Palin: a class issue?

I have occasionally pondered what it is about Sarah Palin that provokes an almost universal gag reflex among progressives (and more than a few conservatives).  For myself, it’s the fact that she panders to the worst side of conservatism, and pretends (probably) to be a lot stupider than she really is (hopefully) in order to do so.

The whole “ignorance as a virtue” thing turns me off.  By playing it up, Palin’s connected with resentful, low-information types who are pissed off that their team is no longer in charge, terrified by the changing world around them, and loathe to be dragged, kicking and screaming or otherwise, into it. Palin reassures them that it’s okay, even “patriotic”, to resist progress, which is characterized in all kinds of bizarre ways: socialism, fascism, kill-granny-ism, etc.  That’s what does it for me: that she plays on the worst fears of conservatives and whips them into the brainless paranoid hysteria evident at teabagger rallies.

About the teabaggers:  in spite of all the outrage and comedy gold that’s mined from their more extreme element,  I suspect that not all of them are spittle-flecked racist cretins.  Some of them are your next door neighbour, the cashier at your local Safeway, the guy who tunes up your Volvo, the accountant who does your taxes.  Nice, normal, fairly apolitical working-class people who just happen to lean conservative, and they’re worried about what they’ve been told is going on around them.  Significantly, Palin connects with them, too.

In Saturday’s NatPo, Rex Murphy deconstructs “the Palin effect”, and Palin’s detractors — yes yes, he’s a bit of a wingnut, but that doesn’t render him incapable of touching on a couple of interesting points:

She, by rights, should be queen of the feminists. All that self-reliance, her takeover of Alaska politics, the rocket ride to a Vice-Presidential ticket, a public career she blends with her family life– these seem gold-standard credentials for a real feminist. But official feminism derides herewith an unspeakable intensity. Her early critics were not beyond the inane claim that she was somehow not really a woman.

I side with those who venture that the nerves Palin hits have more to do with class — where she’s from, how she speaks, where she was educated, what she likes (the moose-hunting), than her politics or her gender. She’s rural, she came into national politics from (ugh) Alaska. She and her husband have the unerasable stigmata of the modern working class. She would not be embarrassed to be seen walking into Wal-Mart.

If Palin was pro-choice, her feminist cred would be almost immaculate. Feminism has grown from its socialist roots — there are libertarian feminists, so why not fiscally conservative feminists?  (If indeed Palin really is a fiscal conservative, which is arguable.)  But reproductive rights are a major feminist issue, and being an anti-choice feminist is like being a meat-eating vegetarian.   Also, by pandering to the side of conservatism that is conventionally anti-feminist, some feel that Palin has set women in politics back.  I used to feel that way myself, but I’m not so sure anymore:  not long ago, even the thought of the GOP running a woman at the top of a presidential ticket was inconceivable.   Talk about your 18 million cracks.  (Or maybe in this case, 18 million crackpots.)

But more troubling is Murphy’s second point.  It’s true that Palin’s routine seems to have connected with working class conservatives in a way that more cerebral progressivism hasn’t, but if this trend continues it could be a real problem for progressives.  Granted, most of the people who flock to the “tea parties”, and Palin’s fans, are at least right-leaning, but it’s still a worrying political progression.   Traditionally, the left has been solidly on the side of the working class, but that perception seems to be changing.

What happened?

70 Responses to “Palin: a class issue?”


  1. 1 Pedgehog Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I think what makes a feminist icon has more to do with what they accomplish FOR feminism than actually being a woman. The reason that Obama, for example, is more of a feminist than Palin is because of his politics. Palin may have accomplished a lot FOR HERSELF despite being a woman, but breaking your own personal glass ceiling is not particularly helpful and does not a feminist make.

    Palin’s accomplishments are certainly admirable, but to be a feminist she would have to have feminist beliefs (which she doesn’t), and to be a feminist role model she would have to actually be DOING something to advance the plight of women, when she is in fact trying to do the EXACT OPPOSITE.

    In terms of class, it’s definitely an interesting intersection. I feel like she’s doing the same sort of thing in that arena: she is a working-class hero who is NOT working-class; in fact, she’s incredibly privileged and totally out of touch with what the working class actually needs. Hence her politics. I think it’s very easy for people of privilege on the left (myself included) to laugh at her idiocy, but kind of tragic that a lot of people believe in her and in whatever it is that she stands for.

    Mostly, I just wish she would go away.

  2. 2 toujoursdan Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    It’s complicated by the reality that Palin only attracts a certain version of the working class – not the entire working class.

    It seems to me that the tea bag crowd AND the progressive crowd are disproportionately white people shouting at each other. Blacks and Hispanics don’t fit into either movement in great numbers because they, for historically religious reasons, have been socially conservative but supported social programmes and the welfare state. The Black Protestant churches and Catholic churches ARE socially conservative but economically progressive and they still play a central rôle in these cultures.

    The tea bag leaders are great at capitalizing on the anxiety surrounding current demographic and cultural changes (Whites becoming a minority, marriage for companionship rather than procreation, and the rise of post-modernism, globalization as well as technological changes) to make people vote against their own self interest.

    What they have figured out is culture, race, religious identification, nationalism and language will ALWAYS trump economics. These self identifiers go to the heart of who we are and how we perceive ourselves in the world. People are more than willing to suffer economic deprivation rather than give up on their self-identification. Some may not find this rational (and often it isn’t) but it’s human nature. Progressives have a difficult time fully grasping this.

