Sarah Palin on running

By way of an article in the New York Times, I came upon an interview with Sarah Palin in Runner’s World. She’s devoted to running, which has always been a central part of her life, along with sports and physical activities generally, and it’s an interesting and enjoyable interview.


But then—I want to keep this point separate from the interview, which is purely about running and entirely positive—numerous commenters attack her, saying such things as that the interview is “garbage” and they don’t want to read Runner’s World any more because it had the interview. Then you realize that there really is such a thing as Palin hatred out there. Hatred of her as a human being. Hatred of her for existing. If she drank a glass of water they would hate her for that. As I’ve said, I don’t understand such hatred. I don’t know what they hate her for. I don’t know what she symbolizes to them and if they are hating something larger through her. But the hatred exists and it’s a very ugly and disturbing thing.

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James N. writes:

You wrote:

“I don’t know what they hate her for. I don’t know what she symbolizes to them ”

She symbolizes a country with a future. She symbolizes that an ordinary person (she may not really be one, of course) can enter politics because she’s sick of the rigged game, and that an ordinary person with the people on her side can beat them.

She symbolizes (I’m sorry) hope and change. Except that the hopes are the hopes of the good guys, and the change is not destructive of the nation.

I certainly take the point, made particularly well by Paul Mulshine, that liking her because of the nature of her enemies is not very profound, and may be entirely mistaken. So be it.

But I don’t really think there’s much confusion about the reason for the hatred. Communists believe (they MUST believe) in the Iron Laws of History. They believe time is their friend. They believe that the Armies of Socialism only march in one direction. They also, now, believe their final victory over the Main Enemy is at hand.

She frightens them, and enrages them. Maybe you should take another look.

LA replies:

I’m sorry, but I can’t see why should she have such cosmic significance, whether in reality or in the fantasies of the left.

If I myself saw her as representing things that could save America, then perhaps I might understand you better. But I don’t. When I think of America going downhill, I don’t think of Sarah Palin as the person who is going to reverse that.

James replies:

I suspect that, as far as your top three “save America” agenda items go, she may not be very satisfactory. But the people who love her are your friends (and you, theirs)—and I don’t think the VFR community can do it alone.

Terry Morris writes:

I think this element hates her because she almost single-handedly succeeded in knocking off Hussein Obama after the left had tasted blood once he became the Democrat nominee and victory was assured them, or so they thought. The fact that she could actually present a greater threat to them in the future simply makes their hatred of her even more intense.

Laura W. writes:

That is a charming interview with Palin. Her appreciation for the beauty of Alaska, her love of family, her physical energy and zest for life all come across. Given the relative smallness of the population and its immensity, Alaska must be a great place to grow up, with a more wholesome sense of community if you want it.

Terry Morris writes:

LA wrote:

If I myself saw her as representing things that could save America, then perhaps I might understand you better.

I don’t see her as representing those things either. Nor do the Sarah-haters I believe. I think they see her as a threat to slowing down the accelerated pace at which “change” is coming to America via Obama’s election. They can’t permit that to happen because they’ve acquired a taste for blood now.

Tim W. writes:

The hatred directed against Palin is emotional, not logical. Liberals don’t have a list of evil things she’s done that merit their hatred. They have an emotional reaction when they see her. It’s the result of a combination of things.

1) She’s an attractive, feminine, happily married woman

2) She’s had five kids and didn’t abort her Downs Syndrome baby

3) She’s from a flyover state (culturally speaking)

4) She’s not a leftist

5) She’s patriotic

6) She’s a Christian

7) She’s not a condescending elitist

These are all things liberals hate individually. In combination they send liberals to an apoplectic level of hatred. It’s just a cumulative effect. And like the two minute hate in 1984, it’s infectious to other leftists. They’re expected to hate her, so they do

LA replies:

So you’re saying that the hatred of Palin is unrelated to anything that might reasonably be seen as objectionable or annoying about her, you’re saying that it has no smidgeon of a rational basis taken to irrational extremes. You’re also saying that the hatred is not a symptom of the standard liberal hatred of perceived conservatives. What you’re saying is that the hatred of Palin is provoked solely by her good qualities and virtues, that it’s the hatred that the evil feels against the good.

