Here it is, Inauguration Eve, and I'm writing about--well, not Barack Obama. It's not that I'm bitter about his election; in fact, I hope and pray that his administration deals successfully with the many problems confronting our country. That would be good for everybody, as long as it's done honestly and consistently with our Constitution and free enterprise system. Today, I'd like to reflect on someone who was a "loser" in the last election--someone who was not even at the top of her ticket--but who, oddly, remains one of the hottest items in our political discourse: Gov. Sarah Palin.
A recent article from Fox News noted that Gov. Palin continues to attract widespread comment and often hysterical scorn, even as the No. 2 on a losing presidential ticket. She's generated roughly twice the news coverage as Vice President-elect Joe Biden, and long before the campaign was over had prompted infinitely more negative ink (and bandwidth) than another widely-dissed Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, Dan Quayle, who all but vanished from public consciousness after winning election beside President George H.W. Bush in 1988. Legions of "intellectuals," including some who call themselves Republicans or conservatives, continue going out of their way to criticize her, demonize her, and blame her for the Republican Party's seeming downfall. Scores of web sites are devoted to ridiculing her (although she continues to attract enthusiastic supporters at sites such as TeamSarah and Sarah Palin for America). And months after the election, she's still having to defend herself publicly against false and ridiculous accusations reported all too eagerly by the mainstream media.
One wonders: why do they hate Sarah so much, and so personally? And why do they still hate her, and continue to expend so much energy denouncing her?
The first question may be easier to answer than the second. People well to the left of center, of course, despise the values that Gov. Palin represents: religious faith, patriotism, family, individualism, initiative, responsibility, self-reliance, hard work. Of course, they expect that such values would translate into policies that they abhor: tolerance for religious expression in public forums; a vigorous, America-first foreign policy; strict limits on abortion, sex education, and "gay rights"; limited government; development of natural resources.
But I think there is something more, lying deeper, that explains not only liberals' revulsion toward her but also the disdain of self-described "moderates" and intellectuals on the right as well as the left: she's not "one of them." Her detractors across the political spectrum tend to ridicule and mock her small-town background, her folksy speech, her sometimes giddy exuberance, her girl-next-door looks, and her goody-two-shoes, "hockey mom" image. They universally deplore her big, boisterous, rather "untidy" family (at least privately, one suspects, that a professional woman in her mid-40s would choose to give birth to a "defective" child). Those further to the left seem disgusted and outraged that people like this exist at all, let alone that they be given an opportunity to attract popular support and campaign for one of the nation's highest offices. Even Gov. Palin's so-called "moderate" critics seem thoroughly put off by her lack of pedigree or advanced "education" at a "prestigious" institution, and by the fact that she hasn't "paid her dues" on their lecture/think-tank/book-signing/cocktail-party circuits. They are dismayed by the firmness of her traditional values and that she doesn't seem to share their non-divisive, "big tent" views. They'll insist that their real objection is to her lack of "experience" in national affairs, although then they'd have to admit that Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and even Barack Obama were similarly handicapped when elected. No, I think what really offends them is her non-intellectualism (not anti-intellectualism), her non-elitism, and her lack of deference to the sacred cows of the day--including, of course, them.
Why do the elites of politics, academia, and the media, as well as the left loonies, continue to vilify Sarah Palin? Because they sense her continuing appeal to a large portion of the American public, despite all the calumnies that they have heaped upon her (for example, in a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Dec. 12-14 2008, Gov. Palin was a strong second on a list of the most-admired women in America, behind Hillary Clinton but ahead of Oprah Winfrey). They recognize, despite their insistence to the contrary, that many still share her traditional values and her conservative principles. What's more, she's pretty, personable, gives a good speech (for example, her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention), and connects with crowds as effectively as The One himself (her introduction speech when presented as John McCain's running mate in Dayton, Ohio was one of the most stunning political moments I've ever seen). The Left and the Elites are clearly unnerved by her, by the way she electrified people all over the country with her friendly, plainspoken, enthusiastic manner and her unashamed espousal of things they deeply believe in. They clearly fear that the values Gov. Palin represents will become the foundation of a movement that could spread across the nation like a prairie fire, with charismatic leaders like her. And that would cripple the power and authority of the Elites.
So, they must continue to marginalize her, to portray her as a ditz, a crook, a degenerate, or all of these. They must keep the pathetic rumor-mills cranking day and night, in hopes that it will be enough to finally kill off this Rasputin in lipstick. The relentless din, they hope, will eventually get us all to swallow the Big Lie and submit unthinkingly to their infallible Leadership.
Perhaps Sarah Palin wasn't quite ready for the office of Vice-President at this time. Or, maybe the country wasn't quite ready for her. Because or regardless of the Left/Elite hate campaign, she might not run for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012, and might not come out on top even if she does. But those who shared her vision of America and felt the excitement she generated--about which I'll write more soon--must remember the formula she revealed, much to the discomfiture of the Left/Elite, for the ultimate political triumph of that vision. If our new President loses his way, we'll need it.