Saturday, March 6, 2010

Finally The Left Starts To take Palin Seriously

After doing all they could to destroy the unique phenomenon that is Sarah Palin it appears that some on the thinking left have realized that she has taken all their best shots, is a powerful force in political life, and is not going away. Most certainly the rabid left, the mad 'Trig Truthers" and the juvenile "Daily Kos" so called progressive wing will continue to react to all things Palin-whether true or not- with their continuous knee jerk venom but clearer minds have appeared.

Jon Stewart, whilst continuing to poke good natured fun at Palin, analysed her performance on Leno's show and, apart from giving her comedy routine a "not bad' mark, said her appearing "showed the genius of Palin who can do anything" Further, he contrasted her showing very positively with that of Romney who was on Letterman at the same time. He concluded that it would be a "mistake to underestimate" her ( a theme which has gained traction in a number of quarters recently).

However the most serious analysis from a leftist point of view has come from Lee Seigel, an award winning respected author and senior columnist at The Daily Beast. Siegel's column differs from the standard view of Palin from the political scientist type of analysis "Can Palin win the Iowa caucus?" or Palin as a feminist (or not) phenomenon, Palin and the Tea Party etc, in that he takes her deadly seriously as a political/cultural threat to the liberal left.

What makes his column almost unique is that he does it without the snarkiness, dismissiveness and downright contumaciousness that usually accompanies such articles. That leftist thinking is only at the commencement stage of taking Palin seriously is, to give him his due, shown by his, probably unconscious, condescension ("Scott Brown's daughter running the (presidential) campaign along American Idol lines") which the establishment left often shows (particularly noticeable with the female writers) to this outsider and representative of the flyover country they do not understand.

Siegel presents two main themes. Firstly, one might conclude that by (apparently) "cheapening herself and making herself look ridiculous as an entertainer" Palin is destroying any political future she might aspire to. This in respect of her Leno/Conan performances and the possible Alaska documentary series currently being touted.

He advises that this is absolutely not the case-rather by making herself "ridiculous" Palin has destroyed the sword of her enemies who can't ridicule her in the same way they did in the 2008 election. This is spot on-one wonders how Tina Fey will, if she does now go ahead with her planned SNL appearance, lampoon someone who has lampooned herself-certainly another example of Stewarts "The genius of Palin"

The second, more subtle theme, is that through all the projects that Palin has undertaken, Seigal enumerates the projected documentary, her Fox contract and the Leno/Conan shows (add in her books, Tea Party interaction, right to life meetings, parade for the mentally handicapped and numerous other public showings) she has "built up a narrative"

What this means is that the public will take Palin into their own lives as a part of their own persona. Just as this persona would protect their view of themselves in the event of an untoward incident-the equivalent of a "scandal" in a public persons life e.g. a divorce or infidelity, so it would shield Palin from any scandal, unless so large it would penetrate through the layers of narrative. Siegel posits this would have to be at a level of being caught in flagrante but Clinton has shown that even at a higher level than that a mutual narrative between leader and follower can trump the greatest indiscretions!

Siegel concludes that Palin's mastery will lead to "the joke being on us" (the left) as she ascends the podium at the 2012 Republican Convention" The only thing that might prevent this is others on the thinking left waking up to the very real threat Palin poses to them and instead of continuing down the same, aloof, strident, attack path recognise that they have, in no small part, created a rod for their own back and create a real opposition to her (which oddly has only come from the, condescending, intellectuals on the right). If they don't, then they should sit back at enjoy her ascent from a purely social observer vantage and wonder at the blindness of their colleagues.

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