Monday, November 16, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness (And Deep, Deep Dishonesty) of Sarah Palin

I hate a world in which smart conservatives are consigned to the periphery. There are two great intellectual/political traditions in contemporary American history. They are liberalism and conservatism. I'm a liberal. I find much of conservatism to be wrong. But conservatism is not immoral or un-American, no matter what the continuing prattling of Dick Cheney teaches us. Nor are the variations of these traditions somehow prima facie flawed.

I am also worried about a world in which Sarah Palin is the spokesperson for modern conservatism. But today the ruthlessly dishonest Sarah Palin represents the most vocal world of conservatism, yet we know that she is deeply and profoundly mendacious. And she is unwilling to be challenged.

Based on sheer politics a huge part of me hopes that Palin becomes the GOP brand. But the problem with that would be that Republicans would then be compelled to support her. I knew Ronald Reagan. I loathed Ronald Reagan. And yet Sarah Palin is no Ronald Reagan. I hope that America's right knows the difference. I fear that they don't.


Sara said...

For the record, I am not a Sarah Palin fan. Your comments on Ronnie Reagan captured my attention. I, too, share your loathing of the man the GOP holds in very high regard. Frankly, I am surprised they haven't commissioned a sculptor to painstakingly add his image to Mt. Rushmore. I wanted to share a excerpt from a book I read as an undergrad, describing an incident involving Governor Reagan ("Mexican American Movements and Leaders" by Carlos Larralde; Hwong Publishing Company, 1976):

"When Patricia Hearst was kidnapped on February 4, 1974, by the Symbionese Liberation Army, 'In tape recordings sent to Patricia's father, Randolph A. Hearst, chairman of the Hearst Corporation, the SLA demanded that he feed all of California's needy.' About 120,000 bags of groceries were given to 35,000 people. Some were Chicanos.
One welfare official explained that 'With inflation and high food prices, the number of people having problems is increasing. Many in the lines are likely wage earners, feeling the squeeze.' At a private meeting in Washington, Governor Reagan exclaimed, 'It's too bad we can't have an epidemic of botulism.'"--pg. 217

What a butt! But no one leaves this life without paying what they owe!

dcat said...

I waffle on Reagan in many ways. Some time ago I wrote about Reagan and argued that whatever one thinks of him, he will go down as one of the most important presidents in American history, even if he would not make my top 20 "best" presidents list. For me his Africa policies and his views on most of the racial issues of his day were simply retrograde and wrong.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your comments on S. Palin, I think she was on the Oprah show and will be on an interview with B. Walters. Let's just hope, that she does better than what she did with Katie Couric. I'm with you on the fear factor, I think a ton of conservatives, which I happen to know far too many than I would care to count, who are followers of Palin and have already counted her book as the greatest book of the Year. I don't know about all of that, but I digress, do you think there will ever be a comparison study of Sarah Palin and Ronald Reagan. I remember way back in graduate school in 2006, we did an extensive study on conservatives in the twentieth century, so I'm thinking some historian out there in this world will write something about the two. Correct me if I'm wrong, is she the first woman for the Republican Party to throw her hat in for President?

dcat said...

I think she might end up as the first, though don't bank on it.
But here is what a whole lot of people are forgetting: It's not like other GOP aspirants are going to treat her with kid gloves. She will be hammered on all of these lies, distortions and secrecies from within her own part. The resignation from the Alaska governorship alone will be a gift that keeps on giving.
Plus, let's just say it: She is really fucking dumb. That's take its toll over a longish campaign. I look forward to the internecine fireworks.


Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin is laughing all the way to bank with the book she wrote?? -- she had a ghostwriter on the book -- just reading it today at Hastings I could tell -- she does not write the way she speaks !!!

dcat said...

Some of us are laughing so as not to cry.


Anglo-Tex said...

In the aftermath of the 2008 election, her resignation as governor of Alaska and now "her" book, it is interesting to look again at vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin’s concerns over her treatment at the hands of the media. Someone (I forget who) much cleverer than I, once remarked, “Intelligence is relative, it depends on the company you keep.”

It is certainly unfair and probably untrue to label Governor Palin as unintelligent or uneducated. People do not get to hold and retain public office without some degree of ability and the GOP would surely not have endorsed a candidate who was considered unintelligent or uneducated. So what was the problem?

Most dictionaries define unintelligent as “without intelligence” and uneducated as “without education” – well duh! Educated simply means “having received education” so, as a general understanding, educated means schooled or perhaps trained. Intelligence however, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is defined as, “Understanding as a quality of admitting of degree; quickness of mental apprehension, sagacity.” Quite clearly, Sarah Palin is neither uneducated nor unintelligent but, equally clearly, there was a very serious deficiency in her ability to respond effectively to journalists’ serious questions.

Here is a somewhat gauche and clumsy word for consideration - "unknowledgeable". Microsoft’s spell-check does not appear to reject this word, but my OED does not list it. Accepting that this possible non-word is the antonym of knowledgeable, the definition of unknowledgeable would be: “not possessing, or showing knowledge or mental capacity and not well-informed.”

The difference in meaning between unintelligent and unknowledgeable might be considered subtle, but the difference is nevertheless significant and crucial. For example, a graduate with a cum laude degree in anything is highly unlikely to be unintelligent, yet may very well be unknowledgeable. Knowledge in this context is concerned with worldly matters. It is an accumulation of knowledge from a rich and varied array of sources over an extended period of time. It is also a never-ending mission and desire to know about “stuff” and to be able to use an inherent intelligence that allows an appropriate and contextual appraisal of that “stuff”.

This is, in my opinion, where Palin had difficulties – she doesn’t have knowledge of the subjects necessary to be an effective statesperson and showed little inclination to become absorbed and involved in those subjects. I get the distinct impression that, like many ideologically confined individuals, Palin’s views and beliefs have been formed and are now set in stone. She sees no need to absorb or assimilate new information or additional knowledge, especially if that information is at odds with her particular doctrine.

Prefabricated opinions and cute one-liners are no substitute for a deep and worldly knowledge.