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[Off Topic & Political To Boot] The Meaning of Sarah Palin

Friday, February 13, 2009 • 1:00 pm


An enthralling analysis of American politics from Commentary Magazine.

The Commentary article should be read in tandem with this analysis of the different types/categories of conservative political candidates—also a very helpful piece.

But on to Commentary Magazine, from which the below is excerpted:

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.

“Her greatest hypocrisy is her pretense that she is a woman,” wrote Wendy Doniger, a professor at the University of Chicago. “Having someone who looks like you and behaves like them,” said Gloria Steinem, “who looks like a friend but behaves like an adversary, is worse than having no one.”

This preposterous effort to excommunicate Palin from her gender suggests that the kind of new-order feminism she represents—a feminism that embraces cultural traditionalism and workplace egalitarianism at the same time—is especially frightening to those on the feminist Left because they recognize its power and appeal. The attempt to destroy Sarah Palin by rushing to paint her as a backwoods extremist was not a show of strength, but rather a sign of desperation.

_____________

Meanwhile, on the Right, Palin was the cause of a manic episode of a different sort. The governor’s touching life story, her folksy way of speaking, and her gut-level appeal to the culture of the lower middle class exercised tremendous power over many conservatives, which inclined them to fill the sizable blanks in Palin’s political profile with their own wishful assumptions, and to make flustered excuses for her shortcomings.

There was a strong case to be made in her defense. Palin had as much foreign-policy experience as most governors do, and Americans have been willing time and again to overlook such inexperience in their hunger for proven executive acumen in Washington. (Four of the last five Presidents had been governors, after all, and Palin was running for Vice President with a foreign-policy expert at the top of the ticket.) And while Palin seemed out of her depth in several television interviews, she was extraordinarily effective on the stump, was a quick study, and proved to be at least an even match for Joe Biden, a six-term senator, in the vice-presidential debate.

Yet, for all these defenses, there could be no denying Palin’s real deficiencies.


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Comments:
[1] Posted by Catholic Mom on 02-13-2009 at 03:01 PM • top

The reaction to Palin revealed a deep and intense cultural paranoia on the Left

For whatever reason, I was led to blog about Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale today.  Very much on target to this post.  My comments at http://northernplainsanglicans.blogspot.com/2009/02/thinking-back-on-handmaids-tale-it.html

[2] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 02-13-2009 at 03:17 PM • top

I cannot stand the ultra-liberal swine who deliberately slandered an honest woman who happens to be both a working mother and a governor at the same time.  Of course she had little foreign policy experience!  I can think of a few former presidents who had <b>none at all!<b/b>

[3] Posted by Cennydd on 02-13-2009 at 03:43 PM • top

And Lacewell is simply playing the race card.

[4] Posted by Cennydd on 02-13-2009 at 03:44 PM • top

Sarah Palin was very weak in so many areas of politics, but was a brilliant move on of McCain. She satisfied the check boxes of positions that most Neo-Cons wanted, but could fulfill a maverick image as the campaign did not want to be tied to an unpopular administration. Any word you could say against her credentials could be used on Obama (which actually voids #1, for pots & kettles). It also guaranteed that whoever won, it would be a “first,” so lessens the “make history” incentive for voting Democratic.

Her future political capital is uncertain. She was the perfect puzzle piece for this election, one LA for a Iowa Senator proclaimed, “she’s the only thing interesting about the ticket.” However, I do doubt that the GOP will rally around her in the future. I think she has a shot at the legislator or being a VP candidate again, but her greatest asset to this campaign was a complete neutralizer of many of Obama’s non-platform advantages while any liability was actually the same as his.

[5] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 02-13-2009 at 05:11 PM • top

Sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph of utterly unproven assertions about “liberals,” “conservatives,” “Democrats,” “Republicans,” “cultural elitists,” etc. etc.  Democrats are cultural elitists, they “look down their noses” at dirty coal and hunting season.”  (Gee—I never realized people who thought coal was a dirty energy source were cultural elitists.)  This is the kind of drivel I used to listen from the LEFT in college.  After several decades of real life, I’ve finally learned to say “this is your fantasty black/white view of the world and everybody in it that fits into your nice little made up categories.  You “know” what people think and why they do things, and you don’t have to waste your time checking your knowledge against reality.  If you want to make a point based on all these assertions, start by actually providing a single shred of evidence (beyond your unsupported statement) for any of them.”

[6] Posted by Catholic Mom on 02-13-2009 at 07:44 PM • top

PS I know what my left-school-to-work-in-the-coal-mines grandfather who became a national labor leader and ultimately editor of a big city newspaper would have said about Sarah Palin.  “The woman is an idiot.”  But that’s what you’d expect from one of those “intellectual elitist liberals.”  (He never knew he was a liberal—he just voted for whoever he thought would help the mine workers.  But no doubt Yuval Levin knows all about his kind.)

[7] Posted by Catholic Mom on 02-13-2009 at 07:52 PM • top

It was one thing to look at the candidacy of Sarah Palin and be concerned about her lack of hands-on experience in areas that are associated with rising to the highest offices of our land.

But that’s not what happened - there were some otherwise rather rationale people who fashioned themselves upper-middle class white intellectuals of the eastern seaboard who positively hated her, just flat out hated her - with a passion. They looked at her and they just were overcome with pure, unadulterated hatred - and from my experience, the ones who seemed to hate her the most from among this group I often encountered in DC were women.  I still wonder, why did they hate her so much?

bb

[8] Posted by BabyBlue on 02-13-2009 at 10:29 PM • top

#9 BabyBlue,
They hated her because she was a woman who had power and she was not like them. She did not have to hate men and emasculate them to get power. She did not become a man to gain power. She was strong, She was a woman, and she had power without an Ivy League Pedigree.

