Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

11/24/2010 (8:40 am)

A Letter to Elizabeth Wurtzel

Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote yet another “we hate Sarah Palin” piece for the Atlantic today. You’d think they’d get tired of the repetition. This one basically says “She’s hot, and that’s the whole story.” So, in the spirit of the “How To Talk To Progressives” post from a couple of days ago, I wrote a letter and posted it on the Atlantic. Here’s what it says:

Ms Wurtzel,

You should consider just how many liberals of all stripes have reacted with the same, visceral revulsion since Sarah Palin stepped onto the national stage — and start asking some hard questions regarding why that is.

Sarah Palin was a successful, popular governor of a state that appreciated the honesty, candor, and good sense with which she managed their precious natural resources. Those are good things. So why the hate?

Yes, I understand that you’ve gone into overtime finding specious reasons to discount all that. Yes, I gather that you now think of her in very negative terms. We all saw how much labor you folks on the left put into constructing a Punch Me Palin mock-up with which to ridicule and discredit her achievements.

But, why did you do it? And don’t pretend it’s because of the Punch Me mock-up; you constructed that after you decided you needed to destroy her.

Tell the truth, now: there’s something deeply offensive to liberals about a wholesome, good-looking, non-feminist woman who loves her husband, loves her family, and succeeds — without kowtowing to your social agenda. She’s not a member of your intellectual elite. She’s not supposed to be able to do well. She proves that your entire concept of what the world needs is hollow, that you’ve got it wrong, that one does not need to renounce long-standing virtues to produce good in the world.

In fact, what she proves is the opposite — that one succeeds when one devotes oneself to developing what used to be called “virtue,” and that it was always a fool’s task to attempt to construct a new version of right and wrong. She proves what fakes you are.

And that’s why you hate her so much. Because, at the root of it all, you recognize that what the liberal social agenda produces is genuinely evil human beings, and you’re one of them.

That’s gotta hurt. I get it. But the correct response is not to destroy Sarah Palin, it’s to recover your lost virtue. Perhaps you should try that next. Just a suggestion.

Phil Weingart

I’m not on the “Draft Sarah for 2012” bandwagon. I personally hope she doesn’t win the nomination, in fact. My vanity prefers someone more erudite. But I recognize that as vanity; I don’t pretend that it’s a virtue to be embarrassed about somebody who’s honest, capable, and trustworthy. And I’m just sick of the snippy, petty, faux intellectual dismissal of the woman. She’s a better human being than any of her critics. At the judgment, Sarah Palin will stand over the Elizabeth Wurtzels of the world and declare their unfitness for the rewards of heaven.

Until that happens, Sarah, I’ve got your 6. Not that you seem to need it…

11/14/2009 (10:19 am)

The Smear on Palin Continues (Updated)

Among Christians there is a general understanding that when one engages in activity that will be effective in extending the Kingdom of God, the demons put in overtime to harass and discredit that person. If that’s what’s going on here, Sarah Palin might just presage the Second Coming, ’cause the effort the Disappearing Press is putting into discrediting Sarah Palin is truly astounding. I watched the full-court Press against Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and frankly, those pale before the assault on Sarah Palin.

Today’s installment appears in the headline that appears above an AP story in the New York Times:

FACT CHECK: Palin’s Book Goes Rogue on Some Facts

1apunch21Oh, please.

In the first place, can anybody honestly still imagine that the New York Times has enough credibility left to lecture anybody in the universe regarding factual accuracy? Young Pinch Sulzberger has long since turned the Grey Lady into a scandal sheet for the left, and nobody but the left bothers to read it anymore. In addition to a half-dozen real scandals in which award-touting journalists turn out to have concocted their stories out of thin air, the Times has become reliably unreliable on several topics, engaged in borderline treason by publishing illegally-obtained documents during wartime, and utterly squandered a reputation for journalistic integrity. The economic demise of the Times is not just about the Internet: of all papers that could have survived the changing times, the New York Times could have, if only it had maintained the reputation for journalistic integrity that it had earned under previous leadership. The Times sank itself by sinking into partisan mediocrity.

Even the headline by itself might constitute a departure for journalistic integrity: “Fact Check,” capitalized, calls to mind a specific organization which does have a reputation for accuracy, but the organization is not the New York Times, nor is it the Associated Press. Were they fishing for credibility by attempting to identify with the Annenberg Foundation?

In the second place, neither the Times nor the AP has even begun to pay a tenth of the attention to Barack Obama’s past actions, let alone his current foibles, that they routinely spend poring over Palin’s mayoral term in Wasilla, Alaska. These slobbering lapdogs of the progressive left need to stop examining small-town mayors and start doing their damned jobs. They are gaining obscurity, and they deserve it.

And in the third place, the details of the alleged misrepresentations are just too silly to be believed. These guys are insane.

Consider the first complaint:

PALIN: Says she made frugality a point when traveling on state business as Alaska governor, asking ”only” for reasonably priced rooms and not ”often” going for the ”high-end, robe-and-slippers” hotels.

