Who is Sarah Palin to complain about tastelessness?
(Note: in this entry, I seem to be suggesting that Sarah Palin had no right to reply to David Letterman’s disgusting comment. That was wrong, as I discuss here
Paul Mulshine’s June 21 column has some hilarious and also devastating commentary on Sarah Palin, especially this:
The joke [that David Letterman told about Palin’s daughter] may have been tasteless. But taste is not Palin’s strength. She first came to prominence parading her pregnant daughter and the daughter’s soon-to-be-ex-fiance around the national Republican convention.
When I read this my head exploded at the rightness of Mulshine’s point. And I wondered how I could have failed to make the connection myself, given my fierce condemnation
last September of Sarah Palin and John McCain for displaying the pregnant Bristol and her boyfriend together at the GOP convention, thus legitimizing out of wedlock pregnancy at the highest level of our national life and essentially destroying social conservatism. Compared to the cultural and moral damage that Palin wreaked then, Letterman’s joke was nothing. How dare Palin and her “conservative” champions complain about Letterman’s joke, when what they did and approved was infinitely worse—and, in fact, set the stage for Letterman’s joke? Letterman joked about a girl getting knocked up; but Palin put her knocked-up daughter on stage before the eyes of the world.
And here’s another thing. When Letterman apologized, he specifically apologized for not having realized that the daughter accompanying Palin at Yankee stadium that day was her second daughter, the 14 year old Willow. He had been under the impression that it was Bristol who was with Palin that day. So he apologized for joking inadvertently about a 14 year old girl getting knocked up.
But what happened next was that the “conservatives” redoubled their attack on Letterman, because he had ONLY apologized for the inadvertent joke about Willow, NOT for the knocked-up-daughter joke in itself. Meaning that the “conservatives” thought that the joke would have been equally offensive even if Bristol had been the daughter in question. Meaning that they regarded a joke about Bristol getting knocked up—after Palin herself put the unmarried pregnant Bristol and boyfriend stage center at the GOP convention, an act that the “conservatives” ecstatically greeted and celebrated—as a grave insult, an intolerable outrage, etc.
All of which shows even further how the “conservatives” are hopelessly out to lunch.
Here is Mulshine’s column.
It has long been my contention that the most regrettable development in American politics has been the takeover of the Republican Party by those denizens of the heartland who tended to infest the Democratic Party until quite recently. And I f3ind further confirmation of this in the events involving Sarah Palin and that joke told by David Letterman.
- end of initial entry -
The joke involved may have been tasteless. But taste is not Palin’s strength. She first came to prominence parading her pregnant daughter and the daughter’s soon-to-be-ex-fiance around the national Republican convention.
Recently the lad has been making the rounds of talk shows informing the country that Palin let him share a room with the poor girl when she was a mere 17 years old. Perhaps I’m revealing my age, but when I was a young lad in the tutelage of the nuns, that sort of lapse would have been considered more scandalous than a mere joke on late-night television. Yet the more Palin’s supporters hear of this kind of thing, the greater their ardor for her potential presidential candidacy in 2012.
Most of these people seem to perceive Palin as some sort of a conservative political leader. Nonsense. She has never given any indication that she has an identifiable political philosophy, conservative or liberal. She is not so much a political figure as a sort of national fertility symbol, the Venus of Willendorf reborn as the Venus of Wasilla.
Palin’s supporters argue that there is some sort of liberal media conspiracy against her. Again, nonsense. The liberals in the media love to promote Palin as the face of conservatism, for the obvious reason that this makes conservatives look stupid. But to call her a conservative is to deprive the word of all meaning. She simply flails about, denouncing such key conservative concepts as school vouchers or tort reform when they conflict with her urges.
There is not the slightest evidence she is even aware of the great issues of the moment, such as the debate between traditional conservatives and the so-called “neo” conservatives on the proper uses of the U.S. military. The same goes for monetary policy, legal theory, education reform and so on. [LA replies: I don’t think that the debate between neocons and paleocons is exactly at the top of the national agenda at the moment, in fact paleocons are completely marginalized, so I don’t think it’s realistic for Mulshine to think that Palin ought to know about that. Politicians much more in the know that Palin don’t know about it.]
Comparisons are often made between Palin and Ronald Reagan, but this is absurd. Reagan had ideas and was capable of putting them down on paper, which he did for decades. If he were alive and in his prime today, Reagan would no doubt be taking part in the conservative critique of the Beltway Republicans. He would almost certainly be in the same camp as Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who so presciently predicted the current crisis during his run for president in 2008.
