Monday, October 6, 2008

Sarah Palin, Dividing Line

This post may ramble a bit; please bear with me. I've just been pondering some things about politics in general and this election in specific, and I wanted to try to get my thoughts down even in an embryonic state, so that later I can try to to develop them further.

I've always been a bit of a political junkie, which isn't exactly a newsflash to anyone who reads this blog. And in the beginning this election and all its associated silliness and pungent inanity was fun to follow, as we entered the every-four-year dance in which lifelong politicians and party hacks worked overtime to convince us that this time, things would be different; that this time, either one man or the other was going to bring us enlightenment and change and hope and break up the Washington logjam and Get Things Done and usher in a new era of peace and tranquility and free candy and good will and bipartisanship. The amusing part was that we knew deep down that they were lying through their teeth as they said all of this, and the entertaining part was seeing just how outrageous the lies would get, how many false promises and convenient photo-ops and carefully staged soundbites would go into the making of this particularly American form of diversion we call an election.

As primaries were held and candidates began to fall along the wayside, as Obama surprisingly beat Hillary and McCain unsurprisingly gained the advantage over the crowded and tangled Republican field, it was still possible to have some fun with it all; sure, we wished we had better candidates, especially those of us who won't vote for the party where "choice" is code for "more dead babies," but even as we wrangled online and in real life with the most mesmerized of Barack-worshipers it was possible to be polite, to avoid taking things personally or trying to cause personal offense, to reflect at the end of the day that God was in Heaven and all was right with the world, so to speak, and that no matter how this election turned out He would still be in charge, and that in the end it might matter more to our souls how kind we were or how much we did for our neighbors or how fervently we prayed than how we voted, or even than who won.

But then John McCain surprised us, and nominated Sarah Palin to be his running mate. And all the dark teeming mass of ugliness and hatred for what is good and noble and human and normal came spilling out from across the aisle like Orcs pouring forth from the gates of Mordor; and we knew that whatever else happened in this election, the arrival of Sarah Palin on the scene made that impersonal amused detachment very difficult to retain.

Why? Is it because she really is the best person in America to be the vice president? I think people can argue that she's not quite ready or not really qualified, and do so without violating that spirit of friendly discussion that makes it possible for Democrats and Republicans to be, if not friends, at least not openly hostile enemies to each other; but unfortunately the argument never quite stops there. Sarah, we're told by many different people representing many different political viewpoints, is "the unexamined life" made flesh, so to speak; she has no greatness in her, no magnanimity, no brilliance, no capacity for excellence, no real promise, no potential, nothing to offer America at all.

And what are the grounds which form these opinions? What evidence have Palin's critics examined that have made them, either gleefully or reluctantly or both, come to this damning conclusion?

So far as I can determine, the evidence is composed of these things:
  • Sarah has only been out of the country once. Recently. To visit Alaska National Guard troops stationed in Kuwait.
  • Sarah couldn't tell Katie Couric the exact titles of newspapers or magazines she reads daily to form her opinions.
  • Speaking of Couric, Sarah did badly in general in her interviews with Couric and with Gibson.
  • Sarah attended several colleges.
  • Sarah speaks with a common accent instead of a polished Ivy-league/East Coast one.
  • Despite her two years as Governor of Alaska and her experience before that as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah is not a member of our ruling class, and shouldn't even be in this race.
That's it, really. None of this was unknown when McCain announced his pick; none of it is a surprise to anybody who knew anything about Palin before this year; none of it contradicts her reputation as a savvy executive and government reformer. But all of it is being considered as completely disqualifying now; all of it is held up as proof that Sarah really isn't up to the job.

What infuriates me is that this new media template was manufactured by the exact same people who manufactured the first one, that vicious, ugly, personal attack against Governor Palin and her family that was engineered and executed by our left-leaning media elites--and then abandoned by them when they realized (stupidly, later than they should have) that it wasn't playing in Peoria. That attack was too overt, too obvious; ordinary people in America caught on immediately to the fact that this blatantly hostile effort was being directed as much at us, at those of us who choose things like marriage and family and children and love and sacrifice, as it was at Sarah Palin, so the media had to give it up.

But they quickly got their acts together again, and started the kind of whispering campaing to which they always resort when faced with a viable Republican candidate. Better to call Sarah incurious, provincial, inept, incoherent, uneducated, than to admit that what really bothers them about her is that she's a woman who hasn't sold her soul to the abortion lobby, which is the only acceptable way for a woman to be a political star in the twenty-first century. Better to make Sarah Palin into a Tina Fey-esque buffoon than to show their hands of hatred for so many of us in America so plainly again.

Because for one brief moment we saw the demonic rage on the faces of the nice, friendly people we allow into our homes, our living rooms, even our bedrooms on a daily or near-daily basis. For one brief moment we saw that diabolical fury bleeding through the ink of the newspaper or magazine we take with us to work or read at the end of a long day. For one brief moment we saw with perfect clarity how bitterly and permanently opposed to our values these elites in the media really are--and they saw our shocked faces and heard our angry voices on the phone as we canceled subscriptions or complained to the ombudsman.

And having seen that cold, dead hatred, I think some of us are going to have a very hard time forgetting it--especially if Barack Obama wins this election.

We're being drawn closer and closer to a place in history where it won't be possible for a Christian in good conscience to watch most of these news programs, or subscribe to these papers or magazines, or in any way allow our time or money to go to increase their power. We're being drawn, inexorably, toward that day when we realize that rejecting the culture around us involves greater and greater sacrifices, and fewer and fewer compromises. We're being led away from an Egypt of immorality, and will quite possibly find ourselves being cleansed in the desert's simplicity before we can journey on again.

