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Sarah Palin and Michael Jackson and Fame in the 24 Hour News Cycle

The only thing that has been able, it seems, to force cable news to move away--for the slightest time--from Michael Jackson is Sara Palin. Why is that? Despite their enormous differences in nearly every aspect of their lives, it seems to me that they have one trait in common. A large amount of people seem to treat them as living symbols, projecting desires and plans, hopes and fears upon them. They are no longer individual people --they are, almost, collective projection of wishes, regrets, pasts, and future. Needless to say, what's projected on them is very different--Michael is about the corruption of innocence, the loss of youth, Sarah, for some people, is about the regaining of innocence -simple American values. Whether Palin or Jackson, the attention is ultimately about ourselves.Does this thesis seem true to you?.

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I don't know, but this is pretty riveting: http://bit.ly/EuHBl

Yes--it was riveting--in the same way a train wreck is riveting. I never thought much of her as a candidate for vp--but there are people who seem passionately devoted to her, and who think she symbolizes the best in America. I don't get it--and the only way I can understand it is that she has become a symbol of sorts--participating in the reality (a certain vision of America) that she symbolizes.

"Whether Palin or Jackson, the attention is ultimately about ourselves."I think you make some good points above but here you slip into the pundit's we. Some of us--quite a few, I hope--see neither Jackson nor Palin as anything more than two not particularly interesting people.

Given my years working in public libraries and teaching freshman logic, I have concluded reluctantly that man's rationality is little used. In this country it is scorned as the world of eggheads, nerds, teacher's pets, etc., etc. Yes, most people do want principles -- historical, ethical, religious and aesthetic. But they don't wonder about the trurth of those principles, and they resist self-criticism and criticism of their own groups like sin. In fact, sin is in effect defined as what "we" don't like.. In such a non=thinking culture attractive, interesting people who articulate (whether by word or deed) the principle/hopes of the uncritical people is treated like a saint, someone to be cherished, emulated, almost worshipped. . Evidence that those "icons" have faults is resisted or quite simply ignored. The result is a national dream world impervious to facts, an alternate universe where all is well, and all is well and all shall be well. American is beautiful, just, generous, and loves its children, Just like MJ and Sarah Palin.

The unusually strong support Palin receives is, in part, a reaction to what many see as the unseemly nastiness from much of the media, who often act like school yard bullies ganging up on the new kid in town. People who would normally be neutral or non-committal toward her based on politics naturally want to stick up for her. People who are drawn to her politics REALLY want to stick up for her.I don't think people defend or support Michael Jackson because of his difficult childhood. They just enjoy him so much as an entertainer that they simply don't want to believe he could have done such terrible things, not unlike Alger Hiss (except Hiss couldn't moonwalk as well).

Joseph, I agree with you. But due to an injured ankle, I've been watching way more tv than anyone (even I) normally watches during the past couple of weeks. And you can't get away from Michael Jackson--you can't get away from him--on the news, any news. Except for Sarah Palin. So "we"--not all of us, but a lot of people--are getting something from these stories--more than the usual "oh isn't it sad that a celebrity died" or "isn't it interesting that another politician bows out of the ring."Both of these people seem to touch a deep chord in some people--why.

I think they're two diufferent kettles of fish.Jackson was obviously a big name star in the music industry and his new tour may have also generated big bucks. He also had become a tragic figure by his behavior (which didn't hurt the PR for his performing side.)But the critical point that's been made is that he made it possible for a black to be numero uno in the music bsiness and that impact on the minority comunity cannot be underestimated.Some of the stuff weve had on this blog about music and culture are really irrelevant to that discussion.Palin is a big voice to folks in her "base" of a splintering GOP and even its conservative wing.The Vanity Fair article saying unamed GOPers thought she wasn't screwed on 360 may have some merit -she's very invested in herself in ways that are neither predictable nor always useful. I think Cathy's thesis has the merit of wondering about that "base" and how much of America they truly represent and what values and deficiencies they bring to the table.

One other thing about Sarah Palin -- she's also a very lovely madonna figure who no doubt prticularly appeals to stay-at-home moms and their husbands. Here she is, babe in arms, running a state! She must be a great source of pride for them..(I have a question about that: why does she never establish eye contact with her baby? She pats it, even hugs it, but I have yet to see her *look at* it. Why? This is trivial, but I find it very strange. OK. I'm biased. But why doesn't she look at her child?)