But imagine Palin writing something on either finance or foreign affairs that could be taken seriously. This is unthinkable. Her appeal is entirely emotional, not intellectual.
I was discussing this with a conservative friend of mine who does not share my views on the Alaska governor. He conceded that she probably could not author a coherent piece on any issue. Though he himself is an excellent writer, he did not hold this against her. He argued in her defense that only perhaps 1 percent of the people in America have the intelligence to write coherently on politics.
I’d put the number a bit higher, but even at 1 percent that leaves us with a good 3 million people smarter than Palin. Imagine the British electing such a person to fill the job once held by Winston Churchill. This is unthinkable. A better parallel would be found in Venezuela, where a former Miss Universe narrowly lost the presidency to Hugo Chavez in 1998.
It is a measure of how far the Republican Party has fallen that Palin still enjoys broad support in the party despite her manifest inabilities. I trace the problem back to the 1980s when the so-called “New Right” emerged to oppose the Old Right that stretched back through Barry Goldwater to Robert Taft. The Old Right was partial to small government, balanced budgets and tight money, three concepts that became anathema to the GOP once the party united behind red-state favorite George W. Bush in the 2000 election. That led directly to the debacle of 2008.
As for the future of the party, I’m pessimistic. When we Baby Boomers reach retirement, we will start demanding all sorts of social services the country cannot afford. Meanwhile, young people are only slowly waking up to the disaster that awaits them.
The only bright spot I see is that many of the young are getting interested in the Old Right policies. When I go on the internet and out to political events, I find there’s a lot of intellectual energy in conservative circles these days.
It would be wonderful if the media would start paying attention to it and stop paying attention to Palin.
[end of Mulshine column]
Laura W. writes:
That’s a great column by Mulshine. He raises all the obvious points. The issue of whether Palin actually let her daughter spend time alone in her bedroom with her boyfriend is an important one that deserves attention and verification. If it’s true, Palin is not a friend to family values, but an enemy. Yes, her personal life matters.
I am mystified by the widespread claim that Palin has charisma. I think she is popular for three reasons. One, she is perceived by eternally self-flagellating Republicans as a way around the supposed stodginess of conservatism: the feminist energy, the vitality, the cool husband and kids! Two, she opposes abortion. Three, she is physically attractive. These hardly make presidential qualifications.
Interestingly, Bristol Palin, in her recent interviews, has to her credit refused to participate in the glamorization of single motherhood. She has said, in so many words, “This is a colossal drag.” Bristol and Levi are now permanent fixtures of the tabloids. On this fact alone, Palin must be electable—She has name recognition!
Laura wonders why Palin has charisma. But she gives two reasons herself: (1) “the feminist energy, the vitality, the cool husband and kids,” and (2) “she is physically attractive.” The question of Palin’s charisma or popularity is a distinct question from her presidential qualifications.
I guess I think of charisma in a politician as connected with their message. They have something to say and they say it with style.
Like Laura W., I am immune to Palin’s alleged charms. From that sloppy mop of an up-do, to what you yourself referred to as that “ditzy expression,” to the way she embarrassed herself and the debate forum by winking at the camera like the cut-rate beauty queen she is, to demonstrating a complete inability to go off script and answer questions cogently and persuasively—she’s a distaff Bush. I suspect that may be what really resonates with her supporters.
Winking at the camera like a cut-rate beauty queen! LOL.
Actually I personally was not offended by the wink. And I like her distinctive hairstyle, as I’ve said before. It was other things that I’ve objected to.
However, even the things I liked about her, along with the things I didn’t, started to add up to an overall impression of silliness. Once I began to see her this way (I think this was after the election, though of course I had disapproved of her nomination from the start, even before the announcement of the Bristol situation), I couldn’t take her seriously any more. She has to overcome that impression of silliness and lightness if she is to be a plausible presidential contender. And that’s leaving aside the little problem that she’s not a conservative.
You didn’t think it was inappropriate in the context of a national political debate? I guess I like to see more of what the pundits are wont to call “gravitas” in a vice-presidential candidate. To me that gesture exemplified the silliness to which you refer, which combined with her non-conservative positions renders her completely unviable as a political contender. Could you see this woman dealing with the mullahs? (Not, to be fair, that any female could; one of the reasons I think the American presidency is still a man’s job.)
