Raging Against Palin

…also against McCain and other Republicans/conservatives.

Michelle Malkin has a photo essay: insane rage.

The fury directed at Sarah Palin, in particular, is so extreme that I don’t think it can really be explained by disagreements on policy or by genuine doubts regarding her qualifications. It seems pretty clear to me, rather, that much of this anger is driven by snobbery and status anxiety.

18 thoughts on “Raging Against Palin”

  1. You have probably not been affected by the Mommy Wars. We might also consider the complicated feelings some men raised in single-parent homes have developed.

    Sarah Palin throws into question a lot of assumptions: guns, victimization, abortion, nature/nurture, nothing goes on (and nobody is truly intelligent) in flyover country, beauty contestants are stupid, someone can’t be very smart that sounds different from those on the 6:00 news. The easiest way to deal with a woman who is clearly “liberated” is to reduce her to a sex object – we’ve all (well, all women) experienced this rather irritating tactic. But, of course, to people employing it a liberated woman is defined by a raised consciousness demonstrated by a willingness to abort children, insult their fathers, and plead special compensations. And those people are likely to be at least as often women as men.

    Yeah, some of it is snobbery, but that is an excuse, an attempt to distance the speaker (often a woman) from the unease she causes. Her choices (professional, marital, maternal) demonstrate possibilities. The richness of those (and the self-reliance they express) cause discomfort. And, yes, we’ve seen that phenomenon before in the treatment of Ward Connerley, Clarence Thomas, etc. – and especially the interesting phenomenon of Condolezza Rice.)

  2. This is what progressives/populists do when somebody who actually resembles a substantial portion of the population, and embodies the aspirations of a substantial portion of that population, gets elected. See also the reaction to Jesse Ventura’s victory in Minnesota a few years back. For a certain kind of leftist, it’s a nightmare of illegitimacy, in which someone who should never have been seen as anything other than a sideshow freak somehow inexplicably gains power and influence.

    Assuming — which I don’t* — an Obama victory in three weeks followed by a floundering Presidency that becomes indefensibly incompetent within its first two years, we will see a mirror-image of this in which someone who (according to a certain worldview) ought to have been overwhelmingly successful is instead derided by the public. If you think the progressives are unhinged now, wait ’til you see what they’re saying and doing along about 2011.

    * I regard neither an Obama victory nor an Obama Administration implosion as inevitable

  3. I think this the inevitable result of a culture in which people base their self-worth and claim to status on ideas that have no validity beyond mere popularity. Anyone who provides evidence that the subculture popular conceptions are not true strikes a profound and personal psychological blow against these people.

    Basically, these people live in a house of cards held up by their own insular consensus. They live in mortal terror that someone will observe that the emperor is stark naked.

  4. The problem is not that the emperor is naked, but that the clothes have no emperor inside.

    My own theory is that for many people meaning and belief have gradually seeped away. Liberalism is no longer a philosophy for many on the Left, it’s just a disguise worn to cover up the fact that they have become nihilists. That they are empty inside. What they hate is belief in sonething–anything–bigger than the self.

    They hate Bush precisely because he is a liberal, in the old sense of thinking the world can be fixed. They hate the Iraq Campaign because it is a liberal project–Overthrowing fascist dictators, bringing democracy–pure Truman. Bush exposes the falsity of their “liberalism.”

    And Sarah is pure Kryptonite to nihilists. She may be stupid or unqualified (I think just the opposite), but what’s really important is that she embodies, without ambiguity, many sorts of belief. Christianity above all. America, self-defense, self-reliance, hard work, self-confidence, capitalism. Family! Dominion over nature. Old fashioned love and sex between strong men and strong women. LIFE!

    That’s what they hate.

