Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Identity Politics for Republicans, Pt II

Here's one more post on Gov Palin, then I suspect we'll be leaving the world of all-Sarah, all the time (me and the Presidential race both).

First let's recap the impact of The Speech a little bit. I had a wrong read initially, largely because I had already gotten to the place where everybody else was going. I already knew she was hot and poised, so I didn't need to see any more of that. I am probably one of the very few viewers who thought her speech was too nice toward Obama. In any case, the first impression for most of the world was that she is a woman who is composed and aggressive at the same time, a very appealing combination.

Since the announcement of her place on the ticket, Gov Palin has been hit with two separate waves of antagonism. The first was various negative insinuations and rumors about her family. The second was about her "inexperience." Both have boomeranged against their instigators to the benefit of the McCain-Palin ticket.

We've already written about the first a little bit, so let's hit on the second for a moment. Some people claim that she attracts support because she is an ordinary person that her constituents can relate to. I see the point but I find that explanation unsatisfactory because even though she is very normal in some ways she is also completely extraordinary. It's not just that she has five children. She also hunts, she fishes, she won the state championship in basketball, she finished runner-up in the state beauty pageant, she ran a small business, she got elected mayor and governor. Sarah Palin is the reason compasses point North. People identify not just with her ordinariness, but more importantly with her extraordinariness, as a crucial expression of their sovereignty. Ie, if the media, the Democrats and various bien-pensants of The Establishment will treat her the way they have, the rest of us have no hope.

Unfortunately for Gov Palin's detractors, in America the people still get a vote that counts, and they can and will use it to pull rank. We'll always have experts of various stripes, and it's a mistake to disparage the idea of expertise in general. Nonetheless, even if it's the experts who know how to sail the ship of state, we still pick the destination.

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