If you have noticed, I am very intolerant of cheap shots and snide comments directed at Sarah Palin, particularly when those cheap shots and snide comments come from conservative bloggers and Republican politicians.
Perhaps I react this way because when Palin Derangement Syndrome first struck this blog was not yet established, and I just stewed. In many ways, PDS — along with Obamamania — was the motivating factor in my creating this blog in October 2008.
When Sarah Palin took the podium in St. Paul to accept her nomination for the vice presidency in September 2008, calm and collected feminists might have recalled the old saw: Be careful what you wish for. Here she was, an ambitious political woman with the sort of egalitarian marriage that would put the Swedes to shame. Here she was, a charismatic, working-class heroine who oozed folksy provincialism with the naturalness of Lyndon Johnson in the same breath as she cheered her Hillary Clintonesque assault on the “glass ceiling.” Yes, here she was—clinging to her guns, her religion, and her babies, and saying, and apparently believing, all the wrong things.
But “calm and collected” are not the words that come to mind to describe the feminist response to the governor from Alaska. The young feminist Jessica Grose, writing on the popular website Jezebel just after the Republican convention, was—well, we’ll let her describe it: “When Palin spoke on Wednesday night, my head almost exploded from the incandescent anger boiling in my skull. . . . What I feel for her privately could be described as violent, nay, murderous, rage.” Grose’s readers left more than 700 comments, according to the late New York Sun, including one from a reader who wanted to “vomit with rage.” Other haters damned Palin as a traitor to her sex or an “insult to women,” as Judith Warner spat in the New York Times. “Turncoat bitch!” the comedian Sandra Bernhard railed in a performance caught on YouTube. “You whore in your cheap fucking . . . cheap-ass plastic glasses and your hair up!” Writing on a Washington Post blog, Wendy Doniger, a Hinduism specialist at the University of Chicago Divinity School, topped them all: Palin’s “greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman.”
No one on our side has an obligation to support Palin just because Palin has been a target of almost unbelievable hatred merely for being. Support whomever you want, and make the case for other Republican candidates, but don’t join the mob as some people did in the wake of the Tucson shooting.
Palin is not just another potential Republican candidate. Palin is someone who has endured attacks by the mainstream media, entertainment establishment, and left-blogosphere second to no one currently active in Republican politics.
Palin’s political and economic survival under this assault is why Palin’s supporters in the Republican Party are more motivated than those of any other potential candidate.
And it is why people like me, who currently are open-minded as to the field of potential candidates in the absence of knowing who will run, will not support any Republican candidate during the primaries who attacks Palin. (Yes, the Lombardi Rule still takes effect after the primaries are over.)
Palin may not run, and if she runs, she may not win the nomination. But any other Republican candidate who thinks the way to win is to softly mimic the Palin haters does so at his political peril.
Update: I’m also becoming intolerant of trolls.
I had the privilege of coming of age during the era of Ronald Reagan. I like to think of him as America’s lifeguard. As a teenager, Ronald Reagan saved 77 lives as a lifeguard on the Rock River, which ran through his hometown of Dixon, Ill. The day he was inaugurated in 1981, a local radio announcer famously declared, “The Rock River flows for you tonight, Mr. President.”
The image of the lifeguard seems to represent what Reagan was to America and to the freedom-loving people of the world. He lifted our country up at a time when we were in the depths of economic, cultural and spiritual malaise. We were told that we must accept that the era of American greatness was over; but with his optimism and common sense, President Reagan held up a mirror to the American soul to remind us of our exceptionalism.
And as we all remember, Reagan was the media’s first choice for Republican nominee, and the media did everything it could to see that he was electable.