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...a sweatshop of moxie

Friday, November 07, 2008

Election Post-Mortem

Even after President-Elect Obama stands poised to assume office in two months, people cannot seem to be able to let go of Governor Palin. Leaks, gossip, and fingerpointing are the least of it. It is obviously in stark contrast to the treatment given to Senator John Edwards, the previous losing Vice-Presidential candidate, after his own loss.

Have you been to the Alaska newspaper websites?

The Anchorage Daily News (which endorsed Obama/Biden, and like many newspapers leans very Left even in a blood Red state) is FILLED with comments from outsiders who go there to trash Governor Palin, long after she has ended being a threat to them.

But is that right? Has she finished being a threat as a national candidate?

Given these commenters' vituperative obsessiveness, I would say absolutely not. They want to make sure that they bury the woman and any chance she has in the GOP. If you don't think this is rather dysfunctional and sad, then I don't know what to tell you.

But I do think they will be disappointed in this.

For as many detractors as she has, loud and hateful, she has millions of supporters. 56 million Americans voted for McCain-Palin, and if I am indicative of that ticket's support, I say unashamedly that 90% of my support was for the Vice-Presidential nominee.

In fact, that was part of the reason that Senator McCain lost as President of the United States. I had stated he was only the FOURTH reason of why I voted for the ticket. Sure, I went to two political rallies where he was the main attraction, but frankly, I did so out of curiosity and secret hoping that Palin would somehow turn up, not because I was gung-ho about poor old John McCain.

My God, how does anyone expect their nominee to win the Presidency with such underwhelming enthusiasm?

2008 was always a Democratic year. Americans usually flip Parties every 8 years, to give the other side a chance, as well as to keep one Party from becoming too entrenched, which leads to corruption and lack of ideas. It has worked beautifully forever, and why should this year be any different? I was prepared all along to have a President Hillary. I was prepared to have my side lose this year, regardless. You'll notice that I barely blogged about the election, until the Reverend Wright situation popped up.

This is why I wasn't too concerned when a pseudo-Republican candidate such as John McCain was chosen over Thompson or Giuliani (who I voted for in the primary), both of whom gave it less than their best in the primaries. Romney would've gone down in flames as well, don't doubt it.

The only reason McCain got as far as he did was precisely because he threw everyone a bone in the form of a conservative Republican. I'll go on record by saying that if he had chosen Senator Joe Lieberman as running-mate, I might've not voted at all. Well, I don't know. I take voting very seriously indeed, but I am fairly sure I would've declined to vote for a RINO and an ex-Democrat. Perhaps I would've written in a candidate...

As it is, I know of a good friend of mine who refused to vote for Senator McCain, despite giving it his all for McCain-Palin in GOTV activities. But he stood on principle in actually not voting for the Senator, and didn't compromise his political ideals like so many of us did.

By the way, don't think that McCain would've worked harder to win against Hillary Clinton, had she prevailed. They each have a signed photograph of each other on each other's desks, and they are firm friends outside of the Senate. Her candidacy would've been "historic" too.

That's the problem with John McCain.

His entire message is of bipartisanship to the extent that, whilst we know where he stands, it's where he stands that we don't like. I was secretly heartened by his excellent participation in the Saddleback Forum. But he lost my respect when he mentioned Andrew Cuomo would be a good SEC replacement in the 60 Minutes interview, and I found his mention of Warren Buffett (a famous supporter and economic advisor of Senator Obama) as Secretary of the Treasury downright bizarre.

He just tries too hard to be conciliatory, primarily because he thinks it's "honourable" to do so, moreover in this bitter Bush Era climate.

The last straw for me came during that famous Town Hall when he chided his supporters for questioning Senator Obama's associations.

I'm not saying when he chastised that woman for saying that she had heard Senator Obama was "an Arab" (we all know she meant "a Muslim", but at the last second she must've realised that was a charge too far, so she changed it), that he was wrong.

It was when he unbelievably said that "you have nothing to fear from an Obama Presidency".

Those are not the words of a man who felt he would should or could win. Moreover, those were not the words of a true Republican. I was aghast.

Sarah Palin looked mortified when she was near him at the "Angry Man" debate, and he was being taken to the woodshed by innumerable, frustrated voters. I think she realised that whatever fire he had in his belly as a Republican, was long ago extinguished by his desire to be popular with media, and with moderate Beltway types. The same types, let it be said, that trashed her as running mate because he had the audacity to choose her.

