Sarah and the Tea Partiers

What is it about Sarah Palin that so appeals to the fringe right in America?

Listening to her keynote address to the national Tea Party convention on Saturday, the answer seems blindingly obvious. She's everything the right wing loves in a leader: A cheerful simpleton, unencumbered by objective reality, telling them with ringing conviction exactly what they want to hear.

Details are unimportant and largely undesired. Statistics are for liars. Anything that contradicts what Everyone Knows is of course just manufactured evidence from crooks, idiots, and socialists.

"Simpleton" is a key here, in a literal sense. The would-be leader must be comfortable with pure and easy explanations. Contradictions are tolerated, even ignored. Complexities and complications are not. Shades of gray are forbidden.

This is harder to achieve than it may seem. If the leader is too dim, he or she has difficulty sensing the desires of the audience/following, or putting them into simple, straightforward words. Too bright, and s/he has a hard time filtering out the contradictions. Sure, liars can play, but it's hard to lie convincingly and consistently over time. Really bright liars get bored and want to embellish. Sorry--too much of that won't do. KISS is the operative principle: Keep it simple, stupid!

"Cheerful" is equally necessary for a broadly successful political leader. Hateful and angry people are accepted (even welcomed and hailed) as commentators and observers. For a candidate, however, people of all persuasions usually want a person who will convince them that things will all work out. Gloom and doom need not apply.

Think back just a bit to the 2008 election. Obama the worried intellectual was not on the ballot. Obama the prophet of Hope and Change carried the day. If you're my age or older, think back to 1984. "Morning In America" Reagan swept to a landslide victory over Walter "I'll-tell-you-the-truth-I-will-raise-your-taxes" Mondale. Four years later, "Read My Lips" Bush the Elder tamped down the bilingual guru of smug competence, Michael Dukakis.

Truth is not a desired characteristic in this context. Truthiness is.

Naturally, to produce an electoral winner, the message delivered with bright simplicity must also be one that appeals to the sources of campaign finance. Palin has become a free media darling because she brightly mirrors the pre-set biases of her angry audiences. She'll become a successful national candidate only if she also manages to persuade the gray men of corporate finance that she will reliably carry out their bidding in the process. In the marketplace of ideas, after all, there's a premium value on the messages (and messengers) which command top advertising dollar.

Finally, yes, there's the physical appearance of the candidate to consider. Palin is attractive. In a visual-media driven culture, that's important. And yes again, it's even more so for a female candidate in a world where the double standard lives and breathes fire. However, appearance is a factor even for men at that level. Consider Obama himself; John Edwards before his disgrace; the physically fit and vigorous George W. Bush; John Kennedy; the trim actor Ronald Reagan; and so on.

One of the major reasons Rush Limbaugh will never make the big time as a candidate is that he's fat and ugly. And no one seems to mention chinless Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as a presidential hopeful. We should be grateful to the whims of superficiality for some small favors, at least.

Comments

Ah, Sarah

Cheat Sheets from Community Colleges?

No doubt after 6 Community Colleges in her educational career. It appears that somebody forgot to tell her that the Gettysburg Speech cannot be put on a Alaska Polar Bear Paw!

Cheat sheets

More people attend community colleges than Harvard. Obama got more votes from community college grads than he did from Harvard grads. Look it up. Community colleges are the best deal around for the non-elite.

Palin Community Training at Work?

More people attend community colleges than Harvard.*RH
True! But one does not have to be a Area 51 Researcher to fiqure that one out?

Obama got more votes from community college grads than he did from Harvard grads.* RH

No doubt you are using Sara Palin new age neo-con math to make a Republican myth come true.

Look it up. Community colleges are the best deal around for the non-elite.* RH

Don't have too! Community Colleges simply became a industrial growth complex just like any educational corporate centers called Corporate mind-set Training.

Beautiful post

We're left praying just to have sanity. Progressive isn't even on the table.

Sarah

Sarah would have long been forgotten if the Obama administration was delivering on the promised change. If things were really looking up in the USA then Sarah would be spending the winter of our discontent in Alaska watching the Russians. I know it is not fashionable to say on BlueNC that the Obama administration is not hitting on all cylinders but that is the way some of us simpletons see it. Obama delivers a speech on change and people cheer. Sarah delivers a speech saying Obama is not delivering change and people cheer. Obama has to produce. Sarah doesn't.

Not really

Palin is the kind of shiny face around which the disgruntled will always coalesce. In most regards, Obama is doing his best to deliver exactly what he promised. Part of his difficult situation stems from strategic mistakes on his part, but most of it comes from the combination of intractability of the problems themselves, a uniformly obstructionist opposition, and ideological divisions within the ranks of national Democrats.

Moreover, if Obama was succeeding in every initiative he attempted, he would still face strong dissent. There is no national consensus in favor of the progressive agenda (which I assume you're referencing). Powerful economic interests and large parts of the general population don't want to see government-mandated universal health care coverage, a shift in energy policy toward greater efficiency and renewable resources, greater success by the public education system, and so forth. You and I may agree on those things, but many people do not.

Dan Besse

Palin hijacks Tea Party last night! Sazs Bomb Everybody!

Beginning Of The End: Sarah Palin Hijacks The Tea Party Movement
By Kleinheider

"The tea party movement is dead. The one I was familiar with anyway. Judson Phillips held it down and Sarah Palin drove a stake right through its heart live last night on C-Span in front of an unsuspecting audience.

Sarah Palin didn’t give a tea party speech last night. She gave a partisan Republican address. It was a purely political speech designed to position her for a presidential run in 2012 or 2016. Period. She wasn’t there to celebrate the organic nature of a movement she had nothing to do with creating. She was there to co-opt the name and claim the brand as hers. And she did."

http://politics.nashvillepost.com/2010/02/07/the-begining-of-the-end-sarah-palin-hijacks-the-tea-par...

What Real Libertarians think of Palin's Speech last night?

"There are good people in the Tea Party movement, and it is important to try to reach out to them, but by and large—like conservatism itself—it is a militaristic bunch, upholding highly paid bureaucrats as the “best and the brightest,” whether they are tasering or bombing, and slavering over torture and death. Of course, TP fanatically backs the wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Iran. Only a terrorist would dissent. Sarah Palin’s speech in Nashville was typical: War, cut spending, war, skin ‘em alive, war, cut taxes, war, war, war."* Lew Rockwell

Sarah Palin speech

President Obama has already staked out the war platform by escalating the war in Afghanistan. How can the tea baggers run on the war platform when Obama has his own Bush-Cheney surge going in Afghanistan. We'll show those tea baggers how to fight a war no matter how many more troops we have to send.

Palin and her followers...

...always remind me of H.L. Mencken's quote

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

F-One
I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle...
John Stuart Mill 1866

A downright moron

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."