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Jul. 14 2010 - 9:26 am | 122 views | 0 recommendations | 7 comments

Sarah Palin as Margaret Thatcher, Except No

Tyler, Texas is in many ways the exact opposite of New York, for better or worse or both. The best coffee in Tyler is found at Jack-in-the-Box, as I finally discovered after hours of aimless marching – a practice which is frowned upon here, apparently. Traversing a cross-walk during one of many coffee-getting expeditions, I was nearly run down by a woman who really, really wanted to make a right-hand turn but whose plans were being stymied by my own entirely legitimate and fait accompli crossing-the-street agenda. After nearly hitting me, she honked and sped off. Not having a cup of coffee to throw at her car, I simply gave her the finger. This is something I never had occasion to do in four years of living in New York – the capital of Unreal America, devoid as it is of Wal-Marts, meth, and federal farm subsidies.

In the interest of full disclosure and self-indulgence, allow me to note that I myself am originally from Texas, de facto stronghold of Real America. My parents are from Texas, their parents were from Texas, and so on and so forth going back to the days when Texas was still Mexico. My mom’s family used to raise rabbits, name them, and then eat them. I own a .243 and a fifty-year-old shotgun and do so much hunting you’d think I was running for president on the 2004 Democratic ticket. My dad just bought a Blackwater-issued .45 for God knows what purpose. The less said about my extended family back in ranch country the better, as I don’t want the ATF burning them alive. In short, I am as Texan as one can be without getting shot at the Alamo, and thus I reserve the right to say mean things about my home state, which I have always regarded as being akin to a hot girlfriend who is also batshit insane. I may sleep with Texas when the mood strikes, but I tend to disregard its text messages. “didja no tomas jeferson didn’t rly exist plus husane obamas frum kinya in irak???? also im pregnant or mabe not call/me.”

Coming back to the matter of Tyler and New York, there is another, more fundamental difference between the two cities, one that is even more crucial than the matter of coffee availability and anti-pedestrian sentiment: whereas the great bulk of the NYC-based media operates largely by way of deliberately amoral careerism without regard to the consequences of such ethical negligence, the Tyler-based media is driven by abject incompetence and blatant advocacy of movement conservatism. In the wake of the most recent Sarah Palin rally, for instance, a reporter from one of the several Tyler-based network affiliates that serve East Texas described “an electrifying speech” delivered before a “crowd full of patriots and constitutionalists.” Directly before the electrifying speech in question, Palin was hit with the conservative news outlet equivalent of a tough question when a reporter asked her about a possible 2012 presidential run alongside Texas Governor Rick Perry. “Oh, I love your governor!” Palin responded. “He’s so great, I think he’s a great guy, and Texas is lucky to have him, and I don’t know why Texas wants to change horses in mid-stream.” Frankly, I had no idea Texas was in the midst of some potentially earth-shattering war that requires continuity within the executive branch lest we be overrun by the Oklahomans or whomever it is that we’re fighting, but then I’d been away for a while. At any rate, Palin was referring, with some difficulty, to Perry’s apparent vulnerability in the upcoming gubernatorial election, which could very well put a Democrat in office for the first time since the Ann Richards era. I can’t remember the opponent’s name and couldn’t care less anyway; if recent history is any indication, he’ll likely end up deploying an additional 30,000 troops to Tulsa upon taking office.

I am reluctant to describe the speech itself as it’s difficult to know how one is supposed to go about writing on the subject of Sarah Palin. Many conservatives have come to the convenient conclusion that anyone who describes the woman as anything other than a provider of electrifying speeches before crowds of patriotic constitution-lovers is some biased partisan intent on transferring his or her own views to the public at large, sort of like the reporter described above. Likewise, Palin backers such as Larry Kudlow have gone so far as to compare their favorite to Lady Margaret Thatcher. And so I will do likewise. In fact, I’m going to one-up all the Palinistas by pretending that Palin actually is Margaret Thatcher, and I shall write the rest of the piece accordingly.

In the speech previous to the Tyler variant that we shall examine presently, Lady Thatcher began by assailing what she termed the “lamestream media” for having revealed that her confidential speaking contract included demands for bendable drinking straws to be provided at the podium. It was an odd moment for Thatcher, whom I do not recall ever having been so concerned about such commonplace and inconsequential reporting of the sort to which every politician is subjected. This was behavior one might more readily expect from Sarah Palin or Axl Rose.

Unlike Axl Rose, Lady Thatcher had aged well, as I was happy to observe at her Tyler address. The uncommonly comely octogenarian began with a joke at the expense of California, the state which had just hosted her a few days before. It was pretty funny if I’m remembering it right, which I’m not.

But then I am being unfair to the baroness, whose eloquence speaks for itself. “Many in the lamestream media,” she proclaimed, “want to keep suggesting that I, and others who are pro-energy independence, pro-drilling advocates, that somehow we are too cozy with big oil – you guys feel free to shout out to them, ‘You lie!’ Because it isn’t true.” I would take issue with Thatcher’s assertion that such suggestions on the part of the “lamestream media” are deliberate lies; perhaps the lame-o’s in question are honestly confused due to such incidents as GOP Representative Joe Barton’s public apology to the CEO of a British oil firm on behalf of what he characterized as criminal activity on the part of the United States government, or the fact that Barton’s assertion has been echoed by a great number of conservative institutions ranging from the Heritage Foundation to Rush Limbaugh, or that Barton’s own apology was followed by a Twitter link from his account to an American Spectator piece entitled “Joe Barton was right,”

or that this link was later deleted by Barton’s office after causing another outcry. If Barton himself can’t figure out whether or not he’s overly cozy with foreign oil interests, and if the conservative movement appears split on the question of whether or not his coziness was appropriate or even insufficiently cuddly, then perhaps the media – disadvantaged as it is with lameness – may be forgiven for it’s own confusion on the matter.