[9] Posted by Fr. Dale on 02-13-2009 at 10:39 PM • top

Well, being “brilliant” hasn’t exactly helped Obama in making sure his cabinet officers had done compliacted stuff like pay their taxes.  Including of course the treasury secretary, who’s in charge of the IRS who announced his plan to make a plan to deal with TARP 2.0 and caused the Dow to drop over 400 points.

I would have rather have had Harry Truman as president over Albert Einstein.  Leadership has more to do with common sense than IQ.  Obama’s Ivy league transcript may be evidence of the latter, but can’t buy the former.  His appointments to key regulatory agencies are heavy in professorial class who never had to run a business and have no idea how dictates from the ivory tower affect people who have to try to make a business work so they can grow a business and hire people at less than $200,000 a job like the $800 billion porkapalooza.

[10] Posted by Bill2 on 02-13-2009 at 10:45 PM • top

They looked at her and they just were overcome with pure, unadulterated hatred - and from my experience, the ones who seemed to hate her the most from among this group I often encountered in DC were women.  I still wonder, why did they hate her so much?

BB, because she was a successful woman w/o being a feminist.

Feminist doctrine is actually VERY masculine, actually “traditional feminine values” children and motherhood are despised—as a male who’s put up with the rhetoric for years, actually discarded to baby sitter and afterschool programs [where not great things happened] long before it was fashionable in the Seventies, latch-key kid at eight, from an affluent family, but so feminist mom could pursue her career, I know a little about that venom—well, it did come back to bite my parents with a vengeance, the Lord was always in control and in my life, but allowed me to piece their hearts.

Remember Children (especially sons) are a hindrance to a classical feminist, “all men want is for women to be baby factories.” I’ve heard pregnancy called parasitic. No wonder why I struggle with self-image all my life and despaired a few times. Classical feminism of the seventies is so much more than “equal pay for equal work (which overall I fully concur).”

Here is a woman who doesn’t despise children, worse knows how to be submissive, as she was to her Presidential nominee, but never with loss dignity. A noe-con roll model for the gender the feminist think they are entitled (FYI—CWA is twice the membership of NOW).

She is a successful anti-feminist, the largest threat, for she were “a baby factory, barefoot and pregnant under patriarchy,” then they could feel sorry for her, if successful and single, then she’d be like them, here Sarah was exactly what they say is tyranny, but she doing better than they are and valuing a life they’d murder, saying their something higher than comfort of a normal child rearing. She’s living proof that their lies are empty!! grin

[11] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 02-13-2009 at 11:00 PM • top

She has as much foreign policy experience as Obama and more executive experience.  Liberal women hate her because: (1) She is a PRACTICING Christian(2) She has a happy marriage (3) She has several children (4) She did not abort her last baby (5) She is successful, and(6) she is pretty.  They know they would look like fools if they said that, so they make up other reasons.

[12] Posted by BCPchurchmouse on 02-13-2009 at 11:12 PM • top

RE: “Democrats are cultural elitists . . .

Well.  Actually.  The article spoke about both Republican and Democrat cultural elitists.  I wholeheartedly agree with that.  Much of the critique of Palin—certainly not all, but much—was based on that cultural elitism. 

RE: “Sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph of utterly unproven assertions . . . “

Well—I call it sentence after sentence of analysis.  And rather cogent analysis both “pro” and “con” Palin and her detractors.

I understand your not believing that analysis.

But generally there is not laboratory, controlled-experiment “evidence” for analysis.  That’s why it’s . . . “analysis” of events.  One takes actual events and analyzes what they mean.

[13] Posted by Sarah on 02-13-2009 at 11:24 PM • top

Well, Catholic Mom, despite her supposed “idiocy”, at least YOUR Pope would agree with Sarah Palin’s views on abortion. 

Or do people just have to be more Harvard-intellectually-developed to understand why it’s a good thing to murder babies?

[14] Posted by Passing By on 02-14-2009 at 08:45 AM • top

Well, I just wrote a long and brilliant response, complete with quotes from the article to support it, but then the computer wiped it out and now I don’t have the mental strength to recompose it.

All it boiled down to was this:  Democrats say things like “Why on earth do working people vote Republican when it’s so “obviously” not in their own interests to do so?  Hmm…no point in asking them.  We just “know” that it’s because their economic struggles have made them so bitter that they turn to guns and religion and voting Republican.”

Conservatives say things like “why did so many people attack Sarah Palin for appearing to be an idiot?  Well, (according to the author of this article” she was “unable to given a coherent answer) to a number of important questions and “performed dreadfully” in numerous widely televised interviews, but NO, that couldn’t be the reason.  It’s because they’re “intellectual elites” with a “world view” that makes them inherently despise her.”

It’s so easy when somebody says X and you disagree, NOT to marshal arguments against X but to simply launch into a long discourse on the “world view” of the people asserting X and what they REALLY believe (as opposed to what they say) and then attacking THAT strawman (which you have totally set up) rather than saying anything substantive in response to what they HAVE said.

[15] Posted by Catholic Mom on 02-14-2009 at 08:55 AM • top

Well, I just wrote a long and brilliant response, complete with quotes from the article to support it, but then the computer wiped it out and now I don’t have the mental strength to recompose it.

That’s odd, because the same thing just happened to me.  I wrote a long and brilliant (if I do say so myself) rebuttal to your thesis, and then the computer wiped it out and I also don’t have the mental strength to recompose my rebuttal. 

And now the world lies in ruins beneath the devastation of our arguments.  Oh well, somehow life will go on. 

“Res ipsa loquitor” / “She’s an idiot” etc.

FWIW, I thought her biggest mistakes were the ones where she was simply not being herself.  She didn’t need to sugar-coat her lack of foreign policy experience.  Many presidents (Teddy Roosevelt included) come into the office without any such experience.  If inexperience is what it is, and we’re willing to overcome it, then it doesn’t have to be a liability.  That’s true in all walks of life. 

