Saturday, September 20, 2008

More Palin: The other side of the culture war

Yes, more Palin. Bear with me.

We all know that there have been some very nasty attacks on Palin from some feminists, as well as a lot of condescension from the Maureen Dowd types who look down their noses at a small-town, gun-owning, Walmart-going, Bible-believing mom with five kids. But it takes two to do the culture-war tango.

For instance, in The American Spectator, one Jeffrey Lord rightly deplores the feminist attacks on Palin. Then he goes on to say:

This election is now being fought openly between, as Whittaker Chambers once described the same fight in a different era, "those who reject and those who worship God." Between those who believe "if man's mind is the decisive force in the world, what need is there for God?" -- and America's own Joan of Arc, Sarah Palin.

If Barack Obama is an atheist, that's news to me. And I certainly hope that Palin doesn't actually see herself as Joan of Arc on a God-given crusade. (It's interesting how the left-wing caricature of Palin is barely distinguishable from the right-wing icon.)

Praising Palin's decision to keep her baby with Down's Syndrome and to encourage her pregnant 17-year-old daughter Bristol to bear her child, Lord writes:

Twice over in two now ongoing and very public situations, Sarah Palin has focused on the love of God rather than herself. To those who have vested their life and career comfortably believing there is little need for God because what of what rolls around aimlessly in their heads and those of their like-minded friends at any given moment, to those who view government and the power of the state as an object of worship, this is taken as a serious, gut-level threat. A threat to the existence of their own very carefully structured non-religious secular value system.

Glossing over Lord's apparent assumption that Palin expects to have no personal joy or satisfaction from her special-needs child or her grandchild, and that her decision was solely a sacrifice to God, this is a pretty nasty portrayal of secularists. Further down, it is compounded by nasty swipes at insufficiently masculine liberal men ("Glutted with Hollywood pâté, Al Gore would have a coronary trying to keep up with Palin, who probably wouldn't be bringing along any seriously good wine as he races through the backwoods. Once off the basketball court, Obama would be clueless on snowshoes with a gun and a charging moose").

On a less hysterical note, Jonah Goldberg in National Review defends Palin against the "she's not a real woman" attacks ... and then sneers that the same people would consider "a childless feminist who looks like a Bulgarian weightlifter in drag" a real woman. On, Kevin McCullough speculates that "modern feminists" hate Palin because she's a real woman:

She has a manly, and (according to several women I've overheard) handsome husband. She is content in their life together as a couple where each goes out and works hard. As a mom she is parenting her kids giving them what mothers give best, and her husband, gives what only a father can.

She's not afraid to don some lipstick and use her comely attraction to romance "her guy" one night, and turn around and beat back corruption as a fierce defender of what is right the next day.

As opposed to, say, the notoriously unwomanly Geraldine Ferraro (married mother of three) and Nancy Pelosi (a married mother of five whom a poster on Michelle Malkin's blog charmingly described the other day as "the result of mixing June Cleaver with Code Pink, Steroids and a strap on")?

And a final item, by Jim Brown at OneNewsNow:

A pro-life activist suggests one of the reasons liberals despise Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin so passionately may be because she gave birth to her son despite a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

... Mark Crutcher, the president of Life Dynamics Incorporated (LDI), notes that in America today, 90 percent of all Down syndrome children are killed in the womb.
"I wonder what the people who are doing that -- the parents who are 'choosing' to have their child executed -- what they think when they look at Sarah Palin and her family, when they see the example of that family welcoming a Down syndrome child in and loving that child. I wonder what those people think," Crutcher contends. "I also wonder whether this is where you're seeing some of this hatred and venom that's coming from the godless Left directed at [Palin]. I'm beginning to wonder if Sarah Palin isn't rubbing their noses in their own shame."

What hateful tripe. If 90 percent of people who find out they are carrying a fetus with Down's Syndrome terminate their pregnancies, there must be quite a few non-liberals among them (and even, I daresay, quite a few conservatives). And frankly, if Sarah Palin's example is going to be used as a moral club to beat those who make the choice to terminate a pregnancy under those circumstances, an angry response will be justified.


ada47 said...

Hi Cathy,
Glad to see you're blogging again, I've missed your perspective on workd events of late.

