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...a sweatshop of moxie

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Stockdaling Of Palin

I have realised something about the media and popular culture's portrayal of Governor Palin:

That others have been in her place before. Far too many others, far too many times.

A remark by one of Sundries more liberal commenters, Eli Blake, jogged my memory about Admiral James Stockdale's less than incandescent Vice-Presidential debate performance.

You remember Jim Stockdale, the mop-haired, wizened old man who famously started his opening remarks with, "Who Am I! Why Am I Here!". The media escoriated him for that, with Saturday Night Live's Phil Hartmann (who I loved) just about destroying him the following Saturday.

This is another Stockdale moment:

Brutal, I agree, but this is Dennis Miller in 1993 coming to his defence.

Now I know (Stockdale's name has) become a buzzword in this culture for doddering old man, but let's look at the record, folks. The guy was the first guy in and the last guy out of Vietnam, a war that many Americans, including our present President, did not want to dirty their hands with. The reason he had to turn his hearing aid on at that debate is because those fucking animals knocked his eardrums out when he wouldn't spill his guts. He teaches philosophy at Stanford University, he's a brilliant, sensitive, courageous man. And yet he committed the one unpardonable sin in our culture: he was bad on television.

That judgement passed on Stockdale in 1992 is almost incomprehensible when looking at this photo of this heroic naval aviator (remind you of anyone?).

All we remember today of this Medal of Honour recipient is that he forgot to turn on the batteries of his deaf aid.

Well, I'll tell you, when I read Miller's words, I felt someone had chucked a bucket of cold water on me. That's exactly what we Palin supporters are experiencing in 2008.

In fact, what Stockdale experienced in 1992 is...

What Dan Quayle experienced in 1988...

And what Michael Dukakis experienced in 1988 too, after the tank ride...

There had been others. Consider Eli's words about some of the finest men this nation has produced:

[I]n my whole life I've met exactly one person who voted for Goldwater and McGovern (obviously an older person.) Two ideological opposites but two of the most honest and principled men to ever run for President, who were defeated in landslides by two of the men of the most questionable character to ever hold the office. So it is about ideology.

So why do people do this to such outstanding persons? Is it as Miller explains, that they made an unpardonable error of not performing on cue, when they needed to most?

And why is the narrative of a person's character and accomplishments so easily demolished by comedians, pundits, and the public at large?

This is Sarah Palin in 2008 -- an amazing story even without the VP nod, a quintessentially American woman. Here's a refresher. Ready? Take a deep breath with me. Let's go!

This Idaho-born Alaskan was a voracious reader and straight A-student, who won her State championship in basketball as co-captain. She didn't have money for college, so she entered beauty pageants. She won a local one, and was second runner-up in the Statewide version. She was graduated in journalism and political science, became a sportscaster, then a PTA leader, then a councilwoman, then twice-elected as her hometown mayor. During all of this she fought entrenched local corruption. She made a run for Lieutenant-Governor, which she lost. The eventual winner appointed her to an Oil Commission, which led to her eventual resignation after being a whistleblower when she saw ethics violations being committed by her OWN Party leaders. They were fined, and had to resign. She then ran for Governor of her State in a hotly contested race against the incumbent Governor (the guy who had appointed her to the Oil Commission) and four other men, won that, and finally defeated an ex-Alaska Governor, a Democrat this time, to become the first woman Governor, the 11th overall, in her State's history. During all of this she was a devoted wife, and mother of 5 children, the last born this year with Down Syndrome.

Tell me:

In what planet, in what cosmos, in what dreamland is this not an accomplished curriculum vitae for a woman of 44 years of age?? Where do people get off trying to destroy this woman's intelligence -- just because she fails smell tests by arrogant journalists who are the public's self-appointed vetters?

Give me a break.

In attempting to be relevant in their professions, whether in journalism or in the entertainment industry, these mooks have nothing better to do but to define a person by tics or moments caught in time which mean nothing, if not posited against the whole sweep of their lifestory.

This is a serious problem in America today, which more than any other country is reliant on information technology.

Its sheer breadth in land mass makes it impossible for its leaders to connect personally like in some other countries where politicians have an almost neighbourly relationship with theirs.

Rather like in Alaska...

Do not allow Palin to be Stockdaled.

