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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-06-16 05:56
Subject: [politics] Wondering about my reactions to Sarah Palin
Security: Public
Tags:personal, politics
I've been trying to figure out why Sarah Palin annoys me so much. (This at least partially in response to a fair amount of polite prodding from bemused_leftist.)

It's not her politics per se, though I don't agree with much of what she appears to stand for. If it were her politics, I would find virtually every Republican pol equally annoying, and clearly I don't. Well, okay, let's be honest: I do find virtually every Republican pol annoying, but not in the same special way Palin annoys me. Being mad about politics is like shouting at the neighborhood kids to get off your lawn — it's a club sport once you reach a certain point in life. The usual "I voted against it in Congress and came home to take credit for it anyway" hypocrisy is life in the political minority in our system. Et cetera.

It's not the history of unresolved corruption and abuse of power issues in Alaska that got largely buried once she hit the national stage because, well, that's par for the course on both sides of the aisle. Look at the current Democratic efforts to undermine the House Ethics Committee in order to head off various investigations. And no, I don't mean that all politicians are corrupt, or even most/many of them. Just that the temptations are strong and the rules are complex and even otherwise good people will see gray areas. Otherwise not-so-good people will exploit those gray areas mercilessly. There's all kinds in office, just like everywhere else in life.

What I've finally come down on is that like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, when Sarah Palin is off-script and speaking from the hip, she doesn't make any sense. Reagan never did make sense if you listened to his words rather than his tone and delivery. Bush didn't even have tone and delivery, all he had was the family name and the GOP in lockstep behind him under Reagan's Eleventh Commandment.

Contrast with, say, George H.W. Bush, with whom I have political disagreements just as vast, but at least he seemed to know what he was doing, understand both history and current events, and despite his occasionally fractured diction, have a grasp of what he stood for and the ability to articulate it. Or Newt Gingrich, whom I suspect of being ferociously intelligent, albeit by my lights misguided to a point bordering on evil. (Ie, the GOPAC memos, etc.)

I am sure there are babbling Democrats, but I haven't seen them in any real danger of holding high office lately. All three of the 2008 Democratic front runners — Clinton, Edwards, Obama — were almost frighteningly sharp people. And like Jon Stewart, I want a president who's smarter than me. Just like I want a cancer surgeon with steadier hands than me, and an airline pilot with better reflexes than me, and so on.

So is my reaction to Palin class-based? I don't think so, because I had the same reaction to Reagan, and there was nothing populist or blue collar about him (or Bush 43), despite occasional rhetoric to the contrary. A similar bit of self-analysis applies to wondering whether my reaction to Palin is gender-based.

Or am I exposing a linguistic prejudice regarding speech register and articulation? Maybe, because what I'm essentially reacting to is an inability to communicate ideas clearly. On the other hand, isn't one of the key components of leadership precisely that ability?

Or am I seeing linguistic expression as a proxy for intelligence, and reacting along those lines? Which would be an ugly prejudice if true, though again, I do think it is quite defensible to prefer a sharp mind in the White House.

More to think about. But she does spark the same annoyed contempt in me Reagan and Bush 43 always did, and for that matter, Dan Quayle. Hmm. More to consider.
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User: a_r_williams
Date: 2010-06-16 13:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It could be the fact that Palin, is somewhat of a "rockstar" with a large group of "fans" that follow and cheer for her regardless of what she does.

When you don't like the group to begin with, the fact that they have so many rabid admirers is irritating.
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Reannon: can't scare me
User: reannon
Date: 2010-06-16 13:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:can't scare me
She is flash over substance. You can disagree with substance on the other side of the aisle, but can at least respect it for being a real, thoughtful and considered opinion, albeit one centered in a philosophy of government with which we disagree. But showmanship over leadership is always dangerous, no matter which philosophy of government they espouse, and pretending to be "one of the people" is even more dangerous when they stand for nothing but opportunism.
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User: a_r_williams
Date: 2010-06-16 13:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I like the way you said that :)
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User: barbhendee
Date: 2010-06-16 13:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

I blame John McCain for foisting her upon the rest of us.
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Jay Lake: graffiti-shirley_you_jest
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-06-16 14:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As I've said before, McCain cemented his place in political history with that move. Sarah Palin is his legacy. I believe the way I phrased it was that McCain was John the Baptist to Palin's conservative political Jesus.

