Sunday, September 28, 2008

The tautology of sympathy for Sarah Palin

I've been following the late upsurge of liberal sympathy for Sarah Palin, which hasn't moved me much at all: of course she's a human being - it's a little embarassing to watch liberals congratulating themselves for noticing. She pisses me off too, but I've avoided the temptation to write her off as a Rovian automaton so far.

I really loved Ta-Nehesi Coates' assessment of people who don't understand or believe in identity politics fumbling them this season:
The Palin pick was the most crassest, most bigoted decision that I've seen in national electoral politics, in my--admittedly short--lifetime. There can be no doubt that they picked Palin strictly as a stick to drum up the victimhood narrative--small town, hunters, big families and most importantly, women. Had Barack Obama picked Hillary Clinton, there simply is no way they would have picked Sarah Palin. To the McCain camp, Palin isn't important as a politician, or even as a person. Her moose-hunting, her sprawling fam, her hockey momdom, her impending grandmother status are a symbol of some vague, possibly endangered American thing, one last chance to yell from the rafters "We wuz robbed."
What McCain has done to Sarah Palin is what Rush Limbaugh thinks actually keeps Affirmative Action and the National Organization for Women in business. It doesn't make any sense, but conservatives think identity politics are just a nonsensical racket, so they can be aped to divert its spoils towards conservatives. Republicans are going to have to remain very committed to bigotry to not learn the lesson in what identity politics actually are that this debacle offers them.

When Palin was first picked, I thought to myself that if I were her, I wouldn't have accepted the invitation, because I would fail my own ambitions, but also my ideological allies througout the country. And not just them - a bad President can make life miserable for everyone, not just his supporters. God knows George Bush has shown us this.

Ambition is a good quality in the capable. Ambition is reckless in the incompetent.

It would be pretty cool to walk into an operating room and perform a lifesaving maneuver on a dying patient instead of watching the actual surgeon sneeze into his patient's chest cavity. But I know I would only hurt someone if I tried, so it would be monstrous of me to try.

In the Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama does a good job of telling how running for office constitutes a public service. I admire the personal sacrifices he has made so that his political career could be possible. If he didn't think that America needed the changes he's going to make, he'd have continued getting comfortably rich as a lawyer.

I sympathize with Sarah Palin's desire for power and respect, but I don't admire it. She is the archetype of the kind of politician John McCain is trying to cast himself as different than. With running mates like these, John McCain will never lose an election to win a war.

I hate seeing Palin validate the impostor syndrome, but I can't look at the election of a possible president as an exercise in shoring up self-esteem Sometimes it feels like you can't do anything right because you can't. This year I had the weird experience ofing a long episode of depression lead up to the revelation that things were really wrong with me. It was my demons' fantasy, and probably made my therapist feel kind of stupid. I'm disappointed I got sick, but not disappointed in myself for it. Judith Warner writes:

You don’t have to be perennially pretty in pink — and ditsy and cutesy and kinda maybe stupid — to have an inner Elle Woods. Many women do. I think of Elle every time I dress up my insecurities in a nice suit. So many of us today — balancing work and family, treading water financially — feel as if we’re in over our heads, getting by on appearances while quaking inside in anticipation of utter failure. Chick lit — think of Bridget Jones, always fumbling, never quite who she should be — and in particular the newer subgenre of mom lit are filled with this kind of sentiment.

You don’t have to be female to suffer from Impostor Syndrome either — I learned the phrase only recently from a male friend, who puts a darned good face forward. But I think that women today — and perhaps in particular those who once thought they could not only do it all but do it perfectly, with virtuosity — are unique in the extent to which they bond over their sense of imposture
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