November 12, 2008
Let me be clear to begin with: I did not want Sarah Palin as the next Vice President; as the campaign wore on, my opinion of her steadily declined; and I don’t agree with nearly all of what Camille Paglia says here. (Via Poulos.) But it’s worth looking at this paragraph on its own:
“Liberal Democrats are going to wake up from their sadomasochistic, anti-Palin orgy with a very big hangover. The evil genie released during this sorry episode will not so easily go back into its bottle. A shocking level of irrational emotionalism and at times infantile rage was exposed at the heart of current Democratic ideology — contradicting Democratic core principles of compassion, tolerance and independent thought.”
There is some truth behind her bout of linguistic hyperbole. From my view from within one of those “plush, pampered commodes of received opinion” (I’m so using this the next time I have a chance!), that “emotional irrationalism” and “infantile rage” were not at all absent. You could have a conversation about the merits and demerits of John McCain and Joe Biden—even Obama was on the table—but not Sarah Palin. Every conversation either descended into, or was interrupted by, the simple declaration of her idiocy.
I’ll grant that’s more or less how she came across in interviews, and that her debate performance came across like she’d memorized the cue cards—in other words, like most political debates, but without the polish and spitshine. But the incoherence of her answers to Couric were rarely the reason for declarations about her, or her intelligence: it went back to the time it took her to receive a college degree, and the number of institutions; it went back to her inability (refusal?) to pronounce final Gs; and, on occasion, the size of her family—smaller than McCain’s, mind you—was given as evidence of backwardness.
This wasn’t everyone, by any means, and I don’t want it to be taken as such. But it wasn’t uncommon, and it prompted the repeated joke from a McCain-supporting friend of mine, “See who you’re associating with?” By the end of the campaign, though, the only response I could give was, “What are you talking about? I voted for Bob Barr. The man downs fifteen shots of espresso a day.”
It isn’t an undercurrent of elitism; I’m the elitist among my friends, and I think of that word differently than its thrown around commonly. It was a snobbishness centered not around the assumption that she was unfit, intellectually, for that office, but around the sensation some seemed to hold that they were better than Sarah Palin, on the mere basis of her background.
Maybe it’s some weird inherited cultural insecurity that comes from being around, you know, accents of the upper-Midwest and those damn Yankuhs! for too long, but I do, at times, worry that I’m acceptable as a Kentuckian/Southerner because I’m the token Kentuckian/Southerner. I say “y’all” without realizing it, and can’t say potat-oh, tomat-oh, or tobacc-oh without very deliberate diction (proper pronunciations are, of course, puhtaetuh, tuhmaetuh, tuhbackuh); this without a distinctively “southern” accent (the result of a deliberate—and now more or less regretted—decision at age 10ish to eliminate all traces).
But I also do that thing, sort of like Obama does, where I can talk very slowly and deliberately when I’m unsure what’s coming next, except with a smattering of repeated articles throughout. So add that, and some quirks of my enunciation, and the stereotype of Kentuckians, and the only thing that seems to stand in the way of being declared mentally incompetent for public office is the school I’m at—but that wasn’t really enough to protect George Bush.
These are traces of the left’s version of the partisan bitterness much of what’s left of the right in this nation seems to be exuding, and which rightly scares Freddie. Of course, it’s looking at what’s happened on that side of things that makes me worry how this sentiment reveals itself when the Democrats find themselves in the position of today’s Republicans.
It’s one thing to make a claim that, in the end, is right because the evidence is right; it reveals entirely different when you’re making a claim that is correct in spite of the evidence–even only some of the evidence.