Saturday, November 21, 2009

Going Rouge

Ahhhh, Sarah Palin is back in the news. Or maybe she never left. What an odd phenomenon she represents in both the U.S. and in "conservative" circles. With her new book coming out, some are rushing to the stores to snatch their copy of "Going Rogue". Actually, more than some, she already enjoys one of the highest nonfiction opening days in history, selling over 300,000 copies (just under Bill Clinton's first day, but surpassing Hillary's).

Mrs. Palin is a surprisingly complex woman. She is a walking composite wedge issue -- you can find something to like or hate in her, depending on what's important to you. This makes her both divisive and perhaps less important ultimately than her attention warrants. Let's hit upon some issues she seems to represent as well as some of the traits she embodies that have so many people talking about her.

She's pretty.

I think it's tough to deny that Sarah Palin is a pretty woman. Many liberals might gag at this because they are overwhelmed by her other attributes, but they would probably have no trouble saying Tina Fey is pretty. Mrs. Palin is attractive enough (but not too attractive) to invite the admiration of other women. In men, she might stir a chivalrous reaction. Beauty is one of the first things we notice about people, and we spend an inordinate amount of time looking at our politicians on TV. So it's hard to throw out looks as unimportant, especially when so many female politicians trend in the other direction.

She's a full time employee, full time mom.

This is one of the most important draws in my mind for Mrs. Palin. The women of Generation X have been the first generation in America raised on the bad medicine that they can have it all. Actually, depending on who you are and where you're from, many women have been taught to put their careers first and hold off on family. But one way or the other, millions of working women, working moms and soccer moms across the nation struggle to find this balance in their own lives just to survive. Mrs. Palin has five children, a grandchild from her single daughter, a decent if unremarkable husband and was the governor of Alaska. Talk about a full plate -- a plate full of modern day apple pie successes and problems. It's not so much that other women look to her as "she's done it", but they look to her as "she struggles just like me."

She's a simpleton.

I mean this with all due respect. There's nothing wrong with keeping it simple on a personal level. But in many ways, when I hear Mrs. Palin talk, I am instantly reminded of Dan Quayle. In fact, the parallels are numerous: Vice-president material, concerns about ability or gravitas, good looking, etc. [For full disclosure, I have an autographed copy of Dan Quayle's "Standing Firm" that my dear mom stood in line to get signed and gave to me as a present. Dan Quayle and I share our alma mater and are both better than average golfers. His book was as difficult to read as you might imagine.]

This is where the MSM really lurched at Mrs. Palin. Recall the inappropriate Charles Gibson interview, where he cornered Mrs. Palin about the "Bush doctrine." I had never heard of the Bush doctrine either, and I follow these things fairly closely. In fact, I doubt Mr. Bush accomplished enough as president to establish any doctrine of note -- I've never heard anyone else speak of the "Bush doctrine." Well, watching Mrs. Palin squirm was a telling moment for both "sides". One group thought this proved she was an idiot, the other group thought it proved the MSM is rigged and she could hold her cool under pressure. In either case, this childish tactic could have backfired on Mr. Gibson as his ratings continued to drop and he was eventually forced to announce his "retirement" this September.

There are numerous other stories and quotes that one group interepreted one way and another group the other way. What Mrs. Palin may lack in worldly experience she seems to make up for in honesty and common sense -- two qualities dearly lacking in D.C. However, common sense can only go so far especially when the office of President of the United States is concerned.

Guns, Abortion, Christianity

This decently clever photoshopped picture to the left sums up a lot of images that people like or hate to have about Sarah Palin. On guns, she's a hunter, and all winter long her family lives off harvested meat. On abortion, she has five children, one has autism, and her single daughter has a child. She has not only made it verbally clear, but walks the walk that abortion is not an acceptable part of her life. She is an unabashed Christian, although her apparent membership in a Seventh-Day Adventist Church is as controversial as it is reassuring to traditional Christians.

By contrast in the previous election, our current president made fun of small town folks -- explaining them away practically as aliens to a more important crowd in San Francisco -- for bitterly clinging to guns and religion. He had also said that he would advise his own daughter to abort his own grandchild if the situation should ever occur that she might be saddled with an unexpected baby. Quite a contrast indeed. This political gap on hot-button issues of our time immediately made Palin a star and enemy to many.

Who else is the GOP gonna turn to?

This is perhaps the saddest truth about the situation. John McCain was a straight talk express trainwreck of a candidate. His independence streak ended up not emerging from strong, unshakable principles, where the rest of the world zig-zagged around him as he remained constant as the northern star. No, his "maverick" ways were the result of a superficial political expediency, going which ever way he could to make a name for himself and appear bi-partisan. By the end of the day, he was clearly more aligned with Joe Lieberman than conservatives like Ron Paul. He knew he was losing and needed a boost. In swings the dea ex machina Palin.