    The problem for the tea bagger movement is that can’t play on everyone’s cultural and religious anxieties equally because they are all different, so they can’t grow far beyond their white, working class base. But that is still a significant force that can do a lot of damage.

  3. 3 Q Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Palin aligns herself like the televangelists with the most gullible, those most likely to buy her book and send her money.

    Where she wants to shop is Saks Fifth Ave. and after she’s acquired enough wealth you wouldn’t be able to drag this classless grifter into a WalMart.

    It’s only about the money… ya betcha.

  4. 4 Bleatmop Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    I don’t know what Rex is smoking, but Palin’s feminist cred is not immaculate besides her being anti-choice. Perhaps Rex should be a journalist and do some fact checking on why feminists don’t like Palin. Besides being against equal pay, universal health care, and reproductive freedom she also started charging women in Alaska for the rape kit. That’s the equivalent of is charging women for the right to the police investigating crimes against them.

    Further more, when did simply being successful and a women make one an feminist icon? “Dr.” Laura is very successful but no-one has ever mistaken her as a feminist.

  5. 5 Ti-Guy Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I think Pedgehog pretty much nails it.

    To add: I come from the class of people, among which the women would normally identify with Palin. But they don’t. They don’t see her as authentic. They see her identification with that class of people as a pretention, no better than any elitist who’s slumming it to feign an understanding of the “common touch.” Her politics on specific issues and her so-called conservatism aside, it’s above all and beyond her dishonesty that turns them off.

    I’m sure her appeal among a demographic of Canadians has a lot to do with the fact that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have done anything for working class people in decades, an experience most working class people in Canada, with still-strong unions, health care, decent public education (all under threat, mind you) don’t really have to think about as much and as such, might not really understand where working class Americans are coming from.

    Just one example: “Hunter” complains about some expense she has to pay to send her kid to Quebec to get an enriched cultural experience, oblivious of the fact that such opportunities are simply not available to people like her in the US.

  6. 6 brebis noire Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I consider myself working class, though I have an education and profession that would theoretically make me part of the professional and high-information class. But I work for a living, and my hands have the callouses and my back has the pains to prove it. Palin rubbed me the wrong way from the very start because I have a finely tuned bullshit detector when it comes to a particular brand of religion and its political aspirations.

    As a personality, she’s more in the category of nouveau-riche – in all of the worst ways. She doesn’t even have a working class background, because as I understand it, her family was solidly middle-class – teacher and stay-at-home mother? Her education is in some kind of journalism thingy, so that would make her a member of the chattering class (low on information, high on appearance). Her truly low level of intellectual ability and sophistication, combined with a faux-naive but polished political savvy, became a huge turn-off for me as we followed along in late 2008.

    It’s important to note that the working class has been systematically decimated and fragmented since the early 1980s and in various waves previous to that, including farm families, they have become largely invisible in US society. I doubt that many working class people are all that enamored with her, that is more in the imagination of the conservative elites and white suburbanites. She may be populist, but it’s wearing terribly thin, imho.

  7. 7 rww Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I think Palin identifies with the new anti-union working class group that thinks that union members aren’t really part of the working class but an elite group because they have decent wages and working conditions and actual rights.

  8. 8 Jymn Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Nothing has changed. Palin does not represent the working class. She represents the ignorance of the upper middle class who have been reared in Catholic schools and to whom materialism is the end game. The real working class are working. They are not the comical retirees of the tea parties. There’s a reason the youth of the west do not have the respect of the aged as does the youth of the east. The worst have come out in support of Palin and tea parties. The vast, vast majorities are horrified. Only 21 percent of women have a favourable opinion of Palin. Imagine what the youth think. Palin and the tea parties are no threat. They are a joke. The right is terrified that we are not taking Palin and the baggers seriously. Murphy, in his old man lust, is not thinking clearly. It’s all a joke. The middle working class is in on the joke. Wingnuts and Murphy are behind the eight ball. It’s time to stop giving them so much credence.

  9. 9 Dr. Prole Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I think Palin has set a terrible example for women in politics. She’s fucked up every place she’s governed, been embroiled in ethics scandals, inquired about censoring the local library, and quit both elected positions before the terms were up. She’s a working mom but big deal, so are millions of other women.

  10. 11 fern hill Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Great post and comments.

    I think brebis noire nails it. Nouveau riche. American dream. Shades of Stuart Smart: Gosh darn it, I am pretty enough, I am inarticulate enough. . .

    But for me the visceral dislike is born of two factors: her grinning stupidity and her stereotypic representation of the Con woman: ‘I did it all myself so fuck all you whining bitches’.

  11. 12 fern hill Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Stuart Smally? The Al Franken character. It’s late. I should go to bed.

  12. 13 JJ Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Great feedback, good points all, thanks everyone. I just got home from my extremely working-class job and I’m extremely knackered, so I’ll respond after a little shut-eye.

  13. 14 Mandos Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    So…the problem is that the (segment of the) working class with which she connects best is pretty much intractable to progressives. Consider the dust-up over the Confederate History Month. It’s those people.

  14. 15 MW Monday, April 12, 2010 at 12:46 am

    It’s a cult of personality first. And secondary it’s hysteria tinged cheerleading of anti-intellectualism…

    Those are the reasons the Sarah Palin movement creeps me out.

  15. 16 Peter Monday, April 12, 2010 at 2:40 am

    It’s those people.