THE FACTS: Although travel records indicate she usually opted for less-pricey hotels while governor, Palin and daughter Bristol stayed five days and four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House luxury hotel (robes and slippers come standard) overlooking New York City’s Central Park for a five-hour women’s leadership conference in October 2007.

There’s nothing in “THE FACTS” that falsifies the statement made by Ms. Palin. She says she did not often go for high-priced hotels. They produce one instance where she used a high-priced hotel. Once is not often. The air quotes around the word “often” indicate that the reporter is aware of the tendentious nature of the complaint; he’s fishing, and he knows it.

Consider the second:

PALIN: Boasts that she ran her campaign for governor on small donations, mostly from first-time givers, and turned back large checks from big donors if her campaign perceived a conflict of interest.

THE FACTS: Of the roughly $1.3 million she raised for her primary and general election campaigns for governor, more than half came from people and political action committees giving at least $500, according to an AP analysis of her campaign finance reports. The maximum that individual donors could give was $1,000; $2,000 for a PAC.

This constitutes an incredibly lame attempt to make ordinary campaign metrics seem extraordinary. Why the arbitrary line at $500? Is that an unusually large donation? Isn’t it necessarily the case that a small number of large donations will overshadow the sum of a large number of small donations? How does that falsify Palin’s claim? And why no comparison to other politicians’ campaigns? Did Palin receive larger-than-average donations, average, or smaller-than-average? We’re not told. The AP either does not know, or worse, does know but is omitting the facts because they validate Palin’s point.

wasillaIt gets worse as it goes on. One of the “PALIN/FACT” comparisons takes her to task for not mindlessly swallowing President Obama’s mealy-mouthed retraction of his frank admission that cap-and-trade will bankrupt electric utilities who stick to coal. The AP insists that Palin is playing fast and loose with the facts because she does not buy the faux “research” from leftist think tanks that minimize the cost of cap-and-trade. They claim her reputation for taking down corrupt politicians is jeopardized by the fact — drum roll, wait for it — that she asked for a zoning variance to sell her house, two months before the end of her mayoral term. They try to pretend that the fact that she praised John McCain’s ability to bring disparate parties together to accept the Bush Treasury bailout, means that she can’t object to Barack Obama’s repeated use of nationalization to solve economic problems (notice that she didn’t even say that the Bush bailout was a good idea; she just praised McCain’s negotiating skill.) They claim it tortures the facts for Palin to say “Reagan showed us how to get out of a recession” and then proceed to recommend killing the estate tax, because Reagan did not actually eliminate the estate tax. And so on. It’s drivel.

The only objection in the entire article that can withstand even momentary scrutiny from an objective observer is that Palin apparently said Ronald Reagan faced a worse recession than the one that appears to be ending now. AP argues that the current recession is far worse. I’m inclined to think that the current recession is not ending now, and will prove to be worse. So, AP manages to raise an interesting quibble to a debatable economic assessment, one that does not lend itself easily to claims of fact. Not a very impressive achievement, considering that their headline claim is that Sarah Palin lacks the AP’s concern for facts.

It’s just another slime piece in a year-long deluge of slime pieces, from two organizations — the Associated Press and the New York Times — that have, sadly, given themselves over to hurling slime for their political masters.

UPDATE, 11/18: Incredibly, it turns out that AP actually assigned 11 individuals to fact-check all 432 pages of their advance copy of Palin’s book in order to write their silly diatribe. The level of obsession they demonstrate regarding Ms. Palin has not diminished. All the more reason why this article is genuinely shameful; that many individuals should have been able to come up with much better material, if such good material actually existed. The fact that they devoted so much manpower to the task and came up so incredibly empty, speaks volumes about Palin’s character. One wonders what they might have dug up had they devoted this many staff to finding falsehoods uttered by Joe Biden.

07/15/2009 (3:42 pm)

And While We're Talking Palin…

David Kahane, pseudonymous Hollywood writer, today has an explanation on NRO from the point of view of the Democratic Party regarding why they took (past tense, in his mind) Sarah Palin down. Mind you, I don’t think “Kahane” is really a Democrat; he just writes for one on TV. He’s telling it pretty directly, though. Listen:

I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but maybe now you’re beginning to understand the high-stakes game we’re playing here. This ain’t John McCain’s logrolling senatorial club any more. This is a deadly serious attempt to realize the vision of the 1960s and to fundamentally transform the United States of America. This is the fusion of Communist dogma, high ideals, gangster tactics, and a stunning amount of self-loathing. For the first time in history, the patrician class is deliberately selling its own country down the river just to prove a point: that, yes, we can! This country stinks and we won’t be happy until we’ve forced you to admit it.

In other words, stop thinking of the Democratic Party as merely a political party, because it’s much more than that. We’re not just the party of slavery, segregation, secularism, and sedition. Not just the party of Aaron Burr, Boss Tweed, Richard J. Croker, Bull Connor, Chris Dodd, Richard Daley, Bill Ayers, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and Emperor Barack Hussein Obama II. Not just the party of Kendall “Agent 202” Myers, the State Department official recruited as a Cuban spy along with his wife during the Carter administration. Rather, think of the Democratic Party as what it really is: a criminal organization masquerading as a political party.