I had to laugh at Obama though, trying to recover during the week of the GOP convention:  “I’ll put Biden’s experience against Palin’s, anyday.”

[16] Posted by J Eppinga on 02-14-2009 at 09:19 AM • top

Hey Catholic Mom—

When you say this: “Conservatives say things like “why did so many people attack Sarah Palin for appearing to be an idiot?  Well, (according to the author of this article” she was “unable to given a coherent answer) to a number of important questions and “performed dreadfully” in numerous widely televised interviews, but NO, that couldn’t be the reason.  It’s because they’re “intellectual elites” with a “world view” that makes them inherently despise her.” . . .

. . . It makes me suspect you did not read the entire article.  The author vigorously critiqued both Left and Right—there was enough in there to make both sides pucker-up after sucking on the lemon, as you have done in regards to what he said about the Left.

[17] Posted by Sarah on 02-14-2009 at 09:22 AM • top

Sarah represents all most men and women now know is possible..she is all about real life, its not all about her…what she wants , what is best/easiest for her…it is making an honest effort to do the right thing; which for her has included getting married; and loving and supporting her husband, having children and loving and supporting them, even when they make bad decisions and are viewed by others as mistakes, working and giving back to her community and perhaps most importantly doing what Christ has told her and prepared her to do…she is an inspiration to the world..

[18] Posted by ewart-touzot on 02-14-2009 at 10:09 AM • top

You bet she is!

[19] Posted by Cennydd on 02-14-2009 at 10:11 AM • top

She may not have been the optimum VP candidate, but if one looks at her achievements objectively the charge of “idiot” is not sustainable.  The extreme reaction to Palin seems to me to be an extension of the Bush Derangement with which many Democrats were afflicted.  A negative judgment based on a couple of initial poor interviews is weak reasoning.  Our new President struggles without his teleprompter, has walked into a window at the White House and thumped his head on the White House helicopter.  We would be very unwise to conclude therefore that he’s an “idiot.”

[20] Posted by Katherine on 02-14-2009 at 10:44 AM • top

Catholic Mom and Moot (if you really did write a long and brilliant response and not just pulling CM’s leg smile ), one of my long and brilliant responses to TBWSantaFe met the same tragic fate just after New Year’s day.  Of course I hadn’t moused over the whole response and keyed Ctrl-C (copy to clipboard) before clicking Submit.  (Oh, the galling indignity of “Submit”! wink )  Greg Griffith kindly reminded me that web pages disconnect users from the server after some pre-determined timeout period so as not to load down and slow down the server’s response.  Both you and I had exceeded the timeout period whilst composing our treatises/tirades/manifestos, thus we “Submit"ted (that word again!) our comments to nowhere.  Always highlight and copy your comment before submitting it, and if your comment does not appear, click F5 or Refresh, click on the empty comment window and key Ctrl-V (paste from the clipboard) and your masterpiece will reappear in the comment window, from whence you can hurriedly click (thankfully for the last time!) “Submit”, after which your resurrected comment will appear for the edification of all. wink

[21] Posted by Milton on 02-14-2009 at 12:38 PM • top

I think Catholic Mom is trying to say that, when someone makes a statement, you should respond to their statement instead of attacking their worldview. 

There’s a point there but I imagine it follows that ALL of our statements are born of our worldviews so that opens up both for discussion and debate. 

The whole article is entirely worth everyone’s time—thank you, Sarah; good pick…

MB

[22] Posted by Passing By on 02-14-2009 at 12:39 PM • top

I think Catholic Mom is trying to say that, when someone makes a statement, you should respond to their statement instead of attacking their worldview. 

Actually I’m saying that when someone makes a statement, you should respond to their statement instead of ASSIGNING them an alleged “world view” which, having made up, you then use to “explain” what they REALLY meant, as opposed to what they actually said.

Sarah—I said this was full of utterly unsupported generalizations about EVERYBODY, left and right. 

You know, the greatest intellectual achievement I’ve made so far in my life (insofar as I’ve actually achieved it) is to stop putting people in categories and assuming I know what they “really” think and “really” mean based on my supposed “knoweldge” of their “worldview.”  It’s presumptious and arrogant (and self-defeating) when the left does it, and just the same when the right does it.  Instead, I try to listen to what they’re actually saying.  If I can refute it, I do.  If I can’t, I try to think of why I can’t and whether or not they may actually be right on some particular point, as opposed to making up a strawman of what they’re “really” saying and then defeating that.

[23] Posted by Catholic Mom on 02-14-2009 at 02:08 PM • top

I for one did respond to your statement.  Again, despite her “idiocy”, the Pope does share Sarah Palin’s views on abortion.  The Harvard-intellectual statement was a blanket one.  For more of a discourse on that score, read “Expecting Adam”. 

Just as one should not make assumptions, it also pays to not accuse people of what they’re not doing.

[24] Posted by Passing By on 02-14-2009 at 05:00 PM • top

“...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…”
I think Palin was such a breath of fresh air to those of us who could never bring ourselves to join the feminist I-Am-Woman-Help-Me-Roar Club.  She seemed more of the Margaret Thatcher and Mme. Curie kind of woman.

[25] Posted by ElaineF. on 02-14-2009 at 05:32 PM • top

RE: “I said this was full of utterly unsupported generalizations about EVERYBODY, left and right.”

Okay.

And I’m saying that it was not.  I think the analysis is quite well-supported by all of the examples of the past year of the rhetoric and actions of the left and the right.

I understand that you analyze the rhetoric and actions of the left and the right over the past year in quite a different manner.  I accept that.

I don’t agree, however.

Generally speaking, I agree with the overall analysis of the rhetoric and actions of the past year of left and right in this article.

