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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spare me your reverse-reverse snobbery about Sarah Palin

I've put up yet another guest-post about Gov. Palin at HughHewitt.com. This one's pretty snarky, but I respectfully submit that it's a response to snark-rageous provocation from Michelle Cottle, a leftie pundit at TNR.


[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

Yesterday I wrote about an anti-Palin elitist who actually reveled in being an elitist. But equally funny are the elitists who insist that they're not elitists, and that because they aren't qualified to be vice president, neither can Sarah Palin be. Their argument is that precisely because so many people immediately connected to Sarah Palin on some subjective, visceral level, that must mean Sarah Palin is not exceptional, but rather exceptionally common — and therefore unqualified.

Exhibit A of this species is Michelle Cottle, a senior editor at The New Republic since 1999. Ms. Cottle wrote the following vivid paragraph yesterday on TNR's The Plank blog as part of her response, titled "Spare Me Your Reverse Snobbery," to an anti-elitist (pro-Palin) op-ed by Ralph Peters in the NY Post (caps and italics hers):

Just like Ralph Peters, I KNOW Sarah Palin. Hell, in my younger days, I WAS Sarah Palin. (Well, minus being a crack shot.) The difference is I don't fetishize my regular-gal roots and assume they make me special — much less qualified to run the country. And while I have indeed witnessed my fair share of cultural snobbery from some of my better-credentialed, coastal colleagues over the years, I'm not so defensive about where I come from that I feel the need to champion a wildly unqualified fellow hick whose politics I disagree with as a way to get back at everyone I know who has ever made a sniffy comment about big hair or small towns.

Nice and snarky, that bit about Ms. Cottle not being a "crack shot." Indeed, that's the kernel of truth buried in the midst of an otherwise undigested analysis.

And although Ms. Cottle's post doesn't mention it, there have been many reports in the last few weeks (e.g., here and here) of young women and girls showing up at McCain-Palin rallies wearing tee-shirts or carrying signs that read: "I am Sarah Palin!" So Ms. Cottle's feigned identification with Gov. Palin — at least as Ms. Cottle remembers herself from her own "younger days" — does have some real-world analogs, which I think we can presume are sincere (even if Ms. Cottle would think them pathetic).

[# More #] Now, I have no idea whether Ms. Cottle has met or mastered any of the challenges of being a wife and a middle-class mom, much less a working-outside-the-home mom; so let's give her the benefit of the doubt on those counts and just presume that she has. And Ms. Cottle's own educational credentials, including her BA in English from Vanderbilt in 1992, aren't as shabby as her post makes out, and certainly they're no less prestigious than Gov. Palin's 1987 degree in journalism from the University of Idaho.

But thereafter, Ms. Cottle appears to have been busy pursuing a career as a leftist journalist and pundit — with stints as an editor at Washington Monthly, an editorial fellow at Mother Jones, and a free-lancer for various newspapers, magazines, and CNN — in which pursuits I'm sure she collected a nice sheaf of clippings, some video clips with Tucker Carlson, many loyal friends and colleagues, and some modest fame (albeit that mostly among fans of leftie pundits). And that's all very nice. Good for Ms. Cottle, I say.

In the meantime, by comparison, Gov. Palin was busy pursuing a career as a multi-term city councilman; then a multi-term city mayor and head of the Alaska Conference of Mayors; then an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor; then the chair and ethics officer of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission; then a private-citizen reformer who drove from state office first an ethically challenged fellow commissioner and then an ethically challenged attorney-general; then a successful candidate for governor who defeated, in succession, an ethically challenged incumbent and a popular former governor; and then a successful governor who, in less than two years, has helped enact comprehensive ethics reforms, completely revised her state's most important tax structure, and accomplished more than any single other American public servant of any rank or party to help bring us closer to national energy independence, all the while maintaining stratospheric public approval ratings among her home-state constituents.

So yeah, other than all that, and of course the "crack shot" status — Michelle Cottle and Sarah Palin are pretty much twins!