And now that the GOP has been thoroughly destroyed and humiliated for its sins of the recent past, there is a vacuum of power and direction in the party. Things are so bad for the brand that characters ranging from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to Mitt Romney and Mike "Shucks" Huckabee to Bobby Jindal and Tim Pawlenty, and yes, even to Sarah Palin are being thrown around as the "future" of the party. The GOP is so clueless even now as to why it lost so badly while it helped destroy our country that it is further exaggerating its own limited imagination, as its website is trying to make the party look home to diversity and multiculturalism. (This from a group so lacking in free speech concerns that they wouldn't let Ron Paul on the stage in some debates!) I know there are and have been plenty of black Republicans, but let's not let reality get completely distorted. African-Americans as a group continue to be political sheep, and they baaaa towards the Democrat side, not the Republican. The GOP will get nowhere chasing race.

Meanwhile, "conservatives" are rising up all over the country in reaction to the liberal landslide in what appears to be independent thought and outrage. As the GOP tries to take advantage of this, they continue to betray the truth of their own allegiance to big power, not to the people. Here is a very recent speech by John Boehner, arguably the most powerful GOP left in office, as he completely confuses the Constitution with the Declaration of Inedependence (imagine the uproar if Nancy Pelosi had made the same mistake? Ahh, the conservative movement has far to go in honesty and alertness)

[I deeply apologize for asking the reader to watch Rick Sanchez, who is absolutely awful.]

She's a real person.

This may seem like an empty or sarcastic comment, but I saved it for last as I believe it ultimately is Mrs. Palin's greatest charm and attraction (and her greatest real public attribute). It is also perhaps her most unspoken aspect and one that Americans need to be willing to talk about in regard to whom we elect as leaders. We know where Mrs. Palin comes from. We know where she grew up. She has a regional accent. She doesn't come from privilege. She is as typical as most girls are in this country. Contrast that with politicians like George Bush and Al Gore, who claim to be from states they're not really from; who were raised by political families and groomed purposefully albeit poorly to become something they were incapable of becoming, and yet were forced upon us anyway.

Compare that to our current president, who was born in Hawaii, had his father abandon his family, spent a good chunk of his childhood in Indonesia with a step father, lived in Kansas for awhile, travelled the world on someone else's dime, was finally baptised for the establishment by Harvard, is torn between two religious identities, two racial cultures and is more a child of the world than a child of the United States. Despite (or because of) the idiotic birthers movement, very few people openly questioned the importance of the background of our president. Or perhaps because his background was so hard to define, we could barely even talk about it -- a lot of simplistic lies really hampered discussion. Now along comes a person like Sarah Palin. And she is attacked by many for precisely the things we should be seeking in leaders: some kind of normalcy.


Anonymous said...

'precisely the things we should be seeking in leaders: some kind of normalcy.'

I don't know about the rest of 'we', I can only speak for myself but I definitely don't want a normal (mediocre, average, everyday, etc etc) leader. I want one that is above and beyond me in every sense so that i can trust them to take care of the many burdens and responsibilities a leader carries.

Leaders are not supposed to be normal, they are supposed to be unique. That's why they are leaders.

just sayin'

oh and Sarah Palin and her short shorts scare the spit out of me.

Ryan said...

Yes, you are right that we should look for the highest qualities from our highest leaders. If you read my post a little more carefully, you will see I made that distinction, noting that common sense can only take someone so far, and that the normalcy we crave in leaders is one of background identity, not ability or talent.

And I know you were just kidding, but don't let yourself vote on fear. That's how we end up with the kind of "leaders" we get.

Anonymous said...

I did read your post very carefully - but I am actually saying that I don't want my leaders to be medicore (AKA normal) in any sense of the word...background, identity, education, ability or talent. The biggest problem I see with your arguement is that you are saying "we crave normalcy in leaders" but what is normal to you is probably not normal to an asian woman living in NYC or a black family in Mississippi. Normalcy is subjective and frankly I can identify with our current president more than I can identify with Ms. Palin since I spent my childhood and adulthood travelling. There is a fundamental crack in your arguement since you're only thinking about your own normalcy and leaders must represent millions of different types of normal. Normal today is not Sarah Palin. Maybe 50 years ago. Sorry.

Oh and about "fear". This is a worn out argument that I think you may be using since it's quite boilerplate when it comes to politics. Unfortunately voting 'on fear' means voting for a candidate because one is frightened of things out of his or her control. It's different in this case; I'm scared of Palin because she is completely incompetent but has this magical pull over people craving normalcy and based on what she's done so far in both her personal and public life she is just plain old dumb as bricks and so many people can't seem to see past her "pretty shooty layers" as John Stewart puts it.

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doughboy said...

Lots of stuff here but I do have to focus on your "real person" issue. As an individual who does not support Mrs. Palin, I think that your discussion completely misses the point. I do not have a problem with the fact that Mrs. Palin is a "real" person from small town USA, has a regional accent, has a "less privileged" background, or that she is as "typical" as most women in this country.

What I do have a problem with is her unfamiliarity- with the knowledge base needed to serve as president (especially of foreign policy issues), with life experiences outside of small town USA that would serve a useful diplomatic purpose in dealing with other nations, and finally, with an exposure to the complexity and diversity of culture and religious thought that exists in this world.