Very telling remarks from Ann Olivier. John McCain knew exactly why Palin in a short term would catch votes, and they were prepared to jeopardize the security of the US and the world on this slick calculation. It is as if British were to make Princess Di Prime Minister, or as if the Italians were to make Silvio Berlusconi Presidente del Consiglio -- what? they already have? three times? I despair of democracy.

The way she handles baby like an accessory -- the way baby popped up at one of her first public appearances as a votecatching gimmick -- the rumors the baby is really her daughter's -- the lack of eye contact -- everything, even motherhood, seems to be false and offkey in this disturbed woman's life. And yes, Michael Jackson left the nasty taste of a very similar falseness -- a peculiarly hollywoodesque meretriciousness -- a peculiarly American hollowness -- in the end what was most real about both of them was the telltale symptoms -- something like Princess Di's boulimia.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31727978/ns/politics-more_politics/ANALYSISBy Howard Finemanmsnbc.com contributorupdated 3:56 p.m. PT, Fri., July 3, 2009WASHINGTON - I have covered politics for a long time. I can tell when someone is running for president. Sarah Palin is running for president...Palin is not the front-runner there IS no front-runner but she potentially is a major player in the Republican contest, her disastrous turn as John McCains running mate notwithstanding.

Mark Proska --Maybe its Palin's madonna image that inspires your protectiveness. She really does project some contradictory images - super-strong me, vulnerable me. so she gets some strong contradictory responses.

Ann--I agree with you that stay-at-home moms would find Sarah Palin's story appealing. What I don't understand is why mothers who work outside the home don't find her story just as appealing, even if they don't agree with her politics. She can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pansounds like she's a shining example of the options the women's liberation movement always wanted to have available.This is a road I'm loath to go down, but it was disappointing to hear you criticize Palin as a mother for not looking her child in the eye?! Where did that come from? Are you privy to Palin's private moments with her child? I don't think you have any idea how catty comments such as those come across to people who do not share your admitted bias.

I think it's just human nature to find models or avatars to represent us - sports figures, politicians, performers. It's not a recent thing, there were celebrities even in the ancient world. And even the egg-heads do it (hands up all those with a poster of Einstein or Neil deGrasse Tyson on their bedroom wall :) Maybe the people who are most taken up with it are people who have a less developed sense of self?

Mark wrote ... What I dont understand is why mothers who work outside the home dont find her story just as appealing, even if they dont agree with her politics. She can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pansounds like shes a shining example of the options the womens liberation movement always wanted to have available.Palin is so not a feminist. To quote Gloria Steinem on her ..."She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger."

Palin tweets, "Attached is my 'thank you' sent yesterday to express gratitude, & smack down lies at same time": http://www.gov.state.ak.us/pdf/GovPalin_Happy4tAK-Letter.pdf

When prominent people do things that seem insane, it's attention-getting! I haven't ever paid much attention to Michael Jackson, but this Palin meltdown is fascinating to me. Every sentence of that letter Grant links to is crazy in its own special way.

I believe that the thesis of projection is certainly true -- but it doesn't begin (or end) with Michael Jackson and/or Sarah Palin. They are just the celebrity screens for today.It's awfully hard to generalize about what a collective is projecting .... I am not sure it is as simple as "values" or "innocence" or what. Even the phrase "corruption of innocence" can mean vastly different things to two people. What is exceedingly important about the politics of projection is that individuals who do not take responsibility for their projections and work to integrate them and bring them to consciousness suffer greatly. And heap suffering on others. As a nation we simply cannot afford to continue in a collective of adolescence and project some simple, folksy, one-size-fits all "ideal" that seems to be the clarion call from Sarah Palin. We, as a nation, have simply GOT to grow up and recognize the value and necessity of complexity, diversity and global connection.And, we have to turn off the TVs. Really.

I think there are at least two kinds of reactions to celebrities. One is a sort of curiosity. As the news stories appear, especially in your neighborhood supermarket, some of us want to know just what such a one is up to this week. A case in point is the soap opera of Brad, Jen, and Angelina. There may also be a kind of envy/identification there. Another kind is the strong identification fanhood. I am nothing, but he/she is everything I would want to be if I were to be something. I think Jackson-fanaticism must be something along those lines, and Jackson being an extreme case of something--I hesitate to say what-- the reaction is also extreme. I think Palin is very different in kind. Some people probably just agree with her. It is easy to imagine that some women might identify with her. She is an "ordinary" person who suddenly achieved political stardom. In that sense some men might also feel a sort of identification. Personally, when I see her, I think at once "Is that Tina Fey?" When I see that it is not, I feel a certain disapointment. Sorry, Sara.

