November 1, 2008
Conservatism's blonde momentBy J.R. Dunn
Standards of discourse exist for good reasons. They are not only matters of individual honor and personal morality, but have a practical purpose. Once the standards go, and any and all tactics are allowed, the argument is automatically won by whoever has the biggest mouth, whoever adapts the sleaziest tactics, or whoever comes up with the nastiest insults.
Most people understand that if you violate the standards, you open a door, and you have to accept anything that comes through. So you don't throw mud, out of the simple practical fear that your target may turn out to own a bulldozer.
Commentators in the legacy media have, of course, violated that precept for years, in the ingrained belief that their network or paper owns all the bulldozers in existence. (As for the accuracy of that conviction, ask the staff of the New York Times as the sheriff shows up to repossess their desks and PCs.)
But most conservative commentators kept the standards up, partially out of habit, partially out of conviction. With a few notable exceptions, conservative pundits made up the rear guard on the ramparts of civility.
But that's all over -- and it's all Sarah Palin's fault!
In dealing with Palin, a large portion of the conservative commentariat has descended to the same level as media liberals, with all the trimmings -- a gutter mentality, cheap cynicism, an easy way with the facts. The latest example comes from the dependable Kathleen Parker. She's been thinking ever so hard about why John McCain picked Palin in the first place, and wants to let us in on her conclusions. To turn around the election? Nope. To rally the base? It is to laugh. In truth, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, it's all about sex.
Her authorities here are her husband, an unnamed elderly "raconteur" -- whom Parker would like us to see as a wise old "Tuesdays with Morrie" type but which I can't help but picture as the drunk propping up the end of the bar -- some Canadians, and the New York Times magazine. Are you convinced yet?
According to Parker, what happened was this -- John McCain met Palin and took her to his favorite spot, down by a sycamore tree. And they talked. For a long time. So you see how it went, right? She seduced him. Well, not really, but kind of. You know what I mean. Flashed her Naughty Monkeys. Winked at him. Said "like" a lot. It's been awhile since anybody came on to old Mac that way. So, when the time came to pick a VP, he thought of that nice Alaskan governor. The one with the legs.
(Of course, nobody would even suggest that Parker's looks had anything at all to do with her success as a pundit. That only works with politicians.)
Now, this explains nothing, reveals nothing, and settles nothing. But it does open that door. So let's see what we get when we turn Parker's arrows back in the direction they came from.
It so happens that virtually all the conservative women who have turned on Palin share one feature. They are one particular type of female. They are blondes.
We all know about blondes. We've heard all the jokes. We've seen Seven-Year Itch, and Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, and, for that matter, Fatal Attraction. Some Canadians did a study on it one time. Our culture has laid out for us a code of blondeness.
One thing well known about blondes is that they travel in packs, like wolves or Humboldt's squid. And that their natural prey is brunettes. This can be clearly seen in any high school in the country. The blondes form the elite. They make up the cheerleaders. They get their pick of the jocks. They are the ones spoiled by daddy. They handle the rankings for everyone else, and woe betide any brownie who defies the blonde sisterhood. That's when the sotto voce remarks start flying.
"Did you see her shoes?"
"She says "like" all the time."
"I hear she hunts moose with her dad."
From there we move on to gum stuck in the hair, grease on the locker handle, obscene graffiti, tantrums and tears. (Though not necessarily from the intended victim -- I doubt Sarah Palin ever cracked in that way.)
Add a couple decades, a little bit of Republicanism, and we have... Kathleen Parker!
And Peg, and Heather, and maybe I forgot somebody, but if I did, she's blonde.
That is the precise level at which this controversy is occurring. The future of the GOP, and of American conservatism, is being settled on the same basis as a girls' gym locker room catfight. And we're supposed to sit back and accept it.
(What about the males, you ask? I'll get to them eventually. All I'll say here is that David Frum's being Canadian probably has a lot to do with it.)
The argument concerning Palin contains nothing at all of substance. No serious political considerations, no discussion of her undeniable skills, her political history, her appeal to the public. We're all supposed to judge her on one thing: her performance in the interview by Katy Couric -- another blonde.
While Palin rallies crowds of thousands, nearly singlehandedly turns around the GOP campaign, overcomes the stupid and near-fatal misjudgments of her Republican advisors (hair color unknown), all that we hear is a whisper from the direction of the lockers: "It's all about sex, you know."
This has gone on too long without anyone pointing out how asinine it is. There's no excuse for it. There is something truly unseemly about the way that conservative blondes have approached Sarah Palin. Conservative women have always boasted that they'd never act as immature, as hysterical, as shallow as their radfem sisters, and... well, here we are.
Let's make it clear: one Sarah Palin, with her abilities, her personality, and her potential, is worth any random bucketful of pundits, male or female, conservative or RINO, blonde or otherwise. It's not as if we've got a vast supply of politicians capable of moving a crowd.
The world does not rotate around conservative pundits any more than it does the editorial page of the New York Times. Victory or defeat, we're going to have a nice little set-to after the election concerning the future course of conservatism, and like it or not, that will be one of the basic premises.
If there's anything embarrassing to conservatism in this campaign, it ain't coming from Sarah Palin.
And with that, ladies, I think it's about time you went to your rooms.