You state that Obama "is torn between two religious identities, two racial cultures and is more a child of the world than a child of the United States." You obviously use the word "torn" to invoke a negative connotation here, as if his experience may make him less of a leader in today's world. I, on the other hand, see it as a tremendous strength and make him more of a real leader than Palin, at this moment of her career, can hope to be.

Doughboy said...

Here I am boosting your numbers, Ryan. I deleted the above post because I was logged in under Lisa's name. I think she'd rather stay out of all this.

Ryan said...

Such a confused comment from Mr. A. Let's get back to my original post, where I neither endorse nor condemn Mrs. Palin, nor did I connect her to myself via "normalcy". I said "She is as typical as most girls are in this country" which is in no way subjective or about my preferences.

Individuals express preferences, groups contain "normalcy". Bush and Gore were abnormal because they came from privilege and were second generation politicans. Obama is abnormal for a whole lot of other reasons, he's practically like a character from ER or some other soap opera. Palin is perhaps merely normal.

The fact you identify with Obama because he traveled a lot or that you fear Palin and "her short shorts" (whatever that means?) just shows you are part of the problem in our country, where superficial concerns trump historical wisdom. Indeed, the value system of many Americans has become inverted and is now becoming permanent in our culture via government force.

Fear as a political tool to get people to vote predictably is not a worn out argument, it is the dirty lie at the heart of most of our politics and is almost never talked about or admitted. Ask anyone why they voted for a candidate and they can tell you almost nothing substantial about them. (I have been as guilty of this in the past as anyone.)

How else could political products like Bush, Gore and Obama continually be manufactured, with voters like you there to keep them in power? Ahhhh, yes, John Stewart is whom you quote.

Ryan said...

Doughboy, our comments crossed like two ships in the night.

My post didn't miss the point, although it might not have made it well.

Basically, I was looking to explain her popularity, something I think that needed explaining.

The fact that so many voters in our country have been stuck with such awful leadership for so long, culminating in a crown of 8 years of disaster under the Bush admin, it is not hard to see how many could turn to someone who seems to foil the typical politician.

I agree with you and many others that her strengths were also related to her weaknesses. She was, for lack of a better phrase, a clean slate intellectually.

However, a lot of your arguments are false about what it takes to be a good president. It is much more important that a president understand our history, our culture and our religious thought than those around the world. After all, the world doesn't elect our president, we do. The president isn't sworn to protect the world, he's sworn to protect our country and our laws.

Remember when McCain declared, "We're all Georgians now"? That's what I'm talking about. What an idiot. It is the height of arrogance that liberals in both parties think they can go around the world and boss other countries around. Or buy them off. Or invade them if necessary.

It is important that candidates tell the truth. How can someone tell the truth if he is unsure of it himself? That is what I meant by "torn".

Doughboy said...

Two things: first, you seem to be making an a priori argument that Obama's experience in the world results in him having less understanding about our own history, culture, etc. Second, a similar point can me made about the diversity of background and exposure to race and religion in his background.

I am sure that you see that it does not necessarily follow that diversity of background on a racial, religious or international stage results in a lack of understanding of domestic issues. I would argue that rather than muddy the waters in his head, they could provide greater clarity which could be an asset to him as a leader. These experiences do not make him lose sight of what is important for America. In my opinion, his Cairo speech is evidence of a positive perspective that this brings (I can imagine that your thoughts about this speech are quite different).

Ryan said...

"first, you seem to be making an a priori argument that Obama's experience in the world results in him having less understanding about our own history, culture, etc. Second, a similar point can me made about the diversity of background and exposure to race and religion in his background."

Not exactly. You seem to be summing everything up in an intellectual meaning for "understanding". What I am talking about is who the man actually is, not what he understands in the sense you use it. (again, he was just used as a counter-point to the Palin argument, but Obama is even more an obsession than Palin for people!)

I am talking about the fundamental elements that provide people with their basic understandings of who they are. Our sense of history and patriotism is virtually dead now. We tend to either believe the GOP lie that patriotism means supporting military action no matter what, or the liberal lie that foreigners should be tolerated so much that our citizenship means almost nothing anymore.

Barack Obama's identity came out sometimes, in seemingly harmless statements like Michelle Obama's "for the first time in my life I'm proud to be an American." They are coming out even more now as the president works to expand the Federal Government into healthcare. They come out even more now as he traipses around the world giving speeches, doing what exactly? (Outside of gaining the admiration of college aged kids, foreign leaders think our president is a joke. They openly laugh at our secretary of state.)

Barack Obama is a consultant, brought in to run a country whose internal culture he does not understand in any meaningful way.

Anonymous said...

"How else could political products like Bush, Gore and Obama continually be manufactured, with voters like you there to keep them in power?"

Just checking -- are you saying that Palin is not manufactured?

Anonymous said...