[26] Posted by Sarah on 02-14-2009 at 07:08 PM • top

And I’d like to know just exactly what’s wrong with being a “soccer mom,” while at the same time being the Chief Executive of a state government?  Show me where that’s any different than being a woman chief executive officer of a large corporation with children who are involved in sports! 

I once knew an Air Force brigadier general who was involved in his children’s on-base football and soccer leagues; and being a general officer in command of a bomber wing is a full-time job, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, believe me!

[27] Posted by Cennydd on 02-14-2009 at 07:15 PM • top

Excellent article, Sarah - thanks for posting.  It both substantively upholds the charge that the Left unfairly brutalized Palin and clearly defines the frenzy of the right over her that always made me uncomfortable.  Few people on either side were able to either criticize or support the woman on her true merits.  This article does a wonderful job of putting those in balance.

[28] Posted by MJD_NV on 02-15-2009 at 11:09 AM • top

As I recall, the various allegations dismissed by the author out of hand had some basis in Palin’s behavior ... such as belonging to some group that was separatist.  But frankly, I don’t really care about the blow by blow defenses or attacks.  I am a cultural elitist.  If a person cannot identify “Out, damned spot” as Lady MacBeth and understand the reference in context, they don’t have the cultural experience and education to run the country.  Drinking Budweiser and scorning Cabernet Savignon is not a recommendation to me ... I have no romance in my head concerning the lower middle class as somehow uncorrupted by effete liberalism, a noble savage sort of thing. Belching drunks cheering Rush Limbaugh’s “brilliant” insults of Obama and Co. isn’t my idea of a good time. (Most of the cabinet washouts with tax problems have been our own Republicans.) Let’s not wax sentimental about the lives of “poor white trash” ... these lives are too often characterized by poverty of spirit, physical abuse within the family, and broken marriages.  Kind of like middle and upper class but more so. I don’t think the example of the visceral outpouring of hatred toward Hillary Clinton when she was simply a president’s wife should be forgotten when addressing liberal hatred of Palin.  I can understand why the Gloria Steinem flavored feminists would hate Palin since they make every appearance of hating their own womanhood but I think most people not caught up in the football game aspect of politics could legitimately critisize her place on the ticket as a tactical move for the campaign that failed strategically.  How many of us thought Carolyn Kennedy was a good candidate for senator? Her ONLY asset was being immersed in effete liberalism.  She is the flip side of Palin’s lowbrow conservativism.  Having viewed the prospective candidates, the only woman I could have voted for for President would have been Sarah Hey.  Hypothetically speaking of course!

[29] Posted by monologistos on 02-15-2009 at 11:17 AM • top

#25, I share the Pope’s opposition to abortion also.  That opposition does not make either myself or Palin qualified to do the Pope’s job.  Analogy being, that Palin was against abortion or shares a dislike of liberal elitism does not qualify her for vice-president.Catholic Mom is accurate, seems to me, in her critique of what I call “mind reading”.  Whether the author of this article attempts to do that ... or invites us to do that ... I leave that to you.

[30] Posted by monologistos on 02-15-2009 at 11:31 AM • top

#30 monologistos,
1. “the only woman I could have voted for for President would have been Sarah Hey”. Didn’t you just mention her in another posting.  What’s up with that?
2. “I am a cultural elitist”. You are only a cultural elitist if you know about Lady Macbeth but you don’t know who Randy Macho Man Savage is also.
Both are involved in morality plays and suffer from insatiable ambition.

[31] Posted by Fr. Dale on 02-15-2009 at 11:38 AM • top

How many of us thought Carolyn Kennedy was a good candidate for senator? Her ONLY asset was being immersed in effete liberalism.

Actually, I liked my husband’s comment on this. He said her only qualification was having made it down the birth canal.  smile

However, I do think there’s a comparison here.  Carolyn Kennedy COULD have made herself into a viable candidate until she opened her mouth. 

If you watched the Palin interview I posted under “Res ipsa loquitor”  you couldn’t help having the thought “this woman will never be Vice-President of the United States” leap to your mind.  Likewise, a similar thought arises after listening to Carolyn Kennedy speak.

Palin talked like a loquacious junior high school student who has a great deal of enthusiasm but no actual knowledge of a subject or even the ability to create empty but plausible sounding phrases:  “I mean…when Putin rears his little head, where’s he going to fly into?”  [This was a explanation of why being Governor of Alaska gave her foreign policy experience because if the Russians ever decided to invade U.S. airspace the first place they’d fly into would be Alaska.]

Carolyn Kennedy talked like a totally inarticulate junior high school student “I mean, you know, like when, you know there’s an opportunity to like you know, serve or something…”

[32] Posted by Catholic Mom on 02-15-2009 at 11:58 AM • top

She may have realized she was out of her element when she backed out.  Presumably the woman is more intelligent than she was able to portray ... public speaking requires a certain gift of not only thinking on your feet but also expressing yourself on your feet without inserting same feet in mouth.  IMHO, George W. never had the gift, God love him.

[33] Posted by monologistos on 02-15-2009 at 12:40 PM • top

#32, I had to “google” Randy Macho Man Savage.  OK, I’m now HOPELESSLY elite ... but not effete.  I have to admit I do know who Alexey “The Red Scorpion” Ignashov is.  For my last belt test back in the day, I had to break through three boards held together at head level with a roundhouse, land, execute a spinning jumping back kick to break three more boards behind me, land, spin and break three more just above head level with a jumping front kick.  Got through the three kicks on the third try.  Kept pulling my back kick for fear of crushing fingers of the guys holding the boards together. I was never a fighter though. OK, back to the subject at hand.

[34] Posted by monologistos on 02-15-2009 at 12:56 PM • top

RE: “You are only a cultural elitist if you know about Lady Macbeth but you don’t know who Randy Macho Man Savage . . . “

Uh oh.

