Governor Palin as an archetype for our time

This is just speculation, for whatever it is worth….

America has a history of leaders elected for what they are, not what they can do. They epitomize what we want our leaders to be, as people — not for the policies they advocate.  Or even what their record suggests they can accomplish.  Generals are the most common example.  We elect generals not so that we get treated like privates or led to war, but because they are bold leaders.

Carter was elected from a similar motive, although radically different type.  He was a modern version of the President raised in a log cabin, epitomizing American strong rural virtues.  We elected Carter in effect as a prop for the bicentennial celebrations, forgetting that he would remain in office afterwards.

Now we have women in the electoral game.  What do we want in a women President?   The movies and TV show us one answer.  Xena:  warrior princess.  Buffy the vampire slayer.  Lara Croft, Tomb Raider.  Sara Connor in the Terminator movies.  Cameron Phillips in the Terminator TV spin-off.  Alien-slayer Ellen Ripley.  These days you see them in almost every movie.   Kick-ass beauty and omnicompetent (usually far more so than the male hero).  As media critic James Bowman explains:

Of course, the girl who is omnicompetent as fighter, thinker and lover against all sizes and weights of men has become a convention of the contemporary cinema, as much taken for granted as white hats for the good guys and black for the bad used to be in old-fashioned westerns.

This has edged into real life, as media archetypes often do.  The Republicans have hit this bulls-eye with Governor Palin, a strong women and soccer mom (the modern version of Betty Crocker).  To achieve this they chose someone with many of these characteristics in her life and built a political narrative around her.

Will this work? I suspect the answer will be found in the reactions of America’s women. Among voters they are the largest single block.  Also, women can criticize Palin without easily being accused of sexism (Both parties have adopted this game, nominating candidates for whom any criticism is beyond the pale).

What does this mean for the election?

I believe the polls show that the American public has a high if inchoate level of fear (me, too).  How will we express that?  Perhaps by choosing the candidates expressing the most powerful image, one that gives us confidence in our future.  War hero plus modern “has it all” women might be a winning combination.  And the latest polls show…

White women have moved from 50-42 percent in Obama’s favor before the conventions to 53-41 percent for McCain now, a 20-point shift in the margin that’s one of the single biggest post-convention changes in voter preferences.
— “White Women Shift to McCain“‏, ABC News/Washington Post Poll, 8 September 2008

This will be an interesting election.  The stakes are high.  Please get involved in supporting the candidates of your choice.

Please share your comments by posting below.  Please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Other Posts about the Candidates

1. How the Iraq and Vietnam wars are mirror images of each other, 7 February 2008 — Now we have McCain, the leading Republican Presidential candidate, talking of an open-ended commitment to victory in Iraq.

2. A look at the next phase of the Iraq War: 2009-2012, 1 March 2008 — What is next in Iraq?  None of the leading candidates have expressed any intention of leaving Iraq – except in the distant and vague future.  McCain intends to fight so long as (or until) we suffer few casualties, then stay for a long time (perhaps a hundred years, as McCain said here and here) ).  On the other hand, Obama has been quite explicit…

3. Our metastable Empire, built on a foundation of clay, 3 March 2008 — We can elect leaders with vast ambitions (foreign for McCain, domestic for Obama), but can no longer afford them.

4. How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents?, 21 March 2008 — The Presidential campaign rolls on in the seventh year since 9/11, with the only debate about the Long War being in which nations America should fight. We see this even the speeches of the most “liberal” candidate, Senator Barack Obama.

5. American history changes direction as the baton passes between our political parties (18 May 2008) – Importance of the November 2008 political landslide.

6. President Obama, an Muslim apostate?, 2 June 2008 — Nope.

7. Is Obama running for the office of Chief Shaman?, 6 June 2008 — Weirdness from our next President.

8. Does America need a charismatic President?, 15 july 2008

9. More about charisma, by Don Vandergriff…(#2 in the “getting ready for Obama” series), 16 July 2008 — About charisma:  know it before you buy it!

10. Obama might be the shaman that America needs, 17 July 2008 — At what point does criticism of Obama’s charisma and rhetoric become criticism of leadership itself — and blind faith in technocratic solutions so loved by policy nerds?  Michael Knox Beran crosses that line in “Obama, Shaman“, City Journal, Summer 2008.

11. Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008 — Obama’s statement about America may be the simple truth; this may be why so many find it disturbing.

12. A powerful perspective on the candidates for President of the US, 28 August 2008 — John Derbyshire expresses what I have said about the candidates dreams of saving the world.

