her base is very dumb, but she'll eventually lose a lot of them too if her populist victim schtick is all she has. Time sometimes has a way of shining a flashlight on bullshit. Remember she's barely been at this a year (nationally) and half of her publicity has been due to semi-trainwreck public embarrassments.

Posted by: The lucky sea men on November 23, 2009 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

The danger of Sarah is her belief that there are certain Americans, and then everybody else.

My country is a diverse one, heck Philadelphia was an experiment in religious freedom.

Sarah wants theocracy, dominant towards a particular religion.

We should all be very afraid.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on November 23, 2009 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

I'm old enough to remember a time when Nixon was a joke. When Reagan was a joke (he's a drug-store truck driving man/and the head of the Ku Klux Klan). And let's not forgot how long it took anyone, left or right, to take George W. Bush seriously when he entered the Republican primaries. I'm not saying I think Palin has a good shot. I'm just warning against writing her off.

Posted by: Bob on November 23, 2009 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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