September 06, 2008

Gunning to Lose

Last evening, I listened to a local radio talk show here in Los Angeles. The show has a conservative orientation, but it's not what I would call "hard" right, like Limbaugh or Hannity. It's moderately conservative, and the commentary falls well within the boundaries of sanity most of the time (perhaps generous boundaries at moments, but it is not cringe-inducing as a rule). The show offers views that I almost always disagree with, but they are views well within accepted and acceptable American political opinion.

The cohosts (a man and a woman) were discussing Sarah Palin, the major topic on every such show these days, right and left. The woman said she hadn't been certain she was going to vote in November; neither candidate excited her that much. But, she continued, after seeing and hearing how many Democrats and liberals treated Palin, she was now determined to vote. I didn't take down exactly what she said, but it went pretty much like this: "After hearing these awful people go after Sarah Palin, I am definitely voting in November. I'm going to vote against Keith Olbermann."

I suspect there are quite a number of women (and probably men) who are reacting in this manner to the sickening spectacle provided by many Democrats and liberals -- the same Democrats and liberals who so insistently declare their own dedication to "pluralism" and "diversity." And this kind of reaction is precisely what I (and others) predicted after hearing Palin's speech the other night:
[L]listening to Sarah Palin (no teevee, just listening), I tell you this: this woman is formidable. A note to Democrats and many of the liberal-progressive political operatives bloggers: Don't fuck with her, boys. Disagree with her on policy all you want, and attack her for her political positions (all of which I disagree with, and many of which I loathe) -- but do not fuck with her. For all the misogynist pigs out there (and Christ, there are a hell of a lot of you, aren't there? Do y'all hate on gays when you need to kill some time? Betcha do. Oh, yeah, many of you have that one going, too.), the emphasis is on boyz. You'll get your heads handed to you. She did a lot of that tonight, and something tells me she's just warming up.
Beyond the misogyny that the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have revealed, a hatred which is staggering in its intensity, what most strikes me is the absolute tone-deafness of many Democrats. They appear to be completely incapable of grasping that people actually exist -- that there are human beings who lead happy, successful lives -- who hold views diametrically opposed to their own, and that such people are disgusted by the attacks on Palin that do not address her political views and policy prescriptions, but focus on the fact that Sarah Palin is not "the right kind" of woman. Such Democrats and their supporters convey one message above all: not content to target their criticisms on Palin's views about the proper role of government, they tell us that Palin is not "our kind of people." More than that, by reducing Palin to certain biological attributes and then heaping scorn and contempt on the attributes they have isolated, they announce that Palin and others like her are not fully human, not in the way the Democrats themselves are. Palin is one of them. Whenever this kind of perspective makes itself known, you can be certain of one thing: nothing good is going to happen to them.

And then the same Democrats are astonished that voters don't intend to support them. "Don't they know what's good for them?", they demand to know -- "good for them" according to the Democrats. So much for pluralism and diversity. While it is entirely legitimate to argue that certain views are correct and vastly preferable to others (I argue that all the time, as does virtually everyone, although one would hope advocates find time to offer arguments in support of their views), it is profoundly different to argue that those who disagree are not genuinely human, and that those who disagree have placed themselves in the category of them.

You want cringe-inducing? Try Erica Jong:
There's a photo of Sarah Palin in a stars and stripes bikini, toting an automatic weapon. It says more than any Op-Ed or blog. Hot broad with cool weapon. Every school shooter's dream of womanhood. Alas, the photo is photoshopped, but true in spirit.

Liberal women might change our country from a teenage boy's dream to an adult republic of laws. Aw, no fair. If you think the real America means guns and motorcycles, snowmobiles and beauty contests, this pistol-packin' Momma's for you.

Irving Berlin was wrong: you can get a man with a gun.

Not that I think Sarah Palin will make it to VP. But given the repugnicans' habit of caging votes, it's certainly one horrid possibility.

White trash America certainly has allure for voters. Some people think rednecks are more American than Harvard educated intellectuals of mixed race. God help us in the next election. The NRA and the oil industry sure won't.
See Anglachel on the "white trash" aspect of Jong's foul deposit.

You will find a variant of this approach offered by Joan Walsh at Salon: it is more insidious, because it is somewhat subtler. Although it is considerably more skillful than Jong's offering (scant praise, I grant you), note how the identical condescension and vehement personal disapproval reveal themselves:
By the time Palin took the stage, she no longer seemed like an Alaskan Annie Oakley, a gun-toting, hockey mom biker-gal; she'd become pioneer victim girl, Pauline tied to the train tracks by mean Democrats and the liberal media. But Palin shook off the victim mantle by coming out swinging, first blasting "the pollsters and the pundits" for writing off McCain last year, then tearing into Barack Obama with glee, teeth bared like a Rudy Giuliani in heels.
According to Walsh, Palin "oozed contempt and condescension for Obama," and she "savaged" the Democratic candidate. Of course, men do this all the time, and it is rarely remarked upon: it's called campaigning. But those little ladies, why, they ought to behave themselves. Straighten those pretty skirts and dresses (well below the knees, please), and be nice.

Walsh quickly veers into incoherence:
She'll never be able to cry sexism again after describing herself as a "hockey mom" and then asking: "You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick."
Say what? Well, why waste a precious commodity like logic on those kind of people, on them. According to Walsh's argument, because I sometimes describe myself as a "faggot" and because I also make clear in no uncertain terms that you'd better not screw with me, I am thereby no longer entitled to identify attitudes and policies that are unquestionably anti-gay. Bullshit. Double bullshit.

Walsh is not only incoherent but dishonest, as in this passage:
And while Republicans have been blasting Daily Kos for printing rumors about Palin's last pregnancy and her teenage daughter, Bristol, a worse blow came from the National Review's Byron York, who Wednesday night passed on reporting by the National Enquirer that Palin herself had an affair with her husband Todd's business partner. (The McCain camp denied the story and threatened legal action against the Enquirer.)
Note first that Walsh does not offer even the mildest criticism of Daily Kos for printing nauseatingly vicious rumors about Palin and her family. Salon doesn't want to drive away too much of its base, after all. But follow that link to Byron York. It is painfully obvious that York "passed on" the National Enquirer "reporting" only to shoot it down, to make the point that there's nothing there. "An enemy" says some nasty things about Palin. Note to Walsh: that's what enemies do. "Many people in Alaska are talking about the rumor..." Oh, my gosh. I mean, my gosh. York notes, "that's it, as far as the affair is concerned." In other words, there is nothing there. This is "a worse blow"? This is "reporting"? But many people don't follow links, so most readers probably won't realize what Walsh is trying to get away with here.

The ultimate payoff of this brew of elitist derision, non-existent logic and outright dishonesty comes at the very end of Walsh's column: "[Palin] proved she's nobody's victim, and Republicans would be wise to leave that narrative alone." Translation: Palin can and will fight back, therefore the Democrats have leave to say whatever they want about her -- and no one has any right to complain.

As many have noted, given the general political and cultural forces in play, this is a year when the Democrats will have to work with ceaseless dedication and endless imagination to lose. But the Democratic movers and shakers are nothing if not single-minded in their utter distaste for "them," as well as lacking in the smallest degree of self-awareness and any appreciation of how their tactics play with many voters. As a result, they may well lose. If they keep up with this kind of thing, they will completely deserve to lose.

Now you ladies behave yourselves! I wouldn't want you to make me take away your public speaking privileges.