13. McCain believes we are stupid. Is he correct?, 30 August 2008

14. Alaska is near Russia, and Gov Palin’s other foreign policy experience, 1 September 2008

15. It’s is not just McCain who believes we’re dumb – it’s a crowd, 3 September 2008

For interesting articles about the candidates from other sources, see About the candidates for President of the United States.

29 thoughts on “Governor Palin as an archetype for our time

  1. Daskro

    From my discussions with political wonk democrats, there seems to be a belief that Palin won’t have a large impact on women voters, particularly democratic leaning voters. I think the fallacy with this argument is there is a significant swath of female voters (and voters in general) who vote with their gut. I think your speculation is pretty dead on. People love narratives and archetypes because they reinforce commonly held beliefs of humanity.

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  2. Tom Grey

    Well, if it is ‘racist’ to complain that Obama was selected because of ‘affirmative racism’, it has to be equally ‘sexist’ to complain that Palin was selected because of ‘affirmative sexism’.
    I think both are equally true.

    But i think you’re very wrong here: To achieve this they chose someone with many of these characteristics in her life and built a political narrative around her.

    Her life (available in a new book: Sarah!) actually looks like it fits the narrative. Surprisingly, even providentially, so. As a Rep, she really DID turn in the head of the Alaska Rep party for ethics violations, and she really did oppose a corrupt incumbent Rep Governor and win. See Beldar’s blog for more pro-Palin facts, plus spin.

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  3. Robert Petersen

    I don’t quite get it: Sarah Palin is – as far as I can see – a hillbilly-woman from Alaska who once wanted to make Alaska independent and who denounced Washington as often as she demanded more money for her state. And she is most likely to become the number 2 if McCain is elected?!? Is that meant to be a joke???

    Perhaps it will be a healthy experience for those who – for one reason or the other – believe in the urban myth that women are somehow more qualified to be leaders than men are. Hollywood can make all the movies they want about strong women – women are just as corrupt cowards as the rest of us. Sorry, but thats the truth.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: This is absurd:

    “Sarah Palin is – as far as I can see – a hillbilly-woman from Alaska ”

    Palin has a college degree. Her family has operated several complex and difficult businesses and has (I am told) a $10 million net worth. She has risen to become Governor. I do not know what you mean by “hillbilly” women, but she isn’t one in the usual sense of the term.

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  4. Alain Zola

    Here come the clowns…

    Any so-called democracy which twice allows a George W. Bush to trash of its constitutional foundation and utterly destroy its international standing deserves the fascism through which it strangles itself.

    Obama will be defeated because the two percent of the population who run the American plantation for their personal profit, prefer a intellectually flawed puppet like Dubya or a mirage of family virtue like Palin whom they can manipulate at will.

    The American democratic experiment died long ago. Get ready for the Asian play book.

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  5. Robert Petersen

    Maybe its just me, but I think you could say the same about George W back in 2000. He also had a MBA from (I think) Harvard and had a lot of business experience. He also rise up to become governor of Texas. Didn’t really help him after 2001. But anyway, perhaps we should give her the benefit of the doubt.

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  6. DBake

    Her speech shows that she’s also very effective at playing the “rural folk are virtuous/ city folk decadent” meme, another one which Americans buy into largely because it projects an image they find appealing, rather than any policy. (Except maybe cutting funding for the cities so more highways can be built– but just saying that’s your policy doesn’t look like a winner.)

    BTW, does anyone know the history of the rural=good, urban=evil meme? It seems like one of the most ubiquitous myths in human history.

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  7. vanderleun

    Alain and Robert I am concerned for both of you.

    Please promise us that you will not join the other miffed masses in the planned ritual suicide on Nov. 6th. Remember, Canada is always the preferred option as we saw in the mass migrations from the US north in 2004.

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  8. vanderleun

    “Didn’t really help him after 2001.”

    I seem to recall that beginning in 2001, Bush was elected President of the United States. Repeated in 2004 too if memory serves.

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  9. plato's cave

    As Uncle Joe said “it doesn’t matter who votes, it’s who counts the votes.”

    Presidential politics (debates, position papers, personalities, polls, etc) have almost no predictive value for the events of the next four years. On the other hand, they do reveal the current pathology — the peculiar mix of fears and fantasies — of the American electorate. Presently, there does seem to be a leaning toward fantasy solutions and hero leaders. Someone observed if fascism comes, it will be sought from the bottom as much as imposed from the top.