Mark --Sarah Palin is running for President. She, like all other hopfuls, needs to be scrutinized for faults that would make her incompetent. From her first appearance on the national scene she has exhibited some of those characteristics. To me, from the beginning what fatally disqualified her as a candidate wasone incredible "little" fact== she had not noticed that Africa is a continent, not a country. How could she *possibly* have missed that? MY answer: something must be seriously wrong somewhere in this woman's psyche. It's as if she doesn't live in the same world the rest of us have to deal with How could she possibly NOT know that?? It shows someone who is turned inward to an extraordinary degree Such people don't make effective politicians..Then there is the matter of her 4 or 5 young children. I'm old-fashioned enough to think that such a large family needs a parent at home (either father or mother). Children need lots of attention or they wither emotionally. If the Palins were rich enough to afford round-the clock live-in help (or a grandmother) it would be different. I just don't find the picture of a devoted parent when I see her. By the way, if you want real icons of admirable motherhood, look at the old masters madonna and child paintings --typically the mother is either holding up the child with both in frontal view and the mother's whole attitude is "look at my gorgeous child" or she and the child are looking intently at each other. Eye contact with an infant is a mark of a concerned mother,, and Palin apparently doesn't do that. So I conclude she's not really the -madonna type. (Maybe all those progressive mothers who *have to" work see that.)And now she tells us that because she loves Alaska so much she will stop being governor so she can serve it even better (though she gives us no specifics as to how). Give me a break, Mark. Thsi makes no sense at all. It's like telling your wife, "I love you so much, honey, I'm moving to Japan".

Ann, I'm going to have to agree with Mark on this one -- I don't see how anyone can judge whether Sarah Palin is making enough eye contact with her infant based on her public appearances (or what conclusions could safely be drawn from such an observation). And the "Africa" story, which emerged unattributed after the election was over, is apocryphal -- she did plenty to embarrass herself during the campaign, but that wasn't on the record.

Did someone mention the"24 hour news cycle?" What sells is what determines what hits the airwaves -so, turn off the TV is right.Actually, I thought the front page of the NYT Week in Review had the right bookend: Al Franken and kooky Minnesota politics and Sara and her kooky (pace Mark's adulation) politics of Alaska.

The huge difference between Sarah Palin fans and Michael Jackson fans is that Sarah Palin fans want to put her in charge of the country.

This is a road Im loath to go down, but it was disappointing to hear you criticize Palin as a mother for not looking her child in the eye?! Where did that come from? Are you privy to Palins private moments with her child? I dont think you have any idea how catty comments such as those come across to people who do not share your admitted bias.Mark,There has been plenty of criticism, and not just from the left, of Sarah Palin's judgment as a mother. Some even felt it was an "unmotherly" thing to do to accept McCain's offer to be his running mate when she had an unwed, pregnant 17-year-old daughter whose condition was bound to become a matter of nationwide debate. Some found it odd that Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin were put on display at the RNC. Some also found it odd that Bristol Palin became a spokesperson for abstinence, sponsored by the Candie's Foundation, when this is the kind of thing that Candie's sells for the 7- to 16-year-old girl, complete with Britney Spears (another exemplary mother) as their model. By the way, I wonder what the criticism of Obama would be if every time he made a big political decision, he gathered Michelle, Sasha, and Malia together and had them vote on it.

Jackson and Palin. How could anyone dare to suggest that ours is a frivolous populace! Let us repent. Or have a few drinks. At the moment I happen still to be sober.

More on Candie's, the sponsor of Bristol Palin's campaign to promote abstinence:

The media campaign, entitled "Anywhere You Dare" and created by Candie's in-house marketing staff, generated controversy as some viewed the ads as too sexually provocative. Alyssa Milano, of the TV sitcom Charmed, starred in a print ad in which she has just opened a large medicine chest full of condoms with a bottle of Candie's fragrance on the bottom shelf. The ads tended to be banned by local television networks and magazines for teens. Several women's fashion and music magazines, as well as GQ, Details, and Maxim published the print ads, while several cable television stations, including MTV, VH-1, and Comedy Central, aired the commercials.Just before filing for divorce, Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman posed for several advertisements featuring the couple in ardent poses, which some media outlets refused to print. Vogue, Vibe, Maxim, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Jane, GQ, Penthouse, and Premiere did publish them. In one ad the two lounged in satin sheets with Rodman's hand on Electra's breast, while bottles of Candie's and Candie's Men sat on a side table. The campaign included a three-page poster in Rolling Stone, and a billboard on Seventh Avenue in New York City. In those ads Electra sprayed Candie's fragrance down the boxer shorts of a shirtless, tatooed Rodman.

