Saturday, November 27, 2010

Take Me to Your Leader: Inside Sarah Palin’s Primitive Brain And Its Reaganesque Origins

Analysis overkill is what the Idiot Punditocracy, Palin’s “lamestream media,” (they love it because it sets them apart from her peeps) is doing with its incessant and loopy speculation over whether Sister Sarah will run in 2012. She’s running. Most of the Idiot Punditocracy/”lamestream media” know it. But they keep the ratings-war speculation going. Besides, playing Palintology parlor games is big in Washington these days. The latest Palin/media collaborative howl was mistaking North for South Korea. As gaffes go, it wasn’t that serious if not for her well-known and obvious ignorance of the most elementary Fifth grade history and geography facts. One British publication said dryly that Palin needs to “brush up” on her geography.

Conservative media immediately put up a stoic defense of Palin. The right wing website Weekly Standard noted that she “correctly identified North Korea as our enemy literally eight seconds before the mix-up.” As if this was a pop quiz and Sister Sarah passed the FAIL test literally by beating the 10-second rule — it used to be five seconds, but who’s counting — or some version thereof, in which food as metaphor for faux pas “promptly picked up is not considered fallen.” Our favorite wingnut slime site, Daily Caller, went further by falsely claiming Palin “corrected herself” quickly:
“In a discussion Wednesday about how to react to North Korea’s recent attacks on its southern neighbor, Palin accidentally said, “we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies” but then quickly corrected herself. Media outlets jumped on the isolated quote, and some neglected to mention that just eight seconds earlier, Palin had correctly identified the two countries and has spoken about conflict on the Asian peninsula at length in the past.”
This is typical of what passes as journalism in Rightwingville. All media at one time or another omit certain facts from a story and give others relevance. But only in right wing media is the actual omission of facts as used to misrepresent the story a common occurrence, so common in fact that “fixed” or “faux” news is just another way of saying propaganda. Here’s how the Palin interview and faux pas actually went down, with the full transcript for context, courtesy of the liberal media, because the truth is not our enemy. Sarah Palin did not  “correct herself”— rather, she was corrected by the radio co-host.

Most interesting and revealing, though, was Sister Sarah’s defensive reaction. First, she whined that the media was applying a kind of double standard on her, compared with President Obama’s occasional gaffes. Then she posted a Facebook lament with YouTube links “just in case you doubt the accuracy of these all too human slips-of-the-tongue.” Mama Grizzly hasn’t yet realized this train has left the station. The minimum threshold of competence, intellect, and knowledge assigned to the president of the United States has long since been crossed by President Obama in the public’s view. Barack Obama is the President, with a long list of achievements and better approval ratings today than Ronald Reagan had at the same time in his presidency. Worse still, Palin insists on attacking the First Lady. Reagan, whom Palin pretends to emulate, wasn’t  nearly so classless and trailer trashy.

Palin’s whiny lament becomes ever more pathetic once we consider the examples she plucks from YouTube. Obama conflating Europe as a country isn’t that big a deal given that the European Union with its 27-member countries has often been compared to one country: Europa. It’s one huge trading market with 500,000 citizens and one currency, offering EU citizenship and passport with the right to work and travel in all member countries. What would you call that, Teabaggers … a socialist conspiracy? (I can already picture Teabagger and birther heads exploding all around us.) Other common Obama “slips-of-the-tongue” included 57 states (50), 100 days (100 years), and so on. My favorite so-called Obama “gaffes” though were “rise of privacy” instead of piracy (the context was recovery of a pirated vessel, so it shouldn’t even have merited mention), and “I don’t know what the term is in Austrian for that …” in response to an Austrian reporter’s question at a NATO gathering. Huh?

Obviously, the wingnuts who breathlessly collect such clips, not to speak of Sister Sarah, lack a sense of humor. The President continued by saying, “wheeling and dealing.” He had injected an American figure of speech using a variation of “pardon my French,” which is how someone about to make a slightly slangish remark for the setting or audience may preface it. Since the President was holding an international presser at NATO headquarters, his reply to an Austrian reporter made perfect sense. It wasn’t a gaffe; just ignorance on the part of those who thought so. But no other words, facts and figures Mama Grizzly could mangle can possibly compare to this torture-equivalent Bushism:

There’s a tendency to go overboard with these Palinisms. She’s a media phenomenon in her own right and a lightning rod for right wing politics such that any effort by the “media” to tamp down its Palin compulsion would be impossible. Mama Grizzly is a hot media property. She is as active in promoting her brand as the “media” is in stoking Palinist ratings controversies. The Bristol Palin Dancing With The Stars voting demi-scandal is a good example of what we might call the Palin effect. Curiously, conspiracy peddlers on the right have been strangely silent; they will expend energy stoking fear and loathing in the low-information populace with absurd conspiracies but when a possibly genuine one comes along pushed by the hated “liberal media” they’re MIA.

