Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Palin and the Feminists

As you know, I've been following Sarah Palin for quite some time now. From her first appearance on the national stage, as it happens.

If reputations were like stock, Palin's would have undergone a serious crash from the time of the Republican convention to her resignation from the governorship of Alaska.

I think it's fair to say that for that period of time Palin's stock was in a bear market.

Now, her reputation seems to be getting its second wind, or perhaps even entering its own bull market. I began tracking this last week. Link here.

I was most struck to see that some fairly prominent, and certainly intelligent, feminist intellectuals were starting to show Palin some serious respect.

I do not want to suggest that this incipient bull market has extended very far beyond the rather select group of DoubleX bloggers.

But this is the way public opinion starts to change. First, a few bright people change their minds or attitudes. Then, the new opinion becomes respectable and attracts a few more followers. And finally, it reaches a tipping point where a crowd comes together and you have a full fledged bull market in someone's reputation.

So, it seems to me that we might be in the first stages of a new bull market in Sarah Palin. Not for her looks, of her hotness, but for her political intelligence.

Take the recent post by Jessica Grose, someone who is certainly a feminist. Her fascinating article is entitled: "Democratic Women Lack Palin's Compelling Rhetoric." Link here.

Grose is comparing Democratic women unfavorably to Sarah Palin, on the grounds that their rhetoric is deficient, which means that they cannot persuade and move people the way Palin can.

Grose is offering some thoughts on two different political concepts: Barbara Boxer's attempt to use the issue of "bad hair" as a signature and Sarah Palin's appeal to Mama Grizzlies.

She declares that Boxer and other Democratic women lack a coherent narrative. Sarah Palin has one.

In Grose's words: "... what would you rather ally yourself with: An out-of-date 'do or a fierce force of nature?"

The respect is clear. It is not begrudged. It shows the power of high concept, a clear image that encapsulates and communicates an idea.

Bad hair, even bad hair days, does not communicate much of anything beyond physical appearance. Mama grizzly does communicate something clear and positive; it is not about appearance; it is a perfect totem for a political movement that will appeal to women and will empower them.

For those who had believed that Barack Obama was going to be a great president because he had mastered the art of nuance, his administration's ineptitude has caused much soul-searching.

For those who had made a point of declaring Obama to be brilliant and Palin to be stupid, evidence of Sarah Palin's political savvy must come as something of a shock.

Thus, it is only fair to praise to those Democrats and feminists who have had the integrity to step back from their prior attitude toward Sarah Palin. As they did to Palin, we should give credit where credit is due.

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