Not every line in the letter linked by Grant betokens insanity, but this one surely does: 'How sad that Washington and the media will never understand: it's about country.'Delusions of grandeur, narcissistic fantasies of an inscrutable personal destiny... yet people like that have succeeded in becoming Great Dictators -- and McCain did not scruple to inflict such a fate on America...

Mollie, the Africa story emerged before the election, if I remember correctly, and I even seem to remember seeing a tape of Palin referring to Africa as a country. She is an ignoramus, and McCain thought that after Bush no one would notice.

Palin and MJ's flaws are so glaringly obvious that one is aghast when public opinion -- or vast sections of it -- override the perception of them and ridicules those who point them out. Alarmed because of the dangers for democracy.

Mollie--I appreciate your intellectual integrity for admitting you agree with me in those few instances when I may be right. I hope you don't find yourself off everyone's Christmas card list as a result. If it helps, you're now on mine!Joseph--I will bet you a gazillion dollars that no such tape of Sarah Palin has surfaced and that your memory is inaccurate. If it did, it would have been all over the mainstream media.

I'm not a fan of Palin's, but the Africa story was a hoax:http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:e-n8NWi1Gr8J:www.huffingtonpost.com/...

SP & MJ = apples and oranges. For one, there's no way a sudden death of Sarah Palin (God forbid) would generate the sort of madness associated to Jackson's memorial.http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31749177LOS ANGELES - Listings for tickets to the Michael Jackson memorial service at Los Angeles Staples Center on Tuesday appeared on eBay and Craigslist as soon as winners were notified on Sunday.One eBay listing asked for a Buy It Now price of $20,000, while other prices varied. Buyers and sellers must act fast, as winners must pick up their tickets Monday at an off-site distribution center. At that time, the wristband will be placed on their wrists...

Mollie ==I do hope the Africa thing was a hoax, though like Fr. O'Leary I do have a memory of her talking like that. However, I am dependent on closed captioning TV and maybe the captioner got it wrong. I hope so. As to her not looking at her child, I really don't think that is a minor matter., not for the child, anyway. If a parent never talked to a child wouldn't you be concerned? I think this is in the same sort of category.I don't know if I mentioed this here before, but I'll just repeat it. Several months ago I met a lawyer from Alaska, a Democrat, whose wife had been in the Alaska legislature for a whil.e I asked him, "What do you think of Sara Palin?" He replied quickly and definitely, "I think she's a beautiful person". I asked why, and he replied that as governor she had indeed gotten people to work together. So I asked if he thought she was competent to be president. Again his reply was quick and definite, "No". Why? "Because she has no core principles". She switches easily. I asked if he thought she was smart enough to be president, and agai n he replied, "No". In other words, here was someone willing to say some very nice things about her, who doesn't think she's competent. In sum, I think she is not smart enough, not experienced enough not well-balanced enough to be president. She talks the patriotic talk many people love to hear and apparently need to hear. But that is not nearly enough to qualify her.

Cathy, you could as well thrown in Angelina and Brad with a few others. Celebrity seeems to be your number one answer. "People Magazine readers want to know." Although one can argue that Michael may be in a larger stratosphere of influence and art. And the media does love Palin as she will be news for at least a week with her inevitable faus pas. Then the Republican party has a huge vacuum right now and she fills a void. How long can people talk about Dick Morris?The other more disturbing part is how uncharitable many become with Palin. Yes she has flaws but does that justify the constant ridicule. Despite his own flaws old Spiro did make some sense about our instant analysis. http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/spiroagnewtvnewscoverage.htmHaving said that, She is taking a Nixonian approach in that she wants to concentrate on the presidential campaign. Yet her lack of seeking guidance will undo her unless she gets some discipline. Strangely enough, with a little bit of luck she can easily become the front runner.

Check out Anne Applebaum and Ross Douthat on Sarah Palin.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/05/AR200907...

"The hoax was limited to the identity of the source in the story about Palin _ not the Fox News story itself. While Palin has denied that she mistook Africa for a country, the veracity of that report was not put in question by the revelation that Eisenstadt is a phony."