    That pretty much says it all, no? Except, Mandos, I think that JJ’s question is why were the left traditionally champions of “those people”, the ones they now demonize. As I once said at Dr. Dawg’s, if Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath today, the Okies would be dismissed as racist creationists and some hot-shot journalist would write a bestseller called “What’s the Matter With the Joads?”

    Good on you, JJ, for throwing down this gauntlet. It’s not something that invites a simple answer and you could do a hundred posts on it. Here are just a couple of thoughts born of reflection and many blog arguments:

    1) The cerebral left has a serious “false consciousness” addiction. Time and time again I’ve seen discussions founder on assertions that the “right” (I’m assuming we are more or less talking small town & rural, young suburbanites with families, the self-employed and owners and employees of smallish businesses, a good chunk of iconoclastic youth, a lot of the religious and certain regions like the West) doesn’t understand their own self-interest. You can see this theme in some of the comments above. In the old days, that tended to mean they didn’t understand how capitalism worked, but today it is more likely to mean they reject objective science and something called “evidenced-based” argument. Well, I’m here to tell you they think they understand their self-interests just as much as you do yours and they also think a lot of so-called “expertise” in the soft sciences and even the hard sciences sometimes is garbage and inconsistent with what they live and experience daily. They don’t take to the patronizing;

    b) Progressives seem to have a very hard time chucking that old Enlightenment dream of a unidirectional march to a rational, secular society that slowly leaves tradition and superstition behind through modern, universal progressive education. Many of them seem to be terribly thrown when this path is diverted or even slowed down, which I think is what is really causing all this venom about Palin (her actual positions and record hardly explain the rage.) This has left today’s left with very little to say about family and religion, issues of great importance to many, many “ordinary” people. You really have to make your peace with them somehow;

    c) In terms of the traditional “working class”, I think the left has become bored with them. Whoever they are, they aren’t starving or on the street anymore. A lot of the attention of the left now goes to cherry-picked minority groups like blacks,illegal immigrants, sexual minorities, etc. and a lot of that attention is expressed by name-calling at your more traditional constituency. Wolfe called this phenomenon “Rococo Marxism”. Most of them take exception, but the more important point is that most of them indignantly reject the charge of racism or homophobia, and don’t see it in their lives. They aren’t going to buy into genteel postmodern gobbledegook about it. Their intolerance is over self-reliance and entitlement, not race or nationality. Yes, there are old-style bigots among them and yes, they get a lot of attention, but you have mis-called the Tea Party gang badly if you see them as mainly a bunch of Jim Crow crackers.

    d) At a time when the standing of government is at its lowest ebb in more than a century everywhere in the West, the left predictably keeps seeing solutions in more government intervention and entitlements, never realizing much of the electorate now rejects these on competency and efficiency alone, never mind ideology. In some ways, the left has become the old-fogey traditionalists dreaming of the glory days of the 30’s through the 60″s. Ya’ gotta get those creative juices flowing again.

    Oh, yes, one more thing. The West is not unredeemably rotten and is not the cause of every bad guy, atrocity and injustice in the world.

  16. 17 brebis noire Monday, April 12, 2010 at 3:05 am

    “In terms of the traditional “working class”, I think the left has become bored with them. Whoever they are, they aren’t starving or on the street anymore.”

    Uh, no. You’re working on your own pet assumptions there, and as such your bias is driving your arguments at the expense of reality.
    The agricultural working class is largely composed of immigrants and even foreign migrants (the Joads of today); and urban workers, the traditional manufacturing class, have been outsourced to southeast Asia. Young people, often students, and retirees, are the ones who provide most of the services. The working class therefore cannot be categorised as either right or left, conservative or progressive, because they/we are just as diverse politically as any other socioeconomic class. What’s left for American youth? The military. That is where Palin might be somewhat appreciated. But she’s hit and miss with the working class, just as she is with any other group – except for the fact that she appeals more widely to white Americans, and pretty much not at all to anyone else (including Canadians…)

  17. 18 Peter Monday, April 12, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Fair enough, although there is still a huge amount of manufacturing in North America. I’m not one of those cons who dreams of inexorable historical marches. I certainly agree the notion of who fits into what class has changed significantly.

    Love that “at the expense of reality”. Mom always said I had a problem with reality. Brebis, why don’t you just say you think I am wrong?

  18. 20 balbulican Monday, April 12, 2010 at 5:59 am

    The “working class” has never been monolithic. Urban immigrant workers struggling in food services, vehicle assembly workers in Oshawa and Saskatchewan farmers are not a social or political block, and never have been.

    The “left” has never been monolithic, despite the cartoonification of political discourse over a decade of blogging and bad punditry. Again, a Derida-lovin’ prof of Soviet literature at the Sorbonne, a union organizer in Detroit and a feminist writer in California would be hard pressed to agree on much.

    Palin is an opportunist with a product – herself – who has identified a market for which her brand is uniquely suited. That’s the folks who are genuinely angry at what they perceive as “the elites”. It’s not a movement informed by political theory or principles; it’s just channeled anger, which she is deliberately inflaming.

  19. 21 brebis noire Monday, April 12, 2010 at 6:09 am

    You’ve said it best, balbulican.

  20. 22 Peter Monday, April 12, 2010 at 6:44 am

    balb, of course the left isn’t monolithic. Nor is the right. But the terms came from somewhere and mean something, however imprecise, no? Your own blog is sub-titled “Life on the left side”, not “Life at balb’s house”.

    As to channeled anger, I suggest there has never been as much philosophical and ideological discourse on the right as there is today. Certainly much more than when you and I were young’uns. In fact, that’s rapidly becoming one of our big problems.