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  10. Robert Petersen

    Dear Vanderleun
    My impression is that Pres. Bush actually began to learn on the job while he was president. He became less arrogant, more mature and more cautious. But unfortunately at that time he had already involved the United States in wars in Iraq and Afghanistand and countless of proxy wars like Somalia or covert wars like in Pakistan.

    To sum up: It is too late to learn if you are already elected president.

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  11. Erasmus

    Narrative is the single most important thing to control in both elections and governance. Narrative leads how we see things in terms of friend-foe, us-them, good-bad. Like the ‘surprise attack’ narrative around Pearl Harbour. Masterpiece! Or Hitler’s famous South American map. Perfect. The main ongoing battle viz. Georgia and Ossetia is that of narrative, with various protagonists working to persuade their own side that their narrative is correct. One’s judgment of how the Iraq campaign is going is based on which narrative of the conflict you perceive as closest to being accurate.

    Campaigns are about winning them not about governance. Campaigns which confuse this or who cannot drive the narrative lose. McCain Palin are now driving the narrative backed by huge media assistance which their side is much better at manipulating/seducing. Very smart stuff. No way to run an adult country, unfortunately.

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  12. Robert Petersen

    The United States has far fewer options left than it had back in 2000. It has rarely debated, but foreign countries generally prefer an Obama administration because they think he would be easier to cooperate with. The impression is (as far as I can tell from Europe) that McCain – correctly or not – would mean at least four more years of Bush policy. Which most of the world despise.

    I am not suggesting that Americans should let the Germans or the Italians or the Japanese decide who should be president. But in the coming years the United States is going to need help from its Allies. To save its economy, to win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (or at least pay for them) and to reconstitute the Western community in the face of a stronger China and India and an aggressive Russia. Jeane Kirkpatrick said back in 2001 (just before 911) that the World needed the United States more than the United States needed the world. Besides the fact that such a statement didn’t make much sense even then it is also untrue: More than ever the United States needs help.

    If the Americans elect McCain and Palin I wish them good luck. McCain is a honourable man and knows a lot. He is far more experienced than Obama. But he is also old and won’t perhaps last very long. I hope that Palin could turn out to be a new Maggie Thatcher – we need one – but as far as I can tell the boldest idea she has had until now was to make Alaska independent. She won’t impress many with such ideas in Beijing, Tokyo or Brussels and whether the Americans like it or not it will be here fateful decisions are going to be made that will affect the economic future of America.

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  13. Mr. K

    I think a big reason there is a such a large swing is that the democratic ticket is so weak. Also, most people don’t read blogs, hell they don’t even read books, at least non-fiction, like Obama’s self aggrandizing tomes. They just see what is on TV, and vote with their gut…Obama may be a brilliant guy, and a great speaker. But if you are the “typical white person” and you are not especially well informed on the myriad of issues on both sides, you are not likely to vote for the black guy with the funny name. And if you are the “typical” white woman, now you have a comprehensible reason to vote the McCain-Palin ticket. No matter how much BDS is in the air and airwaves.

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  14. Tom Grey

    Palin’s bold move — stop corruption! Which she actually has real experience in doing.
    Obama’s bold move — run away in Iraq! But send those losers to Afghanistan for (much less likely successful) nation building.
    McCain’s bold move — victory in Iraq! First.

    DBlake, I think the “rural folk are good” is more related to the small town, everybody knows everything so everybody’s more cautious / conservative, about making mistakes. The freedom of big city anonymity gives space for more creativity, but also a LOT more crooks.

    There’s been a good amount of anti-elite populism about Palin, which I quite like, but the rural / city issue has been less discussed.

    I read that white women had switched from majority support for Obama to majority support for McCain Palin — I don’t know how stable that will be.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: The new poll results to which you refer appear as an update in this post.

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  15. Al L.

    FM,
    If this concept we’re a nail and your intellectual instincts we’re a hammer you would have sunk the nail in a single stroke.

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  16. Erasmus

    This I think is an interesting article on how Palin represents a new feminist archetype, one who embraces motherhood as well as full spectrum public life.

    Red-State Feminism“, Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal, 8 September 2008 — “Beware of underestimating Palinsanity.” Except:

    For better and for worse, she introduces a new and likely long-running cultural type to the national stage—the red-state feminist.