RE: “I don’t think the example of the visceral outpouring of hatred toward Hillary Clinton when she was simply a president’s wife should be forgotten when addressing liberal hatred of Palin.”

That sort of proves the point, though, doesn’t it?  People “hate” Hillary for her nasty liberal ideas.  People “hate” Palin for her nasty conservative ideas.  I mean—isn’t that the basic problem? 

RE: “It both substantively upholds the charge that the Left unfairly brutalized Palin and clearly defines the frenzy of the right over her that always made me uncomfortable.”

Thanks MJD_NV and I agree.

[35] Posted by Sarah on 02-15-2009 at 01:38 PM • top

monologistos, just because some people have idiotic ideas or are not good at expressing themselves does not mean they are total idiots.  My point was, despite the fact that Catholic Mom may believe that Sarah Palin is an idiot, she may possibly agree with at least ONE of her views. 

I didn’t say jack about whether or not Palin was qualified to be president/VP. 

You’ve got to be kidding us with this one, or you are not clergy or a clergy family that hears tons of stories in pastoral care: 

“Let’s
not wax sentimental about the lives of “poor white trash” ... these lives
are too often characterized by poverty of spirit, physical abuse within the
family, and broken marriages. Kind of like middle and upper class but more
so”.

If you think your above described phenomena happen “less so” amongst the “upper class”, then I can tell you dead-to-rights that you are completely wrong. 

My spouse served one of the wealthiest parishes in the country, and it’s all the same stuff you find on Skid Row, unfortunately just with more money to pay for all the bad habits(drinking, drugs, sex, whatever). 

The physical abuse?  Just because the moneyed ladies are covering it up with Chanel instead of Maybelline does not mean it’s happening any “less so”. 

If you are a “cultural elitist”, then I hope you don’t again make such a misdirected, untrue statement in public.  You do a great disservice to all the millionaires’ wives(or husbands) who are taking it on the chin(literally) tonight and trying to figure out a way to get themselves and their kids out of the situation.

Enough said…

[36] Posted by Passing By on 02-15-2009 at 04:49 PM • top

1928 PB Loyalist—

I myself have even had social science research experience.  You must have heard of the bane of researchers’ existence; that nasty little thing that messes up a lot of our results—underreporting, a very common problem when people are trying to maintain their appearance, image, and social standing. 

Anecdotal data and reported data are, of course, two entirely different things. I think it’s very hard to know whether or not you could consider the latter accurate, or measure correctly the former. In well-executed studies, these things should be touched on in the discussion section.

Anecdotally I can say that, in the parish to which I was referring, it was actually the “lower” classes who were “behaving” better, and the upper classes were misbehaving more, possibly because they all had more money to do it.

[37] Posted by Passing By on 02-15-2009 at 06:36 PM • top

#37,39 Mama Bear, #38 1928 PB Loyalist,
“If you think your above described phenomena happen “less so” amongst the “upper class”, then I can tell you dead-to-rights that you are completely wrong.”
Mama Bear you seem to be backing off your certainty about data supporting your case when challenged by 1928 PB to provide evidence.  I would add that what is certain is that in Total Numbers, there is more abuse in Low Socio Economic Status families than High SES families simply because there are so many more low SES families. Additionally, “Anecdotally I can say that, in the parish to which I was referring” is not a sample from which you can necessarily generalize to the larger population.

[38] Posted by Fr. Dale on 02-15-2009 at 07:45 PM • top

I was using hyperbole.  You don’t get to be governor of anything if you’re a total idiot -(although one does have to wonder about Rod Blagojevich.)  I should have said that, when required to respond to a question she hadn’t been prepped for (as opposed to offering prepared remarks or responding to question she had been practicing for) her mental acuity, on a scale of 1 to 100, ranged from about 50 to -25.

[39] Posted by Catholic Mom on 02-15-2009 at 08:07 PM • top

No, I really don’t think I’m “backing off” of anything. 

What originally grabbed my attention was this comment: 

“Let’s
not wax sentimental about the lives of “poor white trash” ... these lives
are too often characterized by poverty of spirit, physical abuse within the
family, and broken marriages. Kind of like middle and upper class but more
so”.

It’s true that DcnDale and 1928 have honed in on more measurable phenomena like domestic and school violence and divorce.  But defining and measuring “poverty of spirit” and, frankly, “broken marriages”(which, to me, do not encompass just divorce) would be a lot more tough. 

I am well aware that the “lower” SES includes more people.  But, proportionally, I don’t believe the above problems(along with things like drug use, adultery, or addiction/codependence; which could easily hallmark “poverty of spirit” or “broken marriages”) occur any “less so” on the whole.  I could attempt to someday study that to back up my own theory, but I believe such a study would face a huge hurdle in underreporting. 

Hence the less exact “anecdotal data” and I don’t have time in my life right now to “back it up” any more than that.  This is a blog, not my PhD dissertation. 

Thanks for sharing…

MB

[40] Posted by Passing By on 02-16-2009 at 09:25 AM • top

For clarification, “less so” in the “upper class” population.

[41] Posted by Passing By on 02-16-2009 at 10:04 AM • top

Mama Bear writes:
monologistos, just because some people have idiotic ideas or are not good at expressing themselves does not mean they are total idiots.

I believe that is precisely what I said.

My point was, despite the fact that Catholic Mom may believe that Sarah Palin is an idiot, she may possibly agree with at least ONE of her views.