  21. 23 balbulican Monday, April 12, 2010 at 8:19 am

    “But the terms came from somewhere and mean something, however imprecise, no?”

    They mean about as “mods” and “rockers”, or, for the ancient Ottawans, “Squirrels” and “Yohawks”. They’re tribal emblems, brandished by the professionally aggrieved or the intellectually lazy (among whom, on the bad days, I count myself.) My point is that it requires a highly selective and very limited definition of “working class” and “right-wing” to credit Sarah Palin as their patron saint.

    “As to channeled anger, I suggest there has never been as much philosophical and ideological discourse on the right as there is today.”

    And as far as Hawkins Cheezies, I can state emphatically that the selection of mushrooms at our local Metro is outstanding.

    (Translation: are you suggesting those two things are somehow mutually exclusive?)

  22. 24 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 8:24 am

    pedgehog

    breaking your own personal glass ceiling is not particularly helpful and does not a feminist make.

    Point taken. But 50 years ago, one of the goals of feminists was for women to be able to have career trajectories like Palin’s, to be players in politics and business. (Anyone my age might remember the “Why Not” campaign: “There aren’t many women in the boardrooms of America: WHY NOT?”)

    Even if they’re not actively “feminist”, women who do the things we only dreamed about 40 years ago are furthering at least part of the feminist cause…at least IMO. This would seem to transcend political ideology.

  23. 25 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 8:42 am

    toujoursdan

    People are more than willing to suffer economic deprivation rather than give up on their self-identification.

    Why do they feel that progress, or even change, means giving anything up? A lot of what they’re afraid of is the result of baseless fear mongering (by people like Palin) — there’s no campaign afoot to drive the religious underground, to give you an example of a theme I’ve seen at FD recently. I think this is part of what mystifies progressives about this particular cohort, their fear of being somehow personally compromised by progress.

  24. 26 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Q

    Where she wants to shop is Saks Fifth Ave. and after she’s acquired enough wealth you wouldn’t be able to drag this classless grifter into a WalMart.

    Yeah — but meanwhile she’s convinced a lot of working class people that she’s “one of them”, which apparently means believing everything she says, which makes her a pretty good propagandizer. Death Panels!!!

  25. 27 ellroon Monday, April 12, 2010 at 9:01 am

    What happened you ask?

    A black Democrat was elected president.

    The promised Rapture and Second Coming did NOT happen when Bush was in office and people are pissed off for the delay.

  26. 28 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Bleatmop

    when did simply being successful and a women make one an feminist icon?

    I’m not saying she’s any kind of feminist “icon” per se. But Murphy was right about one thing — some of her most vicious criticism came from feminists, long before things like the rape kit charge became public. (Remember that Heather Mallick column?) In retrospect, it just seems a little strange.

    Frankly, I don’t buy into anything she’s said against health care as being anything more than propaganda to whip up the base. If the HCR bill had come from the GOP (as an almost identical bill did in the 90s), she would have been fine with it. The last year has been All Anti-Obama All The Time.

  27. 29 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Ti-Guy

    Her politics on specific issues and her so-called conservatism aside, it’s above all and beyond her dishonesty that turns them off.

    “So-called conservatism”, LOL: I read one conservative who referred to her as a “welfare queen” 😆

    But yeah, I think this is why she hasn’t caught on in a big way in Canada — for some reason her ersatz “working class” veneer is more apparent to us, and the dishonesty turns a lot of people off.

  28. 30 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 9:13 am

    brebis

    As a personality, she’s more in the category of nouveau-riche – in all of the worst ways.

    That about nails it.

    But I’m thinking back to before she became The Sarah — when she was first appointed to run with McCain, and people knew virtually SFA about her, she was still on the receiving end of an amazing amount of acrimony… The fact that she ended up deserving most of it doesn’t change the fact that it was disproportionate to what she deserved at the time. That’s always puzzled me.

  29. 31 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 9:16 am

    rww

    I think Palin identifies with the new anti-union working class group that thinks that union members aren’t really part of the working class but an elite group because they have decent wages and working conditions and actual rights.

    This is one of the (many) places in her story where there’s a real discrepancy between image and reality. Her husband is in a union, IIRC. Or at least was. I don’t know if he still works on the slope or is an independent fisherman.

  30. 32 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 9:35 am

    OK, I’m back to work again. But this looks like an interesting discussion so keep going (and play nice). I’ll be back in 4 hrs or so.

  31. 33 deBeauxOs Monday, April 12, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Cheezies!!!

    Cheezies rawk and rule.

  32. 34 toujoursdan Monday, April 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Why do they feel that progress, or even change, means giving anything up?

    Any change means giving up what is familiar for the unknown and that threatens a certain segment of the population. It isn’t necessarily rational, but humans are innately irrational (which has pros and cons).

    A lot of what they’re afraid of is the result of baseless fear mongering (by people like Palin) — there’s no campaign afoot to drive the religious underground, to give you an example of a theme I’ve seen at FD recently.

    Absolutely, and I would argue that a lot of those who are afraid are probably religious in name only. All this stuff is more tribal in nature than anything.

    I think almost everyone would agree that there has been a cultural shift in religious attitudes in the U.S. over the past 50 years. Christianity lost its established status and is increasingly seen as merely one choice in the diverse marketplace of ideas. There are some vocal people who confuse the loss of that culturally established status with persecution or oppression. The silly annual “War on Christmas” has everything to do with that shift. (Though I am an Anglican/Episcopalian who attends an increasingly empty church I see this as a very positive thing.)