  5. This is the great irony of the conservative/liberal rift in our country. Liberals have a hard time wrapping their heads around someone who does not fit squarely into one of the molds laid out for them by someone they respect. Or rather they choose to think this way. It is a defense mechanism of sorts to be able to always dismiss someone as a conservative/republican/racist/bigot/chauvanist out of hand rather than having to defend your positions. Their view of Palin is just an extension of this defense mechanism…

    “I shouldn’t HAVE to defend my policy positions because she is just such a horrible person…”

  6. “..self-reliance, hard work, self-confidence…”

    Good point and this reminded me of a thought I had the other day while drifting off to sleep. You may question my own abilities if I am still having these sorts of “yeah…what the hell..” thoughts about liberal positions after all this time…but that can be tackled another time.

    I have heard two complaints about Palin over and over from liberals that I meet face to face. One is that Palin is not very bright, not smart, lacking intellect, you name it. The other is that she isn’t possessed of the character to see things through, that she will not face down difficult challenges that take more than a week to resolve.

    So my quesion is, how does someone who is not very bright become mayor and then governor if it is not precisely through grit and determination…especially considering she was in NO WAY connected to any political machine to speak of to get her power like many others are. Mind you, I do not think she isn’t intelligent…in fact I know the opposite to be true…however given that someone does think she is dim, how do they honestly put fortht that she is both stupid and not hardworking in the face of what she has accomplished…

  7. “The other is that she isn’t possessed of the character to see things through”

    Which strikes me as a very odd assertion, as I have not seen anything in the news to indicate that she is a quitter.

    Another very strong objection I have encountered: She is a believing Christian–which is to say that Christianity is, for her, more than just a rhetorical suit in which to dress liberal opinions. I have on occasion been astounded at the intensity of the hatred and contempt that “friends” have expressed towards all who have religious faith.

  8. I may seem (may be) obsessive but Weidner’s comment implies this reaction is from people who have developed a vision that contradicts the nature of their own drives; nihlism follows. If someone demonstrates that life is more complex, that nature is important, that love and child-bearing are valuable, then they must not be capable of the kind of analytic thinking that the speaker has chosen over this life. (In other words, Weidner speaks of what I believe – although so does everyone else here.) And heaven forbid they have a spiritual life. That is so limiting they must be incapable of – I don’t know, perhaps incapable of wearing obscene t-shirts or making obscene jokes about a Downs syndrome child.

  9. Chris, I think it’s a defense mechanism such as you describe, but I think there’s another layer thrown on top of it; the left only likes the working class when they’re shutting up and voting the way the “vanguard of the proletariat” tells them to.

    They especially don’t like to think that maybe their antagonistic attitude towards certain industries in this country (like oil drilling) isn’t as good for the working class as they think it is; they want to be able to think that by exporting entire industries overseas they’re helping the working class, and they don’t want to think about anything that challenges it. Hence they resort to an emotional response of “they’re just stupid redneck retards” before it gets too far.

  10. > Chris, I think it’s a defense mechanism such as you describe…

    Anyone interested in this should spend some time over at Dr. Sanity’s blog.

    Pat Santy is a psychiatrist who happened to be the mission psychiatrist during the Challenger explosion (i.e., she’s got her chops). Nowadays she spends her time as a soccer (not hockey) mom and blogs regularly, in addition to other professional works.

    But she has on a number of cases in thee blog dug into the psychology behind the Left’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder (I think that’s the correct term), and describes it in a way that I think a layman can both understand and see the truth of.

  11. Sean – Great post by Ilya. The short answer is yes, I think the Right has pretty much the same problem; there was plenty of Clinton Derangement Syndrome in the ’90s. My further concern is with what I once called, in a fit of prolixity, “the bitter fruit of incompetent criticism.” I’ll post a full-blown and arguably ironic rant about it here someday, but the gist of it is that seizing upon an inconsequential (or imaginary) attribute of an opponent may someday allow that opponent to really screw up by virtue of avoiding the kind of negative feedback that might have prevented disaster. Examples, unfortunately, abound.

  12. It is probably a signal that we’ve lost touch with reality when we’ve lost our sense of humor. Buckley is often described as an extremely nice man by the people he opposed – I suspect his remarkable sense of humor helped him retain a sense of proportion & humanity or because he retained that he kept his sense of humor. Anyway, not seeing the other as all that much other, if wrong in policy, keeps us from going overboard. Of course, it helps if the “other” keeps a sense of proportion, too. For instance, joking about voter suppression could be funny, but slashing tires is not.

