Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sarah and Barack, peas in everyone's pod

What is the single, common(est) denominator between Sarah Palin and Hussein Obama? In a comment to the VFR entry, The Freepers on Laura Wood on Sarah Palin, frequent commenter Clark Coleman explains his recent epiphany of sorts about Sarah Palin,

It suddenly occurred to me when reading this blog entry that Sarah Palin is the conservative version of Barack Obama. Many of us (even Obama himself) noted that Obama was a blank canvas on which his followers could project their political hopes. Why? Not because of his political experience or capabilities or clearly stated policy positions, but because of his personal life story. E.g., Obama is going to be a post-racial unifier. What was there in his past to indicate such a thing? Nothing. In fact, just the opposite. But his followers had hopes, you see. Ditto for numerous other policy areas where people had hopes not based on his statements or past actions.

Sarah Palin is a dyed in the wool conservative who will lead the GOP out of the mushy moderate wilderness. How do we know this? By reading her pronouncements on immigration, feminism, etc.? Obviously not. Rather, it is because of her personal life story. She is a small town girl, one of us flyover-country types, who identifies with us and not the Beltway elite. We can project all our conservative hopes on her. Because of her personal qualities, she is a conservative political blank canvas, ready for us to paint to our liking, just as Obama was for white liberals.

LA replies to Clark Coleman:

I think this is an important, basic insight into the Palin phenomenon..

Further, your analysis also explains the left's overwrought reaction to her. Earlier today I was saying to a friend, "Why do people love her so much, and why do people hate her so much? Neither makes sense." In fact, as your comment makes me realize, the left loathes and fears her for the same illusory reason that the right loves and adores her: both sides imagine her to be some super conservative. Both sides are taking her biography, her symbology, as representing something real about her politics.

The right and the left are having this huge, bloody battle over Sarah Palin in Plato's Cave, fighting over illusory images.

In a short follow-on entry directing readers to comments in the discussion, LA boils it down even further:

Clark Coleman has a good explanation of why so many conservatives believe—without any evidence or record to back up the belief—that Sarah Palin is a great conservative. She is the conservative version of Barack Obama, a blank screen on which people project their hopes. I add that liberals hate her for the same reason that conservatives love her. (emphasis mine)

It's a good point and it ought to be stated with as much simplicity as often as opportunity arises. Liberals hate Sarah Palin for the exact same reason that conservatives love her, and without what?, without any evidence or record to back up the belief about her that they both hold in common.

Not to toot my own horn (I wouldn't do that! ;-)), but I said as much very early on in one of several short exchanges between Auster and I in the Great Palin Debate of 2008:

TM to LA:

Here's the subject line of an email I received yesterday from Dr. Dobson's CitizenLink newsletter:

Dr. Dobson: McCain's choice of Palin: "Outstanding."


I don't get the immediate display of enthusiasm among "conservatives" for this choice. Not only does she not have a political record to speak of, but nobody really knows anything of substance about her. Is it that they were just so dismayed and disgruntled by their nominee that McCain's choice of a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-homosexual rights (female) running mate far exceeded all their expectations?

It seems like President Bush's phrase "the soft bigotry of low expectations" could be easily customized to fit this situation.

LA replied:

It's not true that she does not have a political record to speak of, and that nobody really knows anything of substance about her. The issue is whether she has the background to be president, not whether she has a political record to speak of.

TM replied:

Okay, she has a political record that consists of her time as governor of Alaska, and as mayor of the city of Wasilla (population: ten thousand).

You're right about what the issue is. And in my opinion she definitely does not have the background to be president. But who does in this race?

By the way, I never did, that I recall anyway, follow up on my statement in the exchange where I said that Bush's phrase could be easily customized to fit this situation, so allow me to do so here. We may call it, if you like, "The false conservatism of high expectations."

As has been said so many times before, modern Americans are so utterly steeped in liberalism that very often they don't know that they're liberals; that their words and actions are almost altogether liberal. Which is probably a good partial explanation for why study after study has shown that most Americans identify themselves as more conservative than liberal. And yet. But then again, I don't put too much stock in the results of most "studies" anyhow. So the point, at least as far as I'm concerned, is probably a moot one. Which begs the question, why'd I raise it in the first place? :-)

End of initial entry.


I should like to add that we now know quite a bit more about Sarah Palin, her politics, her family life and so on, than we did during the initial stages of the Great Sarah Palin Debate conducted between August and September of 2008. Indeed, the debate itself revealed, or helped to reveal, or put in proper perspective, a lot about Sarah Palin that was not formerly known or understood by the average American, conservative and liberal alike. It's one of the things I most appreciate about VFR, and why I read and participate in the discussions there on a daily basis.