As for all this speculation about Barack Obama dropping Joe Biden from the Democratic ticket and replacing him with a powerful, accomplished woman to counter John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, my advice to Sen. Obama is: Forget about Hillary. Go for another regular gal — Michelle Cottle! After all, if Ms. Cottle is right, just about any wildly unqualified fellow hick modest American woman could do what Sarah Palin's done, including electrifying a national political convention in a coming-out speech watched by 40 million Americans, energizing and unifying a dispirited national political party, and drawing tens of thousands of new enthusiasts to campaign rallies — even if, well, Ms. Cottle herself hasn't quite gotten around to any of that. Indeed, I'll be watching for those "I am Michelle Cottle" tee-shirts in the very near future.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 05:07 AM in 2008 Election, McCain, Obama, Palin, Politics (2008) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Spare me your reverse-reverse snobbery about Sarah Palin and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) Boyd made the following comment | Sep 23, 2008 7:49:39 AM | Permalink

Sheesh, Beldar, if I were on the other side of the fence from you, I'd say it looks like you'd suffered from some sort of blockage over the past week or so, which finally cleared itself from the bowels of your mind and spewed your verbal diarrhea all over Hewitt's site.

But since I agree with you so much it's shameful, I won't say that.


(2) randy tooley made the following comment | Sep 23, 2008 8:24:33 AM | Permalink

The kernel of truth is the undigested part. The rest is a digested product that we call by another name.

(3) A.W. made the following comment | Sep 23, 2008 1:23:47 PM | Permalink


I had a thought reading the post over at Hewitt’s site. Try this: name the public figure whom Palin most closely resembles...

My answer: Laura Bush. Both of them are pretty, but not overly so, a little nerdy, and a little traditional, but what strikes you the most in looking at both women is just how ordinary they would seem. I could picture going to Albertsons and meeting either woman, and they would just seem like regular, albeit pleasant people. Now the big difference is Palin is a more aggressive. I guess that is what comes from being a power-seeker. And I have long said that her acceptance speech was kind of momma bear in full effect; she felt like her family had been wronged, and she was ready to tear Obama’s throat out in response (and I think she did knock him down a peg, or three).

Which I think is interesting, because we have therefore moved from that as the model of a spouse or being the model of a Veep, if not a full president. I think liberals have failed to appreciate how much there is to cheer in all of this. The “conservative” party is now fully enthused about a female veep and just about everyone I know would actually prefer her to be president. That’s new and a welcome return to the universal freedom agenda that was the cornerstone of the original republican party. This is Lincoln Republicanism at its best and I for one am glad to see it.

(4) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 23, 2008 5:49:59 PM | Permalink

Dear A.W.: You horrify me. This "universal freedom agenda" is small stuff compared to the gigantic intrusion the Feds are proposing, to settle the hash the Wall Street liars and idiots have made of everything except their own compensation. McC is bawling for government intervention on a grand scale. His latest imbecility is his notion of canning Christopher Cox as SEC chairman and replacing him with Andrew Cuomo. Good God. Good God. Cuomo was one of the imbeciles who set the subprime ship to sail, huffing and puffing. He had a lot of company, including Billyboy and Geo. W., but that's no excuse for McC's idiocy in "trying to reach across the aisle." He'll ruin himself with this sort of imbecility. Worse, as Howard Fineman has pointed out, whatever plan is chosen, the next Prez's hands are going to be tied, domestically, for anything that requires money. What domestic initiative a) doesn't require all that much money and b) requires working across the aisle? Immigration. So there will be another bloody row, with a lot of broken heads as McC tries to move the nation's capital to Mexico City.

In another post, Beldar opines that Palin will remain loyal to McC, and not give him a set of broken teeth as she did to Frank Murkowski---who deserved it. I agree with this opinion. But if McC keeps up with his grotesqueries, everyone else may start heaving real bricks at him to get Sarah in the Oval Office. Can't we have two Veeps, Sarah to kick Putin in the shins, and Mitt Romney to restore some kind of order and honesty to Wall Street, preferably with a baseball bat?

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(5) A.W. made the following comment | Sep 24, 2008 4:31:46 AM | Permalink

Koster wrote:

> This "universal freedom agenda" is small stuff compared to the gigantic intrusion the Feds are proposing, to settle the hash the Wall Street liars and idiots have made of everything except their own compensation.