But if you go back to VFR discussions in Aug/Sept (link is on sidebar of main page), you’ll see that I found her personality, including the ditsy aspect, intriguing and different, and not necessarily disqualifying. She struck me as an American original.
Paul Mulshine writes:
On a lighter note, I was in Trenton yesterday chatting with my fellow journalists about Palin. One reporter, a healthy young male, told me that lwhen she was in Philadelphia last year he was curious if she was really as hot as some news accounts made her out to be. So he was giving her a thorough up-and-down checking-out when she caught his eye. At that point, he said, “She winked at me.”
I had a good laugh at that. And I suspect that a good part of her appeal is that she comes across as someone with that sort of down-to-earth appeal. I suspect that if I knew her on the level of local politics I would probably find her extremely likable and altogether adequate to the task at hand. The problem, of course, is that Alaska has no more people than the New Jersey county in which I live and I suspect that her acumen is at roughly the level of a county leader in this state. The idea of her sorting out the Mideast is frightening. And of course we’ve just had the experience of having a not-so-bright red-state pol who was at the mercy of his advisers. It’s as if this crowd learned nothing from the Bush years.
Going off topic for a moment, but I think it’s a myth that Bush was at the mercy of his advisors. I think he was completely the one in charge, And that was the problem.
It makes no sense to complain about his lack of intelligence, and then say that what was wrong with his administration was that people with better understanding then himself were running things. No, the problem is that he is a man of very limited understanding, who gloms onto simple phrases and formulae that he feels comfortable with, and then just keeps repeating them.
Of course, the neocons, the best and brightest (ho ho, hah hah), did exactly the same thing, repeating brainless formulae year after year and thinking that this was a policy.
Carol Iannone writes:
I’m no fan of hers but I do think she is very pretty and well turned out too, hairdo, style of dress, etc.
Lydia McGrew writes:
I disagree with you in comparing Sarah Palin’s treatment of her daughter in the campaign to Letterman’s joke(s). You say, “Letterman joked about a girl getting knocked up; but Palin put her knocked-up daughter on stage before the eyes of the world.”
First of all, you say “how dare” Palin and her supporters be outraged at Letterman. For starters, consider that at first they assumed, reasonably enough, that he had a clue as to which daughter he was talking about. Yes, I know, they still condemned him after he explained his careless mistake, but let’s start with the situation the day after he made the joke. (Two jokes, actually, I gather, on successive nights.) In that case, the jokes would have been about a girl against whose chastity nothing is known, who has never been “knocked up,” and who is only 14 years old. That’s pretty major outrageous stuff. It even sounds worse when you think about it that way.
Moving on to what he was actually trying to do: He was actually trying to make light of a teenage girl’s getting “knocked up” and was implying, by the way that he did it, that she is absolutely promiscuous and would have sex with total strangers much older than herself. We don’t have reason to think anything this bad about Bristol. Moreover, if we’re going to talk about tastelessness, it is tasteless, very tasteless, to make such jokes. You can say that such jokes are what late-night television is about. That may be true. But that just means that late-night TV is very tasteless.
No news there. But the title of your post is “Who is Sarah Palin to Complain About Tastelessness?” And Mulshine’s column, which you endorse, says that Letterman’s joke “may have been tasteless” but “taste is not Palin’s strength.” All this implies that Palin is at least as tasteless as Letterman if not more so. This seems to me just completely wrong. Are we really going to say that Palin’s bringing her pregnant daughter and boyfriend with the rest of her family on-stage with her was more tasteless than dirty jokes on late-night TV about that same girl having sex with any man she runs into in New York? Such a claim boggles the mind.
It seems to me that if you wanted to say something to the effect that it was “worse for America” or “worse for conservatism” for Palin to do what she did than for Letterman to make his joke, we’d be in interesting territory. I myself am not inclined to think as ill of Palin on the matter of Bristol as you are. In fact, I think we differ quite a lot there. But I can see why you say what you say, and it seems to me a case where reasonable people can disagree. And even someone like me who does not agree with your extremely negative assessment of Palin’s decisions there might agree that, because her decisions affected the way conservatives think, they might have a bad effect on conservatives, whereas Letterman’s making dirty jokes isn’t likely to affect conservatives one way or another and hence cannot harm them. But once you put it on the level of comparing tastelessness, there really is no comparison at all. In the one case we’re talking about whole life decisions, decisions about handling one’s family and politics, made by people whom we (and I hope even you) can think of as trying to act honorably and to do the right thing, even though you consider the final decisions themselves (to take the nomination, to put the boyfriend on-stage, etc.) to have been disastrously incorrect. In the other case, we’re just talking about a comedian who wanted to make a dirty joke on national television about a young woman, a woman so young that by his own admission he had to check with his staff before the show to make sure that she’d had her birthday since the campaign and is now 18! On the tasteless-o-meter, the two don’t even come close.