There’s a lot more, and it’s very satisfying. He ends up where I won’t go, though; recommending a Rules For Radicals retaliation strategy.

Read the whole thing. It’ll get your juices flowing.

07/15/2009 (12:59 pm)

And Again, the Palin Obsession

Why is it, do you suppose, that leftists continue to obsess about the governor of a relatively unimportant state who has already announced her intent to resign?

The AP headlined the latest in an ongoing harassment exercise by a vicious Democratic party attack machine yesterday. Only, you can’t tell by the headline or the story lede that that’s what it is. By the headline, you’d think it was a serious ethics charge, and one of many. Look:


The lede sentence reads, “Outgoing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is facing yet another ethics complaint — the 18th against her and the very thing that helped to prompt her resignation.” One unfamiliar with the facts would assume that the Governor is actually resigning because of very real ethics concerns. The ambiguity of the sentence is the sort of thing any competent editor would notice and correct immediately — unless the ambiguity is intentional, in which case the editor is blatantly violating professional ethics.

The story notes — at the very bottom — that this particular complaint is the fifth launched by the same individual, and that three of the prior complaints by this individual have been dismissed. At no time does the story mention that none of the 18 ethics complaints against the governor have been substantiated, and that nearly all of them have been dismissed (there seem to be a few that are too new to have been disposed of yet.)

Sigh. Yet another in an unbroken string of deranged, dishonest vitriol, launched against a woman who arguably has achieved nothing more remarkable than the unseating of a corrupt Republican governor (although, frankly, her brief stint as Alaska governor has been impressive).

The fact that the left has gone berserk in their efforts to destroy Gov. Palin by any possible means is not news, nor is the fact that they hate her with an irrational hatred. It is important, though, to ask why. Why her? Why the rage? She’s not running for office; in fact, she’s leaving office. She was a candidate for Vice President; when is the last time a Vice Presidential candidate got mentioned by the press after losing? There is no similar attempt to demolish, say, Mitt Romney, nor was there an attempt to destroy Mark Sanford before he immolated himself. Many Republicans do not even consider her a viable candidate for public office, and if Democrats agreed, you might think they’d quietly encourage a Palin candidacy so they could trounce her. But the stream of vitriol against Palin is unbroken, even after the election.

I was not intending a long analysis, but just out of curiosity I googled “why does the left hate Sarah Palin” and discovered that there’s a cottage industry of Palin Derangement Analysis. By far the most common theme among them notes Ms. Palin as the anti-feminist: beautiful, powerful, high-achieving, and yet family-oriented with an uncastrated husband and a passel of kids, including one that most leftists think people should abort. (I addressed this one myself a while back, in response to a hard-core feminist wondering aloud why the mere sight of Gov. Palin sent her and her friends into Wolf-Woman transmogrification.) However, thoughtful commentators both left and right produce useful insights: “She made anti-liberal choices, and she’s happy and successful” (Jim Geraghty); she’s the probable contender in 2012 (John Hawkins); there’s no “D” after her name, and “this is of a piece with Dubya-hate” (The Anchoress); women envy her, especially those who chose not to have a family for professional reasons (from an astute psychologist quoted in Huffington Post, of all places, by Douglas MacKinnon); even “Trig makes us feel guilty about aborting less-than-perfect kids” (Kevin Burke). All interesting comments, all with their aspect of truth.

Still, I don’t think any of them quite have it. It’s the sheer unreason, you see. Very few of those reasons explain the extreme reactions of leftist men, for one thing, and it’s not just women who are affected. Moreover, the reaction was more or less automatic; there was no latency period, no honeymoon. She showed up, and out came the flame-throwers.

wrybobHonestly, I think The Anchoress gets closest when she observes that it’s all of a type with Bush Derangement — which was, in turn, of a type with Reagan Derangement. To take it further, though, it is also, in my humble opinion, of a type with Quayle derangement, Huckabee derangement, Pat Robertson derangement, and Jerry Falwell derangement. The thing that sets off the deepest hatred is the association with the most spiritual sorts of Christianity, the kind that draws on the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to operate. Mind you, I’m not going to defend all the actions of Pat Robertson or Mike Huckabee, or some others; none of these people are perfect human beings, and some are less perfect than others. But they have in common reliance on a Presence that is not human at all, and if what they believe about the cosmos happens to be true (which I think is the case,) then opposite, non-human presences will naturally react negatively. Those reactions, if the thesis holds, will be utterly vicious and utterly irrational — which these are. (Check.) They will also defy pat analysis, although there will sometimes be psychological processes that parallel the unreason. (Check, again.)

Short version, I think the presence of the Holy Spirit in people sets off the demonic presences in other people. And those are very, very ugly.