  33. 35 Brian Monday, April 12, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Any change means giving up what is familiar for the unknown and that threatens a certain segment of the population.

      True enough.   But in addition to that you have those who oppose the change because of its content, those who support the change because of its content, and those who support it because they irrationally support any change that comes along “because it’s different.”

      So accurately pointing out that a certain segment of the population is threatened by change is not very significant in and of itself.

      It is also accurate that some changes are bad. Some things that might need to be given up to implement a given change are important enough to keep as to serve to kill that particular change as an option.   Smearing someone for opposing that change, whatever it might be, as being threatened by change of any sort would be inaccurate.

     

    It isn’t necessarily rational, but humans are innately irrational (which has pros and cons).

    I agree that humans are not rational in toto, but that is not the same as saying that they are innately irrational.   I mean, where did the rational come from in the first place if men don’t possess it?   Species that are innately irrational cannot even recognize the rational when it is pointed out to them.

  34. 36 Rob F Monday, April 12, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I’d hesitate to say that a fear of change is all there is to it. To me, Palin seems an awful lot like a populist. According to Wikipedia, populism is “…an ideology[1][2][3][4] (more rarely and uncommonly), a political philosophy or a type of discourse, [which] is a type of political-social thought which juxtaposes “the people” against “the elites”, and urges social and political system changes. (my emphasis). If Palin is a populist, then she is a bringer of change and hence a fear of change cannot be all that is behind her and the baggers.

  35. 37 brebis noire Monday, April 12, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Palin is populist in politics in the same manner that reality shows are popular on TV. They appeal to a certain segment of the population, but they’re mostly sans-content and ultimately forgettable, even when they try to be sensational. Reality TV provides thrills at best, but (imho) it’s boring and sub-par compared to what television can offer.

  36. 38 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Jymm

    The worst have come out in support of Palin and tea parties. The vast, vast majorities are horrified.

    Can’t say I disagree — it’s still a small movement, and has had a lot of bad publicity thanks to the extremists in their midst who show up at these things and aren’t immediately shown the door.

    It’s time to stop giving them so much credence.

    I wouldn’t sell short their political impact — they’ve already driven a major US party sharply to the right, and even started running their own candidates (with limited success, but still). Whether this momentum continues or peters out or falls apart because of infighting remains to be seen, but if I was betting money, I don’t know if I’d bet against them. (And trust me, I take no pleasure in that statement.)

  37. 39 Bleatmop Monday, April 12, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    JJ – The question about being a feminist icon is more to Rex’s comments that by all rights she should be the queen of the feminists. I don’t think he has any idea about what makes a person a feminist. However, if he had said that before everything bad about Palin came out, then I could perhaps see it.

    As to the article you’ve mentioned, I’ve never heard of it or the author. I would agree that a lot of criticism levied against Palin is unwarrented, especially critiquing her clothing bothered me. You never once heard anyone research how much Bush or Obama spend on their wardrobes. Critiquing her policy, her stance on important issues and her knowledge of the world are all fair game. Most other critiques were probably out of line.

  38. 40 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Dr.Prole

    I think Palin has set a terrible example for women in politics.

    Right now? I couldn’t agree more. She’s entered the entertainment realm, like Ann Coulter.

    As for her past job performance, I get the feeling that ethics scandals are part of the landscape in Alaska politics — remember Ted Stevens? 😆 Not that this excuses unethical behaviour, but if it’s just the way things are done, you can see how it happens. (It does preclude one from running for VP on a platform of “No more politics as usual”, though.)

  39. 41 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Bleatmop – Mallick’s article is here.

    It raised a lot of shit and Heather was of course deluged with incoherent death threats etc., the CBC (which ran it originally) was forced to pull the article and apologize. It ran a few days after Palin was nominated, before anyone really knew anything about her — I shudder to think what Mallick would write about her now 😆

  40. 42 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Jasper – Yes, thanks for the contribution 🙄 Although even you must know the truth is somewhere in between what’s depicted in the cartoon.

  41. 43 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    fern hill

    I think brebis noire nails it. Nouveau riche.

    Brebis was spot on. But it’s how Palin’s perceived by the people she’s reaching out to that matters: she’s reaching out to the working class (albeit conservative working class) and they see her as one of them.

  42. 44 Bleatmop Monday, April 12, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    JJ – Lol, she certainly doesn’t pull any punches. I can see why people didn’t like the article. Those kind of personal attacks have no place on a national news source like the CBC. Though, I would like to read a redo of the article now that we know most of Palin’s dirty laundry. 😀

  43. 45 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Mandos

    Consider the dust-up over the Confederate History Month. It’s those people.

    When you say “those people”, I take it you mean racists. Many of them are, for sure. Maybe even most. But I wonder how many are just ordinary working class people who are scared shitless because they’ve lost their job, their mortgage is under water, and they have no idea what’s down the road. Those kind of people are (or were) the traditional constituency of the left.

    My concern might be misplaced and these teabaggers could all be people who would simply NEVER vote for a progressive candidate. But, hardcore ideologues aside, it seems to me that any candidate who will do what voters want and help make their lives better might also get their vote(?)

