Friday, November 20, 2009

Is Sarah Human?

With the advent of Sarah Palin’s new book Going Rogue and the spotlight turned on our Alaskan hockey mom again, a few thoughts:

First, I’m not a Republican and I’m not a Democrat. While I’d certainly line up with the prolife stance of some Republicans, I’m increasingly convinced that most of them are only selectively prolife. Very few if any of our representatives are Biblically prolife, very few are interested in defending life according to the standards of Scripture. Many are romantically prolife; they are opposed to abortion because babies are cute. But bomb the hell out of Afghanistan and Vietnam and who’s to say? Muslim school kids aren’t as cute as American babies.

Second, I just can’t get that worked up about Barack Obama. Sorry. Some of my most respected friends and family are worked up, but this all feels like normal to me. Normal and awful, sure, but normal. We’ve been in a downward spiral, and Obama is just par for the course it seems to me. And there’s at least a great deal of momentum built into the system: you know, defense contracts and money to be made in foreign oil. And there’s a lot of mixed motivations, good and bad and well, here we are. I don’t trust Obama, but I didn’t trust any of his predecessors either. So what’s new? Printing and spending gazillions of dollars we don’t have? We’ve been doing that for a while. Socialized medicine? We already had that with lots of government regulations, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. Torturing suspected terrorists? Already had that too. Killing babies? Check.

Third, and what’s interesting to me, is that some of this seems to fall along generational lines. I remember talking to several men in their 50s and 60s in the summer before the last election, and when I told them I thought Obama was sure to be elected, they completely disagreed. They didn’t think Obama had a chance. But I couldn’t see how he couldn’t be elected. I didn’t think McCain had a chance. How’s an old white man going to beat a sexy black man? And I honestly think Obama was elected primarily for his smooth words and good looks. And he’s got credentials that make him a darling of big money liberals. That helps too.

Last, and to the point, I’m not yet convinced that Sarah Palin is the run of the mill GOP candidate. She still intrigues me for basically two reasons. First, I still can’t figure out why the liberals are so worked up about her. If she’s such the country bumpkin, why not just ignore her and let her go quietly into that good night? Why the shrill rhetoric from the left and for that matter, why so much crap from her own party? It sounds like she talks the party line on foreign policy and economics which is very annoying, but I wonder why she’s such a threat. And this leads to the second thing that intrigues me about Sarah, it’s the long list of complaints that so many conservatives have about her. She’s an outsider, she’s inexperienced, she’s ignorant, she’s got all kinds of naiveté. She’s quaint, she’s country, she goofs up in interviews, she has a funny accent, etc. She’s completely unvetted for the political scene, and that’s what’s intriguing. She’s cute, but she’s not slick. All the other politicians got neutered in law school. They got cloned into slight variations of one another, talking heads with talking points. They got their union cards, and it doesn’t really matter which party they are in. It’s like there are two baseball teams and they just counted off by one’s and two’s and now they have their team assignments.

But Sarah obviously didn’t get a union card. She doesn’t know the secret handshakes, and stares like a deer in the headlights sometimes because she doesn’t know the game. And time will only tell whether she doesn’t know the game because she really is just a newbie and she’ll settle into business as usual with the rest of the clowns in DC. But maybe, just maybe, all these liabilities are proof that at some level, she refuses to play the game. And that’s huge. If she were elected she’d make bad decisions, she’d say silly things, and we might laugh at some of the ways she'd run things. But it would be legit. It would be a human in office and not a machine. It would be a person for a change. And I could go for that.


Brad Littlejohn said...

Hey Toby,
Thanks for these great thoughts. With regard to the first three paragraphs, I'm glad to see someone feels the same as I do, though you've put it much better than I've ever managed to..."Muslim school kids aren't as cute as American babies." So sad, but so true.

As far as Palin, though, I have trouble seeing things so rosily, though I suppose I hope that you are right. To me, her idiosyncrasies are not the result of being "more human" but only of being more incompetent and egotistical. She does, as you say, pretty thoroughly toe the party line (at least, the line of a key part of the party), which makes me skeptical that the anomalies are marks of being "more human" and not merely "more ignorant."

More importantly, though, it seems that she is every bit as much the demagogue as Obama, only without as much wit and politeness. Her speeches, far from seeming 'genuine' to me, seem to be calculated rabble-rousing, with as little regard for the truth as any politician (case in point: "government death panels!"). Worse yet, she has an enormous ego--quitting her job as Alaska governor so she could go speechifying through the lower 48. All of which makes me much more afraid of having her in the White House than any machine of the left or right.

David Morris said...

Torturing suspected terrorists? Already had that too.

This isn't true--no one has been tortured under Obama. However, it is true that he hasn't shown any interest in prosecuting the people who did torture suspected terrorists, so he certainly deserves criticism for that.

Toby said...

Thanks for the comment, Brad. I'd agree that if Palin really is just as much of a demagogue and egotistical as the rest of the players, that would make her worse than the usual rabble. On the other hand, I still think there are fairly reasonable explanations for most of her actions thus far, and I still don't get why all the fuss if she's just a slightly more ignorant and pompous version of all the others. That doesn't add up for me.

And thanks for the correction, David.

Brad Littlejohn said...

Eh, maybe. I'm just at a loss as to the reasonable (in the sense of defensible) explanation for her quitting her gubernatorial job to go make money and make waves speechifying.