A spiteful patriotism


Alden Graves

Beck:"What founding fathers do you most admire?"

Palin: "Oh, gosh, all of them!" I supposethat SarahPalin’s enablers breathed a collective sigh of relief when she didn’t name the patriarch of the Osmond clan. Whereas most political advisors voice a hardy "Good luck!" before the boss steps into the limelight, Ms. Palin’s probably say a silent "Hail Mary" every time she opens her mouth.

The fact that she came up with the same dodge to Glenn Beck’s question that kids use in fifth grade when they have no clue as to a sensible answer doesn’t give the rest of us a lot of hope that Ms. Palin has expanded her world very much since Katie Couric’s infamous trick question about magazines.

And the real wonder of it all is that she is still snookering the faithful. The Queen of Vacuity is still peddling the same snake oil and some people are still buying it in bulk. Faithfulness is an admirable virtue but, in Palin’s case, an unwavering support for the woman has entered the realm of the delusional. How long does someone have to be dragged behind a crazed horse before they realize it was a mistake to grab hold of the reins?

A letter to the Banner by a person who would have staunchly defended the participants in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre should they have been registered Republicans inadvertently (I’m sure) illuminated the core reasons for Palin’s lingering appeal.

Palin doesn’t impress them because of any qualifications she possesses beyond those which landed many women with similar skills a recurring role on "Baywatch." She appeals to them precisely because of the revulsion that she inspires in people with whom they disagree. The fact that she is no more qualified to run this country than Little Lulu doesn’t matter to them. They whisk it under the rug like an annoying piece of lint. The country be damned.

What matters is that the people they don’t like -- the "lefties" in this particular case -- don’t like her. Read, really don’t like her.

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I certainly qualify as a lefty. My dislike for Ms. Palin, however, is not really rooted in ideological differences or juvenile spite. I don’t like Sarah Palin because, in her own way, she represents something that I believe is inherently more dangerous to this country than the fallacy that, because a person is the eldest scion of a vastly wealthy, politically well-connected family, he is entitled to be president of the United States. Our nation is still smarting from that hard-learned civics lesson.

I dislike Palin because she represents -- in the most radical and potentially devastating sense -- the triumph of gloss over substance; of shameless manipulation over solid achievement; of greed over grit. The attainment of the Oval Office really should entail something more than what you might expect to watch during an extended episode of "Extreme Makeover."

During the heydays of the Bush years, anyone -- from either party -- offering an opinion that smacked of any intellectual depth invited the wrath of the mighty down upon his head. Thought was reviled as anti-American. It was a time when no one in power in Washington possessed a vision that extended much beyond sunset of the following day. A lot of sunsets have come and gone in the interim, and we are going to be paying the price for many more.

The Republican Party has always been the grateful beneficiary of the most superficial and short-term aspects of modern American politics. What’s good for them today always takes precedence over what is good for us tomorrow. Achievement is trumped by great hair.

I thought that Martha Coakley exuded all the spontaneous charm of Cruella DeVil. The Democrats’ smug assurance that Massachusetts was a slam-dunk got exactly what it deserved. But, if Mattel had designed a Republican blow-up doll, it probably would have looked exactly like Scott Brown. Mr. Brown now enters the United States Senate as quite possibly the only member in its history who had the good sense to cover his own when he posed nude for a magazine. (That might take some work to understand, and I apologize.) Brown’s chief appeal to Mass. voters seemed to be the fact that he drove around in a truck. I just imagined it parked next to the pretty blonde wife’s Lexus in the three-car garage.

Voters bought the truck shtick, lock, stock and driveshaft, and substantive health care reform is in jeopardy again. Mr. Obama got another wake-up call from people who are sick and tired of leaving messages that aren’t returned.

After expounding upon the dangers posed by poseurs like Ms. Palin, I have to say that I don’t think she has any more intention of running for president than the guy who got caught in the Men’s Room at the airport in Minneapolis. The green fields are much greener when Rupert Murdoch is tending them, and money has always been Palin’s guiding star. Even so hallowed a conservative voice as columnist David Brooks recently dismissed her as "a joke." It still amazes me how many people still don’t get it.

Alden Graves is a reviewer and columnist for the Banner.


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