Ryan, this is a different "Anonymous" than your earlier posts (don't want to confuse the convos). Hint of advice: you need to tone your condescension toward the readers/commenters down about 10 notches. Its unbecoming.

Ryan said...

Mr A2. You are probably right, but I admit I am no saint. It is difficult to stay "above the fray" when people make self-contradictory statements, misrepresent what I say and quote John Stewart while trying to be serious.

To be fair, I had no trouble speaking plainly to Doughboy, who makes clear arguments (and represents himself).

You yourself ask a great question in your first comment. Is Sarah Palin manufactured? Not yet. She's convenient. On her own, she is purely a product of her local environment, which is a natural environment (very unlike BO as well as GB and AG) and this friction is probably the focus of her book. However, her lack of "gravitas" was immediately imprinted by the concerns of the establishment, and AIPAC for example, which is one of the dangers of having a less than experienced and knowledgeable candidate (as Doughboy pointed out).

Thanks for your comment and advice.

Anonymous said...

"You yourself ask a great question in your first comment. Is Sarah Palin manufactured?"

That was A1 who asked this question, not A2. Just to let you know.

Thanks A2 for having my back.

All the best to you and your thoughts.
Mrs. A1

Roller said...

Rye, I think your assessment of Palin in your post was fair. The qualities/abilities in which she is lacking are much more important to me than her strengths, so I doubt I will ever check her name on a ballot.

Nor do I ever expect to see her on one, as quitting half-way through her term to go on a book tour might enhance her "real" or "normal" image, but it only makes her flaws stand out (I know you weren't personally campaigning for Palin 2012).

Your point about the mess of the GOP and the way they treated Ron Paul is right on, and it's too bad.

What is it about African-Americans that makes them sheep more than any other group (such as the religious right)? Aren't they, for the most part, voting for the candidate whose campaign promises them more?

Lastly, while I haven't been pleased with everything Mr. Obama has accomplished/attempted in his 10 months of office, his normalcy or level patriotism haven't concerned me. I know you're not a fan of Obama, so perhaps some of this is just a semantics argument over what "normal" is, and how much his policies are attributed to his character's normalcy.

Ryan said...

"Mrs." A1, I hope you are willing to come back in the future and post under your real name. You will be given a higher level of consideration than if you are perceived as just another piece of internet flotsam and jetsam.

Rolls, I was puzzled by Palin's resignation as well and haven't heard a good explanation for it either. if it was just for this book, then I hope the public holds her to that and she is done from politics outside of Alaska (where I'm sure she's a fine leader).

The African-American (as a group) relationship with politics has intrigued me for some time, but I'm no expert. I think (unfortunately) that they do tend to flock like sheep towards traditional black leadership, like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, etc., who are cogs in the Democratic party wheel. I think this weakness comes from a former strength -- solidarity -- which was necessary to survive slavery and the civil rights movements.

I think nearly all the large government movements of guilty white people since then have hurt the black man's cause, and therefore our country, more than helped and has stagnated growth and maturity and recovery from teh devastation of slavery. First off, it is the same liberal arrogance that thinks we can install democracy in a country like Afghanistan that thinks we can make everyting OK from slavery in a sudden, magical jerk, or even one or two generations.

Only several generations after slavery and a few after civil rights has a natural recovery begun to take hold as a sustainable and independent black middle class has emerged (on its own doing). Ironically, based on a poll I read recently, black communities in teh south (which is still portrayed as the source of racism and the immoral cause of the civil war) are actually fairing the best by their own accord. Hopefully some diversity will follow soon and we can begin to drop race as a superficial topic.

Otherwise, I brought it up because it seems a specific tactic of the GOP. Evangelical Christians tend to vote in one way or not at all, but probably for different reasons than I noted above. In both cases I don't think it's because they are merely promised more. An example of a solid group that votes whatever way is promised more is old people, led by teh AARP, the most fearsome lobby group in the country.

Ryan said...

Roller, I've been trying to come to grips with your last paragraph, because we've all been sort of dancing around some important issues without really getting into them directly.

We all agree no one wants an empty-headed, inexperienced, naive, etc., president.

I want to try to separate though some issues of "normalcy". It is a word used in a bunch of situations, so let me take some time to define it and suggest why a person's background is more important than is being admitted.

Normalcy for a group is not subjective. For example, there is a normal height for men in the U.S. We can haggle over whether we express that as an average or a range or a median, etc., but that's not the same thing as being subjective. If the average height of a man is 5'9 and 95% of men are between the heights 5'4 and 6'2, then a man who is 7'4 is abnormally tall.

The same sort of thing can be done for anything else, though maybe not in the exact same quantifiable way.

What is subjective is what we as individuals think is important (not what we think is "normal") in leaders.

By that understanding, Sarah Palin is very normal in her background (again, nothing to do with intelligence or other leadership abilities) and Barack Obama is not.

It is important to understand a person's background because although we are told in America that nothing like race or religion or nuclear families or traditional values matter at all, it turns out they do.