Of course, but isn’t this a trivial point? I may agree with the PB on something, I don’t know what but it could happen! smile
Regarding your supposition that because we have all observed the dysfunction in upper middle class and wealthy families within our congregations (who hasn’t?) that therefore, what, their lives are equally characterized by dysfunction?  I must disagree.  Certainly, thinking back over years and places, I know the socially smooth fellow in the congregation who beats his wife.  I know about the kid who smokes dope at the elite prep school.  I know the manic-depressive child who is always involved in some sort of legal problem.  I may have prayed with and for them all their lives.  So what?  Fact is, they are in a prep school and not in a gang in the barrio.  I actually worked in a barrio many years ago, before crack had been invented, and I saw the terrible waste of lives, the children stealing food, huffing paint because it could be stolen, knew children who were raped by their parents and roaming the streets with their little knives, thinking they could fight off the pimps when they came to steal them.  The worlds just doesn’t compare in most cases. If one of these children were to die, or I should say, when Mexican-American children I knew were killed violently, it didn’t make the paper.  You are reacting to the term I used, “poor white trash”.  I used it on purpose for effect.  You may be reacting in a disciplined way to the use of impressions as if they were statistical measurements.  You may simply be reacting to the prevalent politically correct way of thinking that tries to excuse the spiritual poverty of the poor, often with a sentimental gloss.  But I think it is a reaction that has not grasped the limited nature of my claim.  “Same, but more so, for the poor.”  As more of the population of the United States enters into a share of the poverty most of the rest of the world knows, you will see the indicators rise accordingly, with increased widespread social unrest and domestic abuse.  Law enforcement is well aware of this and already bracing itself.

[42] Posted by monologistos on 02-16-2009 at 10:40 AM • top

#43 Mama Bear,
“If you think your above described phenomena happen “less so” amongst the “upper class”, then I can tell you dead-to-rights that you are completely wrong.”
When you make a statement like this, no one is asking for Ph.D. level evidence, they are simply asking for some evidence. As someone who claims to have experience in research it did not appear to me that you were distinguishing between per capita comparisons and total occurrences. There is no need to be so defensive about it.

[43] Posted by Fr. Dale on 02-16-2009 at 10:50 AM • top

Thanks, Catholic Mom #41, that’s a much more reasonable statement.

monologistos, don’t you think the reference to “poor white trash” is a little over the top when discussing Gov. Palin?

And on a lesser note, she was alleged by the hysterical press to have belonged to a separatist Alaskan party but never did in fact.

[44] Posted by Katherine on 02-16-2009 at 10:50 AM • top

monologistos, don’t you think the reference to “poor white trash” is a little over the top when discussing Gov. Palin?
Is that a rhetorical question?  While she appeals to lower middle class values and tastes, I don’t think she is financially poor.  I’m not speaking as a billionaire.  smile  I find importing lower middle class values into Washington more campy than refreshing.  And I believe the choice of Palin for the ticket was done cynically and tactically ... and the consequence was that they handed an already failing campaign over to failure ... despite “interest” in Palin.My sense of “calling” is perhaps brought to earth with a pragmatic evaluation of gift.  People who are tone deaf shouldn’t try to be opera singers.  That’s what Rap is for.  People who have crippling arthritis in their hands should not set their hopes on becoming classical pianists.  People who don’t believe in God should not set out to become Christian priests.  That is what TEC is for.  OK, that just slipped in. Populist choices are not a magic ticket to Abraham Lincoln.  I cite Andrew Jackson with his genocidal treatment of Native Americans for example.  Point being, the presidency requires, though we have often suffered for the lack, an ability to critically evaluate information and there is a great deal of information ... one expects that person to at least hit the ground running ... not to have to begin to think about the Supreme Court in terms other than Roe versus Wade. Not to think Africa is a country or that the moon is bigger than the sun or whatever. I have no interest in exposing funny little ignorances by which to make fun of the woman.  Frankly, she was ill served by her selection even as Schori was ill-served by her selection.  And one should wonder whether the selection process is simply without wit or whether it has been cynically manipulated by some with an agenda contrary to the mission of the institution in question.

[45] Posted by monologistos on 02-16-2009 at 11:39 AM • top

What’s so “campy” about “importing lower middle class values” into Washington?

[46] Posted by Cennydd on 02-16-2009 at 12:10 PM • top

Well, it’s probably a move uphill for Washington.  But don’t get me wrong.  I like campy shows like the old “Dr. Who”.  Granted, science was god in that series but it was fun.  Tom Baker was my favorite doctor.  And yes, I feel the temptation to say, “He’d make a better president than the lot we got.”  But its a temptation that isn’t likely to persuade me.  The Lord of the Rings movies are a pertinent example:  the parts were so much larger than life that meeting the actors in the aftermath tends to disappoint.

[47] Posted by monologistos on 02-16-2009 at 12:24 PM • top

monologistos, no, it wasn’t rhetorical.  Palin is clearly not Ivy-League educated, and I am ready to concede she wasn’t ready to be President when she was nominated for Vice President.  But I’ve heard the nasal accent and some of her expressions from countless perfectly intelligent women of the Upper Midwest and Great Plains.  The “poor white trash” line was out of line, in my opinion.  It labels the user, probably unfairly in this instance.

[48] Posted by Katherine on 02-16-2009 at 12:37 PM • top

I’ve conceded she is not poor so the label is incorrect.  For those who love her, she’s all yours.

[49] Posted by monologistos on 02-16-2009 at 12:58 PM • top

I suspect the “white trash” label was because she likes to hunt and fish, you know, like the UK’s royal family.

[50] Posted by evan miller on 02-16-2009 at 01:14 PM • top

#52, so you’re retracting the “poor” but not the “white trash?”  You know, or perhaps you don’t, that phrase is in the same general class as the unacceptable “n****r,” perhaps not quite as severe but still offensive.

[51] Posted by Katherine on 02-16-2009 at 01:27 PM • top

monologistos:  If it’s your habit to identify people different from you as “trash,” I can only say that I am very thankful that your “work” in the barrios was described in the past tense.

[52] Posted by James Manley on 02-16-2009 at 01:41 PM • top

“Certainly, thinking back over years and places, I know the socially smooth fellow in the congregation who beats his wife.  I know about the kid who smokes dope at the elite prep school”.