Anonymous said...

I'm...not sure I can dispute this, but I wonder if you're saying what you think you're saying.

In other words, regardless of the relative paucity of their records, Palin and Obama both embody genuine commitment to their respective ends of the political spectrum. So just as Obama has proven himself to be the personification of uber-progressivism in office, so too would Palin reveal herself to be the very avatar of traditional American patriotism?

One thing to cast out is the notion that Palin's patriotism, however traditional, is in any way truly conservative. The American tradition has always been to look towards the future, and Palin is very much an American. That a majority of Americans now identify themselves as being "conservative" is a dramatic indication of just how inane the politics of the governing elites have become.

Terry Morris said...

Hmm. Not fer zacly.

That's a ... pretty good point. In fact, I'd say it's a damn good point. The point about both of them being genuinely committed to ... whatever it is that they're genuinely committed to respectively.

I don't doubt Sarah Palin's loyalty to America. Her patriotism, in other words. Never have. Likely never will.

Although, I tend to think that it's mostly emotion-based in her particular case, which I'm not saying is necessarily bad, but which I am saying is practically bad from a whole view perspective. In that way in particular, I think you're right to say that she epitomizes modern American patriotism -- 90% emotion, 10% reflective, or somewhere thereabouts (I don't want to break it down any further in this particular context). And that may well be why mainstream "conservatives" (right-leaners) identify with, and are inspired by her.

I'd personally love to have a one-on-one, uninterrupted sit-down with Sarah Palin. Actually, strike that -- I'd love to help arrange such a meeting between she and someone like Laura Wood, who, I have no doubt, could help and inspire her to take her conservatism and her patriotism to a whole new level that she's currently oblivious to because of all the ... noise.

One of the saddest things about this whole sorry story of her meteoric rise to national prominence (I can hardly talk about this without mentioning what a sleaze-bag McCain is for having enticed her with a proposition that she really wasn't prepared for in any event), from my perspective, is that her sort of misguided (or under-developed) patriotism is either unduly demonized by the lunatic left, or sainted by the right. I don't think she gives two hoots about the demonization she receives from the left. She probably just more or less blocks it out as just so much noise. On the other hand, nothing she receives from the right inspires her to develop her patriotism and her conservatism into something (more) productive and useful to the service of her countrymen and their posterity. Why should it from her perspective? It's all praise and worship all the time from the mainstream right. Why would she think she needs to change anything when virtually the only people who dare criticize her on any grounds whatsoever are the nutty, paranoid, self-absorbed leftists?

Anonymous said...

Well, I think that the division into hagiography and vilification is not entirely her fault.

Palin is...not a queen bee. She's proved that with both her blunders and her successes, most of her actions in both categories were taken at the advice of those she believed (with more or less reason in various cases) to be on the same side. Her worst blunder to date, accepting the VP nomination from the RINO party, has gradually turned into a big success story...but she herself hasn't let that cancel out the lessons she learned. As she's demonstrated by throwing her support behind third parties as a viable alternative to voting RINO.

I'm not actually on the side of America anymore, though I do wish America well. If wishes were fishes...let's just say the price of seafood would drop. But wishes are in fact nothing but wishes.

Sincerity is...not to be underrated. It does not replace insight and ability, but the truly sincere never have much difficulty accepting the help of those better qualified to the work. Again, something that Palin is almost unique among politicians in having demonstrated.

I do favor a course of advocacy rather than office for her. Really, I don't see much future in holding office in the anti-american government. But in the battle to come, it is wise to accept your allies based on their commitment to your common cause than their particular abilities.

Of course, I've accepted employment based on my peculiar abilities rather than common cause, but I can't claim to be wise anyway.

Call Me Mom said...

I share your concerns about Ms. Palin and have been criticized for so doing.
It is unfortunate that here, in my own district, we have a young man serving as a state senator who is highly regarded in conservative circles with whom I have some of the same issues. It is quite true that he is, in my experience and to the best of my knowledge a well-spoken, polite and honest man. He is also a fiscal conservative. I will grant him that. He is not, however, a Constitutional conservative.

In other words he believes the state should be fiscally sound and votes accordingly, but on matters of personal liberty, he evinces a nanny state, "best for the group is best overall" mentality.
It's difficult to even approach the issue with the local conservatives, because so much fiscally sound policy is conservative policy that most folks don't bother to separate the two as though it didn't matter.

It puts me in mind of Mr. S.'s favorite quote.: "An understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it, is the more dangerous the more honest he is." -- Horatio Bunce"