Perhaps she had learnt before that such a man would never fight for her, and his Party, and would lose to the most expensive, professional Machine ever built to get a man elected to the Presidency.

I was prepared to let bygones be bygones until I watched Carl Cameron, the most senior Fox News political correspondent, become the new Kitty Kelly of the airwaves.

I was AGHAST at his swishy dishing (as Ruth Anne Adams appositely called it) about insider gossip of Palin on Bill O'Reilly's show on Wednesday. He did literally swish, as he put his shoulders into each charge, and sway with a girlish glee about what he was about to reveal at long last.

Carl Cameron was assigned the Republican beat, whilst his main adversary, Major Garrett, was given the ultimately winning side. I don't know if you saw this live, but when these rumours first surfaced, each of these reporters showed up on Fox & Friends, and the degree of irritation demonstrated by Cameron about being one-upped by Garrett was noticeable.

That was a prelude.

Then came more dishing on Cavuto, and finally on Bill O'Reilly, the latter of whom was awfully upset that neither McCain nor Palin had deigned to appear on his show.

O'Reilly is a charismatic force on cable news, but really, the man is all about himself and his blessed ratings. When Obama appeared on his show, he feigned going after him by giving him hard-hitting questions. If you had seen O'Reilly's evisceration of Rep. Barney Frank, you know the difference between Bill O'Reilly REALLY tough, and just a pretend version. He actually seemed charmed by Obama, in the way Barbara Walters found Fidel Castro rather magnetic when she interviewed him.

It is true, however, that O'Reilly would've helped Palin had the McCain campaign let her loose earlier. This points to the fact that they were nervous about her, because of the lack of polish she first exhibited in the Gibson interview. Many people point out that Couric did her in, but that's not true. The first fissures of her image started with Gibson. That is what got the Tina Fey ball rolling, and by the time she had gotten to Couric, that heroic frontierswoman image she had projected in her roll-out and in the RNC speech was irretrievably tarnished.

The Leftosphere blogs reflected that. In their stupid need to pin down every single politician to one which had come before, rather than to take each one as a new individual with their own merits, they at first likened her to Cheney. Evil evil Cheney they said. She will be the power behind the drooling cup throne of John McCain!

When the Gibson/Fey characterisation was cemented, they changed her into "Bush in skirts": Dumb dumb dumb...and dangerous.

They are not entirely alone in trying to pin her down as a candidate. Even I did so, on Sundries. I said that with her sportscaster background, and her unabashed conservative charisma, that she was a female Reagan. She even reminded me of Margaret Thatcher, with her sledgehammer attitude. Heck, I even threw in an Andrew Jackson/Harry Truman analogy, just for kicks.

None of this is right. Sarah Palin is Sarah Palin. She is unique. There has absolutely never been a female candidate like her before. She is sui generis, with a cherry on top.

Part of the obsessive coverage of her is in part the fact that Americans are just fascinated about this woman. Where did she come from? Are there more like her? Why haven't we seen them on the national stage?

Her critics went into a kind of collective nervous breakdown about her. The feminist writers were the absolute worst, with the merciful exceptions of Camille Paglia and Lynette Long. As I read their vitriolic, high school girlish opinions about her, I was embarrassed for my own sex.

Susan Seltzer belted this out on the day she was rolled out:

When I saw that John McCain had picked Sarah Palin as his running mate this morning, I was on the elliptical trainer, and my rage propelled me to the most furious workout I've had in a while.

Can you imagine Carl Bernstein writing that he had a great workout on his elliptical trainer in any context?

How about this gem from Ann Handley, Me and Sarah: Junion High With Sarah Palin:

But for some reason, I can’t warm up to her. And last Thursday, when she stood on stage in St. Louis and faced off against Joe Biden in the vice-presidential debate, I studied her face on the small screen and understood why. I know Sarah Palin. I went to school with her. And then, with a small shock of recognition, I saw who she was… and realized: I hated her in junior high. [...]

I know Sarah Palin because I went to school with her. And, in fact, most women did. Then, the Queen Bees or Mean Girls were just that. Now, they’re really scary.

I read this and I wince in pain.

Women are complaining about Palin because she reminds them of girls they knew in junior high, and they are not in the least joking. This is deeply deeply personal for them and it goes to the heart of the problem pretty, successful women have with other women.

Let's leave aside the awfulness of the writing, and the immaturity of the writers themselves.