An example of a tragic failure in this is the recent events at Ft. Hood. Maj. Hassan, when faced with a lot of other pressures in his life, returned to his "roots". In this case, the roots that mattered were his identity with his religion.

What makes a normal identity of background important is so that we have an indication for how that leader might react under pressure, off script, or when plans go bad.

In that sense, the hypothetical black guy from Mississippi would be just as normal as Sarah Palin from Alaska. And we could debate about whether either one would make a good president.

Part of being a good leader is protecting and guarding the central culture of the group you represent. You can do this if you come from the culture. You can do this if you come from a very very similar culture. You can't do this if you learned about the culture in school and think you can skate by on intelligence, cunning and wit.

Politicians like Al Gore and George Bush were not good leaders because they were too insulated from our culture. BHO will end up being a bad president because he doesn't represent any culture at all, he just thinks he does.

This is why BHO has become almost an open socialist and why GHB and Algore were both pro-establishment liberals. They're all easy suckers to co-opt.

"When you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

I personally don't care much for or against BHO or SPalin. I think they are each representative of problems in our country.

Coovo said...

When I saw this in my e-mail inbox and read the first few lines, I was like, "Oh boy, here we go again."

I'm not going to comment on the content, because frankly I could care less. But I have known this blogger for more than 20 years and while I suspect that a lot of what (and how) he writes is meant to draw out comments and possibly even controversy, I still feel the need to say a few things to him.

Ryan (if that's your real name), remember in sports camp when Coach martel made us take snaps with no cups on? That was gross . . .

Seriously though, the only real issue I take with anything that's been typed is you say you were being "misrepresented." Back when I blogged, I used to take agonize over my word choice and how that word would be interpreted by others. You and Roller (if that's his real name) used to tell me to just write and not worry about it too much. But to me, when you write something, you leave you words open to the interpretation of everyone who reads them. I think that just as people hear things they way they want to hear them, they even more so read things the way they want to read them. I personally don't think you can or should get upset (maybe you're not but that's the way I read it) when people read things a certain way.

For example, I read this post and thought for sure it was pro-Palin. When I re-read after your comments, I see how you stopped short of endorsing her, but I still view it as a pro-Palin article.

I also couldn't help but think of the previous post when you and G went at like two hounds in a Michael Vick main event. In that post you used the term racist in an unconventional way and had to define what you meant by it. Here it is normalcy. I don't think you can fault us for using the more common interpretation rather than what you meant by it. Again, maybe you're not, but the tone of your comments suggests to me that you are. You'd think I'd have a handle on it after twenty years of knowing-each-othership.

I will end with some common ground. I was also thinking about parallels between Quayle and Palin, with the main one being that they were plucked from obscurity, made famous and now were stuck with them. Your distaste for mccain is obvious but I just can't help but wish he would have picked someone more normal (just kidding).

Ryan said...

Coovo, I really appreciate your comments. I think there are a few problems that have been created because I underestimated some things.

First, I work in an environment where reading and writing is the main mode of communication for thinking. And my critics, who are extremely knowledeable and sharp, couldn't care less how their critiques make me feel. I perhaps tend to carry too sharp an edge along those lines against people who have not signed up for what I signed up for.

Second, I regret using the word "normalcy".

Third, I should ignore anonymous posts. Any transgressions between me and G were resolved on a personal level because we know each other. We also knew that he and I specificlly don't mind rough play, so the threshold was different from the beginning. Also, when two or more people start commenting anonymously, it can get downright confusing. So I tihnk I'll ignore future posts.

Additionally, and this could be in part from my writing style or it could be because I try to write in a way that at least interests people, the comments tend to turn into a tennis match of one vs. many. It would be more balanced if people would engage each other and a round table would emerge. I don't know if we have enough readers/commenters for that.

Finally though, I do think part of the process of debate, something we all really enjoy is to create/spread understanding of issues through challenge. The only way that can happen is if the words we use have meaning. Now part of that means picking better words than "normal", but part of it is not just saying, well words can mean so much man, like, don't harsh my mellow, it's all subjective bro. (I know you're not saying that, I'm speaking generally.)

Ultimately, there is no better feeling than the disovery of an important truth that was lurking right behind what one thinks they already know or ignorance itself. And sometimes getting ourselves to shake loose the scales from our eyes can be a little painful.

G. Smith said...

I'm weighing in late here, and glad the "normalcy" issue seems to have been resolved. I think that's a good thing, we're too diverse a country for that conversation to be accurate, or useful. As I personally have much more in common with Obama than Palin, I bristled at the implication that his background was somehow abnormal. And even on some "objective" basis - I'd be interested in comparing the numbers of middle income nuclear white families with middle/lower income non-nuclear families of color in this country. I'm fairly confident that the U.S. is seriously trending towards the latter. I guess that's my "Who you callin' normal?" question.

But regardless, it doesn't sound like anyone here thinks she'd be a good president. I think we'd all agree that whoever is in that position should be wicked smart. And even if that person had never heard of the "Bush doctrine," that person would be able to quickly synthesize a collection of Bush's decisions - on the spot - and come up with a meaningful answer, even if they have to start by defining what they're going to call the Bush doctrine today. I don't know much, but I would have started with his doctrine of preemptive strike.