  13. > Clinton Derangement Syndrome in the ’90s.

    Sorry, no. People did not LIKE Clinton — I’ll even go so far as to say that they despised him — but that’s not the same as the crap that’s been coming out of the left in the last 8 years.

    I’d very much like to see anyone detail what they think are comparable Clinton-era items in the media or elsewhere which hold a candle to the stuff the deranged Left has been producing for the last 8 years.

    Yeah, it’s not directly comparable, the internet makes a difference, if nothing else, to the longevity of the stuff. But just show a few things which got widespread support that compare to the violent stuff coming out of the Left. Show me some artwork with Hillary getting beaten up. Show me a screed from some widely distributed commentator which assaults Clinton or his wife, or Gore or his wife, the way that Palin has been verbally assaulted and abused.

    The Right does have some nutjobs — but on the whole, they are a lot more stable and rational than the majority of the left.

  14. I haven’t heard nor read about any person yelling out “Lynch her”, as I’ve heard at McCain / Palin rallies, referencing Obama; nor “Kill him” (her), “Terrorist” etc. McCain has gone down the road that he railed against in 2000 when the Bush / Rove smear machine did their nastiest against him and his family in the South Carolina primary. And I supported McCain in 2000 and was deeply troubled by the Rove / Bush tactics. Shades of things to follow.

  15. Mike,

    Perhaps you need to check out Malkin’s blog related to anger out of control on the left. But again, our assertion is not that that type of thing doesn’t occur on the right..indeed it does…our problem is that WE are not the ones parading it out on national news like is suddenly a problem and something brand new created by miscreants on the right. You see the difference don’t you?

    “..Sorry, no. People did not LIKE Clinton — I’ll even go so far as to say that they despised him — but that’s not the same as the crap that’s been coming out of the left in the last 8 years..”

    Exactly….I can’t really think of many “documentaries” being done that were in mainstream production about topics as varied as the Bush pulled of 9/11 to a Bush assasination daydream film…did any rightwing nutjob out there make one..sure, there probably were a few..was it shown in hundreds of theatres and favoribly reviewed by mainstream critics and discussed as real journalism at parties by a large portion of the right? No way…

  16. Ah, the perennial question of how to quantify.

    I would contend – as someone who think that BDS is very real and very stupid – that similar, if not larger, numbers of people in the ’90s believed (for example) the one about Clinton running drugs through Mena airport and routinely ordering hit jobs, as those who now believe that Bush knew in advance/perpetrated 9-11.

    It would also be interesting to do a count of “Clinton for Change” (with the second C rendered as a hammer-and-sickle) bumper stickers circa 1994 and 9-11 truther bumper stickers circa 2004.

    The difference is in the method of diffusion of wacky ideas. Right-wing looniness tends to be more like folk religion, with a more horizontal if not downright subterranean organization, passed from hand to hand. Left-wing looniness is more like an official established church, vertically/hierarchically organized and transmitted from one (or a few) to many.

    So the Right uses e-mail and websites and private conversations, and the Left uses movies and newspapers – with some obvious bleedover, as in the Right’s use of talk radio and the Left’s own web presence.

    Note also that your perception of all this is likely to be skewed by geography, unless you live in a truly “purple” area.

  17. The word proxy comes to mind when thinking about Sarah Palin and rage. It’s easy to direct rage at a proxy.

    Rage is a function of both ends of the political spectrum, but, at least in blog comment sections, less naughty words on the right, which I appreciate :)

    Humor and good cheer is key to dismantling an argument without seeming like a jerk. Yeah, I know, real original.

    Buckley should have followed in paternal footsteps and run as a third party satirist candidate on the ‘throwthebumsout’ party platform. He could have made his point about Republican excesses, handily, and still have been able to take potshots at the good Senator Obama. Also, he could have plugged his books. Win-win-win!

Comments are closed.