Thatcher continued to build her case with the ease and erudition that has marked her half-century career of public service. “Their other argument is because I and other energy independence advocates support the free market, pro-drilling, that we can’t possibly be in favor of strict oversight. Man, these guys in the White House, they are just so blind to ever believe that. I am for strict oversight because I’m for that allowance for drilling.” To wit, the baroness favors strict oversight because she is for it.

Once in a while, Thatcher would realize in mid-sentence that she wasn’t currently pacing across the stage and gradually raising her voice into an oddly deliberate shriek, but then she would immediately correct herself. “I want this most exceptional country in the nation to be free, to be prosperous! To not be beholden to the foreign countries that soon we are going to be [shriek increase] bowing to [slightly less alarming shrieks from the crowd] if we become more reliant on them to drill for us!” Here Lady Thatcher has made a pretty good case for prosperity, freedom, and the exceptional nature of the country in the nation. Still, I would quibble that she missed an opportunity to really drive home the risk we face of bowing down to foreign countries insomuch as that she neglected to point out that, in fact, our last president was in the habit of literally bowing down before theocratic Saudi monarchs who happen to provide us with a great deal of oil.

“I’m a firm believer in the free market and I know you are too,” Thatcher continued. “But being free market doesn’t mean being for or against any particular company or any particular industry. It means being in favor of competition and an honest level playing field and for government really to get out of the way and let the private sector do what it does best. But the government does have a key role to play in overseeing some of our natural resource developments obviously, because our natural resource development is so impacting on our economy and on our environment. The president and the anti-energy independence crowd, they don’t seem to see how you can be pro-free market and pro-drilling and pro-constitutionally limited government and at the same time be pro-strict oversight, all at the same time, which is what they can’t understand and can’t wrap their arms around.” Thatcher elsewhere reiterated that she favored “appropriate regulation of industry like the energy sector, because there are far-reaching adverse consequences for our public, for our economy,” which is to say that regulation is apparently warranted in any case in which far-reaching adverse consequences may be hypothesized by someone. To sum up, “I don’t think that they understand the proper role of government in the free market.” Frankly, I was a little confused myself at this point; it was surprising to see someone as typically coherent as Thatcher accidentally make the case for socialism while attempting to make the case for the free market while simultaneously attacking others for advocating socialism and then accusing the opposition of failing to understand her views. I suddenly remembered that I wasn’t actually watching Margaret Thatcher speak, but rather Sarah Palin. Then it all started to make sense.

“You asked for the job, Mr. President, so buck up,” added Palin, who quit her job as governor of Alaska after two years because people were being mean to her.


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  1. collapse expand

    As a member of movement conservatives anonymous*, I think I have some insight into the whole Palin phenomenon. When you get right down to it, the primary motivating force behind contemporary American conservativsm, the one string that really ties the neocons, theocons, and tea partiers together, is not love of low taxes or aggressive wars against swarthy looking moors, those those certainly are impoortant, but spite. Spite, doing things that piss off “the liberals,” is the heart and soul of the entire entrprise, the sine qua non. If spite goes out the window, if American conservatives were required to systematically, rationally, and unemotionally think about what is best for America and its citizens, the whole rotten structure of the movement would come tumbling down with nary a breeze. Spite is why otherwise intelligent people, including a much younger Mark Adomanis,
    continued to love George W. Bush long after it became clear he was out of his gourd: sure he mangled his words and, yes, he claimed to talk to God, but just look how angry he made all of the damn hippies! He had to be doing something right if he pissed off the Brown University English department!
    Sarah Palin is the apotheosis of this spite-based politics, someone so palpably ignorant, so utterly devoid of any relevant qualifications or experience, and so manifestly uninterested in examining any of her own views that she only make senses as a figure purposefully designed to participate in an entirely anti-rational environment. Thus consistency and coherance are utterly beside the point, what really matter are tribal loyalties and gut instincts; indeed, to Palin supporters, egg-headed appeals to reason couldn’t be more uninteresting.
    Despite all of that, I actually hope she wins. As Mark Ames once noted, Palin has a remarkble and instinctual grasp, one far more astute than that possesed by most Beltway bandits, of the craven, nasty, and irrational nature of middle America. I’m genuinley excited to see where it’s all going to lead.

    * The meetings are actually pretty swell: we get to sit around in a big circle and discuss which Rich Lowry columns used to make our hearts flutter and which of Mark Steyn myriad factual errors we found most endearing. It’s only by going to these weekly meetings that I can avoid staying up to all hours of the night reading Liberal Fascism or helping Michael Ledeen invade Iran.

  2. collapse expand

    I’m not sure about your use of “middle America” to mean the far right–I think of my own purple state of Ohio as an example of middle America, and we’re a very different place than Texas, Alabama, or the other not-ready-for-the-Constitution territories. We’re not nearly liberal enough for someone like me, but it could be way worse, as I keep having to remember.

    However, I guess that, if we’re into the either/or, this-or-that thinking currently in vogue in our pop culture, then “reason-based” vs. trailer park makes sense on a comic book level.

  3. collapse expand

    “Lamestream media,” indeed. Well, I guess we can’t expect everyone to respect everyday journalism as deeply as you do.

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