Allow me to say, again, that I do not posit any of these politicians as necessarily holy. The irony of Christianity is that none of its practitioners can claim personal superiority over anyone of any other belief system, or over those who have no belief system at all. The mix of the Holy Spirit with human souls is like oil and water, and the most successful Christians are those who permit the Holy Spirit to displace the most of themselves; and whatever has not been displaced, is no better than anyone else. So it’s possible — common, in fact — for practitioners of mystical Christianity to behave in an unholy fashion at times. There’s a mystery here, though, wherein the believer who permits this displacement the most, becomes more like themselves, or rather, more like the self they were supposed to be.

Nor do I posit her opponents as necessarily evil. As with the Holy Spirit, the mix of unclean spirits with human souls is like oil and water, so the reaction of the spirit is not necessarily a reflection of the character of the individual within whom it operates. When such spirits react, people are often surprised by their own actions. So the people who are reacting are intrinsically no worse than anybody else. Human is human. We’re all broken.

There. I’ve said it. Since I’m nobody, there’s no career to ruin by offering this explanation. I happen to think it’s correct. Do with it what you will.

Hat tip to Gateway Pundit for noticing the story.

07/05/2009 (4:06 pm)

My Take on Palin's Resignation

palinnotinvestigatedWith the blogwires alight with unfounded rumors of a federal investigation that has probably never existed, the question about Sarah Palin on everybody’s mind is, “Why did she resign?”

I listened to her resignation speech at Tammy Bruce’s site on Friday, and her reasons seemed perfectly clear to me, based entirely on what she said (what a concept!) Beginning at about fifty seconds into the second video on Bruce’s site (the one I have embedded here,) where Gov. Palin says “Some say things changed for me on Aug. 29 last year, the day that John McCain tapped me to be his running mate…”, she explains how political opponents have tied Alaskan government in knots with frivolous accusations of ethics violations, requiring excessive time and government spending just to fight them off. It is at the end of this section that she announces that she is not seeking re-election, and not going to serve as a lame duck either. The reason is quite clear: she is the lightning rod that is attracting the vicious assault that has tied Alaskan government in knots. If she goes, the assault stops, and Alaska can continue to make progress without having to fight ridiculous political battles. So, she is going. That is basically what she said.

This is really the only explanation that makes sense. It is an entirely selfless reason — which is why professional politicos cannot buy it. It is not about seeking election to some other office, nor about launching some sort of publicity stunt, nor about stepping down before some imaginary ethics investigation goes public (do they really believe that one of those could have remained hidden during the investigative blizzard she’s endured?), nor about chickening out and trying to protect her family. Any one of those would have been believed of a professional politician by professional reporters on the political beat.

But Sarah Palin is not your ordinary, professional politician. She is just a mom who won an office because she was trying to make something better. She actually believes in what she is doing. She does not care what recognition she wins; she is content with her life as it is. She is what she appears to be: an ordinary, decent person who places a high value on the most important things (God, family, duty), who cannot be swayed by less important things like fame, wealth, title, or power. She is that rarest of rare animals, an office-holder about whom the tiresome bromides about selfless public service actually, literally apply. This is unheard of by political reporters, who just know that she’s playing an angle somewhere. There is no angle; that is why nobody can believe it.

For the record, I am not a PalinBot. I think she is a remarkable woman and a remarkably effective governor, and I am impressed with her character. However, I am not convinced she can win a national election, and so far, I have not seen that she is capable of carrying on a cogent conversation regarding the details of complex foreign policy. I have little doubt that she can run a government effectively and think through problems lucidly — she has done that, and nothing but that, throughout her public career — but I have to take it on faith that she would be able to apply the same competence to foreign affairs that she has to Alaska’s affairs.

I will give her this high praise, though: she is strong where Ronald Reagan was strong, and her strength comes from the same place. What leftists and politicos called simplicity in Reagan and naiveté in Palin are the same thing, the confidence and clarity that come from a clear conscience and a firmly established moral compass. She is not an intellectual, and neither was Reagan, but intellectualism is a poor predictor of leadership ability, and the sort of moral clarity that empowers people like these produces mental acuity that perceives what far brighter minds cannot perceive. It proves a pet thesis of mine, that righteousness makes one smarter, and sin makes one stupid. (Add Gov. Mark Sanford to the pile of evidence proving the latter…)

In the meantime, Ms. Palin has responded to the media onslaught against her with characteristic aggressiveness and verve; rather than cutting and running or taking it quietly, she is now threatening lawsuits against those who repeat groundless allegations. It is difficult to make a case of defamation against a public figure, but it is not impossible, and Palin’s style has never been to allow a pesky defender to get away with over-aggressive moves without paying for it.

This is one tough woman, and her career is far, far from over. Bully for her.

02/07/2009 (11:15 am)

The Meaning of Sarah Palin

Yuval Levin has written a brilliant analysis of the Sarah Palin phenomenon in the 2008 election over at Commentary. If you’ve got about 20 minutes, it’s worth reading.