This is an interesting comment and the issue seems to revolve around whether the presentation of the unwed with-child couple at the convention was tasteless or something else. Clearly it was extremely tasteless, but, as I indicated in the original entry, that was not the worst of it, not by a long shot. The worst of it was the undercutting of traditional morality at the highest and most symbolic level of our national life, and by the America’s “conservative” party no less. It’s late now and I’ll have to think about what you’ve said and will have a full response to you tomorrow.
Paul Mulshine replies to earlier LA comment:
I would agree with the proviso that he entrusted foreign policy to Cheney and that prior to 9/11 Cheney was the very height of sobriety and seriousness in that regard. But I think the real question is why Cheney panicked and bought into the entire nutty neocon vision.
I don’t think Cheney will tell us. But I suspect he simply was not up to the moment. He was just a small-town kid from Wyoming and he may have been in way over his head.
Meanwhile Bush II seems to have had issues with the more cautious approach of Bush I’s advisors.
Also, Bush II had gone out of his way to avoid picking up the sort of knowledge of the world that would have come with some international travel. I can’t for the life of me comprehend how a person with all of those opportunities for world travel decided to stay at home. I myself blew an entire college loan hitching around Europe and had to spend the next semester living in the college newspaper office, but it was a great experience that gave me some small idea of the complexity of life in foreign countries.
In his case I suspect the lack of curiosity was as bad as the lack of intelligence.
Mark P. writes:
I’ve read your article on Sarah Palin but I do not think that you are correct in your assessment of her. I also believe that you misunderstand exactly why she is so popular among conservatives.
While I agree that out-of-wedlock births and some of her associations are extremely negative, in the end, these are really just nominal issues. Most conservatives seem to be ignoring that because they are looking at her actions in total over a lifetime, not matters that happened very recently.
To understand why Sarah Palin is so loved among conservatives, it is important to understand why she is so hated by the left.
Basically, Palin is hated because a) she represents the classic conflict between Eastern and Western states of the United States, and b) her example is a direct challenge to the current model of female empowerment.
The East/West conflict is due to a disagreement over the proper value-ratio of land vs. labor going back to the Founding of the United States itself. Eastern states wanted to maintain a ratio of expensive land and cheap labor. They wanted government to provide subsidies and regulations to benefit industries and infrastructure that would increase the value of their land by providing products to sell in overseas markets.
Western states, on the other hand, wanted to maintain a ratio of cheap land and expensive labor. They wanted the Indian tribes removed, the land essentially given away for “free”, and the full development of the various mining, lumber, oil and other interests plus the transportation infrastructure needed to move it. Eastern states did not, of course, want any of these developments because it would reduce the value of Eastern land.
In other words, this is the classic conflict between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams. Like Palin, Jackson was equally vilified by Eastern moneyed interests.
The first plank of Sarah Palin’s popularity is, therefore, the fact that she would support the defense, resource extraction, transportation and manufacturing industries that dominate the hometown she came from and that employ the vast majority of white, straight men.
The second plank of Sarah Palin’s popularity is her choice of lifestyle. Remember, the typical model of female empowerment is to move to a big city; attend a fancy university; position oneself in the media/PR/entertainment/law/I-banking/consulting/political professions; spend your 20’s having affairs with men of high status and power; marry an alpha male who’s a partner in some big firm; and have a designer yuppie-baby at 35 or 40.
Sarah Palin rejected all of that. Instead of moving to a big city, she stayed in a small town. Instead of playing around, she settled down. Instead of marrying some high-flying lawyer, she married a blue-collar guy; Instead of a baby at 35, she had her first at 25.
More importantly, Sarah Palin has proven the viability of the early-onset nuclear-family w/extended-family-support model in helping a woman have-it-all: First raise your family and help your husband; then start your career with your husband’s and relatives’ help.
Modern women absolute loathe this. They do not want to be housewives, living in small towns, married to average guys. They want to be Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. Meanwhile, men love this because Sarah Palin chose a lifestyle most men can actually provide.
Does this make up for an out-of wedlock birth? I don’t know…but it is something to consider.
Btw, this is not my idea. I’ve adapted this argument from the following sites: here and here. I would highly recommend you read them.
