A Better American Than You?

Michael Kinsley can be a very funny writer, but in the line quoted below, from a Time column, he is, I think, unintentionally funny:

Sarah Palin thinks she is a better American than you because she comes from a small town, and a superior human being because she isn’t a journalist and has never lived in Washington and likes to watch her kids play hockey.

By all means, let’s hear it for those neglected, salt-of-the-earth, rich east and west coast sophisticates – the big shot journalists and academics – who made this country what it is today. Three cheers for the endlessly-chattering minority who are so looked-down-upon by those elite, small town rubes like Sarah Palin!

On the other hand, Camille Paglia offers analysis that is both funny and interesting:

…I have become increasingly uneasy about Obama’s efforts to sound folksy and approachable by reflexively using inner-city African-American tones and locutions, which as a native of Hawaii he acquired relatively late in his development and which are painfully wrong for the target audience of rural working-class whites that he has been trying to reach. Obama on the road and even in major interviews has been droppin’ his g’s like there’s no tomorrow. It’s analogous to the way stodgy, portly Al Gore (evidently misadvised by the women in his family and their feminist pals) tried to zap himself up on the campaign trail into the happening buff dude that he was not. Both Gore and Obama would have been better advised to pursue a calm, steady, authoritative persona. Forget the jokes — be boring! That, alas, is what reads as masculine in the U.S.

…Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.

And Dick Morris accurately, I think, argues that the election is about Obama:

… Now, the election will hinge on a referendum on Obama. Is the extra health care coverage he would pass worth the huge tax increases he will impose? Nobody buys his claim that he will only increase taxes on a few rich people and give the rest of us tax cuts. Voters can add, and they realize that his spending plans and tax cut promises come to a trillion dollars and that his tax increases represent only one-tenth as much. They know that everyone who pays taxes will end up paying more if Obama is elected. The question will be: Is it worth it?

Is his commitment to income redistribution and increasing tax “fairness” worth the risk his tax plans pose for the economy?

Is his plan to pull out of Iraq and his commitment to multilateralism in foreign policy worth the risk of putting someone with virtually no foreign policy experience in charge of our international relations in the middle of a war? Is his promise to respect the Constitution and ratchet back the intrusions of the Bush homeland security measures worth the extra risk of terror attack?

The answer to these questions will only partially depend on what Obama is proposing and on how sound we think his judgment is. They will also depend on the events that will transpire between now and Election Day.

If Iran moves closer to getting nuclear weapons or Israel attacks Iran to forestall that development, things could change in a hurry. If the current atmosphere of economic uncertainty and impending possible crisis — signaled by the federal takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae — deepens, it may make voters less willing to risk the high taxes and big spending that Obama will bring in his wake. If Russia continues to assert its imperial right to dominate Eastern Europe and restore a Soviet-style satellite empire, voters will wonder if they can take a chance on Obama.

But if things are relatively peaceful and uneventful, voters may bristle at the stagnation and turn to Obama in the hopes of change.

The key point is that this race is now not about Bush or McCain or Bill Clinton or Palin. It’s all about Obama.

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