I sure hope Senator McCain will be proud to be remembered that way.
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User: chris_gerrib
Date: 2010-06-16 13:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's not diction, it's comprehension. Palin believes in "conservativism" because she's only been around conservatives. She's never had to think through the "how and why" of her beliefs, so now she struggles.

She's like the guy who goes to the same church his parents did, just because "that's what I've always done."
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ubiquitous_a: palin-quitter
User: ubiquitous_a
Date: 2010-06-16 13:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
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Lady Jestocost
User: ladyjestocost
Date: 2010-06-16 13:56 (UTC)
Subject: Palin the Annoying
She's always sounded to me as if the next thing she was going to say was, "Clean your room or there'll be no supper for you, young lady."

I couldn't tell you why; a woman less like my mother would be hard to imagine. Mom could out-think her, out-speak her, and out-shoot her with one hand tied behind her back.

Personally, I can't stand her voice any more than I can W's. I suspect both of them of being about 30 seconds from a protracted whine.

This is aside from the fact that my cat is smarter than she is.
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User: jtdiii
Date: 2010-06-16 14:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It is nice to have a Leader who can walk into a crowd of world leaders and hold their own intellectually. With Palin, there is the fear that someone could out think or even worse delude her into doing things against the best interests of this country and the people in it.
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User: ulfhirtha
Date: 2010-06-16 15:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That is my suspicion with Al Qaeda - that with the War on Terror and the host of activities and damage to the US that came in its wake, W did their work for them. I see another W in her.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: martyn44
Date: 2010-06-16 14:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You're a well read science fictional man. You know Philip K Dick. You've read 'Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep' even if you've avoided 'Bladerunner'. It strikes me that Mrs Palin, like Mrs Thatcher before her, would not only fail a Void-Kampff test, she would fail to understand what it was about.

She's not alone. I'm sure Kim jung Il would fail one too.
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User: nicosian
Date: 2010-06-16 15:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I find her exponentially more irksome than Bush.

Her rabid fan supporters and apologists, who hold her up as this icon of a successful woman! when she's quit or flaked off on nearly ever endeavor she's embarked on, used her political office to levels of blissful entitled corruption without a care, and then when the rough gets rougher, she flails and cries a good ol "the librul media meanies! and "leave my family alone", except that she's trotted them out on many occasions.

There's this sense of shallowness to her. She is not well read, or introspective, or intellectual. It's not amusing, clever or what I expect from "strong women".

I'm female. I find her gallingly embarrasing and ignorant. And she revels in her ignorance and catch phrases.

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Elizabeth Coleman
User: criada
Date: 2010-06-16 15:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What this post made me think of (and several commenters confirmed my instincts) were these articles over on Overthinking It: A Juggalo Theory of Value. In Part 2 there's a brief discussion of Palin in the comments. Basically, the article discusses how it can behoove a prominent entity to nurture sub-cultures that are alienating, and who are alienated because of this, but then identify with that very sense of alienation. Such sub-cultures will promote and defend their parent entity (whether that is ICP, Republicans or Twilight) with their dying breath, and be able to say stuff no respectable politician/author/whatever would say.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2010-06-16 15:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My reaction to Sarah Palin is rather visceral and personal.

Quite simply, I've known too many small-town church women like her. I even have one in my family.

They are not pleasant people to be around.
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User: valarltd
Date: 2010-06-16 18:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

She is what that vapid dyed-blonde cheerleader with too much make-up grew up to be after she found Jesus.

Palin has a degree in broadcast journalism. Surely one of the first things they did was scrape that nasal accent off her tongue. But somehow, North Minnesota just got thicker and thicker through the campaign.

The "I'm just folks" attitude, sweet smiles and carting around her Down's baby like a prop are just a cover for what anyone can see lurks under it: a tyrant at home with a short temper and rigid rules.

