More on Palin, Again

I know the whole underlying point of Palin’s speech was to prove to rural America that she’s one of us.  And I’ve got to tell you, I had this dream last night that the SuperGenius (also a small town girl) and I were sitting around after our high school reunion (we didn’t go to high school together in real life, but in the dream, the SuperGenius, Palin, and I all went to high school together) having a beer and laughing ruefully that somehow Sarah Palin was again going to claw her way to the top, and woe to anyone who gets in her way.

I want to admit that upfront because I just want y’all to know that I’m coming from a place so biased that even in my dreams I hate her and am a little afraid of her.  But a place in which I recognize her, deeply, as being “one of us.”

Because what occurs to me, after thinking about it and reading people’s reaction to it is that not one pundit seems to get that her speech was not directed at rural folks.  How could it be?  In small town America, she’s one of the powerful people.  Probably has been most of her life–the kind of person who by force of will could get her way. In small towns, those folks, while respected and feared, are not universally loved.  Her schtick about being just a small town hockey mom?  It only seems folksy and appealing if you don’t know small town hockey moms just like her.

But that’s not the main thing that has me thinking that she’s not actually about being a small town candidate.  The main thing is that she didn’t at all address the concerns of rural Americans I know.  What are the Republicans going to do to lower the cost of food?  What are their plans for bringing jobs back to small towns?  How is she going to address the ways in which Walmart has become both the company and the company store?  Why are Republicans talking clean coal and not safe coal?  Real rural folks are suffering.  And I didn’t hear any talk that even suggested that Republicans have a plan for how to revitalize what is, in essence, a way of life that is dying a slow and very, very painful death.

Instead, she was up there to trot out this Hollywood version of rural life–where we all are just plain folks who sit around and watch our sons play hockey while our families get through “tough times” by the grace of God–that’s designed, I believe, to appeal to conservative suburbanites.  To folks who have so much, by most standards–the cars, the house, the jobs, the ability to travel (though not too much), the social currency necessary to keep a daughter’s indiscretions “hidden” in plain sight–and who somehow still feel aggrieved, like there’s still something they’ve not gotten, that they deserve, and they’re pissed about it, even if they can’t exactly put their finger on what it is they’re being screwed out of.

And, in that regard, I think the speech was a success.  I’m sure it resonated with a great many in my extened family.  But they already were never going to vote for Obama.  And that’s what I suspect is the fundimental problem with Palin, if there is one–she will appeal to unCoastal voters who were already going to vote for McCain, but I don’t think she’s going to sway undecided voters AND I’m still left wondering about what religious conservatives make of her (not to raise another tangent this late in the post).  I mean, she might have talked about having a servant’s heart, but the way she went after “the opposition” seemed to verge on bullying.

And while I’ve seen many small town Christian men build public careers as bullies, I’ve never seen it play out well for small town Christian women who weren’t acting as surrogates for their husbands.

I guess this is just my long way of saying that I don’t think it’s clear how Palin did.


17 thoughts on “More on Palin, Again

  1. Pingback: Carnies, Politics And Rural Conversations « Newscoma

  2. I mean, she might have talked about having a servant’s heart, but the way she went after “the opposition” seemed to verge on bullying.

    I dunno, bullying seems to be the way of the religious conservatives, men and women.

  3. B, I hope your post here is picked up all over America, particularly paragraphs 3, 4 and 5. You are spot on, and you’ve provided a perspective I haven’t read anywhere else. I can’t believe she wrote the speech heself (more man than men…) and you know those writing the speeches aren’t rural folks themselves.

  4. I believe her speech was written for by by white house staffers. has references to this on the site today from an article in the Washington Post.

    “Then came Sarah Palin’s debut for a national audience. Her speech was written by former White House speechwriter Matthew Scully but she has been rehearsing it for several days with McCain aides coaching her. Normally, experienced politicians work with speech writers to polish the words, but with such an important speech from someone who has never given a prepared speech to a national audience before, a pro had to write this one. The speech was powerful and feisty, as expected, and she continued the theme of mocking Obama.”

