We Are Civil Now
In emulation of Jonathan Chait’s now infamous 2004 New Republic essay, “The Case for Bush Hatred” (“I hate George Bush—there, I said it”), Slate just published an op-ed, “Why I Loathe My Connecticut Senator” by one Emily Bazelon, with a detailed description of why she “despises” and “hates” Sen. Joe Lieberman (again, the same reason as Chait’s Bush hatred: too conservative and too in power).
So much for the new Obama age of civility.
Palin This, Palin That
In this context, since the moment of the Tucson shootings we have witnessed not just a campaign to smear Sarah Palin with the charge that she, or what she supposedly represents, is responsible for the mayhem, but that her rebuttals themselves are more proof that she is culpable.
Op-ed writers all the time employ the metaphor “crosshairs.” Democrats use targets to highlight their plans to unseat congressional Republicans. “Blood libel” long ago became a generic charge far more than a specific one reflecting its anti-Semitic roots. No matter — if Palin can be tied to any of that, then she alone is guilty of all that. So what is it that so bugs the media elite about Sarah Palin?
Didn’t She Say All That?
Is the problem with Palin that she uses inflammatory language far too loosely given her position of responsibility? Of course, evocation of “enemies, punishing, kicking ass, relegation to backseat, knives, guns, getting angry, getting in their face, hostage takers, trigger fingers, and tearing up” does not suit a national public figure and former vice presidential candidate. Oops, those allusions were Barack Obama’s, not Sarah Palin’s.
Well, then, confess it — Palin has a disturbing tendency to blurt out dumb, even wacky things — a sort of window into her Wasilla vacuity that daily reminds us why she simply is unfit for higher office. Remember when she claimed that the images of Berlin’s Victory Column were photo-shopped phallic symbols? Didn’t she muse about a radio talk show host being blown up “Mr. Big”-style with a CO2 pellet to the head? Sorry again, that was the New York Times’ esteemed columnist Bob Herbert and CNN’s Chris Matthews.
Fine, but she thought people in Austria speak some weird language called “Austrian” and she pronounces “corpsmen” “corpse-men” as if soldiers were some sort of walking dead, and she thinks there are 57 states, and she … sorry, all that and much more was Barack Obama’s, and they were slips after a weary day’s work, not “deep” reflections of reality.
The Great Divider
OK, I think what many people don’t like about Sarah Palin is her tendency to oh so subtly emphasize race — as in her celebration of a largely white anti-government Alaskan culture. That isolation makes her especially inept anytime she must deal with the multicultural, multiracial reality of the lower 48 states. Do we remember in the campaign when she said of Obama — “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man”? Excuse me, that gem was from Senate veteran, eastern-seaboarder, and now Vice President Joe Biden.
Well, what I meant to quote was Palin’s ridiculous description of Obama as a “light-skinned African American,” one “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” OK, sorry again, that was the work of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
But maybe the rub is Palin’s complete lack of bipartisanship. Did she not as an Alaskan politician have the most partisan voting record in her various offices, or duck issues by serially voting present? Got me again — that was Barack Obama in the state legislature and as a U.S. senator.
But at least admit her political extremism is deleterious to the commonwealth, especially her tendency to go over the top in demonizing enemies with inappropriate and hurtful language. Don’t we remember how she tarred the incumbent administration with the loony charge of “Nazis” or “digital brownshirts”? I apologize again — that stuff came out of the mouths of former U.S. Senators Robert Byrd, Al Gore, and John Glenn.
Well, then, there’s Todd and his strange Alaskan paranoia and his anti-government excess that almost sounds anti-American. Remember when he not long ago just lost it and shouted out that our America “was downright mean” and that America was always “raising the bar” on the Palins? And remember Todd’s unfortunate boast that his Sarah “is one of the smartest people you will ever encounter who will deign to enter this messy thing called politics.” Then, to top that braggadocio off, ol’ Todd blurted out: “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.” Scary, militia stuff no doubt.
Sorry again, that was First Lady Michelle Obama.
We could go on, but you get the uncivil picture. The popular hatred of a self-described elite culture toward Sarah Palin is almost inexplicable — whether expressed in Andrew Sullivan’s unhinged efforts to suggest Palin faked her fifth pregnancy, or David Letterman’s slur that she seemed a “slutty flight attendant” and her 14-year-old daughter “was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez,” or CNN guest host Kathy Griffin’s crudity that her next target was the teenaged Palin daughter: “But I think it’s Willow’s year to go down.”