Didn't it embarrass women reading all the negative reviews, articles and blogposts on Sarah Palin for two months? Because it did me. Really and truly.

I found myself dejected that any intelligent, competent writer would act as if the sight of Palin transformed them into awkward, ugly girls back in high school who knew they had a brain, but were traumatised that they could never measure up to the popular, pretty girl who they thought floated through life with undeserved ease.

It speaks to the fact that self-made women in politics are often homely, such as Golda Meir, Bella Abzug, even Hillary Clinton to an extent (especially early Hillary), and that opens up a well of support for them from other women.

God forbid the woman is conservative, good-looking, and has an unfettered self-confidence, like Sarah Palin and Margaret Thatcher.

Not only is it petty, which I absolutely abhor in anyone, but I find it a particular kind of neurosis that women have for each other -- the worst thing a woman can be to another woman is to show them up as lacking in some way. That feeling of inadequacy and therefore, competitiveness, is what has kept women from helping other women for...well, forever.

I am reminded of the famous "Texas Cheerleader mom", Wanda Holloway, who tried to kill the girl who she believed was stuck up and prevented her daughter from getting ahead in the world of cheerleading. If you listen to the tapes of her trying to procure a hitman, they will chill you in exactly the same way the Palin criticism from some women chill me.

The one thing I can say about their Palin Derangement Syndrome is that they are not at pains to hide their psychological trauma. It's almost as if they feel all women will understand where they are coming from, and the men somehow will ignore it, instead of laughing at a catfight in the offing. It's gratuitous, sexualised entertainment for men, and is yet another reason why women have trouble being taken seriously.

All of this sickens me. I wonder when women will overcome this gossipy, bitchy attitude towards each other.

Of course, the other problem, and perhaps a much more difficult one to overcome, is the class snobbishness exhibited by so many people about Palin (and Joe the Plumber, later on).

Even George W. Bush had the nominal support of Christopher Buckley, Peggy Noonan, David Brooks and others, despite not being the most intellectual person in the world. But you see, he went to Andover. He had the diplomas from the right Ivy League colleges. His father was VP and President, his grandfather a Senator.

Like him or hate him, he at least had a surface amount of accomplishment, the right background and could pass as a credible leader because of it.

Senator Obama is like President Clinton. Sure, they didn't come from the elites, but they made it to the elite class due to their education. Self-made is all very well, so long as the self-made political class have at least the same if not better education as the people who cover them.

Clearly, Sarah Palin with her humble University of Idaho degree was not going to cut it with the people who covered her. She was not a bona fide member of the ruling class, neither by upbringing nor personal ambition.

I could write about this forever, but at the end of the day, Americans are every bit as conscious of background as the most snobbish of Europeans. The subset of that is that urban, even those from ghettos, is superior to rural, which cannot be contenanced in any way. This is the great revelation about Election 2008, which perhaps others knew, but I did not until now.

Finally, I learnt that Reagan's 11th commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Speak Ill of Another Republican" is dead.

Not only did Republicans pile on abuse on Senator McCain and Sarah Palin, but they did so with a lack of objectivity that was frightening. What did they hope to gain, I wonder. Revenge? Popularity? Did they want to appear more honest than thou?

Let's assume that these renegade Republicans didn't think that McCain-Palin were the best choices for the Presidency. I am on board with part of that sentiment myself. But they went after the ticket in such a way that made it seem personal rather than philosophical. Their excuses were paper-thin. It was more than a question of class, though that is at the basis of it.

It was a question of betrayal.

McCain had betrayed the more liberal Republicans by his decision for running-mate, and they made him pay for it. It's one thing to have an inspirational figure like Reagan around. But at the end of the day, McCain was a war hero with compromised conservative ideals. He was up against a man like Barack Obama who could speak to David Brooks for half-an-hour about Reinhold Niebuhr, and the former got a tingle up the leg which he hadn't gotten for a while.

Said Brooks about Obama:

Finally, more than any other major candidate, he has a tendency to see the world in post-national terms. Whereas President Bush sees the war against radical Islam as the organizing conflict of our time, Obama sees radical extremism as one problem on a checklist of many others: global poverty, nuclear proliferation, global warming. When I asked him to articulate the central doctrine of his foreign policy, he said, “The single objective of keeping America safe is best served when people in other nations are secure and feel invested.”

That’s either profound or vacuous, depending on your point of view.