An assumption underlying Mark’s argument is that is if the left loathes and fears a person, then that person is a real conservative and the right should support that person. This is part of the larger mainstream conservative mistake of moving in mental orbit around the leftist view of the world. The left with lunatic intensity loathed and feared G.W. Bush, seeing him as a fascist, racist, extreme right winger, the embodiment of evil. The mainstream conservatives, seeing Bush being demonized by the left, rushed with all their energy to his defense, becoming his loyal knights and retainers. And Bush, who was, of course, no conservative, led the right, and America, into disaster.
So here’s a blunt question for Mark and the legions of conservatives who would repeat with Palin the same ruinous mistake they made with Bush: haven’t you people learned anything?
My advice to conservatives is: Stop reacting to the left. Stop seeing the world through leftist eyes. Stop making the insane left—the left which, the more liberal a Republican like Bush is, they more it attacks him as an extreme right-winger—your guide to what constitutes conservatism. Have your own view of things, your own standards, independent of the left. That’s where real conservatism begins, a conservatism capable of taking charge, rather than a conservatism that consists of following the left, a conservatism that consists of situating itself just to the right of the ever-leftward moving left and calling that position conservatism.
Laura W. writes:
Mark P. says,
“More importantly, Sarah Palin has proven the viability of the early-onset nuclear-family w/extended-family-support model in helping a woman have it all: First raise your family and help your husband; then start your career with your husband’s and relatives’ help.”
I have no idea why Mark says Palin has proven the viability of this model. Bristol Palin, the recent rise of divorce, the decline of manners and civility, the increase in stupidity and immorality among children, and the widely-trumpeted unhappiness of women as measured in recent surveys—these are all explicit proof this sort of model does not work no matter how you tweak it. Palin is popular among those who just want it all to go away and among parents who want confirmation of private choices that are not workable for society at large.
Let me give a few reasons why it is an unrealistic model:
1. If you start having your kids when you are 25 and have four, spacing them a practical two years apart, your youngest child will be ten years old when you are 41. Even then, children require at least three meals a day and clean clothes. Does Mark mean 41 is a good time to start a professional career? Most professions are best begun in the decade right after school, and for obvious reasons. Women haven’t rejected this pattern of delayed career after four kids because they’re into “Sex and the City.” They’ve rejected it because it doesn’t make sense.
2. How realistic is it for many people to have family to help them? Will Palin be babysitting full-time for her daughters in a few years?
3. Bristol Palin’s story is confirmation that teenaged girls need a mother’s attention. Fathers don’t possess the same talent.
4. Most people don’t want to live as an extended-family commune. They want privacy for themselves and their children.
5. Most married couples cannot sustain a bond without private time together. Women aren’t in the mood for sex after ten hours at the office, three hours doing housework and four hours with the kids.
Sarah Palin has been lucky. Most women cannot put together the sort of help she has received nor can this possibly be sustained over generations. In Russia, this has all been tried. The birth rate is a disaster. Today, everyone has one kid because when it comes time for the grandmothers to babysit, they can only handle one. The fact that some families make it all work here doesn’t change the sad reality that it doesn’t work for society at large.
Mark P replies:
I thought I gave very good reasons for explaining why Sarah Palin is supported by conservatives beyond the usual marker of being hated by the Left.
First, I was responding to your statement, “To understand why Sarah Palin is so loved among conservatives, it is important to understand why she is so hated by the left.” That was your set-up. You were saying that she’s loved by conservatives for the same reasons she’s hated by the left.
Second, your idea that she’s HATED by the left because she believes in the development of land and resources is an example of theorizing running amok and cannot be taken seriously. She might be opposed and disliked for issues like that, not hated.
Third, regarding your main reason why she’s hated by liberals and loved by conservatives, that she represents a successful model of the alternative conservative lifestyle in which the woman by having her children first and her career later can have it all, as Laura W. has shown above, Palin does not actually represent such a successful model. She had to neglect her children in order to pursue her career, which makes her more like the type of women who hate her. Her absence from home was most likely a factor in Bristol’s becoming pregnant, as was powerfully argued by Laura last Sepember when she pointed out that teenage girls who have a lot of maternal involvement in their lives rarely become pregnant, and by an article in the National Inquirer which backed up Laura’s insight with this:
Sarah has had a stormy relationship with Bristol, said the family source.
Also, Palin evidently had no problem with presenting the unmarried-with-child couple to the world at the National Republican Convention, which indicates anything other than some afflatus of traditional values.