The other point here that I'd like to make is about the assumption that black folks flock to the Democrats because they're sheep. I think that the discussion has been incomplete. I'd suggest that people of color usually support Dems because we are over represented among the poor, and are therefore among the primary beneficiaries of public social programs, which are historically supported and expanded under Democrats, and cut under the Republicans.

Do Dems use this fact to their political advantage? Sure - but I think it's not hard to support someone offering a guarantee that you won't go hungry over someone offering you a tax credit.

But policy isn't the GOP's only problem with minorities. There's the blatant racism that keeps bringing them down too. MS Senator Trent Lott, for example, when honoring segregationist Strom Thurmon said that if Strom's ideas would have been accepted (segregation that is), America wouldn't have "all these problems." Michael Steele recently said that leaders in his own party were afraid of him (he's said a lot of other strange stuff too - like attracting minority voters with fried chicken and potatoe salad).

And Rush Limbaugh is doing the GOP no favors either - I don't know exactly what Limbaugh's comments have been, but I do remember Mathias Kiwanuka's comment about why he wouldn't play for the Rams if Rush were involved:

"I am not going to draw a conclusion from a person off of one comment, but when it is time after time after time and there's a consistent pattern of disrespect and just a complete misunderstanding of an entire culture that I am a part of, I can't respect him as a man."

If the GOP wants any future in a rapidly browning country, the first thing they're going to have to figure out how not to have such assholes as their official or unofficial leaders.

John said...

Ryan, first off Happy Thanksgiving. I really think you are going crazy but I don't have a lot of time to help your out with that right now since I am a normal America I am getting ready to go play football. Can you do me a favor and stop talking about Vice President Al Gore in the same grouping with President Bush it is making my blood pressure rise to an in unacceptable level?

You are a fiscal conservative, Al Gore should be your favorite person in the democratic party.

Will you do me a favor and define a normal American for me? I have lived my life in three states (New York, Missouri, and Florida) and I have been to over 30 states and I have yet to meet anyone that you would call "normal".

John said...

Ryan I know that you said you shouldn't have used the word normal American but I really would like to know how you would define it.

Doughboy said...

I know that I should probably wait until Ryan has a chance to respond as he may answer far differently than I would but I cannot help myself. I can understand why John would make the challenge to Ryan to define "normal"- along with most of the commentators to this blog entry, I have found Ryan's use of the word normal to be both quite frustrating and distasteful which, I am sure, is what motivated John to make the challenge.
Despite this, I hope that Ryan chooses not to make an attempt to define "normal" as I believe any true attempt would be just as distasteful. More importantly, though, I think that it would be a useless exercise. The very notion that you can take a human being with the sheer diversity of variables that make us up- physical, intellectual, and emotional attributes as well as diversity of experience, culture, religion, education, etc. and try to quantify these infinite variables to then use them to qualify an individual as "normal" is absurd. Human beings are too diverse for that, even if you break it down to a subset of human beings such as "those living in the United States." It cannot be done and, more importantly it serves no purpose.
A more useful exercise, in my opinion would be to define the end goal- qualify those skills that make up a good leader and see if an individual meets those criteria. I believe that most of us would include such things as honesty, integrity, courage, intelligence to such a list. To varying degres, some of us might include such things as compassion, a diversity of experience, religious background, etc. to the list. I know that this is what we all do to a degree when we vote on a candidate, so I guess in a way we all made an intial decision on this issue about one year ago. Let's debate these issues, and not the "normalcy" of one person vs. another. This focus on irrelvant issues results in such comments as Ryan made earlier like "Barack Obama is a consultant, brought in to run a country whose internal culture he does not understand in any meaningful way," which is just opinion masquerading as fact.
Let's bring this discussion back to more important and truly debatable issues.

Ryan said...

There's a heartbeat!

Johnny, I hope you take the time to read or reread the comments and you'll realize I've defined normal the best I can and I also regret using that word. I've distanced myself from it specifically. Also, I mentioned what I thought about Al Gore, and it had nothing to do with his fiscal policies or his political party.

G, interesting comments about the political aspects. I don't follow Rush Limbaugh and those folks so I can't comment about it. I will say I have read people claim that Lott's comments were not about Thurmond's segregation beliefs of 80 years ago and that the GOP forced him out bowing to political pressure based on the poltical correctness of today's modern man when it comes to dealing with racial issues. Food for thought. In either case though, the GOP is spineless and clueless.

(Also, I can't help but smirk as I noticed you spelled "potatoe" the same way Dan Quayle did when the press proclaimed him stupidestest man alive! Just had to poke you on that one.)

Doughboy, I can't respond to all of your comments. Quite frankly, I agree with many of your points and will leave it at that in spite of me wanting to defend myself for not having made the points you think I have.

