Sunday, July 12, 2009

Why Palin Matters

With his column in today's New York Times, "She Broke the G.O.P. and Now She Owns It," Frank Rich has about the best explanation I've seen yet on the importance of Sarah Palin. Read the whole thing here. Here are two excerpts:

In the aftermath of her decision to drop out and cash in, Palin’s standing in the G.O.P. actually rose in the USA Today/Gallup poll. No less than 71 percent of Republicans said they would vote for her for president. That overwhelming majority isn’t just the “base” of the Republican Party that liberals and conservatives alike tend to ghettoize as a rump backwater minority. It is the party, or pretty much what remains of it in the Barack Obama era. That’s why Palin won’t go gently into the good night, much as some Republicans in Washington might wish. She is not just the party’s biggest star and most charismatic television performer; she is its only star and charismatic performer. Most important, she stands for a genuine movement: a dwindling white nonurban America that is aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity as the country hurtles into the 21st century and leaves it behind...

It’s more likely that she will never get anywhere near the White House, and not just because of her own limitations. The Palinist “real America” is demographically doomed to keep shrinking. But the emotion it represents is disproportionately powerful for its numbers. It’s an anger that Palin enjoyed stoking during her “palling around with terrorists” crusade against Obama on the campaign trail. It’s an anger that’s curdled into self-martyrdom since Inauguration Day.

Its voice can be found in the postings at a Web site maintained by the fans of Mark Levin, the Obama hater who is, at this writing, the No.2 best-selling hardcover nonfiction writer in America. (Glenn Beck is No.1 in paperback nonfiction.) Politico surveyed them last week. “Bottomline, do you know of any way we can remove these idiots before this country goes down the crapper?” wrote one Levin fan. “I WILL HELP!!! Should I buy a gun?” Another called for a new American revolution, promising “there will be blood.”

These are the cries of a constituency that feels disenfranchised — by the powerful and the well-educated who gamed the housing bubble, by a news media it keeps being told is hateful, by the immigrants who have taken some of their jobs, by the African-American who has ended a white monopoly on the White House. Palin is their born avatar. She puts a happy, sexy face on ugly emotions.


Mike Licht said...

Governor Palin's record of resentments was chronicled by Noam Scheiber before the election.


Sarah Palin has only one member of the media to blame for her treatment: herself.

She has a degree in journalism and worked as a reporter and TV sportscaster.


FranIAm said...

I read that. And I think it is so true. Thanks for posting this. I put something about this - very poorly expressed and before Rich's column, on facebook... I really could not express myself well and what a sh*tstorm it generated.

I feel vindicated, but that does not make me feel any better.

Cany said...

Palin has a lot of mistakes to make before 2012. And heaven knows, she makes them and does so frequently.

The 75% of republicans that now say they would vote for her is tiny, really. Only 21% of voters ID as GOP.

So if you take that percentage, well that is about 15% or so of all voters. That isn't much.

Those that love her will continue.

Fortunately, most people don't, so that is fortunate.

Nathan Empsall said...

Thanks, Fran and Cany.

Mike - "Sarah Palin has only one member of the media to blame for her treatment: herself." I couldn't agree more. But it's important to remember: journalism degree or not, living in North Idaho and Alaska alone will isolate someone from the rest of the country. Palin hasn't had exposure, classes or not, to the way "real America" functions. As I've said before, she makes up her own rules and then assumes they're the rules the rest of us follow, as well, and is shocked/offended when we don't. The fact that she's genuine may be the scariest fact of all.

Nathan Empsall said...

Hey Mike - just took a look at your LinkedIn profile (because I like to know who's reading/commenting around here). Intriguing stuff! Between your Texas connections and your folklife and Smithsonian background, I'd love to meet you next time I'm in the DC area (though it may be awhile).

Anonymous said...

Maybe you "libs" should think of Palin as the poltical version of Liza Minelli..that way Im sure your view of her would change.