Day By Day

Friday, February 06, 2009

Savaging Sarah

Yuval Levin has a nice piece in Commentary on the divergent reactions to Sarah Palin's candidacy.

On the left:
The reaction to Palin revealed a deep and intense cultural paranoia on the Left: an inclination to see retrograde reaction around every corner, and to respond to it with vile anger. A confident, happy, and politically effective woman who was also a social conservative was evidently too much to bear. The response of liberal feminists was in this respect particularly telling, and especially unpleasant.
And on the right:
It seemed to matter not a whit that Palin had never taken any action on abortion in her time as governor, and rarely had much to say on the subject. Indeed, even as she campaigned before captivated audiences, drawing tens of thousands of proud conservatives to rallies in a display of rock-star popularity no vice-presidential candidate had ever earned, Palin barely spoke about abortion or social issues.

Palin did not merit her instantaneous conversion into the Joan of Arc of the American Right, just as she did not deserve the opprobrium that was heaped upon her by the Left.
So why the fuss?
Palin’s cultural populism put her at odds with the foe that did her the most serious damage: the nation’s intellectual elite, whose initial suspicion of her deepened into outright loathing as the campaign progressed.
Why the hatred?

Applied to politics, the worldview of the intellectual elite begins from an unstated assumption that governing is fundamentally an exercise of the mind: an application of the proper mix of theory, expertise, and intellectual distance that calls for knowledge and verbal fluency more than for prudence born of life’s hard lessons.

Sarah Palin embodied a very different notion of politics, in which sound instincts and valuable life experiences are considered sources of knowledge at least the equal of book learning. She is the product of an America in which explicit displays of pride in intellect are considered unseemly...

There's much more in this perceptive article. Sarah Palin, more than any other recent political figure tells us a lot about ourselves, and it isn't good. Read the whole thing here.