So, it's obvious we are all unique and special individuals. I certainly don't think anyone can fit perfectly into any one group or be categorized, etc. We are all God's creatures.

However, I think you guys are reacting extremely sensitively to this subject. G is taking it in stride the best possibly because he has been dealing with the negative and positive aspects of identity stereotypes his whole life.

One of the things I think is worth talking about is where does a person grow up? Our country has been devastated by the effects of globalism, and a big reason for that is many leaders don't identify with localities of people, small towns, communities, etc. It's not that we can all be represented by a person from one place (a person from Alaska doesn't know diddly about what's important in Mississippi), but that kind of core understanding about life might help a leader resist from expanding the federal government, which crushes local culture. It might give a leader a moment's pause before signing legislation that will pad the pockets of executives and gut other aspects of our country.

Nationality is an important aspect. For example, the founding fathers were very conscious about foreign influence. Arnold Scwarzenegger could never become president for this reason (thank God). Notice, they didn't say a foreigner could become president as long as he is smart enough.

Ryan said...

The U.S. is an extension of Western civilization. This is built upon strong traditions of Christianity. These ideas would stand in direct conflict with say Islam or Marxism, both of which would crush Christian culture (and Christians).

It might be impossible for us to determine the things Doughboy takes for granted as possible on an individual basis. Do we seriously think we can judge a candidate's compassion levels? What does that even mean? This is the motivation for my original comment, that since you can't judge everything about an individual, especially politicians, it is wiser to know who they are, where they come from and then have some trust.

It is becoming more and more difficult in our own country to do this, since many people are willing to support (for example) the new healthcare proposal under the fallacies of practicality or equality (which does not exist within the scope of this conversation) but utterly stutter when they are called out for being Marxists. Many of us have grown up in a hybrid culture of Marxism and have thought that "if only a smarter government were in charge, then these big programs would work." But this is an ignorant position as it ignores all history before our own lives began.

Our words have lost meaning and definition in many ways, which is why so much of our debates have to be about the words themselves.

And in light of all this, it is not a matter of my opinion masquerading as anything. I am in fact relying not on my opinion (the opposite of my opinion in fact) but on thousands of years of human nature and tradition. I guess it is my opinion that we inherit what we inherit and have discovered precious little of importance about life that has not already been known traditionally.

It is our opinions (and our opinions alone) that would lead us to believe that there is no conflict between Islam and the West. Or that living in a Muslim country during extremely formative years of life and having a Muslim father would be the same as living in two different states in the U.S. It may be our opinion that Marxism is a good thing, but one cannot simultaneously hold that opinion while adoring the United States or while being a Christian.

Paul Rudd is funny. That is an opinion.

Doughboy said...

I agree so wholeheartedly with the statement "Paul Rudd is funny" that I would be willing to consider it fact.

Coovo said...

Johnny, when we tell you to read the post, you need to read the comments. Its the way blog.

Matt, while I too think Paul Rudd's humor level is high, I once thought Chevy Chase was so funny that you could consider his high level of humor was fact as well. Then along came Cops and robersons. vegas vacation. Goose on the loose. Lets hold our horses on Paul rudd.

Ryan, do you ever run out things to say? While I'm glad you are concerned for our country, I am not voting for you.

Ryan said...

Got this email from a friend, thought it was worth posting (along with my response) for those of us who continue to strive for some balance in these debates.

"Are you one of those people that think we elected a secret muslim? Or just that you can't ignore his connections to it?

I know you don't like him but I'm surprised at your out and out hatred of him."

Yeah, this is exactly the kind of polarization I'm trying to break down. As I've stated before, I don't hate our president. I also don't think he's a secret muslim. I think his background does deserve to be questioned, as do the backgrounds of any president. It's funny you don't ask if I think he's a Marxist, which is probably pretty close to true and is maybe more dangerous.

This was not a post about Obama, it was about Palin. I am surprised so many people found it "pro-Palin", but with more thought it's less surprising. The nation is divided and the press characterizes people into simple sound bytes. If you're on the side of the press, then Palin is some horrible creature from Alaska. If you're buying her book, then she's some sort of really important leader. I don't think she's either, and the fact I gave her a fair shake and more than a 10 second consideration must strike people as being pro Palin, when in fact, it's just an expansion and shaking of their own quick assumptions.

I like your comments. Debate is like a pickup game of basketball. And until we all get used to playing at the same level, some will be bored, some will be too intense, some will want to change the rules, etc. I'm sure it will level out over time.

Ryan said...

G, I wanted to ask you about some of your comments earlier:

"Do Dems use this fact to their political advantage? Sure - but I think it's not hard to support someone offering a guarantee that you won't go hungry over someone offering you a tax credit."

I guess the point I made earlier was that African American haven't really been promised much compared to the elderly but they vote nearly unanimously (if at all) in one direction for other reasons. I guessed it was some notion of solidarity. But it seems you're saying that they are responding to promises made.

Do you think the black communities in our country have benefited from Democratic promises? Why is there so little dissension among blacks in politics?