Paul K. writes:

During the campaign, my wife was getting at least half a dozen anti-Palin emails a day from her liberal female friends. I was amazed at the frenzied level of their hatred for this woman. While I agree that the virtues Tim W. lists irk her enemies, Palin also has quirks that get under their skin, albeit to a ridiculous extent. These include her lack of sophistication, her tendency to speak incoherently, her strange and grating speaking voice, and her beauty-contestant style with the big hair, excess make-up and tight skirts. For those on the left, particularly women on the left, she is the nightmare image of the face America might present to the world, especially in contrast to their dream candidate, Obama, with whom they are so smitten. I find that the anti-Palin hysteria is particularly pronounced among Jews, to whom she is the ultimate goy. (Think of Diane Keaton in the deli in “Annie Hall,” ordering corned beef with mayo on white bread as Woody Allen watches, mortified.)

LA replies:
Yes, I think Paul K.’s comment restores some balance here. Assuming that there is some truth in Tim’s point, it’s also the case that Palin has specific characteristics that could be seen as galling. She does sound uneducated and uninformed. She does sound like a hick. She does indulge in various behaviors, such as the winking, that could be seen as inappropriate at the presidential level. Not that these factors would at all justify the hatred, but that they add to the hatred liberals and especially liberal women would have for her.

But that still leaves unanswered the question, why do they hate her to start with? Which might bring us back to Tim’s answer.

However, another possible answer is that she was the one who declared war against the liberals in her Convention speech. She conveyed the message that small town people like her are good, and that others are not. I personally felt that she was justified in vigorously defending her small town background, given that she had already been attacked so much over it. At the same time, however, she went too far in making small town America the definition of virtue, which would mean that all non-small town Americans lack virtue. I don’t think Palin’s conservative supporters have acknowledged this fact and other facts about her that can be legitimately criticized, and that would lead people to dislike and resent her. To the contrary, pro-Palin sites such as the laughably misnamed American Thinker have taken the theme of Palin’s Convention speech and turned it into a full scale demagogic campaign against educated, intellectual “Northeast Corridor” supposed conservatives.

Also, there are more substantive reasons to object to her, from a genuinely conservative point of view, which this website has discussed at length, but which are almost completely ignored in the mainstream debate.

I think the problem I’m having with Palin is similar to the problem I had with Bush. I was very critical of Bush, but didn’t want my criticisms to feed into the irrational Bush hatred that was everywhere.

Kidist Paulos Asrat writes from Canada:

To quote Tim’s points:

1) She’s an attractive, feminine, happily married woman
2) She’s had five kids and didn’t abort her Down’s Syndrome baby
3) She’s from a flyover state (culturally speaking)
4) She’s not a leftist
5) She’s patriotic
6) She’s a Christian
7) She’s not a condescending elitist

Doesn’t this list fit George Bush to “t”? Texas, here at least, is “flyover” cowboy country. Bush only had two daughters, but from what I’ve read, it took a long time for him and Laura to have them, so they are not the “let’s have one or two children and stop” type of couple.

The saddest part about Sarah Palin’s story is that she got displaced from a place and position where she was a “natural.” Maybe her vocation was to run a small, independent state; a place which she clearly loves and understands, and is part of her nature and character. I wonder if anyone will ever point a finger at McCain for all this.

LA replies:

Yes, it’s a classic example of the Peter Principle.

Also, another commonality between Bush and Palin is that both have markedly unsophisticated speaking mannerisms, idiosyncratic syntax, etc.

Richard S. writes:

There’s nothing mysterious about the hatred of Sarah Palin. It is class hatred pure and simple. Impossible to overestimate the seething hatred and contempt for the lower middle class on the part of many members of the upper middle class.

I’ll never forget the visceral hatred of Senator D’Amato, expressed openly and nakedly and with zero rationality by many of my upper middle class relatives when he won his Senate seat. That he was mildly conservative did not help in their eyes. But the thing that grated, the thing they could not stand, was that someone so unapologetically lower middle class in his appearance, mannerisms and speech, clearly a son of “The People,” was a Senator, their Senator. Unbearable.

Terry Morris writes:

Richard S. wrote:

Impossible to overestimate the seething hatred and contempt for the lower middle class on the part of many members of the upper middle class.

So everyone (or almost everyone) who hates Sarah Palin is upper middle class?

