Monday, March 21, 2011

Parsing "Palin"

By way of reporting the results of a poll in which the respondents were asked whom they would prefer as president, Sarah Palin or Charlie Sheen (yep, that Charlie Sheen), Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO has a nice piece about what Palin has come to represent.  At one point she remarks:
You don’t have to want Sarah Palin to be president to acknowledge that the frenzy around her may have more to do with us than her.
(By the way, the Democrats and Independents polled prefered Mr. Sheen for president by sizeable margins.  Ms. Lopez is interested in the character of whomever it is that would poll such a thing in the first place.  I'm also curious about the character of those who would actually respond.  If, over the phone, some pollster were to ask me that question, the next sound he/she would hear would be "click", or, perhaps, some profanity-laced diatribe about wasting my time quickly followed by "click".)

Anyway, like Ms. Lopez, I'm growing increasingly curious about reactions to "Palin".  I don't mean reactions to Sarah Palin, the woman, the wife and mother of five, the former governor of Alaska, the former US vice-presidential candidate, the reality-TV star, etc.  For most people, that actual human being ceased to exist from almost the very first moment she stepped onto the national stage over two and one-half years ago.  Rather, I'm interested in reactions to "Palin", the icon, the Rorschak inkblot.  You can tell a lot about somebody if you ask them what they think of "Elvis", now so too "Palin".

And the "somebodys" I'm currently most interested in are those with whom I share the Right side of the political spectrum.

For what it's worth, here's one early observation about those very same "somebodys":  Those on the Right who seem most disgusted with or embarrassed by "Palin" are more likely than not the same people who supported a John McCain candidacy for president in both 2000 and 2008.  They supported it because McCain represented for them some clever conservative "third way" that could effectively woo a substantial number of independent voters away from the Democrats.  Do I need to say it?  This is the very same John McCain who lifted from political obscurity by choosing as his running mate, one Sarah Louise Heath Palin, a heretofore unknown sitting governor from a lightly populated state that he would have won easily anyway.

This is just too absurd to be explained away as a simple instance of irony.  Rather, now, when I hold up the "Palin" inkblot and get the response I've come to expect from one of these people, people with whom I otherwise have much in common, I'm tempted to just shake my head and conclude, "You know, politically, this guy is nuts."

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