(Or Biden for that matter, though I have yet to see one skit of him on SNL -- and they wouldn't even have to try to hard to write one, either. It writes itself)

Judge them instead by their actions throughout their whole career, rather than by a few minutes' worth of showtime. If before we humans had a propensity to make heroes out of duffers, today in modern-day America, we have the opposite tendency.

We are all too eager to dismiss those for their momentary hilarity, and not for the totality of their accomplishments, and that's disgraceful.

Take the narrative back, America, before they come after you next!

Oh wait, they already have. Now what?

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  • an excellent example of what they're trying to do to palin-

    in a small number of seconds stockdale relegated himself to a laughing stock by what was a self-deprecating joke-
    and of course, snl just made it worse-

    almost everyone remembers stockdale from what he said at the debate and then snl-

    this man was a true American hero-

    God bless him and may he rest in peace-

    thank you for remembering stockdale, victoria

    By Blogger George, at Sun Sep 28, 06:45:00 pm GMT-4  

  • God bless him and may he rest in peace-

    thank you for remembering stockdale, victoria

    George, thank you so much, but I want to clarify one thing.

    I'm just as guilty as the next American or citizen around the world, of this habit.

    Until I looked up Stockdale's Wikipedia entry, I had no idea of the scope of his accomplishments.

    I knew he was highly decorated, but the Medal of Honour, wow. And 4 Silver Stars. And the eardrums, and the 7 years of torture in prisons...

    This is uncomfortably the story of John McCain too, so I suppose my own cri de coeur about Palin could serve as cautionary tale for McCain.

    The only reason that they were not able to Stockdale John McCain is that (a) he was a liberal Republican for most of his career (b) a lot of journalists liked his campaign against George W. Bush (c) by the time he went up against their Golden Child in 2008, the narrative had been taken from them.

    Of course, they still try. Vide Matthews' "troll" remark.

    But it's harder with McCain. I suppose there IS a pushback by the American people to make sure that doesn't happen as much.

    Let's see what happens this Thursday to prevent the continued Stockdaling of Palin.

    Thanks for your comment, though, George!


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Sep 28, 06:55:00 pm GMT-4  

  • I loved Stockdale. When I saw him on stage, I thought, "There's a decent man, serving his country."

    I didn't find anything "doddering" about "Who am I? Why am I here?" He just said what we were all thinking. And do I remember anything other than Stockdale from that "debate"? I do not.

    By Blogger blake, at Sun Sep 28, 07:13:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Dennis Miller still brings this up every now and then on his radio show. He says when Stockdale was mercilessly ridiculed by democrats, he was so horrified, it's really what started his gradual move away from the party.

    It really is sad how Stockdale's and McCain's bravery and sacrifices are so callously discarded or minimized by the left. It really makes you feel like every notion of good and evil has been turned upside-down.

    By Blogger knox, at Sun Sep 28, 08:58:00 pm GMT-4  

  • I have been seeing this trend and losing many waking moments on it. I have decided that prayer, prayer and more prayer is the best I can do.

    By Blogger Ruth Anne Adams, at Mon Sep 29, 12:07:00 am GMT-4  

  • I blame Dick Cheney. He took a typically useless, bucket-of-warm-spit job and brought his substance to it. But the job is a bucket-of-warm-spit job. Think back on Bush 41. Reagan had lunch with him once a week. Bush-the-elder who was a war hero, CIA chief and brilliantly qualified by any standard was relegated to a weekly lunch with the guy running things.

    If they go too far, we'll know it and the visceral reaction will be swift and strong. Or perhaps, just silent and private on Nov. 4.

    By Blogger Ruth Anne Adams, at Mon Sep 29, 12:11:00 am GMT-4  

  • Thank you so much for blogging about this Victoria.

    Living abroad from 1990-1993 and without TV, I completely missed this story.

    Looking forward to Palin-Biden.

    By Blogger chickenlittle, at Mon Sep 29, 01:34:00 am GMT-4  

  • Oh, come off it. Unlike Stockdale, Palin knows this game -- and plays it well, and to win.

    By Blogger JSU, at Mon Sep 29, 04:04:00 am GMT-4  

  • Heh.

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Sep 29, 04:35:00 am GMT-4  

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