LA replies:

Another problem with Richard’s theory is that the hatred of Palin is similar to the hatred of Bush, yet Bush is not lower middle class. Though I guess his clunky speech and other characteristics made him functionally and symbolically lower middle class.

JS writes:

I think that class is the correct way to examine the love and hatred for Palin, but not class in the traditional Marxist sense of wealth. Are you familiar with “The Revolt Of The Elites” by Christopher Lasch? To borrow from this review

The new cognitive elite is made up of what Robert Reich called “symbolic analysts”—lawyers, academics, journalists, systems analysts, brokers, bankers, etc. These professionals traffic in information and manipulate words and numbers for a living. They live in an abstract world in which information and expertise are the most valuable commodities. Since the market for these assets is international, the privileged class is more concerned with the global system than with regional, national, or local communities. In fact, members of the new elite tend to be estranged from their communities and their fellow citizens. “They send their children to private schools, insure themselves against medical emergencies … and hire private security guards to protect themselves against the mounting violence against them,” Lasch writes. “In effect, they have removed themselves from the common life.”“

This is the “New Class,” so-called, and the hatred for Palin seems to me to have been the hatred of this sort of people. Palins support came from what we can call the “anti-New Class” until somebody comes up with a better name. The New Class spans both political parties, which is why so m any of the Republican elite detested her. I’ve seen somebody else describe the split is “Court vs Country,” where Court refers to royality rather then the legal system. To her backers Plain is the embodiment of the “common life.”

I think that much of what you critique at VFR is the atttudes and beliefs of this New Class, and that the true political contest of the near future will pit the New Class against the anti-New Class. I do regard Palin as a flawed vessel to lead a Counter-Revolt though, since it strikes me that her followers invest her with beliefs she has shown no sign of possessing.

Politics is about perception as much as reality, and Bush was percieved, wrongly, by friend and foe alike to be “anti-New Class,” based almost entirely on his manner of speaking.

Paul V. writes:

Never underestimate the hatred of beauty, or for many of those who love beauty, distrust of it when circumstances more properly place a premium on truth and goodness. I confess that her attractiveness makes me much more disposed toward her that I probably would be otherwise. In fact I can’t imagine her as politically viable without it, regardless of her accomplishments of governor, listed quite well in an earlier VFR post by a fellow Alaskan.

I might as well add that I consider Palin as right smack in the middle of the American mainstream, a bit of this, a bit of that, inconsistent, contradictory, intuitive and pragmatic, hardly a conservative, but genuine with a certain raw intelligence and capable of governing. I voted for both Paul and Buchanan, neither of whom, I am sorry to say, I had much confidence in as governors. There’s much more to say about the very feasibility of a conservative president at this point in our history, but for the moment I am quite content with mere sanity. Admittedly, if you bracket this whole post and consider it in relation to the enormities we are facing and what is really needed, sanity is not the first thing that comes to mind, but clutchable straws.

Tim W. writes:

I agree with Paul K. that Palin’s quirks get under liberals’ skin. He also mentioned Obama being the liberal dream candidate. The ferocity of the attacks on Palin may have been an effort to protect Obama. One of Obama’s glaring weaknesses was his lack of actual experience and accomplishments. The media protected him throughout the campaign, but there were still those occasional uncomfortable moments for Obama supporters when they were asked to name anything he had ever actually done. When McCain picked Palin, a person also lacking in experience, the left went after her as an unaccomplished nobody to deflect attention from Obama’s own deficiencies. The press, as they usually do, adopted the Democrat template, and we soon saw Charlie Gibson ambushing Palin with the type of questions he would never have asked Obama.

But this also shows the irrationality of the hatred directed at Palin, because her very lack of experience means she has never done anything to merit such hatred. She’s never launched a foreign war the left opposed, or been involved in any controversial policy decision at the national level. So even if we were to accept the bad idea that it’s appropriate to hate someone over policy decisions one opposes, Palin has never been involved in any such matters outside of Alaska. Most people had never heard of her until McCain picked her. She was just chosen to be a rival candidate and gave a rousing speech, and within no time was the target of hate on a ferocious scale.

Anna writes:

This discussion has presented for me a challenge. During the campaign, while I was busy trying to assess candidates, I was taken aback by the vitriol directed toward Palin. It was visceral and it came from all directions.

