Friday, September 5, 2008

The GOP's Own "Castrating Bitch"

In one sense and one sense only is Miss Alaska runner-up Sarah Palin the GOP's Hillary Clinton.

The GOP has been licking its chops for eight years at the prospect of running against Clinton. I strongly suspect a large part of the disarray in McCain's campaign stems from repugs unable to adjust to having their dream opponent snatched away from them.

So, since they couldn't have a "castrating bitch" to run against, they chose a "castrating bitch" to run with.

At The Nation, Patricia Williams explores the real attraction and usefulness of Sarah Palin to the GOP: she's not just the pistol-packin' mama who'd make short work of any man who betrayed her, but the outlaw who breaks the rules any time she doesn't get her way.

(More after the jump.)

In other western countries, there is surely scandal, scandal everywhere, just like in the United States. What's different here, I think, is that our political imbroglios are drenched in subliminal desire that the wife murder the husband. Symbolically speaking, of course.


Karl Rove clearly understands this. I'm pretty sure that's the real reason Sarah Palin is the Republican vice presidential nominee. This is a woman whose nickname in high school was "Barracuda," who shoots her own moose meat; and, as governor of Alaska, proposed a $150 bounty for those citizens who bring in the foreleg of a wolf as a way of eliminating them. She is a lifelong member of the NRA and favors shooting grizzlies and polar bears from helicopters, to hell with whether the EPA thinks they're endangered. She is being investigated for a possible breach of ethics when she apparently used her public position to pressure the state law enforcement officials after she felt that they didn't sufficiently punish her brother-in-law, a state trooper, for allegedly battering her sister and tasering her 11-year-old nephew. Her office is decorated wall-to-wall with dead animal skins, heads, carcasses.


She is no long-suffering, good-wifely sort. You get the distinct impression that she'd pick up a gun and shoot Bill (Clinton) or Larry (Craig) or Eliot (Spitzer) or John (Edwards) in a heartbeat.

Surely there's something deeply visceral going on in Palin's apparent appeal to women who've "been done wrong." But there's more than mere sentiment: for too many people, this translates into a deep, anti-democratic, ultra-libertarian failure of ethical engagement.


With regard to the matter of her allegedly battering brother-in-law, for example, Sarah Palin could have done what Senators Obama, Clinton and Biden did: work to write, pass and enforce laws like the Violence Against Women Act. Instead she did the vigilante thing--she apparently took the law into her own hands, using her role as governor to pressure and ultimately fire the head of her state public safety commission. However sympathetic one may be to her sister's plight, what Palin is alleged to have done is corrupt. Yet in an age when movies extol the lonely righteous outlaw, the line she crossed is so often trampled that we don't see it or appreciate it anymore.


Here's my bottom line. John Edwards, Larry Craig and Bristol Palin may have committed excruciatingly painful breaches of "family values," but that's a private matter. It's really none of my business.

What is impermissible, however, is the use of public power either as a personal weapon or a personal reward system--for example, using public funds to pay for one's prostitute, as Governor Eliot Spitzer is alleged to have done. Or promoting one's mistress to a cushy job, as Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is said to have done. Or demoting someone for failure to do your private bidding, which is exactly what Sarah Palin seems to have done. For that is the ideology of banditry. No matter how well-intentioned, such deployment is irresponsible, because responsibility to others is the first rule of representative government. And this, rather than the prurient details of who boinked whom, is what we need be most concerned about. The kind of narcissistic entitlement that hides in, wallows in or takes actual pride in unaccountability is the antithesis of the role demanded of a public servant.

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us a Republic.