Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Wit and Wisdom of Sarah Palin

She’s baaaaaaaack…

Sarah Palin is back, with her signature flamboyance and slightly incoherent phrasing. The queen of Wasilla has returned from wherever she was to tell us that the Donald is just the candidate to trounce the GOP establishment and to make America great again.

Unfortunately for all of those who think that the Donald will really take it to the GOP establishment, said establishment has just discovered an even greater threat to its power and dominance: Ted Cruz.

The political genius who brought Sarah Palin out of Alaska obscurity to make her a national figure, John McCain declared last week that Ted Cruz might not be eligible to run for president. When you need advice on how to run a presidential campaign, who better to ask than John McCain, a man we can largely thank for the presidency of Barack Obama.

And then there was another superb presidential candidate, former Sen. Bob Dole who announced yesterday that Ted Cruz was the worst thing that could ever happen to the Republican Party and would cause a cataclysmic defeat. The reason: Cruz is too conservative. Considering that Trump’s unfavorable ratings are higher than Cruz’s one does not know what Dole is thinking, except that the Republican establishment hates Ted Cruz with a white, hot rage.

It has seen the enemy and the enemy is Ted Cruz.

And then there was the popular Republican governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad who said that Ted Cruz is the worst thing that can happen to Iowa. Branstad wants to lead an ABC movement-- Anyone But Cruz—because the Texas senator is the only candidate who opposes ethanol subsidies. You know about ethanol subsidies, the government program that mandates the inclusion of ethanol in gasoline, a massive support program for Iowa corn farmers.

The program shields said farmers from market forces and it also, btw, provides gainful and lucrative employment for Branstad’s son who is, you guessed it, an ethanol lobbyist. Since the anti-establishmentarian Trump favors increasing ethanol subsidies—he has certainly learned political pandering fast and well—he is totally acceptable to Branstead. Not so that devil Cruz.

Anyway, Sarah Palin rolled into Iowa the other day to bless the Donald’s campaign with her own brand of folksy wit and wisdom. Better yet, her endorsement gave the Trump campaign an aura of inevitability.

Fortunately, for those who missed it, the New York Times has quoted some of Palin’s best lines. And quoted them with bemusement, and mostly without commentary.

For your edification:

How about the rest of us? Right-winging, bitter-clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religion, and our Constitution.

 And he, who would negotiate deals, kind of with the skills of a community organizer maybe organizing a neighborhood tea, well, he deciding that, ‘No, America would apologize as part of the deal,’ as the enemy sends a message to the rest of the world that they capture and we kowtow, and we apologize, and then, we bend over and say, ‘Thank you, enemy.’ 

“He’s got the guts to wear the issues that need to be spoken about and debate on his sleeve, where the rest of some of these establishment candidates, they just wanted to duck and hide. They didn’t want to talk about these issues until he brought ’em up. In fact, they’ve been wearing a, this, political correctness kind of like a suicide vest.

There are more, but those are a good sampling. The Times parses them to show what Palin meant, a useful contribution to the national conversation.

As you recall, Palin burst on the scene in 2008 as a politician who could give a great scripted speech. She had great natural talent, but as Margaret Thatcher noted, Palin never did her homework. She let intuition be her guide. It was calamitous. It did not take too much time for most of us to sour on Palin, and to question the judgment of one John McCain.

Ross Douthat, the Times’s best conservative columnist offers this assessment of her political career during the 2008 presidential campaign. He said:

Palin gave interviews — terrible, terrible interviews. She was in over her head. Her own paranoia took center stage. She became her critics’ caricature, embracing a mix of willful ignorance and proud ressentiment. What was distinctive about her Alaskan career was subsumed into a much more conventional sort of movement conservatism, which she picked up from the professional ideologues who rallied to her during her trial by fire. And eventually the movement tired of her, the culture tired of her, and her act ceased to be interesting even as reality TV.

One would like to say that with Palin the circus has again come to town, but with her endorsement came the news that her oldest son had been arrested on charges of domestic violence. The charges against Track Palin are too serious to be dismissed as comedy.

The New York Times summarizes the police report:

Mr. Palin’s girlfriend, according to the affidavit, was found hiding under a bed. She told another officer who arrived at the house that Mr. Palin hit her on the left side of the head near her eye with a closed fist and that she then curled up in a fetal position, “because she didn’t know what else he would do.”

The woman said Mr. Palin kicked her on the knee and threw her phone, according to the affidavit. He then went inside, cocked a gun with his right hand near the trigger and his left hand next to the barrel, which was pointed to the side, and said, “do you think I won’t do it?” the woman told the police. She added that she was worried that Mr. Palin would shoot himself.

A police officer said that he later found the weapon, an AR-15, unloaded on a kitchen counter, according to the documents.

The next day celebrity endorser Palin stood up for her son. One sympathizes with mothers who defend their children and with mothers who love their children unconditionally. Truth be told, Palin was raising an important and salient issue. And yet, her articulation drowned the issue and opened her to the charge of condoning wife beating.

She was right to suggest that the way the nation treats its veterans definitely has an influence on how they behave. And she had good reason to say that President Obama bears considerable responsibility for the mental health issues of veterans. Still, don’t we want people to take responsibility for their behavior?