  44. 46 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    MW

    It’s a cult of personality first. And secondary it’s hysteria tinged cheerleading of anti-intellectualism…

    Misinforming the gullible leads to the hysteria… who wouldn’t be hysterical if they thought the government was coming to kill Granny? The cheerleading of anti-intellectualism is what turns me off more than anything. Ignorance is not a virtue, or something to wear proudly. I don’t think people should be made to feel bad about being gullible or less informed, but they shouldn’t wear their ignorance like a badge of honour either.

  45. 47 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Bleatmop – Although it’s Mallick’s right to write whatever she wants, I wasn’t crazy about that particular entry myself. Way too personal — “toned down porn star”? Plus the bit about the overtreated hair kind of ticked me off — my hair has the exact same highlights as Palin’s — and no, I didn’t get them because of her 😆

  46. 48 fern hill Monday, April 12, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Actually, quite a lot was known about her fairly early on for people who looked into Alaskan bloggers. The blog Mudflats had been covering her political career for ages and, of course, it turned into an invaluable resource for the MSM when she was named and they were sent scrambling for info. A lot of people in Alaska did NOT like her and had good reasons.

  47. 49 balbulican Monday, April 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    “Palin: a class issue?”

    Perhaps. But never, NEVER a class act.

  48. 50 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Peter

    It’s not something that invites a simple answer

    I can see that 😯 😉 I’m not sure exactly where I was going with this. It’s just that for quite awhile now I’ve sensed changes in the left/right political dichotomy, and this working class thing is just one more thing that seems to be going sideways.

    I guess the source of my concern is my own experience: I live in a rural, largely working class area, and regardless of what we do at the ballot box, the prevailing ideology around here is independence and personal liberty. These things hold us together a lot more than whether we vote NDP or CPC drives us apart, if you get my drift. People routinely bounce between the two parties (the LPC doesn’t get *shit* from us), it all depends on who’s perceived to be on our side. It’s narrowly an NDP riding, but it’s gone back and forth for years, which is what gave me my first clue that the working class was no longer the progressive “base”. Anyway, to address some of your points…

    The cerebral left has a serious “false consciousness” addiction.

    Agreed. Occasionally, I’ve said things like: If they understood how good it would be for them, they’d like it. But not without feeling this guilty little jab — because how is it that I know better than my neighbour what’s good for him? This way of thinking — “We know better than you what’s good for you” — is a turn off.

    This has left today’s left with very little to say about family and religion, issues of great importance to many, many “ordinary” people.

    This is no doubt something that makes conservatism attractive to a lot of fairly apolitical “ordinary” people. There are religious progressives, but I’m not sure they get the political opportunities that their non-religious colleagues get. (Because people like me get mad when they vote their consciences 😦 )

    In terms of the traditional “working class”, I think the left has become bored with them.

    This is where we get into all the many different variations of “the left” and what makes them tick — maybe some of them have moved on to more demanding work for special interests and minorities, but I can’t believe they would no longer consider “the little guy” worth championing. At least I hope not!

    In some ways, the left has become the old-fogey traditionalists dreaming of the glory days of the 30’s through the 60″s.

    Interesting. I’m not sure I agree, because again, there’s so many different facets of what’s called “the left”, and not all would agree on which decade was the glory days 😆 But I get what you’re saying. And it’s occurred to me while watching these conservative rallies that, except for the racism, the emotion and momentum bears a strong resemblance to protests in the 60s.

    The West is not unredeemably rotten and is not the cause of every bad guy, atrocity and injustice in the world.

    Okay, now you’ve lost me.

  49. 51 JJ Monday, April 12, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    balb

    The “working class” has never been monolithic.

    Exactly, just like your next point, that the “left” isn’t monolithic. I seldom use the term “left” because it irritates me for just that reason. But for simplicity’s sake, I broke that longstanding tradition for this post 😉 Maybe that’s a bad idea because oversimplification is one of the things that’s led to the unacceptably rotten state of current political discourse, but there you have it.

    Palin is an opportunist with a product – herself – who has identified a market for which her brand is uniquely suited. That’s the folks who are genuinely angry at what they perceive as “the elites”.

    Well put. But who are “the elites”? I keep hearing this phrase over and over again, but I can’t figure out exactly who they’re referring to when they talk about “the elites”. The media? Smart people? Rich people? Rush Limbaugh, with his $14million 5th Ave. penthouse, should qualify as an elite, shouldn’t he?

  50. 52 balbulican Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 2:45 am

    “I can’t figure out exactly who they’re referring to when they talk about “the elites”.”

    At the risk of grossly oversimplifying the issue – which never happens on the blogs – I think for most teabaggers the “elite” are simply “people who think themselves better than me”. Because they’re richer than me. Or talk more eloquently than me. Or have achieved high office. It’s absurd, and nearly surreal, because of course the Limbaughs and Palins aspire to precisely that wealth or office. Which of course makes their theatrical commiseration that much more odious.

    Chrétien played the same card, actually.

  51. 54 Dr. Prole Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Ok admittedly I made a really heinous, personal, and sexist remark online about Palin which I feel kinda shitty about to this day. I don’t know what possessed me and I do regret it. It was a failed attempt at humor and it was wrong. For convenience I will blame the fact that I have lesions in my brain (which I didn’t know about at the time) which make me pretty testy and reactive sometimes, but there is really something about that woman that brings out the worst in people. My immediate reaction, as soon as she opened her mouth and spoke with that fake Fargo accent and the winky-winky disingenuous folksy crap, was almost visceral. To be fair I feel the exact same way about almost every Republican and several Democratic politicians, male or female – immediate loathing and distrust.