For Brooks, Buckley, Powell, Noonan and so many others, it is not just important that Palin wouldn't know Niebuhr, but that most importantly, she is not nuanced in her view of America and therefore its role in the world. McCain is also not nuanced when it comes to national security.

The election was about choosing the man who represented the most stark contrast to George W. Bush's "either you're with us or against us" philosophy, which gives all those who lean to the Left a collective spasm.

The opposite of tolerance is not intolerance, but not understanding the bigger picture:

Those who cannot step back from their vantage point, but on the contrary, see the world in a two-dimensional scenario with America on top, and those who oppose us at a foggy distance, are to be derided for lacking depth.

Election 2008 was fought on the sidelines by the intellectual elite, those who consider themselves worthy of deserving better than McCain or Palin, no matter what real accomplishments they had in their lives.

Since America is a nation of doers, of action, of grit rather one which elevates the thinker to stardom, they couldn't exactly say it like this.

Instead, they hit McCain for his backstabbing choice, and Palin for not realising that America is not a high school where she could lord it over as the pretty, popular, All-American girl.

The smart kids were determined to win for once, and they did.

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  • Perhaps, then, this post should be titled "Revenge of the Nerds"?

    But you've omitted, Vic, that you're at least as "intellectually elite" as anyone. And yet!

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Nov 07, 03:40:00 am GMT-5  

  • "The subset of that is that urban, even those from ghettos, is superior to rural, which cannot be contenanced in any way."

    I missed this paragraph the first time. (It's late, and I should be asleep.)

    I don't think it's nearly so settled as that, certainly not by this election. In fact, this is the fault line between the parties, or rather between left and right as imperfectly expressed in the parties:

    One side sees things as elite and proles, and gravitates to where that relationship plays out ever more elaborately (cities),


    the other side sees things as rough equals, and gravitates to where THAT is expressed and straightforwardly seen (exurbs, the country, and the military).

    (They both depend on each other, of course -- the former providing the prosperity and variety we crave and the latter the vigor, self-belief, and justice on which all we have depends.)

    It is no coincidence that Sarah Palin embodies not only the person but the place of conservatism, in what Paglia and others have noted as the frontier strain in her.

    Nor is it coincidence that prominent left voices are from DC, and LA, and New York, while the most prominent right voice is from an unmarked office park in Florida.

    Urbanity has its time, but as you note it did not exactly fight a victory on its merits. And then... America (and the world) can't go long without its inner cowboy. Its frontiers(wo)man.

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Nov 07, 04:13:00 am GMT-5  

  • If I know anything about intellectuals is that, over time, they will stab each other in the back with their head in their butt while also shooting themselves in the foot, a contorted position only achievable with extensive education!
    For the rest of us it will provide mirth.

    OT, I sent Gov. Palin an email (through the Alaska governors office, not knowing where else to send it) filled with praise and respect for her in this campaign and my wishes that she not leave the national scene. I have never sent such a message to a politician in my life, and I have you to thank for instilling this interest in Palin and desire for her to do well. Kudos, Vic.

    By Blogger Ron, at Fri Nov 07, 10:07:00 am GMT-5  

  • Very well done. They are instinctively scared to death of Palin, aren't they? Hard to believe no one understands that except for you and me. I have never seen a candidate ripped like Palin, even GWB never heard so many crazy attacks in two months.

    By Blogger dr kill, at Fri Nov 07, 12:47:00 pm GMT-5  

  • It was when he unbelievably said that "you have nothing to fear from an Obama Presidency"... I was aghast.

    I was too, and angry as hell.

    Didn't it embarrass women reading all the negative reviews, articles and blogposts on Sarah Palin for two months?

    Yes. Unfortunately, no one can tear down their own better than women! Even so, I will never understand the immediate and visceral hatred directed at Palin. She is to me an undeniably admirable and likable woman.

    The subset of that is that urban, even those from ghettos, is superior to rural, which cannot be contenanced in any way.

    Sad, isn't it? Gone is the respect for "Norman Rockwell" America. However naive it may be in some respects, no one can deny there is a common sense and purity that comes from people who work hard, make our country safe and prosperous--and don't seek attention for it. When even republicans are rejecting someone from flyover country, even with SP's accomplishments, then the elitism is especially galling.

    The smart kids were determined to win for once, and they did.

    Indeed. Brilliant take on this election and the forces at work that brought down McCain/Palin.

    By Blogger knox, at Fri Nov 07, 02:10:00 pm GMT-5  

  • The smart kids were determined to win for once, and they did.