In her words:

My son, like so many others, they come back a bit different, they come back hardened. They come back wondering if there is that respect for what it is that their fellow soldiers and airman and every other member of the military so sacrificially have given to this country. And that starts from the top.

That comes from our own president, where they have to look at him and wonder, 'Do you know what we go through? Do you know what we're trying to do to secure America?

So when my own son is going through what he goes through coming back, I can certainly relate with other families who kind of feel these ramifications of some PTSD and some of the woundedness that our soldiers do return with….

Apparently, combat veterans are responsible for a disproportionate number of incidents of domestic violence. Of course, the argument is often used to malign the military and to demean masculine cultures.

But, it is not a great idea to look as though you are excusing domestic violence. And we all know that Palin’s remarks will be played in that sense.

Yet, Palin was approximating an important point. The best way to diminish the trauma of combat veterans is to assert that they fought honorably for a noble cause. When Obama and his flunkies constantly bad mouth the Iraq War they are demoralizing the soldiers who fought it. Worse yet, when Obama gave Iraq away, when he surrendered American victories to serve his own ideological deformity, he surely damaged the minds and souls of combat veterans. When politicians denounce the war as useless and futile, they are also demoralizing the soldiers who fought in that war.

Psychologically speaking, Palin was raising an important issue. Unfortunately, her semi-coherent ramblings obscured the issue and made it look like she was condoning domestic violence. Worse yet, when they are laughing at you they are making it easy for everyone to ignore the substance of your remark.


Marsh said...

What a wonderfully snooty post, Stuart. Well done.

If it wasn't for Sarah Palin, your boy wouldn't have even made it into the Senate.

After being defended by no one from the GOP establishment, and being dog piled by the left AND the right, she went out and fought the good fight, helping supposed conservative candidates win in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Did she get thanks from the GOPers and the pundits for helping deliver majorities to the house and Senate? Not one whit. Cruz couldn't even give her props in his book even though w/o her he'd still be a nobody in Texas.

Your snooty opinion of her won't change what she means to the rest of us.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Glad you liked the post.

Marsh said...

Ooooh, I touched a nerve. Good. You're better than the piece you wrote today.

Anonymous said...

Actually Marsh there was a nerve hit and it appears to be yours. I am not a Cruzbot, the childish term to describe Cruz supporters often seen in the pro-Trump comments. I actually support Donald Trump over Ted Cruz, but I see the point of this article. Sarah Palin brings nothing to the table for Trump that he doesn't already have. What she does bring is the memory of her miserable performance in the 2008 election,including the fact that even as a governor of a large state she could not name a single thing she had read recently. I suppose her subscription to Parade had run out. Her ramblings are legendary and they are incoherent. Blaming others for your children's behavior is a sign of a failed parent. To suggest that our troops don't get the respect they deserve is ludicrous. What are we suppose to do have a Veterans Parade once a month? Please remember, we have a volunteer army. Trak Palin volunteered - he was not drafted. Now Sarah wants us to look the other way when he assaults his girlfriend. I don't think so.

A-Bax said...

I get why so many people like Palin, but, unfortunately her resignation as Governor before her term was up showed that she was fundamentally unserious.

I do think it helps Trump to get her endorsement - she has outsider cred and sway with many disaffected voters. And it denies that endorsement to Cruz (which is about half its worth, I'd say.)

I agree that she was treated unfairly by the media, and not defended much by the GOP establishment. But, hey, politics ain't beanbag, and she chose to accept the mantle of VP nomination. With that comes scrutiny and fire.

Given that she's an attractive woman, her inability to handle the scrutiny and fire triggered a strong "white knight" reaction in many tradcons and men over 50. The instinct was to help the damsel (dame?) in distress. But, again, no one forced her into a position she couldn't handle.

When the going got tough, she quit and cashed in. Just because she's a MILF (GILF?), doesn't mean she should be absolved her of that. Too many rightwing older men cant see past their desire to bang her for what she really is in the end: a quitter.

Marsh said...

Cruz wouldn't be a senator today if it werent for this "incoherent, rambling" woman. And he'd have killed to get her endorsement again.

I actually think Trump could have won everything w/o her endorsement, but Trump isn't interested in leaving anything to chance. If she had endorsed Cruz, it would have hurt Trump. W/ her endorsement, Trump has eliminated suspicions that some fence sitters may have had w/ regards to his motives, b/c she is trusted among tea partiers.

Marsh said...

I wish there were more politicians, who were quitters. Who's ever heard of a politician giving up power before her? That alone scores points w/ me.

A-Bax, have you ever been sued before? Over and over again? Get back to me when you have before you want to criticize Palin for stepping down.

A-Bax said...

I'm 2 legit 2 quit. No excuse for the lady with the nice caboose.

Ares Olympus said...

Ugh, its weird, but I feel sorry for Donald Trump, that he'd accept a public endorsement from Sarah Palin. It's SO EMBARRASSING!

It's like he's doing her a favor rather than the reverse. Is this proof he has a bigger heart than all of us?