“Sarah had a hard time controlling her, ” said the source. “She is so busy with her political career that it seems she often doesn’t have time for Bristol.
“While Todd is often around the house, there are issues their teenage daughter doesn’t want to share with her father.”
So it comes down to liberals hating Sarah Palin for symbolic reasons (seeing her as traditional), and conservatives defending her for those same symbolic reasons. But since the symbolic reasons are, at least in certain key respects, not true (she’s not traditional, but a woman who has chosen career over caring for her children), the conservatives who have been supporting her as a conservative have been off-base, as I’ve been arguing since last September.
Mark P. writes:
“First, I was responding to your statement, “To understand why Sarah Palin is so loved among conservatives, it is important to understand why she is so hated by the left.” That was your set-up. You were saying that she’s loved by conservatives for the same reasons she’s hated by the left.”
I realized a little late that I should not have used this device. I should’ve realized that this would be like waving a flag in front of a bull.
“Second, your idea that she’s HATED by the left because she believes in the development of land and resources is an example of theorizing running amok and cannot be taken seriously. She might be opposed and disliked for issues like that, not hated.”
I may have to give you this.
“Third, regarding your main reason why she’s hated by liberals and loved by conservatives, that she represents a successful model of the alternative conservative lifestyle in which the woman by having her children first and her career later can have it all, as Laura W. has shown above, Palin does not actually represent such a successful model.”
I will deal with Laura’s commentary later.
“She had to neglect her children in order to pursue her career, which makes her more like the type of women who hate her. Her absence from home was most likely a factor in Bristol’s becoming pregnant, as was powerfully argued by Laura last Sepember when she pointed out that teenage girls who have a lot of maternal involvement in their lives rarely become pregnant, and by an article in the National Inquirer which backed up Laura’s insight with this”:
What matters here is not the relationship between Sarah and her daughter. That is not what makes this family conservative. What makes it conservative is the fact that an average, blue collar guy (Todd Palin) married an attractive woman of his physical equivalence who agreed from the outset to have a large family with him, and that he managed to hang on to that family for the next 20 years (so far).
Moreover, Todd Palin built this family without the financial benefits of, say, the Pelosi clan or the external structural support of the Romney clan. In other words, he built this family without anything more to count on than Sarah’s willingness and acceptance of him as he is and the lifestyle he could provide. The fact that Sarah Palin did not enter the blue-state sexual tournament like so many women at her level of attractiveness speaks well of her character. Women would be a much better sex if they were more like Sarah Palin.
As for the out-of-wedlock birth, every conservative family is an island in an ocean of liberalism. Sometimes, the ocean floods the beach. Bristol’s pregnancy seems less to do with her relationship with her mother and more to do with the fact that Bristol is very attractive, is bound to get a lot of attention from boys, and will, like most women, succumb to the charms of any good-looking, lantern-jawed, smooth-talking badboy that crosses her path. Bristol is the tragic outcome of a society that grants women sexual freedom … and there is probably little Sarah Palin could do about that short of an abortion or a convent. [LA replies: Yes, there are prevalent forces pushing people in that direction, but your rather materialist-determinist position adds up to surrendering to them. If conservatism means ANYTHING, it means resisting those forces.]
This brings me to Laura W.’s points. What Laura does not understand is that the heart of traditionalist conservatism is a patriarchal society that privileges the average man in all relevant areas of his life, like his work and his family. The social breakdown she speaks of—the high divorce … the decline of manners and civility, the increase in stupidity and immorality among children, the widely-trumpeted unhappiness of women as measured in recent surveys—is not because of the failure of the Sarah Palin model. It’s because women have been granted sexual freedom. They spend the years of their peak physical attractiveness exchanging sex with high-value men in the hope of securing a love and commitment that never comes. They keep doing this until age deteriorates their attractiveness and their forced to settle for men greatly inferior to those they used to sleep with. Hence, the unhappy, “sexless” marriages and high divorce rate. Decline of manners and civility? Women reward bad boys with sex … hence, they get men who emulate the aggressiveness and dominance of the men women sleep with. Stupidity and immorality of children? Women neglecting their parental duties due to being stuck in unhappy marriages.
That’s right, Laura. It is the choices women make that has led them to their own personal unhappiness and the destruction of this society, not the unworkablity of the Palin family model.
Mark P. writes [In reply to a private e-mail]:
What exactly don’t you understand?