A few nuggets:

Palin became the embodiment of every dark fantasy the Left had ever held about the views of evangelical Christians and women who do not associate themselves with contemporary feminism, and all concern for clarity and truthfulness was left at the door…

The reaction to Palin revealed a deep and intense cultural paranoia on the Left: an inclination to see retrograde reaction around every corner, and to respond to it with vile anger. A confident, happy, and politically effective woman who was also a social conservative was evidently too much to bear.


Meanwhile, on the Right, Palin was the cause of a manic episode of a different sort. The governor’s touching life story, her folksy way of speaking, and her gut-level appeal to the culture of the lower middle class exercised tremendous power over many conservatives, which inclined them to fill the sizable blanks in Palin’s political profile with their own wishful assumptions, and to make flustered excuses for her shortcomings…

Palin did not merit her instantaneous conversion into the Joan of Arc of the American Right, just as she did not deserve the opprobrium that was heaped upon her by the Left.


Applied to politics, the worldview of the intellectual elite begins from an unstated assumption that governing is fundamentally an exercise of the mind: an application of the proper mix of theory, expertise, and intellectual distance that calls for knowledge and verbal fluency more than for prudence born of life’s hard lessons.

Sarah Palin embodied a very different notion of politics, in which sound instincts and valuable life experiences are considered sources of knowledge at least the equal of book learning. She is the product of an America in which explicit displays of pride in intellect are considered unseemly, and where physical prowess and moral constancy are given a higher place than intellectual achievement. She was in the habit of stressing these faculties instead—a habit that struck many in Washington as brutishness…

The reaction of the intellectual elite to Sarah Palin was far more provincial than Palin herself ever has been, and those who reacted so viscerally against her evinced little or no appreciation for an essential premise of democracy: that practical wisdom matters at least as much as formal education, and that leadership can emerge from utterly unexpected places. The presumption that the only road to power passes through the Ivy League and its tributaries is neither democratic nor sensible, and is, moreover, a sharp and wrongheaded break from the American tradition of citizen governance.


But having finally gotten voters to listen, neither Palin nor McCain could think of anything to say to them. Palin’s reformism, like McCain’s, was essentially an attitude devoid of substance. Both Republican candidates told us they hated corruption and would cut excess and waste. But separately and together, they offered no overarching vision of America, no consistent view of the role of government, no clear description of what a free society should look like, and no coherent policy ideas that might actually address the concerns of American families and offer solutions to the serious problems of the moment. Palin’s populism was not her weakness, but her strength. Her weakness was that she failed to tie her populism to anything deeper.

01/14/2009 (5:46 pm)

Paglia Turns Cannon on Couric

I happened to catch Camille Paglia’s column on Salon.com today. Ms. Paglia is a remarkably astute woman, and for a liberal feminist, says an awful lot of things worth hearing. Today, amidst declaring that she hasn’t seen enough evidence to convince her that global climate change is controlled by anything other than the sun and observing that the search for a genetic cause of homosexuality is misguided, she responded to a comment about Dick Cavett’s attempt to make fun of one of Gov. Palin’s sentences. I actually was not surprised that she defended Palin, but was amused at her reaction to Katie Couric. Have a listen:

Ideology-driven attacks on Palin became clotted liberal clichés within 24 hours of her introduction as John McCain’s running mate. What a bunch of tittering lemmings the urban elite have become in this country. From Couric’s vicious manipulations of video clips to Cavett’s bourgeois platitudes, the preemptive strike on Palin as a potential presidential candidate has grossly misfired. Whatever legitimate objections may be raised to Palin on political grounds (explored, for example, by David Talbot in Salon) have been lost in the amoral overkill that has defamed a self-made woman of concrete achievement in the public realm.

And let me take this opportunity to say that of all the innumerable print and broadcast journalists who have interviewed me in the U.S. and abroad since I arrived on the scene nearly 20 years ago, Katie Couric was definitively the stupidest. As a guest on NBC’s “Today” show during my 1992 book tour, I was astounded by Couric’s small, humorless, agenda-ridden mind, still registered in that pinched, tinny monotone that makes me rush across the room to change stations whenever her banal mini-editorials blare out at 5 p.m. on the CBS radio network. And of course I would never spoil my dinner by tuning into Couric’s TV evening news show. That sallow, wizened, drum-tight, cosmetic mummification look is not an appetite enhancer outside of Manhattan or L.A. There’s many a moose in Alaska with greater charm and pizazz.

I know it’s not polite, but it does feel good to hear the left turn the cannon on one of their own and fire a “stupid” round. (I suppose I could say, hear the left turn the canon on one of their own, and sing a round of “stupid”… but that’s a little too arcane to be funny.)

01/09/2009 (4:46 pm)

The War on Sarah Palin Continues (Updated)

I’m not a huge Sarah Palin fan, myself, but I found this infuriating.

Documentary film maker John Ziegler interviewed Sarah Palin for a documentary he’s producing, Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected, an expose’ concerning media bias and its effect on the recent election. We saw pieces of Ziegler’s work just after the election season, in the video of Obama voters who could not answer basic questions about the candidates. The interview was very friendly to Gov. Palin, allowing her to speak freely on questions that presupposed mistreatment by the press, but I think she’s earned at least one softball interview. The headlines referred to her as “slamming” the media, but the truth is that I heard a great deal of restraint in this. Have a listen if you haven’t already heard. Just shy of ten minutes.