I guess as we see racism continue to die a slow death, especially within the GOP, and until more young black leaders are strong enough to stand up to it without being defined by it, things will remain the same. Both in the black community and in the remnants of the GOP.

Anonymous said...

I'm late to this discussion, I know, but wanted to make a few comments and ask for clarification on something from the original post.

First, the clarification. You wrote "Obama said he would advise his own daughter to abort his own grandchild if the situation should ever occur that she might be saddled with an unexpected baby."

I am curious to know the origin of this statement as it seems like a major political gaffe, paraphrased or written as quoted, that would have had enormously negative consequences in both the primary and general elections. Perhaps you were referencing the following and quite different example:

Also, I agree with much of what you wrote on some of the issues that Palin seems to represent and which grow her appeal-good looks, being a simultaneous full-time employee and mom, and "normalcy,” at least as it is defined by the Republican base. People across the political spectrum identified with and admired her for these qualities, and Obama for many of the same qualities, which is why I disagree with the notion that Sarah Palin was “attacked” for possessing them. She was attacked by the media and ultimately rejected by voters for her perceived lack of intelligence and inexperience, her unimpressive public service record and some of her more extremist views.

To be fair, I do not think she lacks intelligence, but instead possesses an ignorant and simplistic worldview, like George W. Bush did. Everyone remembers her unexceptional interviews (not just Charles Gibson) and those moments on the campaign trail where she unapologetically fanned the flames of anti-Obama hatred. (“Terrorist!” “Kill him!”)

Her record in Alaska, which she began to distance herself from, supported abstinence-only education and creationist teaching in public schools. She did not believe that global warming was caused by human actions. And like Kerry in ’04, she became the dreaded flip-flopper on earmarks and the infamous bridge to nowhere.

On experience, she was Governor of Alaska since Jan ‘07, pop. 626,000, having previously served as Mayor of Wasilla, population 7,000, with 53 employees and a budget of $6 million. Compare this with Obama as Senator of Illinois since Jan ‘05, population over 12 million, having served as State Senator for 8 yrs previous. Then add in to the equation the exposure of and familiarity to Obama throughout a primary campaign news cycle, plus his selection of Biden as running mate, plus McCain’s advanced age, and suddenly experience became a liability for the GOP.

It was for these reasons that Palin failed, was attacked and rejected, NOT because she was good-looking or a working mom.

Which brings up something else, why do you say that women of generation x being raised that they can “have it all” is “bad medicine?”

McCain gambled on Palin and lost. What could have been the maverick turned out to be a gimmick. She was only effective in inspiring the far right ideological base of the party. Arguably, McCain should have gambled that the base would have voted for the lesser of two evils and chosen someone less polarizing with more political experience. Palin and her handlers decided to play the political game with a kind of stubbornness, which sometimes can work political wonders if you re-invent the game according to your own rules, but not if you look like a disgruntled outsider who cries foul about the current rules. But my, how quickly she’s learning.

Ryan said...

Hello Anonymous. Thanks for your comments, but I have a new policy of ignoring anonymous posts. You make plenty of worthwhile points, so if you're interested in following up, identify yourself on your posts.

Thanks and Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

Well, hello there, Mick! It's Baldwin, the latest Mr. Anon to comment. Excuse the first time incognito, I wasn't aware of your new policy.

Ryan said...

Baldwin! Excellent to have you haunting these pages. As a citizen of the District, I can tell you have cut your chops on the political drippings of the country. Your points on the politics are very keen, and I have little to say in disagreement on those points.

I will only continue to point out how bad a candidate McCain was from the get-go and that he, not Palin, was the real posed danger to our country.

To rip off an old joke, political experience is like sex, it only really matters if you don't have any. Joe Biden is worse than John Kerry was. His experience did nothing accept ballast superficial criticism. McCan had a ton of experience, but to what end? He wanted to bomb Iran. Is that good experience? I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm merely pointing out how funny I think it is that people say Palin ruined the GOP's chances (that's only slightly true), yet they immediately compare Palin to Obama, thus reinforcing their own gut instincts that McCain was an also ran from the beginning.

As for the abortion comment, Barack Obama's position on abortion is pretty hard to disguise. From that comment, to his "above my paygrade" comment, to his voting record, Barack Obama falls into an extreme category of abortion rights people in our country.

In my opinion, there are about three categories for abortion people, people who want to abolish abortion in the country for everyone all the time, people who recognize that there is something about abortion they want to keep legal but also want to decrease the prevalence of, and then those who equate abortion as a woman's "right" that can never be questioned or infringed upon by any greater "rights".

In an attempt to neutral, Obama almost joked that when life began was above his paygrade. That's far from neutral (or the middle category) -- it's a copout. Clinton, for example, was able to maintain a middle position by saying he thought abortion should stay legal but there should be less of them. Most GOP candidates, despite rhetoric, agree with the Clinton statement.

Obama has also voted in some pretty astonishing ways regarding the right of a fetus to live vs. the right of a woman to have an abortion under any and all circumstances.

Good to have you here Danny Boy.