She's a fundamentalist and a GOP'er exactly for those rigid rules. She believes if she obeys their rules, she'll have a nice life and a nice afterlife, no matter how much chicanery she pulls otherwise.

And anyone who gets away with living outside those rules must be punished, PUNISHED! youbetcha.

Also the wink. It is outdated and insincere. Yet, it conveyed exactly the message she meant it to: I'm hot and if you're the Right Kind, you might have a shot.

I know the type.
And if you listen to the GOP men who like her, their support tends to boil down to "I'd totally do her."
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: barbarienne
Date: 2010-06-16 16:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
OMG she is totally Delores Umbridge, only without actual knowledge of anything at all.
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User: madrobins
Date: 2010-06-16 16:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am forced to admit that I am a snob about some things, and Palin pushes my snobbery buttons. She's not only not an intellectual (I don't mean she's not shrewd, because she clearly is), she appears to revel in being not-an-intellectual; to sneer at people who prize smarts. I'm a person who prizes smarts, and I don't like being sneered at. My experience in high school was that I was often looked down on by people exactly like Palin, so there's some of that as well. But really: sneering at smart and applying for a job where smart should be the first requirement? Something wrong here.

And as a woman--and a woman of certain age--I really, really resent her "cute l'il me" mannerisms. When cornered she either giggles and smirks, or wails everyone's picking on me!. She appears to demand all the fruits of the woman's movement while entirely distancing herself from it. Loath, loath, loath.

I have to go look at some pictures of puppies now.
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User: barbarienne
Date: 2010-06-16 16:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Palin very definitely annoys me because she is proudly ignorant. I disliked Shrub for the same reason, though I have a slight bit more of sympathy for him because there was an underlying earnestness to his dimness that allows me to suspect he was shoved along as much as self-willed.

Palin is ignorant of the world outside Wasillia, and when she came to national prominence, she apparently did nothing to change that. That's why she can't answer questions off the script: she doesn't know the answers. She's not a thinker.

Her moves and choices evidence an utter narcissist, completely incapable of evaluating her behavior relative to others. My armchair observations make me wonder if she's also a sociopath (in the clinical definition); despite her charm, she has never appeared to do anything that wasn't designed to make herself more prominent; and she has a habit of recklessly impulsive decisions.

That Palin believed that she was at all worthy of political prominence and being in charge of anything more than a PTA bake sale betrays just how ignorant and narcissistic she is.

She's the walking definition of Dunning-Kruger syndrome.
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User: swan_tower
Date: 2010-06-16 18:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"Proudly ignorant" is exactly the motif I see in a certain portion of the Republican party, and it appalls me more than practically anything else short of Godwin's-Law level evil. Because ignorance precludes debate, and pride in that ignorance precludes education, which leaves us with nothing and nowhere to go.

And I think that's where I say "no" to Jay's question of, "Or am I seeing linguistic expression as a proxy for intelligence, and reacting along those lines?" I don't think that's Palin's problem at all. I see why that attitude would be problematic on your part (or mine); there are plenty of non-native English speakers who are plenty brilliant, but have difficulty expressing themselves in our language, and it's good to guard against the tendency to equate lack of fluency with stupidity. But those people, if asked what they read, would be able to give an answer, however garbled its delivery. Palin has no answer to give. Her "word salad" speech patterns aren't a difficulty of expression; they're a flashy diversion from her lack of anything to express.

And if you call her on that ignorance, she valorizes it, while condemning you for valuing intelligence and substance. Proudly ignorant: I can't think of a more efficient way to put it.
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User: saveswhat
Date: 2010-06-16 16:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think Palin irks me for the same reason George W irks me. Neither one deserves to be where they are.
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User: shaolingrrl
Date: 2010-06-16 17:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm annoyed that she finally managed to graduate from *my* alma mater. Now I want to become rich and famous so I can promise the U of I tons of money if they rescind her diploma.

Yeah, the Shrub has many things in common with her, but at least he was controlled by a fairly small, focused group of puppet masters who were easily seen as evil.

Palin is controlled by a mob.

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