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Posts Tagged ‘USA.’

Palin’s People Power

Posted by Sarah Palin Web Brigade on February 9, 2009

October 21, 2008
Palin’s People Power
By Ben Voth

One of the more awkward realities of this election is Governor Sarah Palin. Her selection as the Vice Presidential candidate for Senator John McCain’s bid to the White House has electrified America. By electrified, I mean it has torn the nation in half– those in euphoria over her populist appeal and those apoplectic about her alleged ignorance.

It is convenient to pretend that Palin’s rhetorical effects are easily divided as a partisan difference between Democrats and Republicans. The problem is not, however, so neat. Republican partisans have attacked and mocked Governor Palin in terms not unlike their Democratic counterparts. Kristol, Krauthammer, Parker, Powell and Noonan are but a few of the prominent Republican partisans taking shots at Governor Palin. Despite the broad agreement among the pundits– and perhaps because of it– Palin remains an intimidating political juggernaut.

Palin’s rallies continue to attract tens of thousands of people while Biden and Obama struggle to draw a thousand. Palin’s presence at the Vice Presidential debate garnered the largest viewing audience in history– more than 80 million people. The viewership surpassed all other audiences for the Presidential debates. When governor Palin appeared on Saturday Night Live this weekend– the ratings which had already been rising in response to parodies of her by Tina Fey– skyrocketed again to reach levels not seen in over a decade by the comedy TV show– 17 million viewers. In her appearance, viewers literally got to see her rock the house in the SNL studio. The audacity of her presence stood in stark contrast to Chevy Chase’s command a month ago for Tina Fey to ‘destroy this woman’ with her power of parody. Fey has dramatically promised to leave the planet if Palin succeeds.

Joining this Greek chorus, the pundits have spoken with bipartisan unity that Palin is not fit for high office. So what gives? It seems that no matter how many Katie Couric and Gwen Ifil questions she evades, the more endeared she is to the swarming public. Why does Palin’s rhetorical power continue to grow in the face of these establishment denouements?

The cruel reality for America’s epistemological establishment– composed of journalists, political leaders, political pundits, academics, and the entertainment industry– is that the average American is disgusted by what passes for acceptable among politicians. The demolition of Joe the plumber reminds the public of how they are not free to ask questions of politicians — even when directly solicited by Presidential candidates. The absurdity of the public relationship with its epistemological counterparts is so intense that the public resorts to a fantasy theme wherein a common individual overcomes the political establishment and despite having to carry out the mundane task of buying diapers at Walmart, is able to look Tina Fey in the eye and laugh. That heroic persona has a zeal conventional pundits are loath to consider in the character that has become Sarah Palin.

Political pundits, and certainly the Obama campaign, are beginning to awaken to the cruel misstep of belittling this woman and people like her bitterly clinging to guns, religion . . . and now plumbing. The foundations of this phenomenon are not new, and are discernible in political movements surrounding Ronald Reagan, Ross Perot, and George W. Bush. Bush’s character was impugned like many republicans as a dim bulb foisted on the establishment through his folksy appeal.

The public rightly suspects that to be “educated” in this country is becoming less about the central tasks of critical thinking and more about fluency in the insidious lingo of political correctness. A recent Pew research poll asking people to identify answers to three basic current event questions found that of the major news organizations that the test takers relied upon, Hannity and Colmes viewers did the best — far surpassing their counterparts at NPR and with CNN viewers finishing last. The results fly in the face of the avalanche of criticism falling upon supporters of Governor Palin. Conservatives, who like her, are stereotyped as dangerous Neanderthals on the verge of vigilanteeism. The results of the survey are roundly ignored by the pundits as ‘inconvenient truths.’

Partisans continue to decry, “Should we not desire educated intelligent leaders for governance?” There is no self reflection among these pundits as to what counts for ‘smarts.’ The public is mired in an education system more interested in promoting global warming consensus than reading mastery. And while ice packs and snowfalls increase in Alaska, the governor of the state is denounced as an idiot on climate change. The public knows that ‘smarts’ on these issues is little more than a demand to stop thinking critically about the political power associated with these conclusions.

