Palin: n. Alaska’s almost former governor, who giddily and incoherently quit her job last week. (“No more politics as usual!”)
Party: n. that would be the Republican party, the party of the hypocritical Christian right
I hoped never again to have to use the P word that ends -alin. But here we are, confronting that woman from Wasilla. Frank Rich at the NY Times says:
In the aftermath of her decision to drop out and cash in, Palin’s standing in the G.O.P. actually rose in the USA Today/Gallup poll. No less than 71 percent of Republicans said they would vote for her for president. That overwhelming majority isn’t just the “base” of the Republican Party that liberals and conservatives alike tend to ghettoize as a rump backwater minority. It is the party, or what remains of it in the Barack Obama era.
71% of Republicans would trust this woman to be the CEO of this country???? To keep the economy on an even keel? to negotiate with Iran or North Korea? to resolve the health care crisis? even to bake cupcakes for Piper’s birthday?
That’s why Palin won’t go gently into the good night, much as some Republicans in Washington might wish. She is not just the party’s biggest star and most charismatic television performer; she is its only star and charismatic performer. Most important, she stands for a genuine movement: a dwindling white nonurban America that is aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity as the country hurtles into the 21st century and leaves it behind. Palin gives this movement a major party brand and political plausibility that its open-throated media auxiliary, exemplified by Glenn Beck, cannot. She loves the spotlight, can raise millions of dollars and has no discernible reason to go fishing now except for self-promotional photo ops.
The essence of Palinism is emotional, not ideological. Yes, she is of the religious right, even if she winks literally and figuratively at her own daughter’s flagrant disregard of abstinence and marriage. But family-values politics, now more devalued than the dollar by the philandering of ostentatiously Christian Republican politicians, can only take her so far. The real wave she’s riding is a loud, resonant surge of resentment and victimization that’s larger than issues like abortion and gay civil rights.
And the scary thing is that to the 71% of Republicans who would vote for her, being an uneducated gun-totin’ religious fanatic is a PLUS! Don’t give me facts, give me red meat. Don’t give me a hand up, give me a pitchfork.
Resentment is toxic, and that’s what Palinistas feed on. I only hope the remaining 29% of relatively sane Republicans can bring a sufficient number of their party buddies around or the GOP is doomed.
Or America is.