Wednesday, November 24, 2010

For Palins, It's Always Feudin' Time

I'm a great believer that it's a waste of time to try to get inside the head of any politician.  As far as what I'm concerned, what they "really" think isn't our business.  What counts is how they act, and what they say.  Even for predicting future actions, it's more important to know what they've said and done (along with any relevant norms and incentives) than it is to know what they really think.  Which, at any rate, we don't get to know.

All that said...I'd really love to know whether the Palin clan is entirely driven by petty revenge fantasies for mostly imagined slights, or if it's all an elaborate act.


  1. I despise Mama Palin but I don't think what Bristol says should be counted against Sarah.

  2. I definitely don't think what Bristol says should be counted against Sarah. But it is totally consistent with what Sarah (and Todd, and even the other kids) say and do all the time. And, again, at least in this post I'm more remarking on the curiousity of the thing than anything else.

  3. Maybe I'm dense, but isn't Bristol's comment at least some kind of evidence that it's the former? We can treat it like this unknowable thing, and maybe Bristol's all part of the tireless efforts to maintain a wall of ressentiment -- but maybe she really isn't. It's a data point, and should be treated as such. No?

  4. Apparently, Palin said she agreed with her daughter.

  5. Martin:

    Maybe I'm dense, but isn't Bristol's comment at least some kind of evidence that it's the former?

    How so?

  6. Kylopod:

    Apparently, Palin said she agreed with her daughter.

    Laura Ingraham pressed her on whether she really meant to say that she agreed with the 'middle finger' comment. Palin got evasive, with a long-winded discourse on how Bristol actually meant something different from what she said.

    It's near the end of the clip, between 11:00 and 12:00.

  7. Thank you for the clip. I was surprised by how little commentary I was able to find online about this incident. (I'm not saying it merited much attention in my own personal opinion, just that I would have expected it to garner more on the blogs.) From listening to that portion of the clip, it's fair to say that Palin did claim to agree with her daughter, and refused to publicly criticize the remark. Yes, she did attempt to spin the remark as saying something other than what it was saying, but that's pretty typical of her pathological dishonesty. While we don't know for sure if she'd agree with the remark, it sounds exactly like the sort of thing she would say, albeit perhaps a little less crudely.

  8. Speaking of feudin', Palin's latest media grab, that Michelle Obama is intruding on families by speaking out against obesity, brought to mind two thoughts:

    1) While I generally agree with Palin that you can't trust a village to help you raise a child, I wonder when was the last time she drove past a McDonald's playland with a rangy three-year-old in tow.

    2) Wondering if anyone else thought of this clip, which I found creepy back in the day and now seems borderline fascist.

    Palin is horrified by that clip, isn't she? She must be, yes?

  9. BTW, if you didn't click the link, its the segment on Diff'rent Strokes where Nancy Reagan encourages the schoolchildren to Just Say No. There's a bit in there where Nancy, with a kindly grandmotherly expression and the full force of the Federal Government behind her, asks the kids if any of them have done drugs, and a handful raise their hands sheepishly while the rest look around in wonder: "Jimmy? You're a druggie too?"

    Which is interesting in the sense that the anti-Obama argument is always that the Obamas are scheming socialist conspiracy wolves in patriotic clothing, that their public comments are just code for their 'real' malicious intent.

    So when Michelle speaks in measured tones about the problem of obesity, one might infer that, were it not for the suspicion driven by Fox News watchdogs, she would probably go into PS 143 and call out the fat kids for not dropping the chalupa.

    Which would be disgraceful in the eyes of a Reagan-loving Palinite.

  10. I predict that historians will look back and notice Bristol Palin's Dancing with the Stars run eerily predicted the path of her mother's presidential run: ride a populist tide to outlast more qualified rivals, an intensely motivated movement that ignores the judgment of the elite who believed themselves to be the deciders. Finish in third place.

  11. Entirely driven. Remember the Wooten vendetta? Where was the political payoff in that?

  12. I think even Dick Nixon would advise family therapy at this point.

  13. The weird thing is, Nixon seems profoundly more likable than Palin. Of course people who were there might disagree with me (I was born after his presidency was over), but I've read and seen enough of him to get some sense of what he was like.

  14. I remember liberals of his own generation hating Nixon utterly for reasons that seemed like ancient history to me. Alger Hiss was for them a hero and martyr.

    Boomers hated him for escalating the Vietnam war.

    Nixon's domestic policies were actually quite liberal. He created the EPA and the first federal affirmative action program. He proposed a 'Family Assistance Plan' - a negative income tax - that liberals ironically rejected as insufficiently generous. It was well to the left of anything that would be considered viable today. (Daniel Moynihan wrote a fascinating book, The Politics of a Guaranteed Income, about how both Johnson and Nixon failed to get such a plan through Conress.)

    As politicians go I wouldn't call Nixon 'likeable', but he wasn't particularly unlikeable either. He just seemed reserved and distant.

    Palin I think is often charming when she's not on the warpath.

  15. I'm well aware that Nixon was about as reviled a figure on the left as Bush is today. My parents were liberals from that generation. I also realize that he wasn't exactly Mr. Charisma, and that he often seemed Machiavellian. But he was such a strange, awkward man it bordered on endearing at times. That's probably why the Checkers speech was such a success.

    Despite some parallels, Palin is different. One point that often gets lost in discussions about her is that she's not just unqualified--she's also a hateful, vindictive bully. Though she has undeniable public speaking skills (in the delivery sense), I find nothing charming or endearing about her whatsoever. Even something that would seem to have revealed a core of humanity--her decision to raise a kid with Downs Syndrome--she shamelessly exploits. I truly think the main reason her fans love her so much is because she's become the pitbull of the cultural right, fearlessly battling in defense of all their pent-up resentments over the past several decades. References to her "authenticity" by various pundits (including Nate Silver recently) are pretty laughable, but it's important to realize that she does project authenticity toward her supporters. It's an illusion, but a powerful one, and it's easy to mistake for likability.


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