Mark Proska, you win the gazillion dollars -- the story surfaced on FOX the day after the election, but Carl here says that he knew of it and all the other stories before the election and had to keep them under wraps: http://www.postchronicle.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=104&nu... Had the hoaxer fed the stories to FOX earlier, or did they genuinely have access to McCain aides?Given the many weirdness of Palin I find it not at all implausible that she would, at least momentarily, not remember that Africa was not a country.What is scary is that McCain/Palin could well have won if it were not for the economic downturn.

Oh, I see the Africa story was communicated to Carl Cameron by McCain aides on the very day of November 5, not earlier: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/05/palin-didnt-know-africa-i_n_141...'Reilly saying that Palin would have been OK if tutored and shown the map... leaves me speechless.

"I wish I could have told you at the time but all that was put off the record until after the election" says Cameron in the first link I gave above; the Africa story was a bit of icing on the cake that had just come his way that morning.Surely candidates for the position of President or VP should not only give press conferences -- which Palin avoided -- but should undergo formal testing of their knowledge and of their psychological state.

I think Douthat's piece is interesting. . . but wrong, ultimately, about Palin herself. He is right that there is the "meritocratic" myth and the "democratic" myth in American society. Palin, in my view, qualifies as neither. Self-made men and women work very hard--they do the job, they know what they need to know, they do what they need to do. The toughest, smartest, lawyers I knew in practice didn't go to Harvard or Yale. But they knew the law as well or better than the people who went to Harvard or Yale. The problem with Palin is precisely that she isn't self-made--she isn't made at all, as it turns out. Palin's myth is the Cinderella myth --a prince (Bill Kristol) will suddenly discover a beautiful princess and make her queen. She's discovered as the cruise ship makes port in AlaskaAnd there's the problem for democracy and government. My guess is that if Palin were elected, her choosers thought she would be the figure-head--she would be managed, her decisions would be handled by older, greyer, advisors. (As it turns out, she's not so docile).

Lots of people talk about Africa as if it were a single country, but they know better when asked. I, for one, see a big distinction between projecting your fantasies onto someone who traffics in fantasy (aka "Art") like Michael Jackson, and someon who has true power to influence the shape of reality in the form of public policy (the president of the United States). It doesn't matter, ultimately, whether Michael Jackson was psychotic, anorexic, or just something else less extreme but somewhat unusual or bizarre. The extension of his reality over the rest of us was a matter of our voluntary acquiescence (and it ALWAYS amazes me the number of people who don't seem to understand that).Those things do matter for the president and the vice president, because once they are there, we don't have much to say about their imperfections, and we can't just refuse to buy their records or turn off TMZ. Which is also why I think Ross Douthat's column was just silly -- you aren't buying a "symbol" of democracy in action when you elect a president, you are exercising democracy and you are fully justified in vetting someone you have never heard of with special rigor. To overlook the fact that Palin adopted an "in your face" attitude from the moment she spoke at the RN convention is to revise reality -- apparently, like a lot of people, she gives a whole lot better than she takes. If you can't stand the heat, and all that.Someone who quits office doesn't deserve to be elected as anything else -- it's a self-fulfilling judgment on their own credibility and suitability for office.

Cathy--I think there is something to your thesis, but I think the attention for Sarah Palin is less about what she symbolizes or how she embodies projections than about the tabloid-celebrity political culture that has grown around her (and which she has encouraged). Palin's resignation was sudden--and comes on the heels of a public row with David Letterman and her family drama. Her life now gains that curiosity that those of actors and musicians do. The fact that she was a VP candidate is almost beside the point now. Somewhat off topic--I couldn't help but thinking, reading your post, that your description--"[t]hey are no longer individual people they are, almost, collective projection of wishes, regrets, pasts, and future"--seems to me a solid explanation for the wild popularity of Obama.

Cathy--While I would acknowledge that it's unclear exactly what Palin's reasons are for resigning, I think it's a bit harsh to claim that Palin "isnt self-madeshe isnt made at all, as it turns out." I suppose we all have different ideas of what constitutes real accomplishment, but I think any woman who can raise a family of 5 children is made. Any woman who successfully runs for governor of a major state is made. Any woman who is nominated for VP of a major party is made. Any woman who recognizes the preciousness of a child with Down syndrome is made. Any woman who can do all these things is more than made, she's well made.

We disagree about what counts as made--for government.. Successfully running for governor is not in my view, successfully governing. She has proven, with her resignation, that she's not interested in governing. Being chosen for VP for the reasons it appears she was chosen for vice president isn't being made as a leader. It's being made as a symbol. there are many, many people who recognize the preciousness of developmentally disabled children--who are not qualified to run the country.

