Burned Out

Mac Watson

So what do I have to say about Sarah Palin that hasn’t already been said? Well, probably nothing, but I will exercise my free speech in sweeping generalizations. Palin is an individual who probably strikes the same amount of love and hate in the hearts of Americans (depending, of course, on who you are talking to) as say, Paris Hilton. No, not good enough. Maybe, Britney Spears? Michael Jackson? There really isn’t a good pop icon analogy for Palin accept for Tina Fey’s impression of her, now iconic thanks to YouTube.
Some say she is just the cutest, most fun thing that has ever happened to American politics, whereas others want to vomit whenever they think about her potential delectability. I am, of course, part of the group who runs for the toilet or a gun whenever I think about a world run, in part, by Palin.
So why all the theatrics? Well, first of all, lets just take a look at what she stands for: pro-life, pro-war and pro-oil. She’s basically George Bush with a ponytail! And on top of all that, some people believe she’s going to do good things for women. I am not a symbolist. I don’t think that because Palin is a woman necessarily makes her good for women in general, or that somehow her high position within a historically patriarchal government is a symbol of women’s liberation.
I think there should be a more sophisticated way to think about gender in terms of Sarah Palin’s campaign, or politics in general, that is being unaddressed in the mainstream media. Woman does not necessarily equal feminist! And in the case of Sarah Palin, the equation adds up to something quite the opposite. Is misogyny too far of a reach? Nope, and neither is female masculinity.
When dealing with American politics, you cannot subtract the iconic power of American masculinity. I talked about this last school year in regards to Hillary, and I think it’s useful to bring it up again. What does George Bush pretend to be? A ranch-owning, bull- wrestling, good old American cowboy. What does Sarah Palin claim to be? An elk-hunting, gun-totting, Alaskan frontierswoman. And, in Palin’s case, maybe she really is. If she were a man, this parallel would be unappealing, but as a woman she able to pull it off.
Alec Baldwin said it best during her strategic cameo on Saturday Night Live. “You’re even hotter in person.” Palin’s masculinity, and by masculinity I mean the stereotypic masculine characteristics she embodies or even performs, is downright sexy. Why? Because it’s feminized. Picture Palin in a pair of Carhart bibs, a flannel shirt and a baseball cap.
What if she wasn’t a mother? Would she have the same appeal? If she was a man, would we be able to overlook her lack of political experience? Why is it that Obama is judged so harshly for his political immaturity, whereas Palin is more or less let off the hook?
Some say McCain is crazy for choosing her; I would argue that it is quite possibly the most intelligent move of his campaign. She compensates for those crucial things that make a candidate appealing to a mainstream American public: charisma, energy and attractiveness — essentially everything McCain lacks.
In some ways, they are quite the pair. I hardly know anything about Joe Biden! Why? Because compared to Sarah Palin, Joe Biden is downright boring. If Palin is elected, along with her now somewhat overshadowed sidekick villain John McCain, then it will certainly be a remarkable moment in history. If the symbolic power of Sarah Palin’s image trumps her crummy politics, then we are truly living in a harsh reality.