Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Thursday, February 05, 2009

"The Meaning of Sarah Palin"

Yuval Levin has written a great piece for Commentary about Sarah Palin's candidacy.

I particularly like his take on the over-the-top disgust with which "cultural elites" reacted to Palin:

Palin’s social conservatism had never been the core of her political identity in Alaska. She always expressed general support for traditionalist views in interviews and debates, and it was widely known that she had also chosen to proceed with her fifth pregnancy after discovering the child had Down syndrome—a discovery that in about nine of ten cases leads parents to opt for abortion. But Palin never went out of her way to raise abortion or other social or cultural issues, and in her first two years as governor had not sought to change state policies in these areas. She was a good-government reformer with social conservative leanings, not the other way around.

But this was not how Palin was received on the national scene. Instead, her views on matters of cultural and social controversy very quickly became the chief focus of media attention, liberal criticism, and pundit analysis. Palin was assigned every view and position the Left considered unenlightened, and the response to her brought into the light all manner of implicit liberal assumptions about cultural conservatives. We were told that Palin was opposed to contraception, advocated teaching creationism in schools, and was inclined to ban books she disagreed with. She was described as a religious zealot, an anti-abortion extremist, a blind champion of abstinence-only sex education. She was said to have sought to make rape victims pay for their own medical exams, to have Alaska secede from the Union, and to get Pat Buchanan elected President. She was reported to believe that the Iraq war was mandated by God, that the end-times prophesied in the Book of Revelation were nearing and only Alaska would survive, and that global warming was purely a myth. None of this was true.

Her personal life came under withering assault as well. Palin’s capacity to function as a senior elected official while raising five children was repeatedly questioned by liberal pundits who would never dare to express such views about a female candidate whose opinions were more congenial to them. Her teenage daughter’s pregnancy was splattered all over the front pages (garnering three New York Times stories in a single day on September 2). Some bloggers even suggested her youngest child had not issued from her, but from her daughter instead, and that she had participated in a bizarre cover-up. I attended a gathering in Washington at which a prominent columnist wondered aloud how Palin could pursue her career when her religious beliefs denied women the right to work outside the home.

Palin became the embodiment of every dark fantasy the Left had ever held about the views of evangelical Christians and women who do not associate themselves with contemporary feminism, and all concern for clarity and truthfulness was left at the door.

To be sure, some criticisms of Palin were entirely appropriate. She had no experience in foreign or defense policy and very little expertise in or command of either. In a time of war, with a seventy-two-year-old presidential candidate who had already survived one bout with cancer, this was a cause for very real concern. And Palin did perform dreadfully in some early interviews. Some of her more level-headed critics did make their case on these grounds. But the more common visceral hostility toward her seemed to have little to do with these objections. Rather, the entire episode had the feel of a kind of manic outburst; it was triggered by a false understanding of who Palin was, and once it began, there was no stopping or controlling it.

The reaction to Palin revealed a deep and intense cultural paranoia on the Left: an inclination to see retrograde reaction around every corner, and to respond to it with vile anger. A confident, happy, and politically effective woman who was also a social conservative was evidently too much to bear. The response of liberal feminists was in this respect particularly telling, and especially unpleasant.

Read the whole thing, I beg you.


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