    Of course, the feminist commentariat, primarily coastal and upper-middle-class, has been quick to deny that Palin is any sort of feminist at all. Yes, Palin can boast political success, activism, authority, and self-confidence in front of an audience of 37 million, and, though less widely discussed (perhaps because so profoundly envied), an egalitarian marriage of the sort that has become the foundational principle of feminist utopia. But in most other respects, especially her position on abortion, she has struck female media types as something more like the Anti-Feminist. She is a “humiliation for America’s women” (Judith Warner for the New York Times) and a tool of the “patriarchs” (Gloria Steinem for the Los Angeles Times).

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  17. Al L.

    Fabius,
    Your response to comment #3 has pricked my ears. She is certainly far from a hillbilly, but where did you get a $10 million net worth? If true she would be the only person of this worth whom I have ever heard of or known who’s spouse continued to work at a card carrying union operators job (thats what has been said numerous times, and has not been disputed by a union or others) as an “operator” In union parlance this is a simple term: the guy who operates a machine. If this is true I am suspicious as:
    -Her parents are teachers
    -I don’t know his parent’s story but if they had $ why would he have become an operator?
    -She’s been a gov. for less than 2yrs. at about $150,000 +- per year.
    -Shes’ had intermittent employment in government
    -They have or have had a salmon fishing business. and I’ve seen pictures of the boat. It isn’t junk but it’s not what you could buy w/ 10m net worth
    -I’ve never met a person worth 10m who had no employees in business or home and I have not heard a peep in any source about their employee relations.
    – She won the governorship by raising funds from various sources (largest group civil employees) to the tune of about 400,000. Her opponents raised closer to 1,000,000. Why’d she only raise 40% of her opponents? At 10,000,000 net she could have self funded, supplemented her funding or generated funding.That was only 2 years ago.
    -Either somethings amiss with your number or she’s hiding something.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: It was in one of the news stories, supposedly based on her financial disclosures. As noted, I have not verified this. As you note, $10 million seems quite high. Perhaps this is wrong. But America has few poor political leaders. They will get paid one way or another for the vast sums they handle.

    Here is her latest Alaska financial disclosure form. It lists only financial assets (not their fishing boat, for example), and does not show dollar values even for these. So additional research would be needed. Just from glancing at it, the investments listed are worth a few hundred thousand. Given Alaska’s high prices (a village of 5600 paid full-time Mayor Palin $64,000, also from memory), their house could be worth a bit. Boat? Value of business interests?

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  18. Al L.

    Ref: comment 19 and reref: comment #3: “Her family has operated several complex and difficult businesses….”

    Please inform me of what these are. From what I have researched of her this is a stretch. And if this is the case how does that relate to not being a hillbilly. I know hillbillies who operate complex businesses. They’ll tell you they’re hillbillies. Half of NASCAR is run by hillbillies. They also influence and win elections.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: As I said, I do not know what you mean by hillbilly. The dictionary definition says “Someone who is from the hills; especially from a rural area, with a connotation of a lack of refinement or sophistication.” College-educated people with several years of senior State-level experience do not meet this definition, in my opinion.

    As for their family businesses, they remain poorly defined in the media. You can see the names in her financial disclosure forms. I know a little about pro fishing in Alaska. Most are small but capital-intensive, complex, and very difficult operations. Not like “The Old Man and the Sea.” Note, however, that I have seen nothing describing Palin’s role in these operations.

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  19. DBake

    “But America has few poor political leaders. They will get paid one way or another for the vast sums they handle.”

    In other words, a very high level of graft is part of the political culture.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That’s only because …

    (1) no angels come down from heaven to run for public office, And
    (2) we pay public officials a fraction of what senior executives earn who handle equal or smaller sums.

    People who allocate the spending of billions (local or State level) or hundreds of billions (Federal) will have some of that money stick to them. You can label it however you like.

    Extending the concept … Given the adverse effect of gravity on our bodies and its role increasing transporation costs, perhaps we should give it a pejorative name. Like “evilgravity”.

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  20. Al L.

    FM,
    Thanks for your link to her fds. I did a thumbnail analysis. I think I understand the problem. I believe some reporter or editor is zero happy. 1 million makes perfect sense 10 million does not. I put the fishing operation at less than 250,000 gross value.
    You have to admire the McCain camp’s ability to recognize a well wrapped gift. I just wish they would let the public open it up.
    I also am starting to wonder if some of this stuff about her showing up here and there isn’t disinformation. The more I look at the Palin’s in detail the more they seem to be admirable, hardworking, regular(not in the political sense), accomplished overachievers. But not extraordinary. The perfect tabula rasa on which to sketch a myth. Either way I can understand why she took this on. She has no prior commitment to the campaign. 60 days of work can put her a heartbeat from the Presidency. Most likely Nov. 5th she’ll go back to the place she loves, a hero to Alaskans and in a much better political position. She can’t loose. Mr. McCain however could fade into history.
    Hillbilly: your definition is perfect. Connotation:”a meaning in addition to or apart from the thing explicitly named or described by word.” Imagine the person is the word and you’ll understand what I mean.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Lots of disinformation (aka unfounded rumors) on both sides. Obama failed to register for the draft, is not a US citizen, is a secret Moslim, etc. Key US elections are often quite dirty, a tradition going back to the Founders.