Matt, that's true--to some extent. But I don't think that Obama has courted it to the same extent Palin has.

I think Obama hasn't courted it to the same extent Palin has, only in the sense that he has courted it to a far, far greater degree and more successfully--into the White House. In your original post, you state, "A large amount of people seem to treat them as living symbols, projecting desires and plans, hopes and fears upon them." I am not sure there is a more accurate description of what Obama supporters (granted, not all of them; I know many were policy-based) have done to Obama. It seems that Obama, more than any politician I can think of, has shrewdly exploited the image of himself as symbol--the New Lincoln, the Embodiment of Change, the Redeemer of the U.S., the Carrier of Hope, the "Cool" Guy Who 'Gets' the Youth and Celebrity Culture. Indeed, the "we are the ones we've been waiting for" rhetoric is about just that kind of symbolic appeal. Obama has self-consciously fashioned himself as America's (if not the world's) political savior. It is no surprise that Che-esque t-shirts and posters have cropped up; for many of his supporters, Obama's policies and substance are largely secondary. It is what he represents, not what he does, that counts for them.

I think there is far more substance to Obama than Palin. I think he has a good character, a good temperament for a politician. I don't think he's a savior --but I do trust his character and temperament--and I don't think she has that. I don't admire her character. But you raise a good, hard, question for me. What's the difference between admiring someone for their character and and admiring them as a symbol?

Cathy--"Successfully running for governor is not in my view, successfully governing."By that reasoning, if I don't think a President is governing successfully, would it be fair to say that he's not self-made, he's not even made at all? I think that would be spiteful. "She has proven, with her resignation, that shes not interested in governing."I believe she's stated that she thinks it's not in the best interests of Alaska that she continue to be governor. I would think that she's still "interested" in being governor and that she didn't resign simply because she lost interest in the job (although if your point is that it's not clear why she resigned and at some point she owes Alaskans more clarity, I agree)."Being chosen for VP for the reasons it appears she was chosen for vice president isnt being made as a leader. Its being made as a symbol."I assume the reason she was chosen for VP was that McCain thought she could help him win the presidency. Given they received 46% of the popular vote when Bush had an approval rating well below 40%, it's not at all clear to me that McCain made a poor choice. I don't know what you refer to when you say she was being made as a symbol, but if you're saying she was only chosen because she's a woman, I think that's mean.Not trying to pick on you, it's just that your statements seem to reflect the contempt that many have for Palin. They don't just disagree with her, they despise her. The people who think the Michael Jackson hoopla is out of control still don't despise him. So why the disgust with Palin? Being inside the academy, my guess is you see it more up close and personal than most of us do. Where do you think it comes from?

Despise is too strong. I don't respect her. I think she is incompetent as a political leader, grandiose, and was picked as a symbol to be manipulated by others. I think she is incoherent--literally, incoherent. The Vanity Fair article confirmed for me my suspicion that she wasn't interested in doing the hard work of learning about the world--she was interested in the glamor of governing. Coherence, stability, knowledge, judiciousness, nuance have always been qualities I prize highly in politicians--men or women. By contrast, the McCain people made it clear they were picking her to appeal to women. I found that utterly patronizing--as if a woman would vote always and only for another woman, with no concern for the common good or the fate of the country if McCain dropped dead. So the choice made me think far less of McCain, whom I had initially thought quite well of, although wasn't voting for. I teach at Notre Dame Law School --many of my colleagues are quite enthusiastic about Palin--for the reasons you are. I think --hope--many people will watch her resignation speech and rethink their approval of her. But on the other hand, I think the Democratic party ought to hope that she is in fact the Republican candidate in 2012..

The thing that Palin does not get is that as a Presidential candidate every word you say will be analyzed to the 10th degree. Many presidents learned this on their way to the Oval office. Jimmy Carter's "lust" statement is a good example. I believe things will change for her if she begins to watch her words. Paradoxically, we want someone who will speak off the cuff and not sound political every time they talk. Her other problem is that she will say dumb things inexplicably. A good press agent or campaign manager usually stops such talk. And we have had plenty of presidents who have said stupid things. Just as we do not understand the Jackson phenomenon despite his irresponsible behavior with children, it may be true that we are sticking it to Palin because she is a woman. I have two concerns. One is that she is being beat up because she is a woman. The second is I hope that those who support her are not doing so only because of her stand on abortion.

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