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    Victorialand

    I think the left is more frequently guilty than the right of shrill, emotionally charged reactions when their sacred cows are criticized, but that doesn’t mean they have a monopoly on the practice. Bridget Johnson posted this on PJM about whether Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal might not have made a better choice for McCain’s VP than Sarah Palin:

    Considering the excessive media tear against Palin, as opposed to the kid-gloves treatment afforded Barack Obama, it was no surprise that anyone in the media who questioned the selection of Palin — regardless of whether he or she fell on the right of left side of the aisle, or somewhere in between — was regarded as having nefarious ulterior motives by fans of the newly created ticket.

    [A]s soon as I blogged on the possibility that storm season could show Jindal may have been the smarter choice, commenters in conservative forums were calling me a Marxist mainstream media louse who was surely making the suggestion to sabotage a right-wing dream ticket (though, it should be said, McCain was in the not-too-distant past considered a poseur Republican, and any pundit who pitched him in the primary over Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee was roundly castigated). Never mind that I was suggesting another Reagan Republican as McCain’s ideal running mate.

    If you want to see what she’s talking about, just look at the comments. Enough of them gainsay her argument without giving a good reason that I had to stop reading halfway through. Johnson must have expected that, and good on her for writing what she believes anyway.

    From the opposite side of the political spectrum, friends of mine, such as Zak in a comment the other day, have been asking why I’m not flipping out over Palin as much as they are:

    I think Palin appeals to the ignorant because they can sense that she is exactly as ignorant as they. I can’t figure out why you aren’t appalled about her candidacy, though, because you clearly don’t fit into this group.

    I seriously doubt there are many people who support Palin because she seems dumb enough to be unthreatening and easy to relate to. I do think there are a lot of smart, experienced people who’ve followed politics for years, were excited at the potential ascent of a genuine outsider such as Palin, and have been bending over backwards to put the best face on her performance since her convention speech because they really, really want her to do well. And McCain to win.

    Palin hasn’t said anything egregiously, quotably stupid, which is good; but she has settled into a pattern of giving obtuse responses to questions that leave a strong impression that she just doesn’t really know what she’s talking about. The line about this among fans is that the McCain campaign is micro-managing her self-presentation, and that she is therefore displaying the discomfort of someone trying to play a role she’s pledged to but doesn’t really want.

    That all sounds very sympathetic, but weren’t we told, expressly, that Palin’s a good choice because she has a solid core of conviction and principle and doesn’t let people push her around? I have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes, but in public Palin is looking less steady and spunky as things wear on. She’s nearly lost a lot of us, and if she’s saving herself up for her debate performance (which I find possible but not really likely), she’s running a terrible risk.

    And can we please stop it with the crap about how any criticism of Palin is based on snobbery and is practically prima facie evidence of a desire for Obama to win? Anti-elitism is not supposed to mean lowering standards. Just because a lot of blowhards went to Harvard, that doesn’t mean that going to a state school is a sign of shrewdness. Palin’s convention speech was a great start and suggested that she might be one of those smart, talented people whose path happened not to pass through an elite university. I can’t see anything inherently snobbish about pointing out that she hasn’t done much to develop since then.

    3 Responses to “Victorialand”

    1. Zak says:

      The thing is, it’s almost impossible to talk about these things when someone who has risen up from truly humble roots through his own abilities is branded “elite,” while the guy who got into Annapolis because his dad was an Admiral and then married an heiress is somehow salt of the earth.

      In the end, it’s now a nonsense word, and just means “a liberal I dislike.”

      I DO think there is a serious current of anti-intellectualism in America these days, though. There always has been, but I think it’s been cresting.

    2. Leslie W. says:

      Very very thoughtful piece, Sean. And true.

      I’m dreadingwaiting for Thursday to be absolutely sure, but as a big initial supporter of Palin who has no idea of why it has come to be—whether she, the McCain campaign, or both are responsible—I must admit that she has stumbled badly in her television interviews and thus may not be good for the part of vice president. What makes me especially unhappy about this is that, while a defeat of the McCain–Palin ticket will not necessarily mean the end of Palin’s political career, it will unfortunately mean that, to keep rising politically, she will have to become much smoother, much more more adept, at evading questions and expressing those evasions.

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Zak, I’m probably going to end up responding to you in another post again. :)

      Leslie, I agree that it’s too bad that politicians need to figure out how to be slick and evasive. That’s the way the world works, though; tricky situations often involve siding with X without alienating Y, his mortal enemy. Whatever the sources of her problems, surely everyone involved in the campaign recognizes just how important her performance Thursday is going to be.

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