Dude, you are reading the completely wrong thing out of my words. I believe in market freedom. I am a classic Teddy Roosevelt style capitalist, believing in the purity of competition to make our lives better. Disclosure on many things and anti-fraud rules, mainly, but otherwise I want companies to live OR DIE on their own merits.

So on the current crisis... I am half inclined to say “f--- it, let them all fail.” The only reason why I am not 100% in that camp is I suspect that the government may literally be at fault in much of this (definitely is in the case of fannie and freddy, not sure on the other stuff), and thus government intervention to prevent the bad effects of government intervention might be justified.

But still I have to wonder if the rest of the banks are thinking “oh good, we don’t have to control for risk, because if things go all to hell, the government will bail us out.”

Anyway, as for McCain, bluntly he is a man trying to win an election. Starting with Franklin Roosevelt, the democrats have released this virus into our political system where if you say the best thing is to leave the market alone that means you “don’t care” and so on. Its crap, mind you, but its our political reality. At a time like this, most people don’t want to hear that the failure of business is not only a part of life in a capitalist system, but actually a positive development. Of course the people losing jobs will suffer in the short term, but in the long term, our entire economy will be better off if companies are allowed to fail.

And finally, as for what I mean about universal freedom agenda, is about equality for just about all. Thaddeus Stevens had just about the perfect formulation: “no distinction would be tolerated in this purified republic but what arose from merit and conduct.” (I’m not sure that’s an absolutely exact quote, but if you see the original, it is accurate in all the important respects.) Notice that is very similar to Martin Luther King’s “judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character” formulation, except that Stevens’ is much broader than just race, and is clearer on what is permissible (technically “character” can encompass both merit and conduct, but it isn’t clear that this is wat Dr. King meant). That is a huge part of it. The other part is the dream of seeing every stupid tyrant in the world kicked down, a dream that goes all the way back to the Declaration of Independence’s statement that all men were create equal. They didn’t say all “Americans” were created equal (and it certainly didn’t limit it by color, either), but all men and I would only quibble to say that it should say all persons instead, to more clearly include women in this (in law, “men” often means “people,” but it is not always clear when that is the case). That, to me, is the universal freedom agenda, not some hyperactive regulatory state.

(6) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 24, 2008 8:02:15 PM | Permalink

Dear A.W.: Ah. The meaning comes through more clearly, many thanks. But you still horrify me when you write:

"I am a classic Teddy Roosevelt style capitalist, believing in the purity of competition to make our lives better."

No. Nonononono. Nein, nicht non nyet. TR, a great hero of mine, was no admirer of competition. However loudly he praised the virtues of the competitive market with his tiny violin, he roared a thousand times more loudly for the virtues of the Administrative State, run by experts who "know" what is going on, with all the brasa and percussion instruments at his command. Where do you think Franklin Roosevelt got many of his notions for the New Deal? From his fifth cousin Theodore. Read Theodore's book THE NEW NATIONALISM sometime. It isn't long, being an expansion of his notorious 1910 Osawatomie speech. But be sitting down when you read it. Reading this tome will crack your free market glass eyeball, burst your suspenders, and set your hair aflame, even while the experts of the Administrative State chortle with glee and write safety regulations for reading the book.

Theodore Roosevelt has many virtues, but a belief in the virtues of the free, unregulated market was well down his list, suffering from anemia, and writing its last will and testament. No, what I admire about T Roosevelt is the grasp of foreign affairs, and an unashamed assertion of America's role in the world. That is also the part of McC I like, while the other part, the part that says put Andrew Cuomo in charge at the SEC makes me reach for the absinthe barrel in another attempt to drown myself.

Finally: OK, let the banks go bust, and hang their managements, using the risers from the golden parachutes for the noose. But it won't be only American banks going bust. A lot of those mortgages and their derivatives were sold abroad. I admit it's just good clean fun to chortle at the Chinese for buying a couple hundred billions of this garbage. But let the Chinese decide to stop buying American financial paper and the pain we are talking about will magnify about ten times, and that long run you are talking about will be very long indeed.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

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