In his latest NY Times column, “Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha!” Frank Rich thinks that Sarah Palin could be a serious contender. He points out that despite the disastrous showing of the Tea Party candidates she supported, her approval with the Republican rank-and-file still stands at 80%. She is getting free publicity for her image on Fox TV and the misnamed The Learning Channel (“Sarah Palin’s Alaska”).
Rich points out that “What might bring down other politicians only seems to make her stronger: the malapropisms and gaffes, the cut-and-run half-term governorship, family scandals, shameless lying and rapacious self-merchandising. … It’s anti-elitism that most defines angry populism in this moment, and, as David Frum, another Bush alumnus (and Palin critic), has pointed out, populist rage on the right is aimed at the educated, not the wealthy.”
I recalled something I had written immediately after Palin’s launching at the Republican National Congress in 2008, and it seems to need no revision today:
“When Sarah Palin made her much-hyped speech at the RNC, I remember noticing how everything about her – her clothes, her hair, her glasses, her makeup, her delivery – was carefully constructed to project a specific image. Since then, she has been portrayed as a rugged individualist, a moose-skinning, gun-toting mother of five. The truth is that her whole family lifestyle is dependent on using public resources for her individual needs, on support from state and federal government, as well oil company largesse. How else could she be bringing up five kids with a full-time job and husband away for a month at a time? She in fact replaced professional Alaskan public officials with her family and friends . She entered public office for her own advancement, not for the public good.
“The question is, not whether the image is false, which it blatantly is, but why does it resonate with the US public? I think that the answer is that it appeals to an eighteenth-century ideal of virtue: the “virtuous” person is not dependent on any master, is strong, courageous, armed, and militantly public-spirited. In the same way, the wars in Iraq have been fought under eighteenth-century ideals of democracy and freedom from tyranny. These ideals are so intimately bound up with the social framework of the US state that they are embedded at an emotional level in people’s thought. The Republican strategists sense this intuitively and use it to identify the “general good” with support for the US administration; again, the opposite of the truth. …
“The Republicans are the asset-strippers, the union-busters, the corporate raiders, the bankrupt financiers. Their aim is to offload a massive devaluation of wealth onto ordinary people, so they can keep their own wealth intact. The Democrats are too close to corporate America to say this out loud. They can win only if Obama is strong enough to take up the theme implicit in his speeches, restoration of popular sovereignty and ending popular helplessness. Which way will he go?”
Well, we know now about Obama. The Democrats are leaving the country frustrated with the fact that the bankers and financiers who caused the fiscal crisis are going unpunished while voters daily face the threat or reality of unemployment, having their benefits terminated and contracts rewritten, and the continuous rise in the cost of living as the dollar plummets against world currencies.
Palin’s success is due entirely to the fact that she is able to glorify ignorance in order to manipulate her supporters into voting for the opposite of their interests, for a policy of ravaging the nation for the benefit of the overpaid and rapacious corporate elite. She glamorizes the opposite of an informed electorate necessary for a democratic nation. Her image is nurtured by those who would make her a robotic presidential candidate, one guaranteed to support policies that will destroy democracy and deliver the country into the hands of an oligarchy. She is an willing puppet whose strings are pulled by the likes of the Koch brothers.
There can be no compromise with these people. Now is the time to renew the spirit of the American Revolution: Down with the tyrants! Defend pensions and health care! Defend the right to a good public education! No taxation without representing the interests of the majority of the people in government!