Tuesday, December 08, 2009

American Woman

Fake but accurate.

OUR NEW WAY OF GIVING YOU MUSIC. Of course the picture's a phony. She's had five kids and makes jokes about stretch marks. But American men still love her. Witness the latest poll, which has the intelligentsia running, as Stephen Leacock would say, "madly off in all directions."

Shocker polls: That Sarah Palin-Barack Obama gap melts to 1 point

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, look what the pollsters just brought in.

A pair of new surveys revealing that President Obama is still declining and has hit a new low in job approval among Americans just 56 weeks after they elected him with a decided margin.

And -- wait for it -- Republican Sarah Palin is successfully selling a whole lot more than books out there on the road. Even among those not lining up in 10-degree weather to catch a glimpse of pretty much the only political celebrity the GOP has these days.

Kewl. Yeah. I know. It doesn't mean that Sarah would beat Obama head to head in a real election. But I LOVE it. She's causing me to rethink everything. Which, at my age, is like a shot of adrenalin mixed with crystal meth.

So here's the gamut of what I'm (re)thinking.

Credentials. She got her college degree from (WTF?) Idaho State or Boise Barber College? Truthfully, this part of the slams against her never bothered me. The oh-so-democratic Democrats who ridicule her academic credentials would be hard put to explain why a hardworking woman with a bachelor's degree from the University of Idaho is somehow less qualified on that basis than Lyndon Johnson (Southwest Texas State Teachers' College) or Harry Truman, who had no college degree at all. Wasn't it the Democrats who wanted us to believe that George W. Bush was an idiot because he graduated from Yale with less than a magna cum laude degree, and the only fit leaders of the masses were Democrat graduates of Harvard, Yale, Yale, Yale, and Yale? Excuse me? How many of you sanctimonious liberals actually went to Yale? Please step forward. Good. Now explain why your brainiac institution thought it made sense to "go for it" on fourth down and twenty-two. Sarah Palin wouldn't have done that. She'd have relied on what is probably the only NFL-caliber player on the Yale squad -- the punter who had already booted one eighty-five yards in the air to pin Harvard inside its five yard line. But that's just me. And Sarah.

Credentials. She let Katie Couric make a monkey of her on TV. What was she supposed to do? Deck the bitch? (Yeah. Sorry. Still my favorite fantasy outcome of that exchange.) But ask yourselves this: In future years, who will be remembered for what? Will Sarah Palin be remembered chiefly as a takedown in the Mencken/Murrow-like career of Katie Couric, or will Katie Couric be remembered primarily as a speed bump in the otherwise Reagan-like career of Sarah Palin? Huh. Or, more precisely, boo-yah!

Credentials. She quit her job as governor of Alaska. I admit it. This was my biggest problem with her. You just don't quit. Unless you live in a country where it used to be the case that anyone could become president and now it's the case that any millionaire could become president. You see, I now have to consider the possibility that Sarah Palin is just plain smarter than me. (I only went to Harvard, after all.) "Time on the job" obviously didn't play a big role in Obama's ascension. Why should it hold Palin back? She got elected, she did well enough that her popularity earned her a spot on the presidential ticket, and damn. Look at her. Maybe a cavalier attitude about public office is exactly what today's rebellious voters are looking for. She's honest enough to say, "oh, fuck it," when professional political opponents make it clear that they'll sue you over every single damn thing every damn day for no other reason than injuring you and your family. Would I quit under those circumstances? uh YEAH. So would most of you. The idiot candidate Sarah Palin has figured out that average voters don't require their politicians to be crazed masochists. uh. What kind of intelligence is that? Maybe common sense? Why would any American voter prize common sense? Precisely.

See what I mean? The song isn't favorable to American women, is it? But we all appreciate the non-irony: Men don't like it when women see though them. Which they usually do. Isn't that at least part of the liberal fondness for Hillary Clinton? Except that Hillary has two strikes against her in the 'wise woman' sweepstakes. She hitched her wagon to a compulsive cheater who humiliated her at every turn. And she's obviously -- even to liberals -- not macho enough to be the imitation man she so wants to be.

Which is where the genius of Sarah Palin kicks in. She's not an imitation man. She's the woman some of us know, some of us wish we knew, some of us dream of, and some of us would do anything to believe in the possibility of. What's that? [Drumroll please: it's got to be BIG, given that liberals of every stripe, especially feminists, hate her so much that they're anxious to accuse her of not even being a woman...] Sorry to disappoint. She's the woman you'd go to with a personal problem in your home town. You'd be embarrassed to tell her what you did. But you'd tell her anyway because she'd understand and give you the right advice, even if it seemed too hard to do before she told you you could do it. Because you had to. And that's why you went to her in the first place. Because sometimes you have to hear the obvious truth all the smart folks won't tell you.

When did we get the idea that being president of the United States meant going to Harvard and Yale? They were the only two colleges I applied to, but I never thought going to either of them would qualify me for the presidency. I wanted to be a writer. Which has nothing whatever to do with being president of the United States. I can't emphasize enough how different these two ambitions are. Presidential candidates can come from Harvard or Yale. But they can also come from Eureka College and the University of Idaho.

I've written before about my prep school days. The ones who went on to Ivy League schools were a significant percentage of the graduating class, but guess what? They were never the student body presidents. They didn't necessarily get good grades, even in a grade-obsessed culture like ours. They weren't even always football stars or other kinds of jocks. They were the ones people liked because they liked other people in return, and everyone knew it.

I remember the president of my class. He was a big big boy, which is not to say fat, though you can draw your own conclusions. I liked him. So did everyone else. Which could not be said of me and my friends. He starred in a 'Stony Batter' production (where Jimmy Stewart and Benicio del Toro also got their start), and I recall as if it were yesterday that the stage collapsed under him when he stepped upon it. Mind you, I don't remember the play, some one-act melodrama, but I remember his incredible aplomb when the audience erupted in hilarity and he walked the tightrope of saying his lines while acknowledging the silliness of the situation. He never left his character, and he never pretended that a disaster hadn't happened onstage. HE KNEW EXACTLY HOW TO PROCEED. His name was Scott Bliss.

I don't know where he wound up going to college. I don't care. I always knew that he would be a success in his career and his life. There was something genuine about him, something sincere, something lovable. That's what we hope for in our political leaders. It's the most important thing.

I'm not saying that the kids who went to Ivy schools necessarily didn't have this combination. I knew one who did. When I was a freshman, the captain of the swim team, who went on to become captain of the Harvard swim team, was the kindest of all seniors to lowly freshmen. Mike Cahalan was a gentleman. Nature produces, well, rations, them out to us just to remind the rest of us what virtue is. But Mike Cahalan didn't have what Scott Bliss did. Mike was smarter, handsomer, more talented, and equally kind to his fellows... but Scott just glowed when you gave him an audience. (I think Mike Cahalan is now a doctor, still kind but nowhere near celebrity.)

So. Am I just blathering? Hardly. Presidents of the United States aren't the Mike Cahalans of this world. They're the Scott Blisses. Change the sex, the weight, etc, of Scott Bliss and you have Sarah Palin.

Now. Consider. The journalists are the ivy types like me who never got elected to anything. Not only did they not get elected to anything in high school, they burned with envy of the, uh, Sarah Palins of their schools -- the ones who were obviously destined for success because they were gorgeous and everybody loved them.

Let me ask you a question. Do you think that a degree from the Columbia School of Journalism eliminates that kind of hatred and envy?

I don't either.

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