It’s not unusual for politicians to inspire strong emotions. After all, there is a reason why people suggest you avoid talking about race, religion, and politics if you want to have a nice dinner conversation.
But something about Sarah Palin arouses a particularly strong reaction. Liberals attack her children, say grotesquely sexist things about her, embrace wacky conspiracy theories about her faking a pregnancy, and insult every woman in America when they suggest she can’t be a good mother and a politician, too.
Although Sarah Palin is more loved by the Right than any other politician in America, she has her detractors there as well. Staffers engage in whispering campaigns against her, quisling Republicans write offensive columns about her for liberal publications, and sneering Beltway hacks tut-tut about her on the cable news shows.
It would be understandable if Sarah Palin were president and produced this type of reaction, but the governor of Alaska? Most people couldn’t even name a half-dozen governors, much less obsess over what they’re doing.
So why does this lady produce such a big hubbub?
Well, there are many reasons for it, starting with her gender: Sarah Palin, had she been elected to the White House, would have been the first female vice president. Moreover, she has to be the odds-on favorite at this point to become the first woman president.
That upsets liberal feminists to no end because she is a living, breathing refutation of their style of feminism — which is intellectually bankrupt and seems to stand for nothing more than increasing the number of abortions, encouraging teenage girls to act like skanks, and pointlessly complaining about the “patriarchy.” Sarah Palin represents a totally different style of woman: the conservative feminist. She’s had a successful career, raised a big family, and has done it all without aborting an “inconvenient” child or carping about men keeping her down. The idea that Sarah Palin could become the new role model for feminism terrifies liberals, and it inspires them to ramp up the artillery barrage of malignity that they typically launch at conservative women — which is extraordinarily venomous to begin with. Whether it’s Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, or Carrie Prejean, there are few things on Earth that liberals hate more than strong, conservative women.
Palin’s sex has caused problems for her on the Right as well, but not the problems the Left tells you to expect — like gaggles of men who think she should be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Despite the fact that Sarah Palin was the best thing to happen to John McCain’s presidential campaign, the honest truth is that she was an identity politics pick. Had she been a man, someone with her limited experience would have never been selected. On the Left, this wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow, but on the Right, it created waves of resentment that hurt Palin with some Republicans.
Additionally, Palin’s background has caused issues for her. She is what most politicians pretend to be: just a regular person who climbed up through the ranks. She doesn’t come from old money or a famous family. She didn’t go to an Ivy League school. She hasn’t spent decades kibitzing at New York and D.C. cocktail parties with people who view themselves to be the elite of American society. To the contrary, Sarah Palin is a PTA mom, hunter, and Wasilla beauty queen from small town America who attended five different colleges.
With a pedigree like that it wouldn’t matter if she cured cancer and turned lead into gold; to some elitists in both parties she will never be acceptable.
The woman didn’t even go to an Ivy League school, for God sake — and has she ever been on a yacht? And don’t get them started on those dreadful beauty pageants and the hunting. Maybe if she had hunted foxes in her youth, it would be understandable, but moose? Oh, and the worst thing is that accent. A New York accent or a Boston accent, well, of course, that would be fine — but Alaskan? Imagine bringing her to a dinner party in the Hamptons. People would just titter at her every utterance until they could barely finish their Chardonnay and caviar! For snobs who think like this, Sarah Palin will never be up to code.
Another reason — in Rome the first thing a new emperor would do when he took the throne was to try to maneuver his potential rivals out of the way. Given her charisma, popularity, and the enthusiasm she generates among conservatives, Sarah Palin is the candidate most likely to be Barack Obama’s most dangerous foe in the next presidential election.
So when liberals smear her, they’re smearing the person whom they fear they have to go toe-to-toe with in 2012. When they make rape jokes about her children, as did David Letterman, they’re trying to send her a message: “Don’t run for president or we’ll go after your children to get to you.” When they file laughable ethics charge after ethics charge against her, they’re doing it not because they think she did anything wrong, but because they’re hoping the sheer number of false charges will take some luster off a woman known for fighting corruption.
The attacks from the Left are probably not so surprising to most people, but the ones from the Right may be slipping in under the radar. How many nasty anonymous comments about Sarah Palin have been made by supporters of Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, or one of the other candidates running in 2012? A smear campaign already being organized by any of the potential contenders seems doubtful, but as we all know, the campaign season starts earlier and earlier each cycle and many of these attacks are likely aimed at hurting the probable frontrunner for the nomination.
There is also another angle to this — Sarah Palin’s views are much more representative of the average conservative in flyover country than even some Republicans would like. That’s true of Republican moderates who desperately want to see the party abandon its conservative roots. Other Republicans who’ve been in Washington a little too long may grudgingly give lip service to conservative ideas, but truthfully, they believe all wisdom comes from D.C. These are people who never really liked Reagan and who view their constituents as their servants, instead of vice-versa. A prominent Republican politician like Sarah Palin, whose influence and success are totally dependent on keeping the hoi polloi in the base happy, is a threat to their agenda.
What Sarah Palin’s future holds is unknown, but one thing is for sure: if she runs in 2012, she will inspire legendary enthusiasm from her supporters and a blitzkrieg of hatred from her enemies.