So, because you’re rich, socially smooth, and smoking dope in prep school instead of the barrio, that makes it ok or any less “dysfunctional”?!! 

I know at least one person who was raped by her parents and they had plenty of money and did not live in the barrio. 

Dale, I realize that, in my original statement, I did not distinguish between total occurrence and per capita comparisons, to use your phrases.  That eventually evolved over the course of this “conversation”.  And, based on what I’ve already said, the only evidence I can give you at the moment is anecdotal, whether that’s good enough, or not. 

People can say what they like within the bloggers’ standards here but I also agree that “poor white trash” is over the top, describing Sarah Palin or not. 

And I am no huge fan of hers.  I realize her limitations.  But, hunting, fishing, having five kids, an 18-year-old daughter with a baby out of wedlock and a lack of Ivy League education does not make someone “white trash”. Based on standards like that, would anyone here consider Abe Lincoln “white trash”? 

As an adult woman, were I to have a baby out of wedlock and get a nose ring, it does not mean my parents were failures, either.  I’m responsible for my own actions, regardless of what my parents ever had to say. 

Thanks to all for this interesting discussion.  Keep it coming, if you like…

grin

[53] Posted by Passing By on 02-16-2009 at 01:56 PM • top

Come to think of it, I don’t think Palin is very white ... certainly not like this web page!  smile  By the way, far be it from me to bait people just to be evil, but I really wasn’t thinking of Palin with my original reference.  And since God doesn’t make trash, I have to conclude there are no existential members of the aformentioned set except the null set which is oddly enough, a member of every set by some thinking.

[54] Posted by monologistos on 02-16-2009 at 02:15 PM • top

Bedtime here, too tired to go re-read and determine whom you did mean with the phrase.  It’s tacky and not funny.  Next time, say what you mean in language that isn’t low-class.  Thanks.

[55] Posted by Katherine on 02-16-2009 at 02:27 PM • top

I’m not fond of the terms white trash, hillbilly or redneck. Especially when used by the Culturally Elite. To me the perspectives of the self assigned “Culturally Elite” can be at times condescending and parochial. I was both a plumber and a professor. Both worlds contribute to society and neither is worth more than the other to me. I knew excellent tradesmen that had good minds with little cultural capital. I also knew a professor who could quote Chaucer for hours on end but lived out of his car. It is about respect for others regardless of their station in life. St. Paul said in Galatians 6:3 “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

[56] Posted by Fr. Dale on 02-16-2009 at 02:37 PM • top

I grant you that Chaucer can certainly be lowbrow humor but you say “lived out of his car” like that is a bad thing!  I guess it depends on the car…

[57] Posted by monologistos on 02-16-2009 at 02:42 PM • top

#60
Though I don’t certainly don’t think the term applies to Gov. Palin at all, being a white Southerner, I use the term “white trash” not infrequently, and have no problem with its use, when accurate.

[58] Posted by evan miller on 02-16-2009 at 02:51 PM • top

Are we all in basic agreement that the term “poor white trash” has no valid application in polite discourse?

[59] Posted by monologistos on 02-16-2009 at 02:54 PM • top

I think the non-Southerners out there confuse, “poor whites” and “white trash.”  Not exactly the same thing.  “Poor whites” refers to the condition of people, while “white trash” (or simply “trash”) comments on their character.  At least that’s how the terms were passed down to me by my father.

[60] Posted by evan miller on 02-16-2009 at 02:55 PM • top

#62
No.

[61] Posted by evan miller on 02-16-2009 at 02:56 PM • top

Dale, #59:

We kicked it around a little, but are now in complete agreement. 

grin

[62] Posted by Passing By on 02-16-2009 at 03:07 PM • top

evan miller—yes, that is the correct distinction.  “White trash” was used to connote white people who conformed to the stereotype of “lumpenproletariat”  blacks—that is, they stole, drank, didn’t work, beat their wife (or non-wives as it were) and children, had multiple illegitmate kids that they didn’t support etc. 

As I mentioned, my grandfather rose from the coal fields of West Virginia.  He was a brilliant man.  He was completely self-taught and ended up the editor of a major city newspaper.  He had two sons:  one (my uncle) grew up to be a professor of English at the University of Pennslyvania, the other (my father) grew up to be a physicist at Princeton University.  In the neighborhood I grew up in, every single father of every one of my friends was a scientist—either in academia or in commercial research.  We grew up as “intellectual elitists” not in the sense that we thought you had to be able to identify Lady MacBeth (most of our fathers were graduates of places like MIT and probably couldn’t have told you much about her either) but in the sense that we felt that anybody who did work that was physical or didn’t require significant mental skill was somehow “inferior” to our class.

I remember one time my afore-mentioned grandfather was visiting us.  My brother and I (we were probably like 8 then) were fighting and I hurled one of my vilest insults at him:  “You’re going to grow up to be a garbage collector!”  My grandfather became livid.  He told me he would be DELIGHTED if either one of us did anything even half so necessary and meaningful as collecting garbage—we were far more likely to grow up to be a couple of intellectually effete useless dilitants!  I had no idea what he was talking about, but I got the message not to mock garbage collectors in grandpa’s presence! smile

[63] Posted by Catholic Mom on 02-16-2009 at 03:58 PM • top

If a person cannot identify “Out, damned spot” as Lady MacBeth and understand the reference in context, they don’t have the cultural experience and education to run the country.

Tsk, tsk tsk.  Actually your reactionary Eurocentric standards of assessing cultural knowledge clearly demonstrate that you are not part of the cultural elite but are merely one of the passé members of the brutalizing oppressive ancient regime who is railing against the fall of the old order.

Now, go read “Beloved” and write an essay about why racial oppression justified infanticide as a means of resistance against slavery
.