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  21. Al L.

    I should have said disinformation by the McCain campaign. If your a senator coming to the end of your career, from a party about to go back into the wilderness, facing long odds of winning against an opponent drawing all the media attention what is the cost of picking a blank slate running mate and throwing everything on her to see what sticks in the publics eye? Or seeing what others throw? A simple strategy. And a tough one for a calculator like Obama. What will the Repubs say if she gets a tough interview from Charlie Gibson on the Sept. 11 anniversary. The same day her son deploys to Iraq? Nothing to do with policy. It will be “bad media” then “drill baby drill”

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  22. Duncan Kinder

    News Flash: Palin Says We Might Have to Go to War with Russia

    On the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, Gov. Sarah Palin took a hard-line approach on national security and said that war with Russia may be necessary if Georgia were to join NATO and be invaded by Russia. Charles Gibson asks Gov. Sarah Palin if she’s prepared to be vice president.

    More Photos

    In her first of three interviews with ABC News’ Charles Gibson and the only interview since being picked by Sen. John McCain as his Republican vice presidential nominee, Palin categorized the Russian invasion of Georgia as “unacceptable” and warned of the threats from Islamic terrorists and a nuclear Iran.

    See Excerpts of Charles Gibson’s Interview With Sarah Palin HERE.

    The governor advocated for the admittance of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO.

    When Gibson said if under the NATO treaty, the United States would have to go to war if Russia again invaded Georgia, Palin responded: “Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help.

    “And we’ve got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable,” she told Gibson.

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  23. Erasmus

    This is not strictly on topic, but not entirely off either: {snip}
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Totally off-topic gibberish. This is not the commedy channel.

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  24. mistah charley, ph.d.

    Usually I do not recommend the writings of Deepak Chopra, but his Jungian take on Palinmania (she is Obama’s “shadow”) strikes me as having a significant resemblance to reality: “Obama and the Palin Effect“, Deepak Chopra, the Huffington Post, 4 September 2008.

    And I agree with Pierre Tristam’s analysis: “Many Americans, maybe most, want to convince themselves that America’s moral authority and example is undiminished despite the last eight years. (And who can blame them? Who doesn’t wish it weren’t so?) The last thing those brave Americans want is change. They want leadership that validates their delusion. Palin-McCain is their narcotic bridge to nowhere.”
    — “Flat-out lies finding a receptive audience in voters seeking denial“, Pierre Tristam, News-Journal (Florida), 14 September 2008

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  25. Fabius Maximus Post author

    Update: interesting news about the “troopergate” investigation.

    I did not know that citizens could refuse to cooperation with government investigations, other than by pleading the 5th!

    Palin staff won’t testify in trooper probe, AG says“, CNN, 17 September 2008 — Opening:

    “Aides to Gov. Sarah Palin won’t comply with subpoenas issued by state lawmakers investigating the firing of Alaska’s former public safety commissioner because Palin ‘has declined to participate’ in the probe, her attorney general says.

    “Gov. Sarah Palin has refused to cooperate with an inquiry into the firing of her public safety commissioner.

    “‘As state employees, our clients have taken an oath to uphold the Alaska Constitution, and for that reason, they respect the Legislature’s desire to carry out an investigation in support of its lawmaking powers,’ Attorney General Talis Colberg, a Palin appointee, told the investigation’s manager in a letter released Wednesday. ‘However, our clients are also loyal employees subject to the supervision of the governor.’

    “The chairman of the bipartisan panel that commissioned the probe said Colberg is breaking an agreement his office made a week ago. ‘I feel like Charlie Brown after Lucy moved the football,’ state Sen. Kim Elton, the Democratic chairman of the state Legislative Council, wrote back to Colberg.

    “Palin once pledged to cooperate with the state Legislature’s investigation into the July firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. After his dismissal, Monegan accused Palin of trying to pressure him into firing her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper who had been involved in an acrimonious divorce from the governor’s sister.”

