Monday, July 06, 2009

The Sarah Palin "mystery" unlocked

Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology. In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal — that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become a great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard. Ross Douthat - New York Times

One of my odd experiences covering the US in the early 1990s was visiting militia groups that sprang up in Texas, Idaho, and Ohio in the aftermath of recession. These were mostly blue-collar workers, – early victims of global "labor arbitrage" – angry enough with Washington to spend weekends in fatigues with M16 rifles. Most backed protest candidate Ross Perot, who won 19pc of the presidential vote in 1992 with talk of shutting trade with Mexico. The inchoate protest dissipated once recovery fed through to jobs, although one fringe group blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building in 1995. Unfortunately, there will be no such jobs this time. Capacity use has fallen to record-low levels (68pc in the US, 71 in the eurozone). A deep purge of labour is yet to come. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - Telegraph

Think globally, suffer locally. This could be the moral of “Methland,” Nick Reding’s unnerving investigative account of two gruesome years in the life of Oelwein, Iowa, a railroad and meatpacking town of several thousand whipped by a methamphetamine-laced panic whose origins lie outside the place itself, in forces almost too great to comprehend and too pitiless to bear.(...) The madness stalking tiny, defenseless Oelwein may eventually come for all of us, we learn, and once again, as happens in America whenever our collective attention wanders from the gray struggles of the little guy to the purple capers of the big wheels, attention must be paid. Right now. Or else. Review of "Methland", New York Times

David Seaton's News Links
Reading most of the mainstream media (MSM) comments on Sarah Palin I get the feeling that for the urban Americans who write in those media Sarah Palin is as foreign a personality as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the attraction she possesses for fly-over Americans seems as mysterious to them as the propensity of Koreans to eat cute puppies.

This leads me to believe that the urban-based commentators are "misunderestimating" this woman, for in reality the reaction she produces in them is the mirror image of the the reaction she produces in the masses of people these commentators by turns patronize or despise.

Whoever Sarah Palin may really be, she functions powerfully as a type. What, for deracinated urbanites, constitutes prima facie evidence of trailer trashdom, resonates as identity for the struggling members of America's discouraged and marginalized warrior caste, the rural-rooted scotch-irish and their various semi-urban sept clans. Although it in politically incorrect to notice it, they too are a hyphenated, disadvantaged, ethnic group.

Also on a personal level she also seems to have solved one of America's most crushing and ubiquitous problems: how can a woman without exceptional academic qualifications, or inherited money, successfully have children, a happy husband and a productive career? The sneaking suspicion that this lady is not as dumb as she is made out to be even creeps occasionally into the consciousness of many women of impeccably liberal credentials .

Sarah Palin's attraction for her base is that of the "Woman" of Peggy Lee's big, Lieber and Stoller hit, who sings, "I can make a dress out of a feed bag and I can make a man out of you".

Those who have never seen and handled a cotton feedbag, or seen and handled the type of women who has done so, may have trouble relating to this message. There are millions of Americans who do... and almost all of them live in the lower 48.

Palin's move is the only logical one open to her.

Leaving Alaska is essential if she is to have any future in US politics. In Alaska she sits far from her potential base, only accessible to them through the hostile filter of the MSM.

Now, freed of Alaska, she can begin to tour flyover America making personal contact with her ethnic-identity base in an endless variety of venues. In many ways her putting Alaska behind her is as fundamentally logical as president Obama's leaving Hawaii was.

If another 900,000 jobs disappear by the end of the year--likely, without unexpected improvement--an entire decade of employment gains will have been wiped out. In January of 2000, there were 130.8 million jobs in the country. "It's not that those jobs weren't needed," says Heidi Shierholz, an economist for the Economic Policy Institute. "The labor force has grown by nearly 13 million people." Forbes
Despite the talk of "green shoots", we are facing a jobless recovery that stretches far into the future and this is already causing notable unrest in Sarah Palin's natural constituency. Who knows who a jobless America might be willing to vote for in 2012?

Sarah Palin's only chance for political survival is to become the "Joan of Arc" of America's white, working poor. And liberals had better pray that she is successful in her endeavor, because, the way things are going, Barack Obama's only chance for reelection in 2012 may be a split on class lines in the GOP, with Sarah Palin as the Perot-like spoiler. DS


bailey said...

She's capturing three pathologies of America; she's now a victim, #1, she's leaving because of litigious reasons, #2 and she's an evangelical, #3.

Now that's what I call hitting the trifecta.

Not only does she harness the pathological diseases, but she's got the IT factor in spades...

Anonymous said...

It's been awhile since you've had a post I agree with 100%.

The Left fears Palin because she IS Obama. She's a natural politician who is really good at reading off a teleprompter. And she's every conservative value that progressives fear wrapped up in a sexy package (and what a package it is).

I read that first excerpt in the NYT and I realized that's why I like her. She really isnt one of "them", if there even is such a thing as "them". Of course it's an image, it always is, but Palin really does strike a Trumanesque profile that no successful politician could ever match. She really is the middle class. She's feared by urban elites for the same reason they fear a truly democratic government, it empowers the rural peasants.

I dont think she'd be a Perot though. If it becomes apparant that she's the only viable candidate against Obama, then the elite in the Republican Party will fall into line. The GOP is good at that.


Forensic economist said...

Remember her "real America" comments? (In a small town in North Carolina she said she was glad to be in the Real America) She has no hope of getting elected to anything nationally if she insists that all major cities are not "real America". In fact, comments like that helped doom the Republicans to being a regional party.

Remember her inability to name a newspaper she read? Remember her telling the Alaska secessionists to keep up the good work? How about how she cut property taxes in Wasilla then raised sales taxes to pay for her hockey arena? And was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it? The access road to the bridge to nowhere actually got built even after the bridge was cancelled.

And someone has to say it - She was out of town being governor. Her husband was out of town working on the pipeline or off on his fishing boat. Who was watching Bristol?

Somewhere, somehow there will be a candidate who will tap into working class anger. She isn't it.

I have no idea what she is doing. Maybe she will become a TV pundit for Fox.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

"Somewhere, somehow there will be a candidate who will tap into working class anger. She isn't it."

For the very same reasons you have given above, Forensic, she would be the perfect establishment candidate to "tap into working class anger". You didn't ever expect them to come up with somebody from the left, did you?