[64] Posted by AndrewA on 02-16-2009 at 04:41 PM • top

This family’s business should be of no concern of ours.  I wouldn’t care to have anyone butting into my family life, and the Palins are no different….even if Sarah IS a public figure!

[65] Posted by Cennydd on 02-16-2009 at 04:49 PM • top

Right ynough. I think we concluded that certain language usage is “low class” and “not funny” but said usage does not necessarily define the speaker as a member of the set of “poor white trash”, especially if they are neither white, nor poor nor trash. Whew, I’m relieved!  For a moment there, I thought I was going to have to start quoting Chaucer from the back seat of my car when all that remained was to confess my churlish language was less than gentile.  Is eloquence judged by cultivating fair words or in avoidance of foul?  Let us agree with the spirit of Chaucer and assign goodly speech to deference, caution and succinctness.

[66] Posted by monologistos on 02-16-2009 at 04:59 PM • top

“...It is a synne and eek a greet folye
To apeyren any man or hym defame,
And eek to bryngen wyves in swich fame;
Thou mayst ynogh of othere thynges seyn.”
(apeyren = asperse = bespatter)

[67] Posted by monologistos on 02-16-2009 at 05:15 PM • top

Catholic Mom, I’ve been told all fantasy literature such as the Narnian Chronicles and Lord of the Rings are “trash”; thus, I am proud to declare myself a collector of trash.  Although I am tanned, sociologists would consider me white and the printed page is considered white.  Before the Lord we are all poor and all authorship is poor next to the Author of Life.  Thus, it is important to distinguish between a man and his collections.  Still, we are well advised to shampoo vigorously against the stigma of philately.

[68] Posted by monologistos on 02-16-2009 at 05:39 PM • top

I completely understand the phenomenon you are illustrating, but, eloquent as you are, I think you can come up with a better way of expressing yourself than publicly getting into the “poor white trash” phrase.  Rather like I wouldn’t describe people here using that filthy “N” word that I hate, the word “Cracker” or any other slur used to describe Jewish, Asian, or Hispanic people. 

For the record, too, politically I sit rather right of center.  I consider not using the above terms to be basic good manners, not anything P.C. 

Have we assumed a now-relaxed posture of tongue-in-cheek humor illustrating the fact that cultural elitists, who are of course the smartest people in the room, default to chuckling at the rest of us who are not intellectually-developed enough to “get it”? 

It might be colorful to live out of your Maserati but I guess you’ll have to toilet and take your showers at the Y. 

grin

[69] Posted by Passing By on 02-16-2009 at 08:03 PM • top

Well, some of this was very amusing, and I now understand that monologistos didn’t know the meaning of “white trash” and has been enlightened.  Even the intellectual elite can learn something every day.

On the more general topic, I’m not convinced that the office of President necessarily requires membership in the elite class.  We’ve had Presidents from a variety of backgrounds, and it’s not clear that the Ivy League has always produced the best ones.  This is not aimed at any of the recent candidates, just a general comment.

[70] Posted by Katherine on 02-17-2009 at 01:20 AM • top

Perhaps I should modify that, since I am not reflexively anti-Ivy League.  I am not convinced that a top-level education, what we used to call “liberal,” is a necessary qualification for a successful presidency.  A leader who knows his principles and is capable of applying them is what I look for, and of course I want principles with which I agree.

[71] Posted by Katherine on 02-17-2009 at 01:38 AM • top

I can’t really claim to be all that rich, white or elite so I must make amends.  All I know is that Lady MacBeth apparently yells at the family dog (Out, damned Spot!)  Haven’t bought a sportscar since 1979 but I will pray the Lord buys me a Mercedes Benz.

[72] Posted by monologistos on 02-17-2009 at 01:47 AM • top

Palin talked like a loquacious junior high school student who has a great deal of enthusiasm but no actual knowledge of a subject or even the ability to create empty but plausible sounding phrases:  “I mean…when Putin rears his little head, where’s he going to fly into?” [This was a explanation of why being Governor of Alaska gave her foreign policy experience because if the Russians ever decided to invade U.S. airspace the first place they’d fly into would be Alaska.]

I dunno.  The more I listen to it, the more I hear an element of someone from the Sticks trying to impress someone from NYC, then realizing (too late) that the NY’r doesn’t even think like they do.  How exactly does one impress someone else who is ..different.. than we are, without being fully aware of the differences?  Why would the overwhelming desire to impress be there in the first place?  That’s where assumptions are made, and where things get out of hand.  Single guys having little natural charisma, understand this feeling early in their dating careers, asking out the belle of eleventh grade. 

Finally, a thought from someone whose marriage is bi-cultural, and has lived in both the Sticks, and the suburbs:  To an Alaskan, it may make perfect sense.  For all I know, they might be right.

[73] Posted by J Eppinga on 02-17-2009 at 07:22 AM • top

#73 Moot,
Folks from NYC might be sophisticated and have cultural capital, but they too can be rather parochial (“NYCentric”). A new NYC socialite was dumbfounded when Bush II won the Whitehouse in 2004.  She replied, “How could he have won, none of my friends voted for him.” This is as clueless as anyone from Lake Wogegon is quaint.

[74] Posted by Fr. Dale on 02-17-2009 at 08:23 AM • top

(#74) Dcn Dale,

Exactly.  And the word that was on the tip of my brain this morning that didn’t quite get out:  provincial.  Couric’s question is as provincial as Palin’s answer.

[75] Posted by J Eppinga on 02-17-2009 at 12:27 PM • top

#75 Moot,
“the tip of my brain”,
Moot, would that be the tip of the temporal, corner of the cortex, posterior parietal, over the occipital, last part of the limbic, core of the corpus collosum or the far part of the frontal?

[76] Posted by Fr. Dale on 02-17-2009 at 01:55 PM • top

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