Politics & Policy

Sarah Palin and Her Discontents

Sneering power-women and the foul whiff of aristocratic disdain.

There is something ignoble about these elite, affluent, and well-connected observers in smug fashion savaging Palin, when — especially in the case of the sneering power-women — we should all at least grant that Palin is intrinsically bright, energetic, savvy, and independent to have come this far at all, given the slanted and insider rules of the game she’s in.

So pause to consider: If we wished to ensure that a bright, ambitious, and capable woman would not make it in contemporary national politics, as practiced by most successful contemporary office-holders and adjudicated by the New York-Washington media, then we would insist on the following ten requisites:

1. Ensure that she grew up in small-town America away from the centers of power and media influence;

2. Trump that by ensuring it was in rural Alaska;

3. Make sure she didn’t go to the Ivy League — and especially an Ivy-League law school in the paired Obama/Clinton tradition;

4. Require that she marry a non-metrosexual, one without money or influence or a fast-track job;

5. Trump that by assurance that her own family lacked capital, a brand name, or easy inside entry into regional politics;

6. Encourage her to have not one, but five, children;

7. Ensure that she was a conservative, pro-life, pro-gun, pro-religion, pro-drilling Republican;

8. Have her start a political career amid a hostile, entrenched ole-boy, all-male, “you rub my back, I’ll rub yours” corrupt Republican cloister like Alaska’s;

9. If she did reach state or national attention, be sure it was during a downside cycle in times of an unpopular Republican administration;

10. Get her on video with a bloody moose, or on a loud snowmobile as proof of her savage affinity with guns and her gratuitously large carbon footprint.

When we consider, in contrast, the latticed background of careers of successful contemporary female role-model politicians, such as a Diane Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Mary Landrieu, or Hillary Clinton — or pundits like Sally Quinn, Eleanor Clift, Andrea Mitchell, Campbell Brown, Gail Collins (the list is depressingly endless, in which marriage or lineage provides either the necessary capital, contacts, or insider influence — or sometimes all three) — then surely, whatever one’s politics, there should be some concession that what outsider Palin has accomplished, given where she began, is nothing short of remarkable.

In short, Sarah Palin is the emblem of what feminism was supposed to be all about: an unafraid, independent, audacious woman, who soared on her own merits without the aid of a patriarchal jumpstart, high-brow matrimonial tutelage and capital, and old-boy liaisons and networking.

Instead this entire sorry episode of personal invective against, and jealousy toward, Sarah Palin is surreal. Given the rising backlash, Palin Derangement Syndrome may prove to be the one thing, fairly or not, that sinks Barack Obama.

– NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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