The alleged ignorance of the American public — continually derided by pundits in every election cycle — has reached a fever pitch. The cliché has now been topped with the ultimate rhetorical cherry of American political life. Anyone who draws the wrong conclusion this fall is a racist. I remember advocating for African American gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell in the fall of 2006 and asking my friends in academia if their reluctance to support him was due to their personal issues with racism.

That joke did not go ever well because it touched on a nerve that the establishment well understands. Terms such as racism and sexism are exclusively reserved to the Democratic Party in scolding its opponents when substantive debate is failing. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are victims of sexism and racism. Sarah Palin is not. Ken Blackwell, Alan Keyes, Lynn Swann, Clarence Thomas and Michael Steele cannot be victims of racism– they are Republicans.

The establishment may be ‘misunderestimating’ public frustration with this long reliable rhetorical arrangement. It is a sad day for argumentation, debate and civic practice when such accusations substitute for good public discourse. It can hardly be a positive indication of a potential world judged on the content of character rather than the color of someone’s skin.

Pundits ought not wonder any longer why the public rallies to Palin and seems to refuse to answer the pollsters according to the socially provided script. The eerie accumulation of undecideds in the opinion polls is making for more than a scary Halloween in the Obama campaign. Undecideds now make up twice as large of a population as is usually expected two weeks prior to a Presidential election.

There is growing concern among the establishment that the effort to back the public into a rhetorical corner may be backfiring, but the campaign seems to have little choice but to press forward with the case for racism. Despite this rhetorical bullying, the public has shown for decades a persistent imagination for leadership that falls outside the beltway and closer to the experiences of the everyday American. Governor Sarah Palin continues to embody that frustrated public sensation. On this basis, the Pitbull in Lipstick may drag the stunned political corpus of the McCain campaign across the electoral finish line ahead of Obama and Biden.

Ben Voth is an associate professor of Communication and director of speech and debate programs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Page Printed from: at February 08, 2009 – 07:53:17 PM EST

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Palin gets as close to Washington insiders as Alaska is to, well, Russia

Posted by Sarah Palin Web Brigade on February 9, 2009

Monday, Feb 9, 2009
Posted on Sat, Jan. 31, 2009
Palin gets as close to Washington insiders as Alaska is to, well, Russia

McClatchy Newspapers
Mere months ago, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was introduced to the world as a hockey mom who hunts and fishes, remains grounded in small-town values, and is married to her blue-collar, snow-machine-loving high school sweetheart.
Saturday night, Palin was whisked into the governors-and-cabinet-members-only section of one of the nation’s capital’s most exclusive parties: the Alfalfa Club dinner. Wearing an elegant black satin evening gown and a matching wrap, hair loose to her shoulders, Palin was about as far away as anyone can get from field-dressing a moose, let alone Joe the Plumber.

Held in the heart of Washington, D.C., at the Capital Hilton, within sight of the White House, the Alfalfa Club dinner was “a coup” for Palin, said Letitia Baldrige, who served as the White House social secretary and chief of staff to Jacqueline Kennedy.

“It’s something that everybody who’s anybody in politics wants to be invited to,” Baldrige said.

If a roasting by the most powerful people in America is a sign you’ve made it, then Palin had clearly arrived. Or, at the very least, had been acknowledged as one of the most interesting women in American politics.

The outgoing president of the Alfalfa Club, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, teased Palin in a way allowable only for a fellow veteran of the vice presidential campaign trail.

“I was seriously being considered to be McCain’s pick for vice president,” said Lieberman, Al Gore’s 2000 running mate and a former Democrat who campaigned for Sen. John McCain this year.

“But then John called me,” Lieberman said. “As he always does, he got right to the point. He said, ‘Joe, I can’t do it. I need more than just a pretty face.’ “

“I was so close. As close as Alaska is to Russia. You could almost say that from my doorstep I could see the Vice President’s mansion,” he said.

The club’s roots are deep in Washington, although not very serious. And while it has a prestigious guest list these days, it was a drinking club first and foremost when it was founded in 1913, said Donald Ritchie, the associate historian of the U.S. Senate. That’s where Alfalfa comes from – the alfalfa plant “put down deep roots and could always get a drink,” Ritchie said. The plant would “persevere to get a drink, and so would they.”

