Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Tragedy Of Sarah Palin

The Atlantic has a Big Essay titled "The Tragedy of Sarah Palin," the theme of which is that Sarah Palin governed Alaska in a manner many self-professed liberals would theoretically approve (mostly by taking on Big Oil), but then - for some mysterious reason! - became a "conservative firebrand," thus depriving America of a leader who could have solved all of our problems. No this is not a joke. (although, in a sense, the joke's on us).

From the moment Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech electrified the Republican convention, she was seen as an unbending, hard-charging, red-meat ideologue—to which soon was added “thin-skinned” and “vindictive.” But a look at what Palin did while in office in Alaska—the only record she has—shows a very different politician: one who worked with Democrats to tame Big Oil and solve the great problem at the heart of the state’s politics. That Sarah Palin might have set the nation on a different course. What went wrong?

Give me a break. That information was readily available in August 2008 when Palin hit the national stage. After John McCain first nominated Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, there was a scramble to put any information about Palin on the air. CNBC ran an endless loop of an interview that Palin did with Maria Bartiromo on the topic of energy. Have you ever seen it? I'll bet not, and if you see it, you'll know why. Palin is very impressive, speaking passionately and knowledgeably on energy policy in a way that would impress anyone not on the left side of American politics. Some of her verbal tics are present, of course - I remember chuckling at the time over her repeated use of the phrase "America's hungry markets"- but she goes toe to toe with the Queen of Wall Street, laying out the case for a free market, domestically based solution to America's energy problems - throwing in some criticism of the Bush Administration along the way. Here's the video if you don't believe me

But, we didn't hear much about that back in those days, did we? No, it was all "what's your favorite Supreme Court decision" and "I can see Russia from my house." In September and October 2008 when the American economy literally melted down right before our eyes, and the government's only reaction was to pass a $700 billion bailout opposed by wide majorities while a presidential campaign raged in which the #1 recipient of campaign donations from Goldman Sachs was running around talking about "spreading the wealth," pop culture and the media suddenly decided that the one thing that needed to be broadcast over and over again were "Sarah Palin = dumb" jokes. As if that weren't bad enough, her children were subjected to a level of scrutiny that would have made Bill Clinton's political career wither away to nothing.

Now, the Atlantic, which hosted Andrew Sullivan's literally deranged speculation about Trig Palin's "real" mother, says it's a big tragedy that "we" didn't learn more about the real Sarah Palin. I think most of us figured out well enough, thanks anyway.

Speaking of tragedy, this is what Palin was dealing with today. A family that was harassing her and her parents were hit with a restraining order, but when you see what they were doing, you think that restraining order is cold comfort.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin won another round in court on Monday against a Pennsylvania teenager accused of stalking the outspoken conservative, telling a judge, "I fear for my friends' and for my family's safety."

The three-hour Anchorage court hearing, with Palin and her antagonists testifying by telephone, ended with the judge renewing a previous restraining order against Shawn Christy, 19, and issuing a similar order against his father, Craig.

Shawn Christy admitted in court to having threatened to rape Palin but has denied her allegations he menaced her daughters. He also admitted sending Palin numerous e-mails and gifts, and to traveling to Anchorage earlier this year.

Craig Christy admitted to making more than two dozen early morning phone calls to Palin's parents over a two-day period in March. He also acknowledged organizing a support group for his son to stage protests at events attended by Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and he maintains a Facebook page with numerous anti-Palin messages.

State Superior Court Magistrate Jonathon Lack said he found the repeated telephone calls to Palin's parents, some of them recorded and played at the hearing, to be "very disturbing."

Lack rejected Palin's request for a restraining order against the teen's mother, Karen Christy, who called Palin's parents only twice.

Honestly, does Mitt Romney have to put up with this sort of thing? Of course not. No one's afraid of him.

The tragedy of Sarah Palin is really a tragedy for the decent people of this country. She was the center of a vicious series of political attacks led by the president himself, joined in gleefully by the full range of the American political, media, entertainment, and academic elite. The predictable result is Palin finds herself dealing with all manner of invasive behavior from lunatic stalkers to hackers peering into her email and all the rest (that hacker kid, btw, went to jail for that caper, but I'll bet he'll be dining out on his antics until he's well into his thirties). No one's so "dumb" or "dangerous" to deserve that, at least as long as Al Sharpton is treated as some sort of elder statesman.

We have a bottomless supply of Mitt Romneys because the Sarah Palins are regarded as less than human and treated as such, even though we would all be better off with her practical approach to public policy, rather than the grand schemes of the bi-partisan party of government. That is indeed a tragedy because our "conservative" representatives end up not being as representative so much as they are able to adopt a passing complexion for the media, which would dehumanize them to the point of being "unelectable" and then lament over the tragedy of it all.

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