Is there a right wing conspiracy in the works to destroy Sarah Palin’s powerlust for the presidency? Or have even the Palins come to recognize the cred-demolishing absurdity of Bristol beating out Jennifer Grey of “Dirty Dancing” star power on the strength of the Tea Party vote? Had the votes been correctly counted giving Bristol the victory, it would have become the perfect metaphor for the ignorance-is-bliss insanity represented by the Tea Party. Sadly, though, it seems higher powers intervened and adversaries collaborated to ensure the “proper” outcome. And who ever said conspiracies and cover-ups aren’t real? Paging Glenn Beck.

The conservative take on Mama Grizzly is an amusing mix of wishful thinking and vox populi endearments. Conservative radio personality Michael Medved claims Palin is just like the “rest of us” in contrast to the Washington elites. Apparently he hasn’t checked Mama Grizzly’s sky-high negatives. Yes, she has a base among Teabaggers, Christian fundies, and reality show junkies, but these constituencies do not a majority of the American people make. New York Times columnist David “bobo” (means dummy in some languages) Brooks opined Palin is not running because her statements are mainly directed at the media and she really isn’t that interested in issues and governing. Um David, when have Republicans last had an interest in governing — don’t you know their thing is all about power, heaping more unearned wealth on their rich and powerful cronies, and destroying the New Deal?

You’d have to go back to ‘Tricky Dick’ Nixon for a Republican president who last harbored an actual interest in governing. And look at what happened to him. Paranoid of his own shadow, surrounded by real “enemies” on the right and imagined ones on the left, Nixon went down in a blaze of infamy consumed by the flames of his own powerlust and the forces (“get on with it!” hissed Don Regan, Reagan chief of staff and Merrill Lynch CEO) that later elevated the “amiable dunce” Ronald Reagan to the presidency.

The Reagan agenda consisted of transferring wealth from the middle to the ruling classes and “starving the beast” of government with trickle-down tax and fiscal policies that exploded the deficit triggering downward pressure on FDR New Deal programs that had effectively created the Democratic-voting middle class. In building his New Right coalition, Reagan doubled down on Nixon’s successful “Southern strategy” on steroids by kicking off his 1980 presidential campaign from Philadelphia, Mississippi, site of the heinous murders of three civil rights “freedom rider” workers in the 1960s. This was widely recognized by the white racist “states rights” voter accustomed to communicating in coded racist language as a Reagan ‘wink-and-a-nod’ in their direction. Some will rightly recall Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech calling on Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” as the high point of his presidency. And yet as symbolism goes, few Reagan boosters are willing to concede the dark symbolic low points represented by Philadelphia, MS and Reagan’s visit to the SS cemetery in Bittburg, Germany.

Reagan invited the dormant Christian Right into grassroots Republican politics, forever changing the party’s face for the worst. Gone were the last vestiges of moderation in the GOP, and the so-called moderate holdouts today, all targeted for elimination by the Tea Party, behave more like conservatives than shifting “centrists” (whatever “centrist” means today). Ancillary to this was a disastrous deregulatory regime that persists to this day — an all-out assault on environmental, drug, food, and financial regulations that have had tragic costs for the country, from increased deaths from tainted drugs and food to more deaths and environmental disasters brought on by lax regulation of fossil fuels and the energy industry. After Carter’s energy program was scuttled, overreliance on imported Middle East (terrorist) oil set the conditions for foreign multinational BP to extract conditions from so-called sovereign U.S. states and an apology from a sitting Republican Congressman.

The point of this brief sojourn back to Reagan Republicanism is to suggest that Sarah Palin is the true, authentic heir to the Reagan legacy. It’s not about Reagan having served two terms as governor of California and Sarah Palin only two years as governor of Alaska. It’s about Palin’s charismatic appeal to Reagan’s natural base. Most of her supporters grew up idolizing Ronald Reagan. They see in Palin the prodigal daughter. And this drives the Republican establishment to fits of conniption. But astute political observers recognize Palin as the main force in the Tea/Republican Party going into the 2012 elections.

For liberals and progressives a Palin candicacy represents both opportunity and peril. Strangely enough, the opportunity will be confronting and slaying the Reagan ideological anti-government beast on the battleground of ideas. The prospect of a Palin candidacy revealing to all Americans that the Empress has no clothes in a drip-drip-drip of daily devastating revelations terrifies the Republican establishment. The GOP talk of stopping her 2012 candidacy is real. The peril for liberals and progressives is that Palin may actually win. Especially if billionaire technocrat Mike Bloomberg pursues an independent candidacy. In the last analysis, no great opportunity comes without risk.

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