  5. So much for getting to know the real Sarah Palin and the whole hoo-hah about finally getting a chance to speak for herself. She’s less a VP candidate than ventriloquist’s dummy.

  6. I am so amused by the left pouncing on this “She as speechwriters” meme.
    As if every single politician hasn’t had their speeches written for them for decades.
    She worked with the speechwriters the same way as the rest of them.

    Frankly, I find it pretty insulting, in the sense that it’s framed like ” A woman couldn’t write that”. Way to go, feminists!

  7. Your concern trolling concerns me, Exador. The GOP rolled this out as a big “here’s Sarah in her own words.” In fact, they spent the prior five days making sure that not only she was not in her own words, but she wasn’t in her own pacing or gestures either.

    If they were not making such a biggie of her “realness,” who’d give a damn? But no, she is supposed to be little ol’ Sarah hockey mom from Wasila. I don’t mind a good fake. I just don’t like a phony.

  8. Why are Republicans talking clean coal and not safe coal?

    same reason they started talking about hydrogen fuel cell cars just as electric hybrids started becoming available — because safe coal might actually be achievable. that would necessitate a change in society, and they can’t have that.

  9. Well, the small town of which she was mayor is a suburb, after all. About a third of the residents (that’s a third of the residents, not a third of the work-force) work in Anchorage. The in-laws of a friend of mine live there, and they consider themselves suburbanites, not small-towners.

    And hockey mom? To me, and I’m guessing to most of those not from the frozen north, the only referent I’ve got for that is soccer moms, another suburban phenomenon. Are the talking heads really presenting her as a small-town girl and discussing the speech as revelatory of her small-town roots? (I’ve stopped listening to them; it’s C-SPAN for me.) Because I didn’t hear it as intended or aimed in that direction, and I’m pretty urban.

  10. and….. how many people in small towns would be ok with the mayor attempting to censor the library? Life in small towns can be limited enough without the town bully in the mayor’s job — especially when that bully wants to limit access to information they find to be “objectionable”. Thank goodness the librarian objected to her and eventually got their job back.

  11. Librarians are the secret superheroes of democracy, as someone once said, for sure.

    NM, well, that explains it. The suburbanite pretending to be something other than suburban. And, yeah, I’ve heard a lot of talk about what a fine small-town girl she is.

    Bridgett, are you concern trolling Exador’s concern trolling? Because that concerns me. Okay, actually, it makes me laugh.

  12. Oh, that reminds me that I forgot to say that I’m concerned that Ex forgot about WJ Clinton, who did write his own speeches, at least the big ones. For better or worse, for longer or … no, just for longer.

  13. Yes, that was exactly what I was doing. Glad somebody got the funny. I was feeling a little misunderstood there for a moment.

  14. Dear aunt b. Get over it. Mrs. Palin is the real thing. Not like the phony Obama, who went to a white hating jew hating church for 20 years and didn’t know rev. Wright was like that. Even Jerry Springer knew what Wright was about. Obama has ever right to go to any church he wants to and support soicals views, but don’t attack Sarah for being a decent woman.

  15. Aunt B., I think you have it largely right, and that explains to me why I had such a visceral reaction to her speech. I’m from a small town in the Midwest, as is my husband, and even though we’re now living in the suburbs, our kin are still small-town residents. Plus, I know a number of hockey moms, and while not all hockey moms are like this, the hockey moms I know tend to:
    1. have great ideas that mostly benefit themselves or their kids but not necessarily anybody else;
    2. be indifferent to other people’s input unless they can see an immediate benefit to themselves;
    3. be poor on thinking their ideas through to their logical consequences;
    4. be poor on following through on tasks they have agreed to do unless they directly and immediately benefit in some way, or unless it’s less inconvenient for them to do the task than not to do the task.

    Based on what we know about her so far, I guess Sarah Palin really is a hockey mom!

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