My basic point is that the primary driver of liberalism and much of the problems that we have is women’s’ emancipation and the resulting weakness in patriarchy.
Edward L. writes:
Mark P. is notably vague in his discussion of female sexual liberation. In practical terms, it means the availability of contraception and abortion, which enable women to mitigate or erase the main downside risk of sexual activity. Yet neither of those apply to Bristol. She didn’t abort the pregnancy, and as for contraception, the only memorable point from the interview she had with Greta van Susteren in February was that she refused to answer the question of whether she (or the boy) had used birth control. So in what specific respect is Mark claiming that Bristol was sexually liberated?
Mark P. says:
“Bristol is the tragic outcome of a society that grants women sexual freedom … and there is probably little Sarah Palin could do about that short of an abortion or a convent.”
How about old-fashioned supervision? The Palins could have provided that. How about not letting her spend time alone with a boy? How about not letting her spend time alone with a boy in her own bedroom, as Levi has said they did? The irony is that Bristol herself is campaigning for this sort of thing now that she’s had a child!
“What Laura does not understand is that the heart of traditionalist conservatism is a patriarchal society that privileges the average man in all relevant areas of his life, like his work and his family.”
I’ve argued for women to withdraw from high-paying jobs and the most competitive fields and for society to return to customary discrimination in favor of men in practically all fields. Why does Mark say I do not understand what patriarchy means? I clearly do not support sexual freedom for women.
“The social breakdown she speaks of—the high divorce … the decline of manners and civility, the increase in stupidity and immorality among children, the widely-trumpeted unhappiness of women as measured in recent surveys—is not because of the failure of the Sarah Palin model. It’s because women have been granted sexual freedom.”
The two things are not mutually exclusive. Sexual freedom is part of the Sarah Palin model. It’s a package deal. It simply is not possible for society simultaneously to elevate pre-marital chastity and worldly success for women. The two don’t go together as a model. That’s because children require care. Pre-marital chastity is only exalted in a society that welcomes children.
“That’s right, Laura. It is the choices women make that has led them to their own personal unhappiness and the destruction of this society, not the unworkablity of the Palin family model.”
My point was that it’s about the choices women make. A popular choice is the Sarah Palin model, which for most women comes with years of pre-marital promiscuity.
Mark hails Sarah Palin for marrying a blue-collar guy and creating a happy family. Then he says all women who marry blue-collar guys are unhappy because they married “inferior” men. He exaggerates this phenomenon and takes the deterministic view that women’s married lives are dependent on their material expectations and the status of their spouses. That’s not true. Most women still do not “marry down.” Most live comfortable lives by the standards of previous eras whether they marry up, down or sideways. Still, they divorce often; pursue careers with all the romantic fervor with which women once pursued domestic life; and raise children who are physically, mentally and spiritually deprived. They do this because it’s widely approved of by the world around them, most especially by those who have benefited economically by the swelling of the ranks of career women.
Mark P. writes:
Edward L. writes:
Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 26, 2009 12:35 PM | Send
“Mark P. is notably vague in his discussion of female sexual liberation. In practical terms, it means the availability of contraception and abortion, which enable women to mitigate or erase the main downside risk of sexual activity.”
In practical terms, the point of mitigating the downside risks of sexual activity is to make expansive sexual activity possible.
Edward L. writes:
So in what specific respect is Mark claiming that Bristol was sexually liberated?
The fact that she decided not to use birth control is the quintessential example of female sexual liberation.
“How about old-fashioned supervision? The Palins could have provided that. How about not letting her spend time alone with a boy? How about not letting her spend time alone with a boy in her own bedroom, as Levi has said they did? The irony is that Bristol herself is campaigning for this sort of thing now that she’s had a child!”
“Old fashioned supervision” is a return to the chaperoned events of the past. That requires a social context to operate. It cannot be created by a single family. They would have to effectively keep Bristol under lock and key.
Keep in mind that any contact with boys will start with group events like “hey, mom, I’m meeting some friends at the mall.” Outside of actually chaperoning kids at the mall (a social killer), there is no way to police how the kids in these groups will pair off.
I am all for the chaperoned mixed events of, say, Greeley, Colorado in the early 1950’s, but the Palins could not resurrect that on their own.
“I’ve argued for women to withdraw from high-paying jobs and the most competitive fields and for society to return to customary discrimination in favor of men in practically all fields. Why does Mark say I do not understand what patriarchy means? I clearly do not support sexual freedom for women.”
