In my daily Manhattan world, where most of my friends and acquaintances are old style political groupies of a distinctly liberal bent, nothing gets them more riled, really riled, hyper-irritated, when I mention that I admire Sarah Palin.
They fuss and fume to such an extent that I have serious qualms of the effect on their physical health. Some, I can tell by the clenching of their fists and the sudden burst of color on their complexions, are on the verge of combat.
Frankly I am baffled by the extent of their antagonism. It is visceral, mouth foaming and indicates a kind of existential hatred I have rarely seen in the political arena. In my view it is completely irrational and fed by the snobbery, elite exclusivity, and a circumscribed media of like-minded, anti-Palin views that feed, reinforce, inflame
and buttress their antagonism.
Up front let me tell you why I admire Sarah Palin. I like the fact that she has a point of view of many of the women I met in my many years of living in the West: independent, family oriented, tough, opinionated, fearless, unafraid to air their grievances, and, above all, comfortable in their own skin.
She reminds me of the kind of women, heroines of yesteryear, who pioneered the western frontier and were willing to take on all the hardships inherent in putting down stakes in an unforgiving and dangerous land. I know this will sound absurd to many of my friends, but in some way, she reminds me of Hubert Humphrey who had been dubbed by the media as “The Happy Warrior.” Hubert, an old style liberal, jumped into the fray with a smile, a sense of humor and an unshakeable optimism. Unfortunately, his political future was trashed in Chicago by ugly protests and overreaction by the authorities.
I like Sarah’s competitive spirit and love of sports, her joy in the outdoors and its many wonders, including fishing, hunting, (yes hunting for all you effete New Yorkers who love eating red meat) skiing and hiking. I like the idea that she took on the good old boys who ran their fiefdoms in Alaska politics and bashed them at the polls. I like the idea that she took on the challenging balancing act of being a working mom in a demanding political job, and I have no doubt that she is fiercely devoted to her kids, to her country, to her parents and her friends.
Although she has obvious old fashioned values which I grew up with and understand, she has not shied away from modern mores and has grappled with the difficulties of raising children like most families dealing with the perils of child rearing in this ever more permissive society. It amazed me that she didn’t go into a depressive funk at the way the media treated her daughter, especially the ugly ridicule of Letterman.
Harry Truman, one remembers, was so pissed off with a music critic at the Washington Post who dissed daughter Margaret’s singing debut that he wrote a nasty letter to the critic in which he called him a son of a bitch. Frankly, Sarah showed remarkable restraint and should have kicked Letterman in his overactive you-know-whats for insulting Bristol.
Parents are often blindsided by adolescent peer pressure and their children’s foolish self-inflicted mishaps. She was also roundly criticized for exploiting her kids by taking them to the convention and on the campaign trail. Would it have been better to have left them home with a caretaker or a relative? Ask that question of millions of working mothers and check their response.
If anyone took the trouble to really delve into her record as both Alaska Governor and her excellent work and acknowledged expertise in the energy field, it would dispel the notion that she is stupid, which is the way the elite media has portrayed, pummeled and persecuted her. She is a realist, frank and open, big hearted and decent.
Maybe she wasn’t quite up to par on current events at the time of her hatchet job interview with Katie Couric, a fading media star who insults the fact that the great Walter Cronkite once held sway on that network. Anyone with experience in the news business knows that it’s pretty easy to make a jackass out of someone if you’re determined to do it, especially if you also control the editing.
Oh yes, she is enormously attractive, with movie star good looks, which, in her case, might actually be a political negative. Still, she has done wonders for women in specs who were often categorized as less than pretty. Remember all those Hollywood movies where the bespectacled woman removes her glasses and her boyfriend suddenly swoons with rapture over her beauty. I think she looks just great in glasses and probably has done wonders for the optical trade.
I may not agree with all of her political views and statements, which is par for the course, since I often disagree with everything in the lexicon and views of most politicians of whichever party. Review the campaign promises and rhetoric of the present occupant of the White House and compare it with the reality of those promises and you will know what I mean. He is hardly an exception. Few, if any politicians, will ever get passing grades on that test.