With all that was overlooked, ignored, unquestioned, disregarded, or joked about in a friendly way during the campaign (e.g. Better keep Joe quiet, heh heh), the treatment and reaction to Palin was, to me, phenomenal. A very strong negative emotion was there from the get-go, even in McCain’s camp!

In my circle, from a conservative elderly gentleman to liberal young women and all in-between the reaction was immediate and strong. Why?

I don’t get it. Your question, Mr. Auster, may be the key—What does she symbolize to cause such hatred?

Anyway, my challenge, to myself, will be to ask questions of folks I know and see where it leads. Class? My circle is neither the top nor the bottom. And we are voters. What is it that we hate so much?

When it comes to the elite, maybe someone who is in that circle can take up the challenge and explain.

LA writes:

To clarify my earlier reference to GW Bush: the fact that Bush had or was perceived as having the same kind of lower middle class qualities that Palin has or is perceived as having, and that he also was hated, does not prove Richard S.’s class hatred theory or JS’s New Class theory but tends to disprove them. Why do I say this? Because for all the pathological hatred Bush evoked, first as a result of the Florida election crisis and then, much later (after the period following the 9/11 attack during which at one point he had something like a 90 percent approval rating), as a result of the invasion of Iraq, the hatred was not as intense and as personal as the hatred Palin has provoked merely by being nominated for VP and giving some speeches and interviews. Given that Bush had to launch the pre-emptive invasion and occupation of a foreign country, defying the enraged opinion of most of the world, to provoke full scale Bush hatred, and given that Palin hadn’t done anything but be a candidate and give some speeches and media appearances to provoke Palin hatred, clearly when it comes to the respective Derangement Syndromes they trigger in liberals, there’s something more going on with Palin than with Bush. And since they already share the attribute of actual/perceived/symbolic lower middle classness, the decisive factor driving the Palin hatred must be something other than lower middle classness.

The class hatred theory is too simple and reductive to be the main explanation.

July 19

James N. writes:

I hate to get back into this, but some of the recent comments were really good.

To “get” the Palin phenomenon, you first have to understand two things: (1) The left believes they have won a 220-year long “struggle” conclusively, and that when their forces entered the citadel last January the last battle was over. (2) They know, at some level, that they won by illusion and deceit, and that, until they change the system, the people who put them where they are can kick them out.

Sarah Palin, for many reasons well laid out by Tim W., is able to stir the attention of the anesthetized masses who permitted Obama to seize power. Whether she knows it or not, whether she wants it or not, she’s a threat to their still-fragile victory.

I think of the electorate now like old King Theoden of Rohan, with the entertainment-“news” apparat in the role of Grima Wormtongue. Many of the noncommunists who vote feel that it’s meaningless, that there’s nothing to be done, that they might as well go along and get along—but Mrs. Palin has shown signs that she can reach them and wake them up.

I agree that the notion that she can wake them to conservatism is highly speculative. But, to quote Private Hudson in “Aliens”—“Hey, maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!

If she can wake them to the possibility that their country and their culture are not dead, that will be a signal improvement, and for now, that is enough.

LA writes:

Various theories have been given, including by me, and some people feel their theory is the true and sufficient one. For me, all these theories have some part of the truth, but they have not yet come together in a way that clicks, though I admit this may be due to some blindness on my part. As much as I was appalled by the liberals’ insane Bush hatred, their hatred for Palin is more intense, more personal, and with far less putative justification. So it remains a mystery to me.

Paul Mulshine writes:

Tim W. gives the usual litany of reasons that Palin fans list as supposed tenets of conservatism. And he seems not to realize that the support of Palin is also entirely emotional and not logical. My question to him would be just what logical reasons would a conservative have for supporting her. Her support for oil drilling doesn’t count. I’ts easy to support oil drilling when you come from a state that derives a large portion of its revenue from it.

LA replies:

I didn’t have the impression that Tim W. was saying conservatives should support her. He and others were discussing why liberals hate her. what am I missing here?

Paul Mulshine continues:

By the way, that Runner’s World piece was interesting. That sub-four marathon is truly impressive. I’ve been running since Dr. George Sheehan (mentioned in the piece) was a young man and we high-schoolers used to race against him here on the Jersey Shore. He was perhaps 45 then and was thought to be a really old guy to be running.