What’s got me steamed is the meme that’s coming down the pike in the wake of this fairly benign defense. What I’ve heard from at least four alleged journalists in response is this: “She accepts absolutely no blame herself!” While this is not entirely true, what strikes me is that in all four cases, the charge that’s being levelled is that the press was unfair — and in their responses, they accept none of the blame themselves. Think they’re projecting, much?

“Honest, Mom, she made me tell all those lies about her and her kids!”

There’s no legitimate question that the press was unduly harsh with Ms. Palin. In the weeks following her speech before the Republican convention, we heard dozens of outright lies about her, some from major media sources. Some of them refuse to die; Andrew Sullivan is still demonstrating his intellectual emptiness by chasing the Trig Mystery. Of course, the most nefarious lie of them all was that she was incompetent to be Vice President; that’s the one they’re insisting is her fault.

The sum of their evidence is a couple of weak interviews with hostile journalists Charles Gibson and Katie Couric, and to be frank, that’s mighty weak gruel for such a firm and negative assertion. Worse, they seem to forget that Barack Obama was not all that impressive in his early-election-season interviews, either. There was a period, in fact, when Obama frankly avoided all press questions that were not carefully scripted, because he was making so many gaffes in front of live cameras. The press corps complained a little, but we saw no flood of reporters converge on Chicago seeking out Obama’s past, and we saw no endless repetitions of Obama’s ineffectual stuttering when his Teleprompter went dead (except on conservative blogs.)

Newsweek’s John Alter, responding to a few softballs from Hardball’s Chris Matthews, made an incredible gaffe when addressing Palin’s observation that she’d have been treated differently if she’d been Obama’s running mate instead of McCain’s:

Well first of all, first of all Chris she never would’ve been on the Democratic ticket… But if she had been – the, the subtext of this is that somehow the Democratic candidates are treated better by the press. Ask Bill Clinton the way he was treated, you know, by the press. I mean it’s just not true.

How many ways is this disingenuous? There’s a reasonable question whether the President-elect is as qualified to hold office as Gov. Palin, but setting that aside for the moment, I’d like Mr. Alter to explain to me how John Edwards, junior Senator from North Carolina just 3 years into his very first public office, was more qualified to hold office than Gov. Palin when he was nominated for Vice President in 2004. “She never would have been on the Democratic ticket” my fat ass. Alter is a fool and a liar.

And then he attempts to prove how rough the press can be with Democrats, referring to how the press managed finally, after years of ignoring and excusing apparent felonies, to raise a ruckus about one of President Clinton’s flood of apparently criminal acts. But again, forget for the moment that they didn’t report an eighth of what they should have reported about Clinton. A much more relevant example would be to compare how they treated Joe Biden during the recent election season. The man committed a dozen gaffes on the campaign trail that were worse than anything Palin did or did not say, including mangling the Constitution after serving as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And let’s not forget how they simply ignored Biden’s past shame: one of the questions Ziegler asked of Obama supporters was “which candidate had to withdraw from an election because of plagiarism?” Few of them knew, but those who ventured a guess, guessed “Sarah Palin.” Is Mr. Alter sure the press is as hard on Democrats as Republicans? Idiot.

I was especially offended by the report from CNN. I’ve embedded it here; if you’ve listened to the interview, above, take a listen to this report and see if you think it’s a fair job of reporting.

Finally, I had to applaud for Ziegler’s own interview on MSNBC, in which he eventually gets tired of the outright lies and calls David Shuster a “joke.” I had to agree; Shuster either had not watched the video clip, or was lying about it.

I don’t think anybody would attempt to defend Sarah Palin as an intellectual, though there’s a case to be made for calling that a plus rather than a minus. However, she’s obviously genuine, honest, thoughtful, and a highly competent public servant with the unusual credential of having successfully bucked the corrupt power brokers of her own party. I think it’s too early to be talking about candidates for President in 2012, and I think there will be better candidates than Ms. Palin, but I don’t think there’s any question: the press has been unconscionably vicious toward her while granting passes to Democrats, and there is no excuse for it.

UPDATE: Dan Collins from Protein Wisdom linked here. Thanks, and welcome, O those who have grown wise by imbibing amino acids. Or is that, have become wise like amino acids? I’m confused. Maybe it’s smart people made of protein. Heidi ho…

10/13/2008 (6:50 pm)

Deconstructing Anti-Palin Feminism

The weekend’s blogging brought us Michelle Malkin’s response to the unbelievably disingenuous media theme of the rage among Republicans, a rogue’s gallery of unhinged leftists and their ongoing, gibbering fulminations against all things conservative. She’s got to be setting a new internet record, 139 trackbacks and counting. Two more just appeared while I was typing this, and mine will add one more. Malkin is the source concerning unhinged leftists.

