Monday, June 06, 2011

Irritation Central

In a comment likely to offend just about everyone, I dislike Sarah Palin for just about the same reasons I dislike Barack Obama. She intentionally touches on cultural symbols as substitute for content. I feel more comfortable with Obama's symbols, and certainly, most of the people I know hail from crowds that would be Barack-symbolic rather than Sarah symbolic. But either way, both draw their support from people who really want a full-out culture war - with the other side defeated, humiliated, enslaved. And both are sure that this is exactly what the country needs. Do you think we need more presidents who ride motorcycles and shoot wolves, or more presidents who are embarrassed to be Americans in front of Europeans? Would you rather be a Lilliputian or a Blefuscuan?

Both do well with their respective crowds with prepared speeches, but are fools - even stunning fools - when speaking off-the-cuff. Obama thinks they speak Austrian in Austria? (And no, it wasn't a slip. Watch the tape.) Yet because they continue to ring the right gongs even when their content verges into senselessness, their supporters think them wise. This last supposed gaffe by Palin, getting the history wrong in Boston - and then it turns out she got it right and her critics, so eager as usual to jump all over her, drink her blood, and bay at the moon, got the facts more wrong than she did.

I saw the clip. Even granting she got those parts right, it's still not an impressive performance. You wouldn't think many people could be worse than Obama without a teleprompter, but she manages. Yet even as I wince I laugh at her attackers, outdoing her in stupidity in their impatience.

Both "Obama" and "Palin" still show up as red-line misspellings in my blogger dictionary, and I ain't a-gonna change it by adding them in. My own little petty protest.


Texan99 said...

This is an awfully interesting way to think about politicians' styles. I can almost guarantee I'll be trying it out on the next several politicians I watch.

Boxty said...

"Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

Would you have voted for Ted Kennedy over Palin if he were alive and running in the last election? How about Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I will vote for pretty much anyone the Republicans nominate against Obama. That's an easy call.

I would object less to Palin if she were merely a clumsy speaker, knew it, and just fumbled along. In fact, I think such non-charismatic people are exactly what America needs right now. Mister we could use a man like Calvin Coolidge again.

boxty said...

"I would object less to Palin if she were merely a clumsy speaker, knew it, and just fumbled along."

I know Palin has refered to herself as a pitbull and a mama grizzly. But where has she put herself up as being articulate, erudite, professorial, etc.?

Seems like Obama is the "one" who was sold as Churchillian.

Palin has more in common with Coolidge than any of the other potential Republican nominees. Coolidge didn't attend Columbia or Harvard Law. He was basically a self-taught lawyer. Palin came from a podunk college and taught herself energy policy to take on the oil industry and her own political party.

Palin and Coolidge were small business owners. They both became mayors and governors of their state. Coolidge seemed to believe in smaller government, lower taxes, and less regulation. That's all that Palin talks about. In which case, you should be doing cartwheels over Sarah Palin.

Sam L. said...

Maybe it's partly because you're from the eastern part of the US? I'm in a hinterland; grew up in the mid-west; never lived in a really large city (a couple over 250K and the edge of the LA basin).

Texan99 said...

Palin doesn't bug me the way she does you (I'm fine with the motorcycles and the wolves), but I do know what you mean about people who seem to be punching cultural buttons rather than engaging their listeners on the substance. I wonder if that's what gives me hives about a certain kind of evangelical or social conservative. I sometimes feel I'm talking to someone a little glassy-eyed who's just spouting slogans at me. So even if I agree with the substance, I'm uncomfortable.

If Sarah Palin magically became President tomorrow, I'd have confidence in the decisions she'd make in office. But I don't like her chances as a candidate at all. I don't think she can persuade the great mass of voters, most of whom will never get past her style to hear what she's actually saying, anyway. Also, so much of the president's job lies in being able to persuade the country to back difficult policies, and too people will tune her out.

I'm afraid we'll end up with bland, well-spoken, unobjectionable Mitt Romney. I know he'll let me down often, but I'd still vote for him in a heartbeat over Obama, because I'd expect to agree with him half the time instead of practically never.

Anna said...

I'm not Palin's biggest fan either, for the same reasons. And I also would vote for her against Obama, but I would not vote for her in the primaries unless it were down to like Gingrich and Romney and her.

I was actually glad to see that you said that, I was starting to wonder if I was the only one.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I don't mind the motorcycles and the wolves either. I mind that she has clearly gone from being those things to playing them. She has exaggerated her natural persona. I liked the original better.

As for being like Coolidge, all of 'em talk too much to be that, and his fiscal conservatism exceeds all current players. If I were to compare her to a president, I think I'd pick Truman instead.

Texan99 said...

I don't think I agree that Palin is exaggerating her natural persona, but I can see that if she seems to you to be doing that, it would be very offputting, especially if she seems to be doing it to stir up a cultural war.

Back during the Gingrich era and the Contract with America, I was extremely put off by the slogan "family values." At the time I simply had no idea what they were getting at, and it struck me as a cultural button without substance, code for some kind of smarminess and repression. I understand much better what people meant by family values, but the approach was an obstacle to my understanding rather than a help.

Kurt said...

I like boxty's theory about Palin being like Coolidge. I never would have thought of that before. I have mixed feelings about Palin as a possible candidate for president in 2012, but I don't have many complaints about her otherwise. I have a friend from grad. school who is quite conservative but whose view of Palin is very much like yours. But then again, he's a lawyer who works and lives in the DC area, so that may have something to do with it, as well. I, on the other hand, left the east coast for life in "flyover country," and although in terms of my academic background, etc., I have more in common with the Obama administration than I do with Palin, I like her for her independence and her directness, and I like the fact that her approach to things is based more on common sense and practicality than academic theory.

OBloodyHell said...

> And both are sure that this is exactly what the country needs. Do you think we need more presidents who ride motorcycles and shoot wolves, or more presidents who are embarrassed to be Americans in front of Europeans?

I would fear the decisions of the former far less than the decisions of the latter.

While I am no massive fan of Palin (I'll worry more about who is best when it comes closer to my having to express my opinion on the matter, and the also-rans have been more shook out before my opinion becomes relevant), but I think you confuse the fact that there are those who will do anything she says with her own nature and capacity. She seems to be a lot more capable than people often realize, and the media's desperate attempts to smear her with the 'lackwit' brush are no different than their attempts to smear Shrub with the same.

Palin seems to have a measure of down-home common sense that has been lacking in our politicians for a long time. THAT is one upcheck in her favor.

>> Mister we could use a man like Calvin Coolidge again.

NO SIR. Calvin Coolidge led us into the Great Depression. Hoover inherited the errors which put the nails in the coffin lid, Coolidge oversaw the construction of it.

Mister, we could use a man like Grover Cleveland again.

We NEED an entire CONGRESS filled with men and women like Grover Cleveland.