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January 20, 2011

James Taranto, Who Didn't Even Graduate From High School, Presumes To Explain Palin-Hatred

I mention that high school bit because he does. I didn't know that; wouldn't have guessed. But he recently got a sneer from a leftist writer about that -- despite the fact that the leftist writer in question writes for some minor regional paper (which I'm guessing is free and exists mainly as a vehicle for coupons for all-male burlesque shows) and Taranto is one of the most influential and important voices at what is one of the most influential and important newspapers in the world.

But, you know: This writer went to a good school so...

Keep livin' on that early promise that turned out to be a cruel lie, dude. I know I do. It gets me through the day.

That's the beginning of essay, noting that sort of unearned-snobbery is a major part of Palin hate, but then he hits a theme that my friend not_steve_in_hb has been hitting for years: Liberal women hate Sarah Palin because they hate their own lives and especially their disappointing husbands.

Okay, Taranto doesn't say that, exactly, but he's talking nearby that hot-button. A liberal female friend of his, whom he quotes, comes closer to saying that.

Professional jealousy and intellectual snobbery, however, only scratch the surface of the left's bizarre attitude toward Palin. They explain the intensity of the disdain, but not the outright hatred--not why some people whose grasp of reality is sufficient to function in society made the insane inference that she was to blame for a madman's attempt to murder Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

This unhinged hatred of Palin comes mostly from women. That is an awkward observation for us to offer, because a man risks sounding sexist or unchivalrous when he makes unflattering generalizations about women. Therefore, we are going to hide behind the skirts of our friend Jessica Faller, a New Yorker in her 30s of generally liberal politics. Over the weekend, she wrote us this analysis of Palin-hatred, which she has generously given us permission to quote:

I am starting out with a guess that this stems from her abrupt appearance on the national scene during the McCain-Obama race. She appeared out of nowhere and landed squarely in a position of extreme attention and media power. Her sex appeal might not have been as much of an issue had she been a known entity with a tremendous, watertight political résumé. Even lacking that, her sex appeal might not have been such an issue if her demeanor on the campaign trail had been more, well, conservative. But here is this comely woman, in a curvy red suit, giving "shout-outs" during the debate with Joe Biden, giving controversial interviews without apology, basically driving in there, parking the car, and walking in like she owned the place.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing. But she couldn't have pulled it off if she were a gray mouse in a pantsuit, and because the devil in the red dress wasn't orating like a professor, it roused an unquenchable forest fire of rage and loathing in the breasts of many women, perhaps of the toiling gray mouse variety, who projected onto her their own career resentments and personal frustrations.

I am amazed at how people still abhor her. I personally do not. I don't feel she would be a good choice to run this country, but she does not deserve the horrific treatment she gets. I can tell you, being privy to the endless, incendiary rants this past week about her, coming from hordes of liberal women--age demo 25 to 45--they rip her to pieces, they blame her for everything, and the jealousy/resentment factor is so clear and primal. I've never seen anything like it.

We'd say this goes beyond mere jealousy. For many liberal women, Palin threatens their sexual identity, which is bound up with their politics in a way that it is not for any other group...

He then goes on to hang his thesis on the question of abortion, and Bristol's carrying her baby to term, which is certainly lurking somewhere in this cloud of red hate, but actually, I'm inclined to agree more with his friend and my own friend: No, really, a lot of this is resentment by a bunch of humiliated hens who have a large vested interest in making certain that only the credentialed, sanctioned path to success is permitted (because that's the track they're on) and they're frustrated that they themselves aren't successful, and here's this brash, sexy-librarian type succeeding outside the system that's so precious to them (because the system is of course stacked with advantages for their type and disadvantages for all others) and putting their own limited accomplishments rather to shame.

Although that analysis is somewhat crude, and doesn't really implicate policy or intellectual-level policy preferences, it must be borne in mind that hatred is a rather crude emotion, and certainly not intellectual in genesis, so explanations rooted in primal pecking-order alpha-grrl urges and neurotic fears and psychological shame are probably much closer to the mark than Taranto's thesis that "They hate her because she's the embodiment of the pro-life spirit."

Yes, maybe that's there too, but that's an intellectual, abstract sort of motivation. When you're seeking to explain something primal, psychological, and fundamentally personal, I think you're better off passing over intellectual explanations and looking at people's fears and inadequacies.

By the way, Taranto doesn't let liberal men off the hook, either:

What about male Palin-hatred? It seems to us that it is of decidedly secondary importance. Liberal men put down Palin as a cheap way to score points with the women in their lives, or they use her as an outlet for more-general misogynistic impulses that would otherwise be socially unacceptable to express.

Not sure that's right, for similar reasons -- I think again this is largely anger about someone they don't understand from a place they never heard of trumping their private schools and meticulously cultivated social networks with something they simply don't possess -- vital spirit -- and rejecting that pathway because it threatens them.


Oh: My other guess is that this is rooted in an emotional response they felt when they first saw her -- panic. Remember, up until Palin's nomination, Barack Obama was cruising easily towards victory. No poll ever showed McCain ahead, and few polls showed him even within 6 points.

But Palin changed that -- suddenly Obama wasn't a sure thing, but was behind, at least for two wonderful weeks.

I am thinking that the panic and fear they felt over that stayed with them, the same way that if you're eating a peppermint Jolly Roger when your doctor tells you you might have a deadly illness, you will probably never again wish to taste a peppermint Jolly Roger. That stimulus becomes locked by association with the fear of death. It becomes the taste of death.

So that's Sarah Palin -- the taste of death for unhinged liberals who thought Barack Obama was an unstoppable god.



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posted by Ace at 12:26 PM

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