    Too smart by half, I think.

    By Blogger Ruth Anne Adams, at Fri Nov 07, 02:55:00 pm GMT-5  

  • All of this sickens me. I wonder when women will overcome this gossipy, bitchy attitude towards each other.

    I’ll take your word for it. Being male, and because she is so attractive, it’s hard to add anything without being suspected of, as you say, “laughing at a catfight in the offing.” Nonetheless, I can’t resist.

    I can summarize what I want to say as you must be right about some deeper psychological insecurity, but I think it must run deeper than petty envy. I can’t put my finger on it but I think she threatens certain women because of her fecundity. I think you even said as much back somewhere on a Althouse thread-something I recall about a goddess persona.

    First of all, I cannot see how Sarah Palin is a threat to feminism, unless a core belief of that feminism means freedom from childbirth itself, and not just the usual pro-choice arguments. Obviously, Sarah Palin is not a throw back to some Leave it to Beaver patriarchy. Yes, those barriers were broken by women of Hillary’s generation (some remain cracked but not broken). But they are broken. And yes her character does remind me of something from the past, not as far back as the frontier- it’s the can do confidence of women between the world wars. I haven't read much of what those women wrote, but still I don’t think they're reacting against her feministic character.

    It’s that family. They’re just too many Palins. And she makes it look too easy. Of course, to be fair, Sarah and Todd Palin didn’t raise their kids in a hyper-competitive urban environment. They’re hard working, for sure, but there are unappreciated advantages between NYC and Wasilla regarding raising a family. And yet she rose to the top political they job in Alaska they must seeth. But Oh, yes, in Alaska they sneer.

    I’ll never forget my wife’s hip and trendy younger sister reacting to our plans to start a family by reminding us that we were contributing to overpopulation (that was before the days of global warming). And while she (the sister-in-law) was young and foolish then, she never even plans to contribute little carbon footprints to the world ( I also happen to know that she always vote Dem).

    The fecundity theory accounts for some of the irrational behaviour against Palin by some of the wacky gay too, as well as their general enmity.

    By Blogger chickenlittle, at Fri Nov 07, 05:15:00 pm GMT-5  

  • <Clearly, Sarah Palin with her humble University of Idaho degree was not going to cut it with the people who covered her. She was not a bona fide member of the ruling class, neither by upbringing nor personal ambition.

    Yet her U of Idaho degree could have been played differently. And she will play it differently next time (and I hope there is a next time).

    Academic pedigree obviously helps in politics. It helped the Bushes, Clinton, and JFK. But not Johnson, Nixon, or Reagan. Curiously, top military creds seems almost a given even for consideration (McCain, Carter, Ike).

    Could pedigree ever be played as a disadvantage? As surely as financial success provokes envy from below, Sarah Palin’s degree could be sold as a plus- a common touch if you will. Of course that requires a certain resentment against the elite. But consider that Obama wants to ensure that even more children go to college than ever, and obviously most won’t be going to elite schools, even though, given faculty hiring preferences, most will have or at least encounter a professor/instructor from an elite school, so they will form first hand opinions. Hell, I’m going to encourage my son to become a plumber.

    By Blogger chickenlittle, at Fri Nov 07, 05:46:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Hahaha, maybe Palin should get an MBA during the next 4 years! Hahahaha, I imagine she could get a very sexy degree on-line from an Ivy, or wanna-be Ivy, or some shit like that. hahahaha, what a great idea. Anyone who can do what she does could do an on-line degree too.

    You too can be an intellectual elite!

    By Blogger dr kill, at Fri Nov 07, 06:11:00 pm GMT-5  

  • This is the best election post-mortem I've read. I continue to be impressed with you. And this is not even your main job! You're a MD. I obtained a law degree and ran away screaming to a life of academic philosophy. Yes, I'm a slacker, I admit it. But it beats law (or medicine, or business, I think).

    At any rate, what you say about the high school envy/resentment is something that a friend of mine brought up yesterday when I emailed her asking her to explain her violent antipathy towards Palin. My friend is an academic. She gave exactly the response you discuss. 'Palin is the woman who used to be the backstabbing, scheming girl in high school.' I kid you not. Amazing.

    I wish I lived in Florida and you weren't seeing anyone! I think I have developed a little crush on you. I mean, we share the same views, we have at least one alma mater in common... Ah, well, I can dream, can't I?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Nov 08, 09:16:00 am GMT-5  

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