In fact, Monday evening I will be running in a 5-K at Lake Takannassee in Long Branch that has been going on nonstop since 1964, when Sheehan was one of the few runners. I first ran it in 1966.

Anyway, I was surprised to read how dedicated she is to running. She actually sounds like quite a nice person. What makes her think she’d make a good president remains a mystery, though.

Paul Mulshine replies to LA:

It’s that litany of complaints, particularly the talk-show-level jargon about “flyover country” and “elitists.” People who fail to realize that conservatism is elitist often end up with this sort of populist point of view, which is essentially leftist, though they don’t realize that.

I’d bet on a stack of Bibles Tim W. sees her as a conservative. I could be wrong, but that’s why I thought it would be interesting if he can produce any logical reasons a conservative would back her.

That’s why it would be interesting to see if Tim might be the first-ever Palin supporter who could present a rational basis for his belief.

Tim W. writes:

In response to Paul Mulshine, I don’t see Palin as a conservative. That’s why in my list of things liberals hate about her, item #4 was that she isn’t a leftist. I phrased it that way instead of saying she’s a conservative because like nearly all supposedly conservative Republicans she’s a right-liberal. There are individual issues where it’s fair to say she’s conservative, such as abortion. But I don’t see her being any help to traditionalists on most issues.

I do admit to having positive feelings about her, probably due as much to emotion as anything. I admire the qualities in her that I feel the left despises. But she has no national or presidential credentials, and her decision not to serve out her term as governor showed poor judgment.

July 20

Richard C. writes:

There is currently zero evidence that Palin thinks, or ever thought, she would make a good President. She has never run for President, she has never expressed an interest in running for President, and is currently looking for someone else to support for President. [LA replies: The current discussions at this website about Palin have not dealt with the question of Palin’s possible intentions, but, over and over, with the question of why other people love her or hate her. No one knows what her plans are, as was discussed at great length in the aftermath of her resignation. In discussing her intentions, which everyone agreed were mysterious, a variety of theories were given, and the idea that she was running for president was one of several views that were offered. In fact the people who are most strongly arguing that she is running or ought to run for president are her all-out supporters, such as the writers at American Thinker, who have described her as the savior of the country. So maybe you should complain to them.]

It is true that she has not unequivocally stated that she will never accept being put forward as a candidate for President. After all, she didn’t want to be Governor either. She ran on the top of a ticket to get someone else (whom she has unambiguously stated to be better qualified than herself) in as the actual administrator for the office. [LA replies: I have no idea what you’re talking about. She ran as an insurgent against her own party’s governor, Frank Murkowski, and defeated him in the primary, then she won in the general election against the Democratic candidate. She wasn’t running on behalf of someone else. She was the candidate. You statement, “She ran on the top of a ticket to get someone else … in as the actual administrator for the office” is absurd and nonsensical.]

If conservatives don’t want to support her, that’s fine. She would rather do the supporting anyway. I would have hoped that this would be immediately apparent to any serious conservatives looking at her record and personality. [LA replies: not only do you say something for which there is no certain basis, since no one knows what her intentions are, but you act as if other people are stupid and ignorant for not knowing what you baselessly imagine you know.]

While the fact that most conservative leaders have been too obtuse to realize this does not improve my sanguinity about what might be expected from them, I will continue to point this out where I can. [LA replies: That’s very noble of you.]

It would be a far more useful strategy to suggest a candidate she ought to support rather than to pointlessly advise others not to support her. [LA replies: I always love it when people tells other people that they should not talk about the issue that they’re talking about. One of the issues we’ve been talking about is the extravagant support for her to be president. The Palin for President phenomenon is real, and I and others have been responding to it. Again I don’t know what is the basis for your repeated statement that she is looking for someone else to support.]

Well, either way, it has nothing to do with me. They say advice is worth what you pay for it. I have never found this to be true, but you might keep it in mind anyway. [LA replies: This is very big of you, whatever it means. I do not remember ever before receiving a comment that is so superior in tone, and so clueless in substance. It’s a great combination.]

Paul Mulshine writes:

Thanks for sending me Tim W.’s reply. That clears it up. He actually has a reasonable stand on this.

As for my own positive feelings toward her, the first was when I learned she could probably beat me in a marathon unless I really trained hard. And that ain’t easy. I once qualified for Boston, legit.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 18, 2009 09:25 AM | Send

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