What I take issue with is the utter nastiness and Sarah bashing in the media that this woman has endured. It is far beyond the pale of political combat. It has been hateful, riddled with snobbery, bigotry and pure mean-mindedness.
When Sarah Palin is discussed in my social circles, she is characterized as trailer trash, ignorant, unfit, uneducated, downright stupid and worst of all, a lousy mother. Not only is she accused of exploiting her children for political gain, she is blamed for her daughter’s early sexual promiscuity and her family is characterized as hopelessly dysfunctional. And this passes for political dialogue in modern America?
To counter these rather disgusting comments, especially when they are particularly venomous about her family life, I ask these brilliant nose-in-air critics to look to their own families and honestly confront their own foibles and imperfections. It becomes dangerous territory since most people are rather touchy and in denial about their family histories, especially if they are divorced, have less than perfect children, and have squabbles that have poisoned their own lives. I put half the families in America in that category.
Then there is the matter of her intense Christian faith which has been fair game for the media. These are the same folks who once supported and gushed over the born again Jimmy Carter.
Women seem to be the most vitriolic and outspoken in their critique of Sarah. Indeed, isn’t she the personification of what women have struggled and fought for, someone who follows her passion and ambition in the work place, competes vigorously with her male counterparts and manages to fulfill all the rituals of motherhood and maintain a loving family life? Isn’t that what women wanted when they burned their bras in Atlantic City and started their long delayed revolution for equal treatment?
To depersonalize my inevitable counterattack I will often cite the family lives of some of our revered politicians of both parties and heroes of the snob media, stalwarts of the marriage tradition of “faithfulness”, e.g. the Kennedy brothers, Franklin Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, and (sorry folks) Thomas Jefferson, a certified pedophile and a host of others whose personal lives are less than stellar, far less. As for parenting, I’d declare that off limits in this discussion.
This defense of Sarah is not rooted in her presently perceived qualifications to become President of the United States, a possibility that induces apoplexy in my social circles. I’m not beating the pots and pans for such an outcome, but I don’t completely rule out the possibility.
We have elected the allegedly qualified who turned out to be monumental duds. Recent history has Jimmy Carter’s Presidential legacy to reckon with and there are many of older vintage who have been disappointing examples of Presidential leadership. Indeed, the overqualified often stumbled. John Adams comes to mind.
None of these comparisons will matter to the Sarah haters. They will continue to spew their hatred and declare this admiral woman a danger to America as if she was the female reincarnation of Adolph Hitler. She will continue to be harassed by the same media elitist snobs, continue to be treated with disdain. If I was an Alaskan who voted for Sarah I would be offended as hell by people who think I was some Neanderthal moron for voting for Sarah as my Governor.
But then, the people in my daily circles in the isolated precincts of Manhattan will never surrender their prerogatives as masters of the universe, poseurs and keepers of the flame of intellectual superiority. Truth to tell, I often fall into that category and love the contention and combat of my peerless native city. Growing up in the old Brooklyn, before gentrification, and rooting for the old Dodgers, I guess I’m programmed for an underdog defense, and rooting for Sarah stirs my juices.
Frankly, Sarah needs no defense from me. She has the stamina and feistiness to rise above the endless array of targeted torment being spewed over her by the media snobs, many of whom will die off as their vaunted power bases splinter and break up into a thousand niches by the onslaught of digital technology and the Internet.
A Presidential perch is a long shot for Sarah. Out of my social circles in the alleged wastelands between the coasts, she has found a vast crowd of ordinary Americans, often described as the great unwashed, made up of working folks, many of them unemployed and disillusioned by the empty promises of the smooth talking and elegant speechifying of the people currently in charge, who feel some kinship with this very exotic political orphan.
The great Ivy Leaguers of both genders who are leading America over the cliff to financial ruin and their colluders in the worst Congress in recent history, who apologize for American exceptionalism, butt kiss our enemies and deny the ongoing phenomena of brutal Jihadist terrorism, will one day have to reckon with the likes of Sarah Palin.