I appreciate your taking on both sides of the culture war over Palin. I've been rather disgusted with the whole story-with the bullsh*t whining of feminists and lefties about "hypocracy" and "see what abstinance only got her daughter" bla bla, as well as the absolute contempt, and dare I say projection, on the right of anyone who criticizes a "real American" like Palin. Spare me.

What bothers me so much about all of this, though, is that it distracts from the real issue, which is governing. In my opinion, and I know many will disagree with me, the addition of Palin to the ticket was about politics, not governing. She energizes the base, but brings no expertise, and inspires no confidence in the ability of the McCain administration to govern effectively. I'll admit I don't like McCain very much. Even though his voting record suggest thoughtful moderation, his public persona is anything but thoughtful or moderate. Palin seems to have added an energized resentment to the ticket, and little more.

I would like to argue with you about her candidacy being a step forward for women. I see it as cynical tokenism. I certainly appreciate that women politicians need not march in lockstep with feminists, that women politicians and voters care about some things more than "reproductive rights" and "choice", and I admire the way Palin's personal choices line up with her politics.

But she's pretty much a big liar with no demonstrated grasp of foreign policy, and her/McCain's attempts to gloss over that with some such crap about Alaska being near Russia is infuriating.

There are other women out there, conservatives and moderates and liberals, who are more accomplished, more articulate, not currently evading abuse of power investigations, who could have been elevated to the second highest office on merit alone. I've always had a grudging respect for Liddy Dole and Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Christie Whitman even though I don't agree with all of their politics.

I just don't see what Palin has to offer, other than a gigantic distraction from any serious issues.

But you often manage to get me to think about things differently, so I await your response.

Oh-LOVED the line about the confluence of the left wing caricature and the right wing icon. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

ada47 is right on. The issue with Sarah Palin is primarily whether she's fit to hold the office she's running for, and all of these questions about the reactions of various cadres to her are tertiary.

Palin was clearly chosen for her ability to pump-up the religious right, who were in a Schiavo-like coma where McCain is concerned before her selection. McCain also fantasized that she would appeal to centrists as another maverick, and to disaffected female-identity-driven Hillary supporters.

The secondary issues - policy positions - aren't pressing because she doesn't have positions on much of anything beyond birthing babies and attracting big-box retail to small towns.

If a complete and sober assessment shows that Palin is not fit to hold office, by reason of preparation, intellect, and temperament, than the most virulent reactions to her from any cadre are in fact reasonable.

And from what I've seen, that's what's going on: a laughably inappropriate candidate has been chosen to grace the Republican ticket, and all of the people who've been paying attention are pissed. Not just whackos, but serious conservatives like Wick Allison, George Will, David Brooks, David Drezner, Charles Krauthammer, Peggy Noonan, Mike Murphy, David Frum, Richard Brookhiser and Ross Douthat.

Outrage is sometimes the only appropriate reaction.

ada47 said...

I'm sorry, Cathy.
I have great respect for you and have often looked to you as a voice of sanity on issues relating to feminism and cultural liberalism.

But after the last 48 hours, can you honestly tell me that Sarah Palin should be taken seriously as a politician of any achievement or value?

This is just insane.

If I have offended you in any way, I will disappear from here, not bother you or your comment board in any way. I mean absolutely no offense.

I just can't believe what is going on.

Cathy Young said...

Thanks for your post, Ada! of course you haven't offended me. I've been very busy but I plan to make a post tomorrow addressing the issue you have raised.

Richard Bennett said...

You add Glenn Greenwald and Kay Parker to the list of the early Palin supporters who've thought better of their first reaction.

The novelty of a woman on the Republican ticket has given way to a sober assessment of Palin's severe lack of ability and preparation for a job that could very likely land her in the Oval Office. Serious conservatives are saying "thanks but no thanks" to this Nowhere Woman.

Cathy Young said...

Glenn GREENWALD? Sure you don't mean Glenn Reynolds? Greenwald's a leftist who I seriously doubt could have said anything good about Palin.

Richard Bennett said...

No, I meant Greenwald. See:

Nobody but rank Republican ideologues is defending Palin at this point, and most of them are holding their noses.

(ps: who is this Glenn Reynolds you mention?)

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