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  26. Pete

    DBake:

    You asked the origin of the “rural=good, urban=evil meme;” I do not know the answer. How about some other views of this idea?

    1. Obviously, this is a vast oversimplification; good people of consequence, intelligence and achievement reside in every part of America, rural urban or in-between. The obverse is also true.

    2. America used to be rural, and most of its citizens came from small towns, villages and hamlets, and not from the vast urban areas and megacities of today. Part of the reason for the meme you describe (assuming it exists) is that by thinking of small towns as we do, we harken back to a mythic past, a time when “things were simpler.” In truth, things probably seemed as difficult then as they do now, albeit in different ways. However, it is undeniable that this way of life is vanishing as small towns depopulate all across the Great Plains. Psychologically, we tend (especially as we age) to romanticize the past as preferable to the present, and small-town people are often no exception.

    3. As one who married into a small-town family, it is indeed true that many small towns have a culture quite distinct from cities or suburbs. How could they not? The day-to-day reality of a farmer, rancher or small business or tradesman out on the prairie is very different than that of the person sitting in rush hour traffic, commuting to and from an office in a high-rise.

    4. Urbanites and country folk are both equally capable of prejudice about one another. Country people – especially those who dislike urban life or are unfamiliar with it – tend to regard city folks as degenerate, corrupt and foolishly liberal. Many see all-encroaching pop culture as eroding a way of life in which many of them believe. City folks tend to buy into myths about rural people, that they are uneducated country bumpkins (hillbillies, rednecks, etc.), closeminded, bigoted, feareful of new ideas, and intolerant of others. Neither view is correct, except in extreme cases. Some of the most resourceful people around live in small towns, and well they do, for it can be a hard life scratching out a living from the earth. One of the first GPS systems I ever saw was on my father-in-law’s combine, not in the city. Plenty of city people are as sharp as they come, too numerous examples to cite here. Nobody has a monopoly on virtue or capabilities.

    5. The rural vs. urban dichotomy can be expressed also as a tension between practical, realistic knowledge – i.e. how to fix a broken-down tractor or install a new roof – and academic/formal education, such as that required to become a teacher, doctor, engineer, stockbroker or similar. Why do rural people sometimes disdain book learning? Because it does not always add value in that environment. One might be able to quote Shakespeare from memory, but that won’t plow the back forty, etc. The opposite is also true, knowing how to fix a tractor may not help one close a sale or complete a profit and loss statement. Different environmental pressures select for different characteristics.

    6. Urbanites – especially the coastal elites – sometimes disdain middle America as “flyover country,” a vast emptiness in which nothing useful occurs. Nothing makes rural folk madder, or more likely to want to let urban people grow their own food! A liitle humility is in order, not to mention some thanks that our nation grows so much food. And sensible farmers know that some chemist – i.e. a college-educated egghead – in a lab invented fertilizers that now allow such extravagent yields per acre. In other words, it is a team effort, for which no one person or place can take credit.

    7. Politicians, dictators, and demagogues of all kinds have long used fissures between rural and urban life to build and exploit power. Witness Josef Stalin’s campaign against the kulaks in the USSR, or for that matter, the recent book by a liberal author “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”.
    One could just as well ask ‘What’s the Matter with California” if one is so inclined. There are undoubtedly examples from elsewhere on the political and cultural spectrum. Such divisions are not always illusory; examples of rural-versus-city competition abound in our union, i.e. Southern IL versus Chicago, Northern California versus Southern CA, etc. Not many years ago, there was a movement in N. California to succeed from the rest of the state; that it came to nothing does not prove it will not gather steam in the future. Let us not forget the biggest example in our history, the 1861-1865 Civil War, in which the largely rural antibellum South fouhgt a more indsutrialized and urban North.

    In conclusion, “rural=good, urban=bad” is just a bit of cheap sloganeering, and has no basis in fact. It is not that simple and never has been.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Thank you for an interesting analysis. Please note however that the comment policy, appearing at the end of every posts asks that comments be brief — 250 words max. At 815 words this is over 3x that, the length of a post — not a comment.

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  27. Pete

    Palin’s net worth: An idea to consider, that their worth is tied up in durable assets such as fishing vessels, and does not represent cash value. However, it is likely that – given the vast oil wealth of Alaska – that they managed to profit from that industry also. Perhaps by being saavy investors, perhaps not. Time will tell. Just glad they threw Ex-Senator Stevens out on is ear in favor of some time in striped PJs down at the nearest federal prison.

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