I continue to labor toward my first presentation of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist,” part II, but I read this link from Malkin’s site referring to why feminists are filled with rage when they watch Sarah Palin, and had to comment. It’s been a long time since I saw anything so thoroughly irrational. It comes from a site appropriately named “Jezebel,” a label for a domineering harridan of a woman based on the wife of Israel’s King Ahab, from the Old Testament. The contemporary Jezebel admits that merely watching Palin on TV reduces her to a trembling rage, and incites comments from her feminist friends that include frequent f-bombs and crude references to female genitalia, expressions of intended violence and visceral fear and loathing.

She goes on:

Why does her very existence make us feel — and act — so ugly? New York Times columnist Judith Warner calls Palin’s nomination a “thoroughgoing humiliation for America’s women,” because “Palin’s not intimidating, and makes it clear that she’s subordinate to a great man.” Palin, who obviously is incredibly ambitious, masks that ambition behind her PTA placard and “folksy” talk…

I think what Ms. Warner is dancing around, but not saying outright, is that for a certain kind of feminist, Palin is a symbol for everything we hoped was not true in the world anymore. We hoped that we didn’t have to hide our ambition or pretend that our goals were effortlessly achieved (“I never really set out to be in public affairs, much less to run for this office,” the Governor has said.) We hoped that we could be mothers without having our motherhood be our defining characteristic, as it seems to be for Palin. We hoped that we did not have to be perfect beauty queens to get to where we wanted to be in life, that our looks, good or bad, wouldn’t matter. Whether or not you think it’s appropriate to comment on Palin’s appearance, the fact of her attractiveness exists, and is being used to her advantage by Republican sloganeers (“the hottest Governor in the coldest state,” et. al).

Incoherent poppycock. From the top:

1) “Palin’s not intimidating.” So, the goal of feminism was to create an image of women that is intimidating? I thought it was equal treatment for women. In what way is this intimidating image supposed to be helpful in a world needing better communication between people? How is the lack of it a humiliation for feminists?

2) “…makes it clear she’s subordinate to a great man.” So, it’s a rage-inducing humiliation to feminism that a woman aspires to be Vice President before one reaches President? Why? Would it serve feminism better if she expressed disdain for her running mate? How?

3) “We hoped that we didn’t have to hide our ambition…” Just a moment; didn’t Judith Warner say Palin “obviously is incredibly ambitious?” If it’s obvious, what’s hidden? And if the answer to that question is “Well, she’s trying to hide it,” who’s saying that she has to? It’s not alright if she didn’t have to, but chose to anyhow? Would it be equally humiliating to feminists if it turns out that she’s really not all that ambitious, but actually does want to serve the public?

And just for the record, didn’t Hillary Clinton also hide her ambition behind a folksy veneer? Is the problem that Palin’s folksy exterior is believable and probably authentic, whereas Clinton’s was emetic and insincere? How does an insincere, folksy veneer serve the goals of feminism?

4) “We hoped that we didn’t have to … pretend that our goals were effortlessly achieved (‘I never really set out to be in public affairs, much less to run for this office,’ the Governor has said.)” Um… Palin is not pretending that her goals were effortlessly achieved, she’s saying that high office was not her goal. That’s different, and in most politicians, if it were true we would regard it as a good thing. Selfish ambition is a vice, not a virtue.

5) “We hoped that we could be mothers without having our motherhood be our defining characteristic, as it seems to be for Palin.” So, it’s a humiliating defeat for feminism that a high-achieving woman actually revels in being a mother? Isn’t her motherhood a legitimate instance of the “choice” feminists refuse to stop railing about? Or is choice only choice when it chooses to end a life, but something abhorrent if it chooses to rejoice in one? How very, very revealing.

6) “We hoped that we did not have to be perfect beauty queens to get to where we wanted to be in life, that our looks, good or bad, wouldn’t matter. Whether or not you think it’s appropriate to comment on Palin’s appearance, the fact of her attractiveness exists…” I began to write “What’s the evidence that she had to be beautiful in order to get where she is?” And then it struck me, inducing a torrent of abrasive adjectives of my own: did this “Jezebel” woman just acknowledge that a woman has to be ugly in order to achieve the goals of feminism??? Oh my freakin’ GOD! She actually did! That’s the logical implication of the statement, the only way it can be parsed: Sarah Palin cannot serve feminism unless she’s ugly.

Well, gee whiz, now we understand why y’all are reacting in such an ugly manner.

Jezebel’s incoherence actually gives us a clear picture of what’s bugging her, because what makes it incoherent is the pack of lies feminists have been feeding us all along. The reality is that feminism took the entire package of natural femininity and ditched it, attempting to create a new, angry, intimidating, domineering, ruling feminine elite, basically a version of the Marxist-Leninist power dialectic with economics replaced by gender. However, they lied to us about it, and hid their goals behind a palatable facade of egalitarianism and fairness (which Marxists do invariably). Palin enrages them because she’s achieving the sort of thing at which they falsely claimed to be aiming, but without sacrificing natural femininity. She shows them up to be a lie. It’s not good enough for them that she’s a woman and achieving: they wanted her to achieve by cutting off the testicles of any man who dared cross her, and hanging the withered, bloody trophy from her belt. In fact, their rage at Palin makes it clear that achievement was never the point at all, they just wanted the trophies. They hate the fact that she’s civil and family-empowering. Their rage proves that the worst things their critics said about them, at the core of things, are true.