If I were Donald, if she wanted to talk, I'd take her out to a restauarant, and let her have her say, and she could talk for hours about all her personal frustrations, Bristol's unwed pregnancies, and now Track's assault on his girlfriend after getting hardened by military service. I'm sure she has a lot to say, things that don't belong in public, and yet maybe Sarah would calm down her hysteria if she could release some of it with a big-hearted person who would comfort her.

Then he could let her down easy, just saying "I really don't need you to endorse me. You know I was a bit unkind to McCain recently, and while he's been so publicly kind about you since you two lost the 2008 election, I think it would hurt his feelings if you endorsed me. Just knowing privately I have your support warms my heart. So let's just be friends, okay?"

Really if Sarah Palin's entry into 2016 politics has a purpose it is to show how lucky we were that McCain-Palin team didn't win. And she also contrasts well to Hillary Clinton, whom handled a fooling-around husband with grace and dignity, or at least strategic restraint, and came out stronger than ever, and she never needs to rant and rave in public.

I'm sure Hillary is very thankful that Sarah offered this contrast in feminine temperaments.

Stuart: Apparently, combat veterans are responsible for a disproportionate number of incidents of domestic violence. Of course, the argument is often used to malign the military and to demean masculine cultures.

This is a huge predicament. And it doesn't help when an abuser's mother publicly tries to sidestep personal responsibility.

Its much easier to project evil on distant people you don't care about:
...because just last week, we’re watching our sailors suffer and be humiliated on a world stage at the hands of Iranian captors in violation of international law, because a weak-kneed, capitulator-in-chief has decided America will lead from behind. And he, who would negotiate deals, kind of with the skills of a community organizer maybe organizing a neighborhood tea, well, he deciding that, “No, America would apologize as part of the deal,” as the enemy sends a message to the rest of the world that they capture and we kowtow, and we apologize, and then, we bend over and say, “Thank you, enemy.”

I wonder what Track is thinking at the moment.

Is he thinking "What the hell was I doing beating on my girl? I need to make things right, to get control of this rage so I never hurt anyone again."

Or is he thinking "I had things perfectly under control. I don't know why that b*tch had to call the police on me. She's the one who was calling me names. I was just getting her to stop harrassing me, and she wouldn't stop. Now my mama and papa are going to yell at me for making 'em look back and expect me to apologize to the enemy, to bend over and say 'thank you' for ruining my life."

Anyway, what we learn perhaps is we don't know anything from the outside, what's really going on inside. We'd all rather focus on the sins of others we don't like, to distract us from our own. It's human nature, and rising above it is harder than defeating any external enemy.

Maybe not "Wit", Wisdom can say "Thank you enemy". Thank you for standing up to my nonsense when I needed it.

Marsh said...

Only a louse would risk losing their family's house.

No job is worth that, unless you're already a fat cat.

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. Ross Douthat and this blog taught me a new word, "ressentiment" which I first thought was a misspelling of resentment, but too unlikely so I looked it up.

You'd think the "proud ressentiment" would even more apply to the violence of radical Muslims like ISIS.

Using the word is certainly an insult as much as a diagnosis, but how do you help someone stuck in any kind of resentment? But giving them power over others would seem to be a bad idea.
Ressentiment (French pronunciation: ​[rəsɑ̃timɑ̃]), in philosophy and psychology, is one of the forms of resentment or hostility. It is the French word for "resentment" (fr. Latin intensive prefix 're', and 'sentir' "to feel").

Ressentiment is a sense of hostility directed at that which one identifies as the cause of one's frustration, that is, an assignment of blame for one's frustration.

The sense of weakness or inferiority and perhaps jealousy in the face of the "cause" generates a rejecting/justifying value system, or morality, which attacks or denies the perceived source of one's frustration.

This value system is then used as a means of justifying one's own weaknesses by identifying the source of envy as objectively inferior, serving as a defense mechanism that prevents the resentful individual from addressing and overcoming their insecurities and flaws. The ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability.

Ressentiment was first introduced as a philosophical/psychological term by the 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. The term was also put to good use by Max Scheler in his book Ressentiment, published in 1912, and later suppressed by the Nazis.

Marsh said...

Stuart, I look forward to your post on Glenn Beck' s endorsement of Cruz. Poor Cruz can't untangle himself from (the unstable) Beck.

Beck and Cruz will appear together this weekend at Waterloo.


priss rules said...

a bim

Marsh said...

Say what you will about Sarah Palin, but she had the good sense to cut off ties to Beck a LONG time ago.

Can't say the same thing about Cruz. Beck is going to be Cruz' s Waterloo. I can't wait for the rally on Saturday!

Anonymous said...


Today's post displays all those East Coast values that are personified by Saul Steinberg's map of the US. Give it a rest, please?

If the glorious Upper Westside Times has spoken against Sarah, that's all I need to know. Just because you're butt-hurt about Cruz, is no reason to join the East Coast Greek Chorus, which no longer informs us of anything but their own penchant for progressive propaganda!

Steve Bailey said...

Ross Douthat, the Time's best conservative columnist.
A double endorsement for Trump.

priss rules said...

"My son, like so many others, they come back a bit different, they come back hardened."

And what's her excuse for her trashy daughter?