Why do liberals hate Sarah Palin? She has made far fewer gaffes than has Joe Biden, whose verbal mishaps have often been racist in nature. Is dropping your g’s worse than saying “corpse-men“? She does not believe that Canadians speak Canadian in the way the president thinks Austrians speak Austrian. Her life story is inspirational — working mom, without inherited privilege or capital, a successful pre-2008 tenure as an Alaska politician.
I think the animus — as opposed to just disagreement with her views — derives in part from the fact that she is vivacious and attractive in a fresh Sally Field sort of way, unlike the cheek-boned refinement of an Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Onassis. Or is it because her diction, syntax, and grammar (especially the use of the passive voice) resonate slightly lower middle-class America? She is what white grandees with real white privilege castigate as a beneficiary of white privilege that she never really had.
Much of the dislike is also because she is upbeat and unapologetic. She thinks America is a rare, good place and far better than the alternative. She is blunt about her values and politics, and does not seem to be skeptical, cynical, or ambivalent. Her “oh gosh” world is one of undisguised belief; she does not roll her eyes in David Letterman boredom. Nor does Palin adopt the Clinton on spec bite-the-lip, feel-your-pain anguish, clear evidence of the costs of feeling moral ambiguity.
To the degree she has any facial artifice, it is more likely a wink (but not in Jon Stewart fashion that you and she share private superiority over the yokels) than a John Kerry long face or the pained stutter of Barack Obama as his vast mind works so fast that his only too human lips cannot catch up.
In other words, to the liberal, who as Atlas carries the burdens of the world on his shoulders, she is one-dimensional, without nuance, and one of the clueless class in need of some pity — unless she dares rise up on her hind legs and walk with her betters. Palin so exasperates liberals that they are reduced to very illiberal, very aristocratic disdain for the way she dresses, the places she lives, and the sort of children she has raised. Middle-class white conservative Christian moms from Alaska are not what liberals mean when they talk of diversity. Palin is simply too uppity in liberal eyes.
Why do liberals despise Rush Limbaugh more so than, say, conservatives hate Bill Maher or Chris Matthews? Yes, he is vastly more successful and influential, and does them, as the president so frequently whines, a lot of political damage. Of course, the Left hates the fact that Limbaugh went from middle-class to a billionaire, and without the proper educational credentials and anguish along the way to contextualize his wealth. (Keeping millions of listeners entertained for three hours, 250 days a year, is supposedly easy; in contrast, teaching a graduate seminar fifteen times a semester on your dissertation is an ordeal, full of deep thinking and contemplative heavy lifting.)