Jezebel’s ending achieves overweening elitism and logical incoherence at the same time:

For many of us looking back at high school, we can now feel a smug superiority towards the homecoming queen. Sure, she was pretty and popular in high school, catering to the whims of boys and cheering on their hockey games, but what happened to her after high school? Often, she popped out some kids and ended up toiling in some not particularly impressive job. We can look back and say, we might have been ambitious nerds in high school, but it ultimately paid off. What’s infuriating, and perhaps rage-inducing, about Palin, is that she has always embodied that perfectly pleasing female archetype, playing by the boys’ game with her big guns and moose-murdering, and that she keeps being rewarded for it. Our schadenfreude for the homecoming queen’s mediocrity has turned into white hot anger at her continued dominance.

Of course, what she illustrates is that Sarah Palin is anything but the homecoming queen. On the contrary, she gets where she’s going “… with her big guns and moose-murdering.” I thought feminism was about women being able to do what men did, just as well as the men. I don’t know any homecoming queens who hunted moose (or deer, which is what the men hunted in Pennsylvania where I grew up.) The archetype Jezebel claims to be rejecting would never have been caught dead handling a deer’s innards or discharging a weapon.

More to the point, she admits that she hates Sarah Palin because Palin is competent and successful. Sad.

The article sports the title “Why Sarah Palin Incites Near-Violent Rage In Normally Reasonable Women.” A clear answer would be to observe that the people who respond to her in this fashion are not “normally reasonable” women.

10/03/2008 (8:50 am)

She Did Fine. Exhale.

Some quick reactions to last night’s Vice Presidential candidate debate:

1) Palin could have lost the election for McCain last night if she’d imploded. She didn’t. In fact, she did remarkably well. We can all exhale.

2) Vice Presidential debates don’t win elections, but this one might. A number of commentators are hyping the colloquial flavor of Sarah Palin, which could sell well across middle America and just might reignite the Palin bump. I’m skeptical, but we’ll see.

3) I’m frustrated to the point of exploding at the utter failure of the McCain campaign to keep Obama from inflating his resume. They’re making Obama into a great statesman when he doesn’t even belong in the race.

Example: Biden went on for a bit about how the first thing Obama did in the Senate was reach across the aisle to Lugar and talk nuclear proliferation control. Gov. Palin said not a word about it.

Palin’s response should have been this:

“That was a good move on his part, and if he’d spent the rest of his 143 days in the Senate doing similar things, it would have been a good start toward becoming what John McCain has been for 25 years. But instead, he spent the rest of his 143 days running for President, and serving his own interests rather than his country’s. And you know that, Joe. You’ve been in the Senate long enough to know what a real public servant looks like, and it isn’t Barack Obama.”

A few shots like this and the informational outcome of the debate would have been devastating to Obama.

4) I’m also frustrated by the inability of the McCain campaign to sell their own programs. Both Biden and Obama harped on McCain’s taxing employer benefits, but it’s part of a plan that makes good sense. They sell it in a debate this way:

“John McCain has a plan to free workers from depending on their employers for health insurance. By taxing benefits but providing a tax credit for private health insurance, you won’t have to depend on your employer anymore to protect your family’s health, but you can afford to purchase health insurance for yourself.”

It’s radical, and seriously, it would be an enormous relief to lots of families to think, “Wow… I don’t have to keep my lousy job anymore just to maintain my health insurance? I can choose a job by what I want to do instead?” That’s liberty.

But they’re not selling their proposals well.

5) Biden did commit a sizable gaffe, but will probably get away with it. He claimed the Vice President has no authority except to break ties in the Senate. This is insanely wrong. The Vice President has complete parliamentary authority as chairperson of the Senate, and if one knows how to use parliamentary procedure, this is utterly controlling. Ask Nancy Pelosi whether parliamentary control of the House is so inconsequential as to not be worth mentioning.

6) Gwen Ifill did, as expected, flack for the Democrats. Most of the time she was very even-handed, but she produced two questions late in the game that were engineered for the Democrats: one emphasizing the “heartbeat away from the Presidency” meme asking how a Biden or Palin presidency would differ from an Obama or McCain presidency, and one asking specifically about Dick Cheney’s interpretation of the constitutional role of Vice President, apparently hoping Palin would draw another blank and reminding us that Palin once said she didn’t know what a Vice President did. Ironically (and justly) it was on this last question that Biden, and not Palin, proved his ignorance. The Vice President’s role is defined in Article II (the Executive) and Article I (the Legislature). Biden said “only in Article I” and said Article I was about the Executive. Oops.

Palin did well. Now the McCain campaign needs to fix the message, and start turning the spotlight on the real Obama.

Photo by Richard Perry/New York Times

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