Friday, September 5, 2008

Why I Like Sarah Palin; or, Oh, the Cult of Personality

I know the few people who read this blog are wondering why I like Sarah Palin, especially as her stances on many issues I disagree with.

In order to understand, you need to watch her speech last night:

She delivered a great speech, plain and simple. The speech was well-written, and accomplished what was needed: introducing herself to the world, attacking her opponent, bolstering her running mate, laying out her accomplishments and to a degree, what she--and McCain--stand for. Like all political women must do in these types of speeches, she brought up her family in detail, and mentioned her role as a mom, but the beginning was actually the best part of her speech. I even enjoyed the many Democratic disses, and she had many good lines. She integrated personal experiences with campaign promises, and injected favorable historical comparisons.

The truth is though, besides all that, I was taken in by her charm. She was funny, forceful, ironic, and she delivered that speech. I loved her facial expressions. She never came across staged, but genuine and natural. I just flat-out loved her, and wanted to vote for her at times, just her, issues be dammed.

The crowd at the RNC loved her too, and like watching Obama last week, just added to the intensity, the feeling of being swept away by collective passion. They chanted so long even before she spoke a single word--other than "thank you"--that you'd have been mistaken for thinking she was running for president, not a woman nobody knew from Tina Fey a week ago.

She handled everything beautifully. Contrasting last night's atmosphere when she spoke to when both Cindy and John McCain sputtered through their speeches tonight only emphasized what an electric presence she has.

But this is the problem, though. I disagree with her on a lot of things--and as other issues come to light, like when she "rhetorically" asked the Wasilla town librarian about how to go about banning books, and the fact that when politicians disagree with her she tends to view it as a personal attack--these things should serve as warning signs that This Isn't the Candidate For Me. But I find her interesting, and she seems like someone who gets stuff done, who actually works hard and cares. Those pesky personal qualities I admire about her--her amusement at the people and process around her, her charm, her ironic expressions, even the way she dresses--are not reasons I should support her. I like the fact that she started in PTA and wound up somewhere else entirely, even that she's so very Alaskan. How cool.

Thinking that Sarah Palin is a cool person, disregarding what she stands for, is the type of thinking that's gotten us into trouble before. It's true, I shouldn't vote for someone that I think I can relate to, or be friends with, because I won't have the opportunity to test that theory out and it's pretty pointless, but it's potent. After all, even David Brooks said that McCain picked her because he felt she was like him--against common sense.

That the Palins are pretty should not matter, but pretty people always win. Pretty people with fun slogans like "Hottest Governor in Coldest State" also push buttons. These things all draw attention, and the RNC needed it. Frankly, Sarah Palin was all I cared about for this convention, and hers is the story I'm interested in. I'm still very much drawn to her; I want to support her, because I like her, if not what she stands for. But I can still respect her very much and resist voting for her, based on my convictions. Isn't that what all the presidential candidates have been saying this entire election anyway?

1 comment:

John said...

The only thing I have to add (both to this post and as a follow-up to my earlier comments) is that I love the Daily Show.