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Gary Horton: It's not about Sarah Palin

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: July 14, 2009 8:03 p.m.
Updated: July 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.

This column isn’t about Sarah Palin. It’s about us and how we dysfunctionally relate to her dysfunctions.

She’s already all pumped up with the 24-7 coverage from her latest gaffe — quitting her job, delivered behind those famous rectangular glasses and salmony-lipsticked lips.

She doesn’t need some pokey little column piling on the Sarah train wreck or Sarah power grab — whatever the heck it is that’s going on up there in the Arctic.

Rather the biggie deal is, “Why do we care anymore?” Why does Sarah “Ice Queen” Palin have a cult following in the Lower 48?

That she does says more about America than it does about her, for there will always be jesters, entertainers, distractions, attractions, hot chicks, dumb chicks, train wrecks, adulterers and ticking time bombs in our politics.

That they mesmerize us is foretelling of a dark future should we succeed in promoting the object of our obsessions to high leadership.

But reports say some 70 percent of Republicans would vote for Palin to be president.

No matter the enormity of her gaffes and guffaws, no matter the family drama or the upside down strategy of “quitters are winners” — Sarah is their presidential pinup.

For these 70-percent loyalists, Palin can say or do almost anything and their love burns only brighter.

Says she, “I’m not wired” to suffer the stress of managing a distressed state.

And the 70 percent want her all the more.

What’s tumbling around inside our heads?

Fortunately, we’re not talking huge numbers.

Only 31 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republican — so, do the math and only 24 percent of Americans would quit our spouses for a day in Sarah’s waders.

The Sarah support report also said the 70 percent were the more undereducated, lower income, whiter wing of the party.

Think chubby red staters drinking mucho beer collecting extended unemployment checks and behind in their taxes.

Think Joe the Plumber types.

Like Sarah, this 70 percent maybe blundered through school — or not — and can’t seem to hold down a job for long without something coming up.

These are affinity voters, voting for the candidates who seem “just like us.”

Personality pulls their votes and pragmatic facts get in the way.

Intellectuals call this “anti-intellectualism.”

Sales people call it “emotional buying.”

Street folk call it “being suckered.”

The deal is, “just like us” affinity voters don’t want complex facts, they want the image and emotion.

Details bore, and they’re so sure of their mind they’ll thumb over a 400-page book, read the glossy sleeve — and say you can read a book by its cover.

Maybe an OK strategy for romance novels — but pretty risky for judging the next presidential timber.

Sarah was a sexy, pert book sleeve on something of a political bodice ripper, full of jumbled up nothings.

But she looked good on the cover and the book still flies off the shelves and 70 percent fall for the photoshopped cover girl without reading the story inside.

Gut check: You like Palin because she’s “just like you.”

But would you hire Palin to teach your kids trigonometry?

Should she manage your retirement funds?

How about Sarah doing brain surgery on your kid or cat because she’s “just like you?”

Nonsense, and not even Palin’s bodice-ripper fans want her as teacher or broker ... and surely not as a brain surgeon.

These simple objective samples force objective conclusions.

Palin to solve California’s budget crisis after she quit her own financially troubled state? “Over her head in a shallow pond.”

Palin facing off against the wily Vladimir Putin?

Palin passing the “3 a.m. phone call” test after caving on her current, lesser gig?

Nah, no and duh.

Most of the 70 percent agree with “nah, no and duh” when facing such objective metrics.

So strange, despite Alaska’s empress having no clothes (save her $150,000 GOP wardrobe), 70 percent of Republicans illogically swoon.

We are not, it turns out, particularly objective thinkers.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert recently wrote about America’s fixation with Michael Jackson. His sentiments serve well on our obsession with Sarah Palin:

“The adulation serves as the ultimate symbol of the extreme immaturity and grotesque irresponsibility of modern American culture,” he wrote.

“We rack up debts we cannot pay, indulge our whims and grandiose self-conceptions, and behind the walls of our own private Neverlands, ignore troubling evidence that our idols are false. We don’t want to know.”

That’s the problem with “just like us” affinity voting. We love our self-conceptions and we just don’t want to know otherwise.

The 70 percent Republican obsession with Palin throws it all up in our face to our shame and concern.

“Sarah Palin” isn’t about Sarah. It’s about us.

Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.



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