The move from First Things has made old posts difficult to find in search engines right now. This is reposted by request from reader Mark S.; I found it via google cache, as July 2009 seems to be missing from my archives in the move.
Jim Geraghty is trying to get to the bottom of the over-the-top hate the left feels for Sarah Palin, a hate that seems to intensified, rather than ebbed-away since the election.
Well, some of that may simply be embarrassment. After all, she was supposed to be “too stupid” to be Vice-President, but it’s a sure betcha she would not have given away her own “undisclosed location” or provided the weekly entertainment we get from Joe Biden.
But I kid. Geraghty writes:
My first thought was that it tied heavily to her appearance; in liberals’ minds, conservatives are supposed to look like the couple from the painting American Gothic: Dour and joyless, aged, spartan and frail. Political leaders aren’t supposed to be young, really good looking women, full of energy, smiles and winks.
Hugh [Hewitt] suggested it tied to the contrast between her lifestyle and her critics: “She is the embodiment of the anti-choice, the opposite of every choice that lefty elites have ever made — as to going back home instead of moving to the west coast, having children, having a child with Downs, staying married to one man the whole time, choosing rural or suburban over urban and living a generally conservative lifestyle, working with her hands… That everything she is is the antithesis of everything that liberal urban elites are, so it’s not just enough to say, ‘I disagree with you,’; she has to be repudiated and crushed.”
And now, I would submit a slight refining of that idea, that the seeming happiness of Palin’s life is a 24-7 irritant because it challenges the way some liberals see the world.
It’s a thoughtful piece, and well-worth reading. I think Geraghty gets quite a lot right, particularly as to the left’s rather ignorant perceptions of who and what conservatives are, and he suggests that there is a great deal of complexity to the hate.
He may be correct. Both adulation and hate have their subconscious roots and hidden nutrients. But the excessive Palin-hate may also be as simple as this; Sarah Palin, who came from middle class folk, did not go to an Ivy League school but managed nevertheless to find success as a small business owner, then as mayor, then as Governor of an important state, and she’s managed to “have it all” – family, success, expertise on a crucial subject (oil, gas, energy) – without succumbing to the siren song of leftism.
The truth is, if Sarah Palin had a “D” after her name, instead of an “R”, they’d adore her, and they would be falling all over themselves to showcase her as “the successful product of feminism and the opportunities provided by progressivism!” Hell, they’d even tolerate her having allowed Trig to live, as they could then prop her up as a “big tent, pro-choice Democrat, and you know, a Christian…ist…no, she’s an Evangelica Christian! And that’s…okay!”
This is of a piece with the Dubya-hate. Had a Democrat president kept the nation safe for 7 years after a heinous attack, kept the economy running and unemployment numbers low, even after that attack; had he taken out a murderous despot who gave sanctuary to terrorists like Abu Abbas, liberated millions of people and helped warring tribes forge a tenuous democracy in a region where it was thought impossible, we would have heard that the inevitable mistakes and difficulties of war were “inevitable mistakes,” and there would be talk about Mt. Rushmore. We’d be hearing that “the president did not overspend, the congress overspent,” (though the whole Sallie Mae/Freddie Mac debacle that upset the markets would still be underreported). But because a Republican president did those things, well, we know the rest.
It’s the same with Palin. Put a D after her name, and the story would be completely different; the hate would be the over-the-top, “how’d she get to be the greatest, most beautiful, from-the-ground-up, practical mommy-mayor-goddess ever” coverage we’ve become so used to.
Although, even in that best-of circumstance, there may be something to the idea I wrote a while back, that they hate Sarah Palin because she is not a victim:
They hate her because she is not a victim. And she does not see her son as a victim. And one gets the sense that she has no patience for disaffected drama queens with pretensions to victimhood, or with people who make their livings tearing down instead of building up, in order to keep the victim-mentality alive.
Let’s face it, even if Palin were a Democrat, I’m sure some of the abortion activists would be grumbling that the narrative would be more perfect if Sarah Palin, (D-Alaska) gave a weepy interview to Barbara Walters, discussing her “heartbreaking but right” decisions to abort her Down Syndrome child, who she loved too much to bring into the world and watch as he struggled, and fell behind, and looked different and stuff. Poor Sarah Palin; victim of circumstance, destroying her child in the painful feminist sacramental that makes her “human and like everyone else,” and so paradoxically, makes her a heroine.
The addition of that little story, plus the D after her name? Right now we might all be asking, “Barack Owhata?” Although perhaps Krauthammer is correct when he says she’s not yet a serious candidate for President. Right now, Palin’s more like a rallying point. Also, check out allahpundit’s thoughts on the left’s “contempt for her intellect,”. The Ivy League is deeply saturated in some minds as a definitive value.