In fact, Ritchie said, the Alfalfa Club appears to be modeled after another popular stag club of the era, Philadelphia’s Clover Club. The Alfalfa Club was so prestigious that in the 1920s and ’30s, Washington newspapers would print the names of the attendees, Ritchie said. Even though Washington is now something of a Tuesday-through-Thursday town for many elected officials, Ritchie said, the Alfalfa Club dinner remains an enduring tradition that few besides insiders are allowed to glimpse.

Because its founders were Southerners – and in 1913, Washington was a Southern town – they chose Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthday for the day of their annual celebration. The annual dinner continues to be around Lee’s birthday, Jan. 19, although the club’s origins appear to have little other connection to the Civil War general.

The dinner’s guest list is the embodiment of the old question: If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone, who would be on your guest list? Did we mention that President Barack Obama was there, telling jokes?

“I know that many you are aware that this dinner began almost one hundred years ago as a way to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee,” Obama said. “If he were here with us tonight, the General would be 202 years old. And very confused.”

The governor’s office wouldn’t say who invited Palin to the Alfalfa dinner, but by tradition, each member is allowed two guests.

Her host could be any number of famous, powerful (or once-powerful) members, including Palin’s fellow Alaskan, former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, convicted last year on corruption charges in federal court. (Unlike Palin, Stevens entered through the metal detectors with the ordinary guests, such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.) Palin’s presidential running mate, Sen. John McCain, also is a member. So is the man whose job she wanted: Vice President Joe Lieberman.

Typically, the club’s members pick an honorary “president” each year – and do little else. The inductees – known as “sprouts” – are few each year. Many people wait a lifetime to be tapped for the club, and that was obvious Saturday night. Palin, although a grandmother herself, appeared to be one of the youngest guests, other than the 47-year-old president.

Another tradition? Although journalists are not allowed inside the dinner, details of the professionally written jokes generally leak out. That was the case again this year, but not to the extent it has been in previous years. Palin’s presence drew more cameras than usual, forcing reporters and photographers into a small, penned-off area as guests arrived.

According to accounts of the dinners of the past decade, the event retains the air of a 1950s fraternity banquet. In 2003, the Washington Post’s account of the evening reported that Stevens accepted the Alfalfans’ presidential nomination wearing a fur hat, sealskin vest, mukluk moccasin boots, and brandishing an oosik, which is a walrus penis bone. Stevens laid out his health-care platform, which according to the Post, was to find a cure for frostbite. “When it comes to frostbite,” said Stevens, then 79, “what you have to worry about is nose, toes and something that at my age may as well be froze.”

Former First Lady Barbara Bush had this comeback, according to the Post: “Ted, this is the third time you’ve brought one of those walrus things to this dinner. I hate to think what went on here before women were admitted.”

The Alfalfa Club did not allow women as members until 1993, but has made up for that oversight. Saturday night, dozens of powerful women streamed in, some members, some guests: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, on the arm of her husband, Alan Greenspan. And Palin.

The governor’s weekend itinerary wasn’t limited to the Alfalfa Club. It included a Friday night dinner at the home of Fred Malek, who headed up McCain’s finance committee. She also was scheduled to meet with her Alaska staff in Washington and attend a luncheon at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Palin’s limited travel outside of her home state – and the country – was the subject of much criticism when she was a vice presidential candidate. But now, it’s Alaskans who are a little testy about the governor’s absence, even as the state’s legislative session opens. Their suspicions that Palin has ambitions beyond Alaska were only confirmed this week, when the governor announced the formation of her own political action committee.

The committee, called SarahPAC, is not a 2012 presidential exploratory committee, spokeswoman Pam Pryor insisted last week. It’s a way for her to raise money for like-minded candidates as well as pay for travel connected to fundraising or her political activity unconnected to her official duties as the governor of Alaska.

Perhaps because of the scrutiny at home, Palin has kept a low profile on the trip to the nation’s capital. She turned down all requests for interviews, including the other invitations that indicate one’s arrival in Washington: an appearance on the Sunday morning talk shows.

She also didn’t attend any events that could be perceived as partisan, including the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee, also held over the weekend.

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