Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sarah Palin, who understands it?

I watched an awful bit of video in which Sarah Palin called Joe the Plumber on stage, eyed his tight pants and shirt with a look that bordered on the lascivious, and said to the crowd at her rally, "Oh, I knew I'd like him -- Carrharts and steel-toed boots, he's one of us."

Here's my question: is this the gesture of a cynical politician who's manipulating the public by appealing to a lowbrow class-resentment, or is she an authentic populist fascist who believes what she says?

What do you think?

P.S. I know that neither answer makes one feel any better, but I'm still curious.

12 comments:

Paul Lisicky said...

Well, I have to give your question some thought. These distinctions are tricky. But I am worried that I'm going to have to get rid of all those Carhartt clothes in my closet.

Harry said...

Mild disclaimer: I'm not American and I don't rate my political instincts about your country very highly. But fwiw.

She doesn't strike me as someone particularly given to introspection. I get the sense this stuff comes pretty naturally to her. I think she probably does feel she has a connection to the 'real America', and that the reason she's good at tapping into a certain strand of resentment and frustration in her audiences is that she is from a similar kind of background and she shares their sense of being overlooked or patronised or mocked by the 'elites' in New York, Washington and California.

But it's hard to tell. Over the next four years we'll probably get a better sense of how much she's willing to change her message for the sake of winning votes.

anything but poetry said...

I think everything about Palin is manipulation. I grew up in a "down home" place. As one starts to get educated, the first thing a person learns is: subvert the accent, lose the down-home speech, etc. It's hard for me to believe that anyone in her position could, at this point, remain unscathed and still be completely "down home" in her behavior, unaware of the perception of others. It's all performance. I believe she's quite aware of what she's doing. I'm mostly stunned that people are falling for it.

Andrew Shields said...

The discussions of her dropped Gs on the Language Log blog opened my eyes to how skilled a performer she is: she pronounces ING as IN strategically (only with certain grammatical subjects), JUST LIKE Obama does (though he does so with a different set of grammatical subjects).

But I'd say she's both: a manipulator of a certain mindset AND someone who genuinely shares that mindset.

Bill Matthews said...

The answer to your question is: YES

Kelly Thompson said...

I have to say, as an Alaskan - albeit a new one aka "cheechako" as I've only lived here 5 years - she would most likely. of the two choices you offer, be an authentic populist fascist.
Remember her slip, when she was stumping somewhere and called it "pro-American" as though parts of the US are "anti-American"? I have no doubt that she believes that only people who believe as she does, namely: like-minded Alaskans, members of the NRA from other states, fundamentalist Christians, and right-wing Republicans or, my words, God Squad Warriors for the Cause of Prayer in the Schools, Getting homosexuals back in the closet, and Pro-lifers - are real Americans.
You also have to realize that, from inside Alaska, the lower contiguous United States is called "Outside" and only Alaskans are considered true Americans anyway - the last American pioneers. There is a preservation of old-fashioned, racist, almost anarchist views and values here among long-time Alaskans (the only "real" Alaskans btw) that "outsiders" would find hard to comprehend.
It began, for me, first with noticing that people were wearing animals here - not only is it considered politically correct to do so, in Alaska, it would be considered politically incorrect to question the wearing of animal furs.
Believe it. Sarah Palin authentically has a very radical right wing conservative view of the world. If she were a cynical politician who was merely presenting herself in a certain light, there would be a huge sigh of relief on my part. You are looking at the real deal.

Collin Kelley said...

I think she's a redneck fascist.

Jack Albrecht said...

Hey, All - I'll weigh in as a former actor. Politicians groom themselves to be performers. I think that Sarah Palin believes she can successfully play both to the "down-home" and to the elite electorate. She's a cyni-popu-fascist.
Oh, and Paul - don't sacrifice your fashionable Carhartt. You never know when you might need to wear them as we climb, à la "The Sound of Music," over the Glacier/Waterton Rockies to escape into Alberta if the election tilts rightward.

Justin Evans said...

She's a true believer. She didn't just drink the coolaid, she helped make the next batch.

Elizabeth said...

how about just plain old mediocrity?

will said...

I love how threatened the men (and women) are by Sarah Palin. It's so funny.

Mark Doty said...

Man, I don't get the humor, Will. I think she's genuinely terrifying.