    As for who is considered an “elite” these days, I think it’s the usual suspects – anyone who is in any way perceived to be different from the person calling them “elitist”.

  52. 55 JJ Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Elroon

    What happened you ask?

    A black Democrat was elected president.

    I wonder what would have happened if Hillary Clinton had won the nomination, and subsequently, the presidency. (Assuming she could have gathered the kind of following & fervour that Obama was able to amass, which is doubtful.) Hillary has a history of making right wing heads explode. She also favoured health care reform, so it’s safe to assume that a Hillary administration would have followed roughly the same agenda as the Obama administration.

    Would the teabaggers be out screaming about Hillarycare? I kind of think they would, since the health care protests are orchestrated by insurance company pimps like Dick Armey. But they wouldn’t have had the momentum and incoherent paranoid rage added by the racist edge. Southern Strategy V.2.0, brought to you by Freedomworks.

  53. 56 JJ Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Rob F

    If Palin is a populist, then she is a bringer of change and hence a fear of change cannot be all that is behind her and the baggers.

    I’d call her more of a faux-populist, since she aspires to the kind of wealth that should differentiate her from the average teabagger.

    Even the teabaggers’ “populist” uprising for “change” isn’t believable: the baggers don’t want ‘change’, they want ‘change back’ to how things were 5 years ago.

    What rings hollowest about the teabaggers’ rage over out of control government spending is their conspicuous absence during the 8 years when Bush was spending like a drunken sailor. Economists were saying 5 years ago that the US was headed into an economic cataclysm, and teabaggers –?? *crickets*

  54. 57 brebis noire Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Apparently, for certain people, you can never spend enough on the military. Still, their complete lack of reaction to that kind of out-of-control spending and mounting spiral of ginormous debt makes teabagger protests look curiously astroturfed…

  55. 58 JJ Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 11:23 am

    brebis – Thanks for that Alternet link. The analysis was right on: a bunch of Bluto Blutarskis 😆

    I guess what concerns me is the possibility that not all of them are crazed nutbars — some have legitimate concerns (ie. higher taxes), and have been swept up in the wave of protest. The fact that their taxes will drop this year and they will probably benefit from health care reform doesn’t faze them — for every benefit they personally reap, there’s always a glib answer from the astroturfers running these things (“Think of the children!”) and they’re not altogether wrong. Someone has to pick up the tab eventually.

    One of the (many) things that damages their credibility is that they assign blame where it doesn’t belong. Dick Cheney shows up at CPAC and gets a standing ovation when he should be met with a barrage of rotten tomatoes from anyone who’s really against government intrusion and big spending.

    Maybe you’re right that for some people, big out of control spending is okay if it’s done on the military. But that still doesn’t explain how they’re okay with all the infringements on civil liberties that came about during the last administration. (Not that Obama’s doing a great job at reversing any of that.)

  56. 59 JJ Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 11:30 am

    balb

    Which of course makes their theatrical commiseration that much more odious.

    Exactly — that’s also one of the main things that turns me off about Palin. Everything about her is fake. It’s irksome to think that someone who won’t even speak to her “fans” unless she’s paid $100K somehow gets away with pretending she’s one of them.

    Chrétien played the same card, actually.

    He certainly did — I even fell for it for awhile, and I’m pretty cynical.

    ETA:

    “Palin: a class issue?”

    Perhaps. But never, NEVER a class act.

    That’s for sure — but isn’t it a bit elitist to say so? 😛

  57. 60 JJ Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Dr.Prole

    Ok admittedly I made a really heinous, personal, and sexist remark online about Palin which I feel kinda shitty about to this day.

    I only vaguely remember it… can’t even recall the substance of it, just that it was a little over the top 😆 but so what? You’re writing on a blog, not at the CBC website.

  58. 61 JJ Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 11:41 am

    fern hill

    A lot of people in Alaska did NOT like her and had good reasons.

    It certainly seems that way. But at the same time, she had really high approval ratings as Governor, so she wasn’t universally despised. Obviously she was a polarizing figure even before she entered the national stage.

  59. 62 Peter Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 11:49 am

    The analysis was right on: a bunch of Bluto Blutarskis

    Ok, then, so it’s settled. The left is a rich and thoughtful mosaic of diverse interests, backgrounds and opinion, while the right resembles more a homogenous blob of white, mentally-challenged frat boys suffering from arrested development.

    Good work, JJ. What’s on the agenda for tomorrow? 🙂

  60. 63 JJ Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Peter – Uhhh…

    not all of them are crazed nutbars — some have legitimate concerns […]and they’re not altogether wrong. Someone has to pick up the tab eventually.

    *Cough*
    ETA: 😉

  61. 64 JJ Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Peter – To clarify, I think the article referred to the GOP’s rightward shift and how they’re following their more extreme elements over a cliff. Clearly not all conservatives are Bluto Blutarskis, but that type is finding itself increasingly unwelcome in the GOP. (Then again, Mitt Romney won the straw poll at the convention on the weekend, so who knows. Good grief, I can’t keep up with these people!)

  62. 65 Niles Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    I thought Palin was brought out as the Republican “answer” to Clinton, when it looked like HC had a chance. The “oh yeah? we have one too” gambit that hoped to split the women’s vote.

