John on November 19, 2009 at 10:13 am
I liked the ring of that headline and you’ll see how it fits in a moment. But actually, I thought Victor Davis Hanson’s piece on Palin was four stars. Well, three and a half anyway. VDH sets out to answer two questions:
1) What drives this fear and loathing?
2) How does one, then, assess the Palin phenomenon?
He comes up with three answers to the first one. Feminism, elitism, and populism. This bit on elitism seemed spot-on:
Liberal elites are, well, deemed elites because they predicate their stature on things such as where they went to school, where they live, how much money they have access to, where their children attend university, and whom they knowâ€”all done in a sort of understated, coded fashion. The best snobbery is the least stated.
When a Wasilla, you betcha, no abortion, Christian PTA mom comes on the scene with an Idaho BA, then red flags go up.
Hanson goes on to say that she’s really attractive and that probably doesn’t help. But VDH leaves out a fourth component of liberals Palin-phobia, her faith. Granted, this could be just one more issue under the elitism angle, but it’s odd that he doesn’t mention it at all.
From the moment she appeared on the scene, her faith was an issue. Follow that link and you’ll see that the same day she was picked as McCain’s VP, Daily Kos diarists were already calling her a “dominionist.” Claims were made that she was against the teaching of evolution (she wasn’t). Claims were made that she’d called dinosaurs “lizards of Satan” (she hadn’t, though Hollywood idot Matt Damon apparently believed it). Claims were made that she tried to ban books from the library (she hadn’t). In short, the theocratic boogeyman was in full effect.
Most significant of all was a piece of video tape showing Palin speaking at a church. She prayed the following:
Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God…That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.
In the hands of the Associated Press, that became this:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told ministry students at her former church that the United States sent troops to fight in the Iraq war on a “task that is from God.”
“Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God,” she said. “That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God’s plan.”
Notice that the word “pray” has vanished from the AP version of her statement. What was intended as an imprecation has now been transformed into a declarative statement of fact.
From the AP to Charlie Gibson. In her first big interview since her selection, Gibson confronted Palin with the AP version of the quote:
GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.” Are we fighting a holy war?
PALIN: You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.
GIBSON: Exact words.
Only those weren’t her exact words. Gibson blew. ABC blew it. The AP blew it. But none of them ever explained the error or apologized for it. ABC simply edited out Gibson’s reaction when the tape was shown on the West Coast.
I’m sure VDH is aware of all of this, so why not mention it? Is it because this is the one bit of anti-Palin elitism he’s sympathetic with? His recent defense of Charles Johnson’s turn to “creationism” watchdog suggests it’s a real possibility.
Dr. Hanson ends with an insightful defense of the real world vs. academia as a qualifier for high office:
I would trust the judgment of someone with Palin’s background on matters of Iran or Honduras or Putin far more than I would someone of Obama’s resume. I would trust my neighbor who farms 180 acres more than I would a chairman of an academic department. I know, I know, there are extreme binaries, but they are reflective of the lack of autonomy and physicality today and the undue emphasis on elite schooling as prerequisites for success. We know now that you can do nothing and still finish as the head of Harvard Law Review, or win a Nobel Prize, but if you miss an antlered moose, or run out of gas in the tundra, or fall overboard on a salmon boat, there is no Norwegian committee or Harvard Law Dean to bail you out.
All true. But he might also have noted that it’s often the most sheltered and most privileged who find faith in God most unnecessary.