And when we look back at this point in history, I think that it might be the case that we'll see this election, and specifically Sarah Palin, as the dividing line, the moment when we realized once and for all that the elites in the media and their cousins in our ruling class have nothing but contempt for us, and would prefer to bypass us altogether were it not for that dance held every four years, during which their goal is always to step on our feet as much as possible, and blame us, and the music, for their clumsy ineptitude.


KC said...

Thank you for putting that out there. I've been so frustrated with all of the media.

Rebecca said...

Wow. If this is your idea of "rambling", I'm impressed. It struck me as extremely well thought out, and was a great source of discussion in our family this evening.

Anonymous said...

This is a brilliant post. It encapsulates so much of what I have felt for a while and articulates it so well. Ever since Obama's clinging-to-guns-and-religion comment, I have been forced to realize what contempt the elites have for us. I was raised to believe the Democrats were for the little guy, but I can't hold on to that illusion anymore--not after seeing the ridicule and hatred they have shown Sarah. For the longest time, I did not care about this election, but after seeing what they have done to her and how that is really just a microcosm of how they feel about average people in this country, I have been praying every day for a McCain victory. I know he is not perfect, but the fact is either he or Obama will win, and the latter alternative would be sickening.

John Thayer Jensen said...

I do not know whether Sarah Palin is presidential material or not. What is obvious is that what she stands for is deeply repugnant to the bien pensant element of modern society - and that her nomination was electrifying for all persons who continue to believe in humanity - which pretty much limits itself to those who believe in God. Post-humanism is the name of the game today. There is some positive post-humanism, but most of it is negative. There is a deep hated of man, of the idea of man having any distinct nature at all.

This has indeed been a critical event in the history of the west. Whether it will in fact lead to anything more than a deepening of the polarisation we experience remains to be seen.

Most of us will do a great deal simply to get along - but we will not do just anything. I am reminded of a line at the end of one of Hilaire Belloc's books - I cannot remember which book and can only paraphrase the line from memory. But it was in a book that was pretty much predicting what has happened to the Church since his time. And he said, "I will tell the sign to look for - the sign that will tell you, 'lift up your heads, for your redempton draweth nigh.' The sign is: persecution."


Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Another home run, Red! I was trying to formulate something like this myself, but it wouldn't have come out this good!

You're quite right, Palin represents us, and the elites' contempt for her is contempt for us and our values.

Anonymous said...

As alluded, pondered, and not expected, the election issues are not simple.

In my mind, I was already 'against' the personality of the Republican candidate Mr. McCain before Mrs. Palin entered the ring based on what I've seen publicized by his personal life actions, as well as public demeanor. As one well knows, what one says 'today' can an indeed be different even from what was stated 'not too long before', and so even a 36-year record must be scrutinized with scrupulous interpretation, as it cannot clearly show what caveats were being vetoed in adoption of a piece of legislation.

I am angered that Mrs. Palin has been thrown in as fodder for the media grist, by Mr. McCain's foolishness. She'd done cohesive things in AK, albeit controversial, but the whirlpool of swish there was starting to go down the drain, and possibly cleaning up and out the old-style politics before the State of Alaska celebrates a major anniversary (not that an anniversary is an end-all, be-all for decision-making), I have no problem believing that Mrs. Palin has performed her civic duties to the best of her ability in her State, but cannot think for a moment think that Mr. McCain will be good for the US, despite whatever common 'touch' Mrs. Palin brings to Mr McCain's Magic Slate(tm)--Etch-a-Sketch(tm).

I believe in conservatism, which is why I work hard to preserve the thoughtful policies designed in my workplace, and set out by the Constitution, as well as save my money, and pay for what I can afford. As a professional, and educator in my duties, I choose to support issues of education, health, religious freedom to worship, as well as our rights granted as US citizens. I take exception to those that set out to legislate restriction of the US Constitution and its amendments. If I have to have a liberal temperament to support my conservative views, then so be it. I definitely cannot be called Republican, and for all my life I have been independent of association with ANY political party.

Scott W. said...

Good entry. And great responses. Especially, "There is a deep hated of man, of the idea of man having any distinct nature at all." Tolkien always talked about our situation as a "long defeat", and our current election seems merely an indication of the rate of skid.

Wendy in VA said...

Great post!

matthew archbold said...

This is what I would've written if only I had twenty or thirty more IQ points. Great.

NancyP said...

What a great post.

I gave up on the MSM when Dan Rather stood on the deck of my husband's ship in 1990 and broadcast falsehoods about the ship, its capabilities and military strategy, all to fill air time. (I am not sure whether Mr. Rather knew his facts were incorrect. I did - there's something about giving your husband up to a Navy ship that gives you a vested interest in finding out whether she will save your husband's life.)

If there is anything that resembles a silver lining in this media circus (debacle?), it is that thinking readers, viewers and listeners will have no trouble detecting bias.

Let's hope they vote accordingly. If not now, next time around, for sure.

Anonymous said...

This was a great post--thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter.

--Elizabeth B.

Maria said...

Brilliant post. You nailed the heart of the reason so many of us are supporting Palin, and conversely, why her attackers hate her so fiercely.

I'm not sure about your conclusion, though. I don't think we are going to have to abandon "elitist" media or cultural forces. It seems to me they are dying a slow death already, at least it seems so from their ratings. My fear for our society doesn't come from liberal newspapers or elitist college professors or politicians, but from the vapid entertainment industry and materialistic, consumerist society. They often go hand and hand, but I think the mainstream media will be a thing of the past long before HBO and Cosmo.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank You. The only comment I wanted to make is what keeps coming to my mind with all this. It's a saying that I have heard before and deeply treasure. Keeping in mind the media telling us how she isn't up to the job.

God doesn't call the equipped, He equips those He calls.

I love this quote and I'm a firm believer this is true.