    Sarah was promoted as a state governor, a matriarch, and frankly, a white, buff-breasted babe in a bikini with a submachine gun while Clinton was being lambasted for being none of those things. (or do we forget about pantsuits commentary and the whole ‘conservative wimmin iz hotter than libruls’ meme? — which, sadly, is being replayed to this day)

    Sarah wasn’t picked because she exudes feminism, she exemplifies tokenism, trotted out in high heels and flashing teeth in a wide toothy grin, to be sold as an anti-feminist who only needed capitalism to succeed, not some unfeminizing alien brainwashing socialist crap. An ideological success story in a wink of the professionally mascarad eye.

    She was entertainment from the start, a small time actor offered the big show; meant to sex McCain up like a hot-babe secretary was status for the boss back in the days of Mad Men. But like most popular acts on American Idol, meant to be a ‘safe’ hot babe, managed to a ne’ertheewell to stay on script and back her man. Not even vaguely an equal to McCain.

    It’s no wonder ‘feminists’ immediately hackled when they saw her in play as a political figure. Anyone over the age of 30 has seen this kind of tokenism before, just never the gall to plant such an obvious er..plant on a US world stage. Other Republican women politicians were passed blithely over to reach down and pluck Sarah forth from the wilderness as a fine paragon of — not American leadership — but womanhood.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a secondary juxtapostion to the tokenism. In a backhand way, the pick said the Democratic ticket was *all* tokenism, a young black man (lawyer) and a white woman elder (lawyer). By patriarchal default, that meant the only non-token choice was the military man, who would have a camera ready office mistress (lest we forget the nasty comments about Bush’s SecState).

    So far as a lot of Republicans are concerned, the tokens beat the only ‘real’ candidate and are being controlled by their secret owners in back rooms.

    The only mistake made by the paternal corps was like it says in the song “she didn’t get this far by just shaking hands”. Ms. Sarah may not call herself a feminist, but women have been working the ‘straight men in charge’ system loooong before ‘doing it for herself’ was acceptable and she knows how to underbus things that don’t benefit her.

    She won’t be President but she has fused capitalism and Randism beautifully inside two years. A rich celebrity of political fetish sex. In America. She took the free image making and paid stage performances and ran with it straight to the bank. It’s like the fans who shell out for her are paying Dagny Taggert to talk dirty to them for 3.99 a minute. She’s the new improved Anne Coulter. Now with blithe gravitas. That’s a difficult skill to master. Mistress. Whatever.

    I read a commentary that since SarahP went ‘rogue’ that Tina Fey’s mimicry was hardput to parody the real thing. Makes sense. SarahP does a better job doing SarahP.

    But class coming into the aversion? sure. She’s not the lowerclass though. She’s more like the hunting squire, sure of her entitlements even as she opines about the tenant farmers being the simple salt of the earth, content like children with small things until they’re riled up by outsider malcontents. Rustic by *some* urban standards, until money talks.

  63. 66 deBeauxOs Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Niles, have you ever considered starting your own blog?

    The comments you leave here, at DAMMIT JANET! and in other comboxes go to the core of the issue being discussed and they are always very entertaining too.

    I’m not saying you should stop commenting, but with your wit and insight, you could be blogging too.

  64. 67 brebis noire Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    You’re right Niles – that was my initial reaction to Palin even before I learned more about her religion and politics. It was a gut reaction to tokenism, and rather than being just an initial impression, it was thrown in our collective faces with every move she made and every (scrambled) sentence that came out of her mouth.

  65. 68 JJ Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Niles – Great post.

    At first I was impressed that she was chosen — the GOP picks a woman VP?? I thought maybe they were evolving. HA! Then I saw her Big Speech at the RNC convention, and I was hideously disappointed. That smug, stupid look on her face, that dumb winking shit (and I guess, the obvious tokenism) and the way she insulted Obama, that really turned me off — I felt that was for the presidential candidate to do, not the VP, and especially not such a newbie on the national stage as Palin.

    There were a many choices that would have been better, or at least more sane — I always thought Kay Baily Hutchison would have been a good pick if the GOP wanted a female running mate for McCain. But Palin had the nutty religious background, and she was chosen because the fundies didn’t like McCain. George W in a dress.

    But she’s probably out of politics for good — she made at least 12mill in the last 9 months since she quit as governor, almost 20 times what the president makes and with a lot less hassle. (But she’ll no doubt keep that door open so she can keep milking her fans for every last cent.)

    Obviously I don’t buy Palin’s faux populism, and maybe I’m wrong to be concerned about the people who do — maybe they are all just conservatives who’d never vote any other way, she just happens to be an especially popular public figure for them. Maybe a much more vast swath of the “working class” sees through her — that would seem to be the case in Canada, anyway.

    But I think progressives would be well served to recognize the power of political figures who come across as “one of us”… I feel a little guilty admitting it, but I’d rather vote for the farmer down the road than the ivory tower intellectual who talks a good game but knows nothing about my personal concerns (regardless of party affiliation). In becoming too partisan, politics has also become too impersonal, and I think that’s where progressives are starting to lose some of the everyday, average people out there.

  66. 69 Reality Bites Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Slight correcttion, Niles. She wasn’t brought out to compete with HC. Clinton withdrew in early June and Palin was announced in late Augutst. Her purpose was (laughable in hindsight) to attract disaffected Clinton supporters.

    Because, after all, if you support one woman you’ll support any woman, even one whose views on nearly every issue are diametrically opposed

  67. 70 JJ Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 11:46 am

    RB – It obviously didn’t work with all female Democrats, but then there’s the PUMAs 😯 Who, believe it or not, are hardcore Palin supporters to this day. (If you believe that they were ever Democrats in the first place, which I have a lot of trouble with.)


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