Here lies the problem, Laura. You speak of women withdrawing from high-paying jobs, explicitly volunteering to do so, and you want a return to voluntary discrimination in favor of men, presuming women will voluntarily agree to this. You’re argument is couched in terms of women collectively making good decisions.
The problem, however, is not women making the proper choices. The problem is that women have choices to begin with. In a truly patriarchal society, women do not magnanimously withdraw from competition with men. Instead, women are not allowed to compete in the first place. Within the Western tradition, for example, women would be limited to housewife, school teacher, librarian, nun, spinster or prostitute.
The fact that we are even having this conversation, Laura, indicates how much is lost.
“The two things are not mutually exclusive. Sexual freedom is part of the Sarah Palin model. It’s a package deal. It simply is not possible for society to simultaneously elevate pre-marital chastity and worldly success for women. The two don’t go together as a model. That’s because children require care. Pre-marital chastity is only exalted in a society that welcomes children.”
This betrays a misunderstanding of what patriarchy is and the problems of female liberation. Patriarchy is not about establishing institutions welcoming children or “taking care” of them. Really, this child-centric meme should stop being used. Does anyone honestly believe that the West has advanced as far as it did simply because it wanted to have children?
The act of producing children and making sure they don’t starve to death or die of exposure to the elements is a simple biological fact. Any animal can do that. Even single mothers generally manage to keep their children from winning Darwin awards.
No, the real purpose of patriarchy, and the family and civilization that results is to produce children of which men can be proud. Children are a man’s connection to immortality. Children (especially male children) are there to carry his name into the future with honor and glory. They are his legacy.
Men build civilization as monuments to themselves. Men endow their offspring with their knowledge, tools and names as a way of extending their personal glory into the future and even enhance it if their offspring is sufficiently talented. To do this effectively, men must own their families. They must have guaranteed paternity to make sure their offspring is their own (the real value of chastity.) They must make sure that other men cannot encroach on their women. They must make sure they cannot be attacked from within their own families. With this base established, men can begin establishing or continuing proper patrilineal dynasties.
Please note that none of this has to do with biology. Civilization is not about securing the natural replacement of dying generations or about ensuring the natural increase in the human population. Animals do that naturally and human beings can guarantee these results by making sure every available womb is used multiple times. No, this is beyond biology and goes to the core of what a patriarchy is.
Women are singularly incapable of maintaining civilization. Almost every social problem we have today is due to the imprimatur of the liberated woman: Gaia-worship replacing Christianity; modern family law destroying the roles of men; socialist economic policies; military weakness; cooperative learning in the schools; the raising of appearance over substance; the dismal failure of single mothers to raise worthy children; the flattening of morality; the barbarity of the underclass; and general civilization decline that will result in the West disappearing. Women destroy what they had no hand in building.
Unless women are brought under control, we are all going to end up back in the trees.
My point was that it’s about the choices women make. A popular choice is the Sarah Palin model, which for most women comes with years of pre-marital promiscuity.
Sarah Palin did not have years and years of premarital sex. Her life looks like the reverse of what the average woman does.
Mark hails Sarah Palin for marrying a blue-collar guy and creating a happy family. Then he says all women who marry blue-collar guys are unhappy because they married “inferior” men.
No. This is a caricature of my position. On average, the men that women sleep with in their 20’s are generally more attractive than the men they eventually marry in their 30’s. This is because, in general, a woman’s physical attractiveness begins a rapid decline after 30. The men she is used to no longer find her attractive so she settles for a pale imitation. Much of the instability of marriage is due to this conflict between good memories and current reality.
Sarah Palin’s strength of character is avoiding this rat race. Todd Palin’s character is choosing a woman of proper station.
He exaggerates this phenomenon and takes the deterministic view that women’s married lives are dependent on their material expectations and the status of their spouses.
The women today who are marrying in their 30’s are settling. The reality of their physical depreciation over time; their dwindling opportunities to exchange sex for high-status men; and the memories of their “roaring 20’s”, are the groundwork for the cognitive dissonance modern women feel about their marriages.
“That’s not true. Most women still do not “marry down.” Most live comfortable lives by the standards of previous eras whether they marry up, down or sideways. Still, they divorce often; pursue careers with all the romantic fervor with which women once pursued domestic life; and raise children who are physically, mentally and spiritually deprived. They do this because it’s widely approved of by the world around them, most especially by those who have benefited economically by the swelling of the ranks of career women.”
Your first sentence is not supported by your following examples.