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Palin-hatred, and what it shows

By Daniel M. Ryan
web posted January 24, 2011

Sarah Palin"If you want to know what someone's like, put him in charge." That old saying has a lesser-known complement: if you want to know what someone is like, watch him when he gets angry. What H.L. Mencken called the "purple moment" not only strips aside conscious self-control, but also whisks away built-up habits of politeness and consideration: civility, if you will. The hatred directed at Sarah Palin is as revealing as any other outburst. It gives a glimpse into the liberal mind.

The Evolution Of Palin-Hatred

When Mrs. Palin first stepped onto the national stage, there was actually little hatred. The treatment she got was snooting, which well-adjusted people from faraway places and small towns often face from the urban elite. Tina Fey's act, which some people to this day confuse with the real thing, relied on the stereotype of the "Hick from Wasilla."

Unfortunately for the stereotypers, Mrs. Palin proved to be a rather shrewd Governor of an entire state. Shrewd enough to match wits with the supposedly all-powerful oil companies and emerge the better. This shrewdness came through even in interviews where she had supposedly made a fool of herself (or was made a fool of.) Moreover, she proved to be a quick study on the campaign trail.

At the time, some real hatred showed up courtesy of a certain Mr. Flynt. Hustler released a movie that tapped into an old boys-room stereotype about well-adjusted self-confident women, layered upon the standard "right wing hypocrite" stereotype. Unfortunately for those who delighted in it, that mud didn't stick. Regarding her pro-life principles, she has been very far from hypocritical. Both her grandson and her youngest son were treated as blessings, not inconveniences. It was over this issue that real hatred came wafting out of places that were not obvious sewers. Remember the false claims that Trig was really Bristol's child? Of relevance to that falsehood is the fact that Down's Syndrome is a genetic abnormality.

Later, there actually was some grist for the urban-liberal stereotype about Alaskans being hicks. The trouble was, the hicks were the ones assailing Mrs. Palin. The nuisance lawsuits she faced were reminiscent of the treatment that a backwoods boy would get after making valedictorian and scoring acceptance to MIT. The only reasonable option she had was to quit the Governorship and square off as a private citizen. Doing so would stop the drain on the Alaska treasury for the defence compensation she had a right to as Governor. Hence, the next stage in the attempt to declare her dead: "Sarah the Quitter."

As a private citizen, she revealed a previously hidden talent for coming up with zingers that resonated all over the country. There have been liberal carpers who claim she didn't write America By Heart, but no-one had claimed that she didn't coin the revealing phrase "death panels." Her ability to connect with the country became obvious with her Facebook postings. It wasn't until last year's campaign that we saw another previously hidden talent: the knack of making a supposedly unelectable candidate electable. Her track record in this arena is much better than President Obama's.

Again, the liberals found that they had woefully underestimated her. Hence, the outpouring of raw hatred under the cover of "restoring civility" after the Arizona shooting. Note the latest criticism: her speech defending herself against what she identified as a blood libel being called unPresidential. Mrs. Palin, although very influential, is a private citizen. It was as if an unaffiliated major stockholder, not even on the Board of Directors, was criticized for being less than a Chairperson of the Board. Everyone in management knows what that kind of criticism implies about that private stockholder.

What's amazing about Mrs. Palin's ascent is that, to a greater degree than even most conservatives, she's being "kicked up." In this regard, she's like Rush Limbaugh. Unlike Mr. Limbaugh, though, she's an experienced and quite savvy politician. She may well be carped up to the Presidency.

What The Hatred Of Her Reveals About The Haters

Yes, their heat brings light. Below are some traits that show when the Chautauqua of Hate is on tour:

  1. Liberals get very angry when their cherished stereotypes are confuted. Mrs. Palin is far from being an also-ran in life, and it shows. Given liberal stereotypes, that's all she should be. She graduated from a regular state college, the purported home of office workers and grunts. The fact that's she's not an also-ran, and continually proves at in the high political level, is a major source of the anger against her. So is the fact that her heart belongs in high school, not university. Ditto on the obvious lack of hypocrisy regarding her principles; liberals need conservatives to be hypocrites. As an aside, I note that she seems to be picking up on Sun-Tzu's advice: when an enemy is easily angered, irritate him.
  2. Their anger tends to show up as envy. By "envy," I don't mean jealousy. I mean the passion to strip someone else of their advantages, however well earned. Think of the insults she's had to endure in this light.
  3. When laughed off, their envy grows worse. Mrs. Palin has the gift of assuming that she's above the target when she takes flak. So do other conservative women, but Mrs. Palin has it most visibly. This gift, no male conservative seems to have. That differential in flicking off envy is the most likely reason why female conservatives seem to be the ones with the cojones (so to speak.)  
  4. When inflamed, liberals' envy takes the form of self-righteousness. That's precisely what she's made them look like. Her line about Michelle Obama not wanting her children to eat S'mores wasn't a vicious attack. It wasn't a scurrilous slur. It wasn't iron-clad proof of frivolity. It was irreverent. That's all. The fact that liberals magnified it all out of proportion shows that Sarah Palin has the knack of making even the coolios in liberal ranks look and act self-righteous.
  5. When their self-righteousness surfaces, liberals go on the warpath regardless of tactical considerations. After the Arizona tragedy, Mrs. Palin got close to the full treatment that Barry Goldwater got in 1964. Only, she got it eighteen months too early. Conservatives not only have time to regroup and undo the damage, but they also have enough time to figure out how to neutralize such outbursts. In the immediate term, her unfavourables went up. In the longer term, liberals will have to explain why they turned a paranoid schizophrenic with no discernable ideology into a political figure. Should Sarah again rise above, her supporters will be able to deflect any future attack by pointing to that one.
  6. When liberals ignore tactical considerations, they overdo it. Remember the fear/hope that Mrs. Palin would wind up overexposed? Given the attacks she keeps facing, it's her enemies that now have to worry. If they keep up their pace, it's only a matter of time before the ordinary American reacts with "So she's the devil. Yawn, yawn." Her attackers overexposing themselves is the best thing Sarah Palin's got going for her in the longer term.  
  7. When they overdo it, they reveal other, perhaps embarrassing, stereotypes. Most noticeable, now that Mrs. Palin is a celebrity, is their conceit that celebrities are vain, unthinking, and egotistical. Some may add the codicil "unless those celebrities are liberal," but I myself wouldn't do so without checking further.

Notes Towards A Palin Presidency

Believe it or not, it was Stanley Fish who revealed something very perceptive about Mrs. Palin. He picked up on her unegotisticality in his favourable review of America By Heart. He noted that she, as a writer, had the habit of standing aside and letting other writers say their piece through extensive quotations. This habit is that of a teacher, the kind that lets a student say his or her piece without "guidance." Should she achieve the Presidency, it's likely that she'll run her cabinet that way: the very opposite of an egotistical moralizer.

That's how President Reagan ran his cabinet, and he was indeed criticized for it. There were allegations that Don Regan and James Baker III were running personal fiefdoms. His leadership style displeased some, particularly control freaks, but did work well; humility often does. This precedent should answer some questions about her qualifications – to wit, "she's qualified when it comes to delegating."

Her teacher's style answers to another kind of animosity. There are people, not exactly qualified in the humility department, who would be rankled at serving in a cabinet under "Teacher Sarah." I offer the personal opinion that such rankling says more about them than her. ESR

Daniel M. Ryan is currently watching the gold market. He can be reached at danielmryan@primus.ca.

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