The Rape of Sarah Palin

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[The following is an email to Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum.] 

From: mrcromer <mrcromer>

To: Mdaum <Mdaum@latimesXXXX>

Subject: The Rape of Sarah Palin

Date: Sun, Apr 17, 2011 6:08 pm

Hi Meghan,

Your joining the intellectual rape of Sarah Palin this morning, while offered as a belated mea culpa to your dinner party compadres for not jumping in on their ritual gangbang defilement of her sooner, was indeed an informative read for many more of us, though surely not in the manner you intended.

I suppose I should front-load the rest of my missive here with a disclosure that I am neither a Republican nor a conservative tea-partier, but rather a career journalist in Southern California, including contributing stints at the Times back in the 1990s, a freelance tenure at the LA Weekly that stretches over 17 years and have contributed to The Nation, Details, Bikini and many other major publications around the country. Politically I was an active Democrat for 25 years (including groundwork for Sen. Alan Cranston’s 1986 campaign and plenty of progressive street activism) before finally leaving the party in 2006 for the more comfortable environs of ‘decline to state.’ I voted for Nader in the last three presidential elections, though I cast my ballot for Kucinich in the 2004 primary and Hillary in 2008’s run-up.

So in the event you are inclined to dismiss my critique as a reflexive counterpunch from a lockstep Palin supporter, you’d be sadly mistaken.

But your column this morning did ignite something in me: at least the desire to slide in front of my Mac and offer you some of your own vintage, writer to writer.

Though you have undoubtedly already received many kudos from your fellow travelers who surely lapped up the more toxic elements of your attack—especially the pure ugliness of your repeated back-handed references to Sarah’s son Trig who has Downs Syndrome; i.e. “She is handicapped…” and “…treat Palin as a special-needs case…” and “…we’re punching shamefully below our [intellectual] weight,” etc., all as a means to suggest that she is actually genetically flawed, developmentally disabled, or that pejorative I am sure you were oh-so-tempted to call her: ‘a retard.’ I bet that would have felt good, huh Meghan? Just let it out.

Your column’s 110-proof vitriol, however distilled for a refined Pasadena palate, served as a reminder to many more readers that much of the media’s abject hatred for Sarah Palin knows no bounds. None whatsoever. And this is reflected as you make the case in support of the question the headline of your column raises—”Why Sarah Palin doesn’t get what she deserves.” There’s an unsettling, perhaps even ominous undercurrent to that question—what it is that you really think Palin deserves—given that your stated premise that she and her “machine” has somehow marginalized her media critics into a box is so much happy horse shit it’s laughable.

Perhaps your suggestion that Sarah hasn’t gotten what you think she deserves is a winking tip-of-the-hat to those that are best described as the Ted Bundy-wing of Sarah haters.

When it comes to someone like Dana Milbank’s obsessive contempt of Palin, it is clear there is likely a far darker and more personal wellspring from which his misogyny flows like so much glowing magma; perhaps a college girl who ignored or spurned his advances way back when. The same goes for enraged metrosexuals like Keith Olbermann and Howard Fineman, who sound more like Sarah lost their number every time they talk about her.

On the other hand, I think your column hews to the more common genus of Palin-hater.

As you point out, Campbell Brown, Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson all made at least pro forma efforts to keep their boiling contempt of Sarah limited to things like, say, Gibson literally looking over his glasses and down his nose at her, with his index finger positioned at his temple for the requisite tapping that signaled like Morse code his outrage with not so much her answers as her very existence on the American political stage. Like them, you end up crying victim in the ensuing blowback, claiming Sarah is so, well, worthless, that she confronts the media with little more than a choice of “oppressor” or “enabler.”

That’s a laugh, one that you tried to keep up throughout your column, but it was goof of diminishing returns and had flatlined by the time you ended your column with it.

What the country expected and Palin deserved were honest encounters and assessments of her positions, ideology, career arc and life narrative; etc., one counterweighted to the same sort of fair scrutiny that should have been leveled at Barack Obama. Instead, Palin was ridiculed for virtually every utterance, no matter how inconsequential, all while Obama’s past associations (by way of example) were journalistically whitewashed no matter how potentially damning. Thus after spending 20 years feeding at the theological trough of Jeremiah Wright, Obama was able to simply offer “I never heard him say any of those things” and for most of the media the matter was considered officially closed. While Palin faced scrutiny on everything from Supreme Court decisions to basic geography, Obama was able to recast himself in the ultimate American political makeover—a moderate “post-racial” candidate—while his media cortege nodded in solemn agreement; a pattern of systematic complicity across the Fourth Estate that Hillary Clinton had to suffer through first.

By November 4th, 2008, Obama had essentially become the Jayson Blair of American politics; a beaming beneficiary of the media establishment’s intrinsic white liberal guilt that shamelessly promoted him in a pseudo-mentoring program that was more an act of political reparation than an actual endorsement of his accomplishments and abilities, one that conveniently validated their own ideological sensibilities at the expense of journalistic integrity.

But while you tried to outline some demarcation between yourself and those “foaming at the mouth partisans” that populate cable TV and the blogosphere, in the fundamentals of your attack on Palin today there was little if any difference to be found: I think ultimately you despise Sarah for her unabashed embrace of the white working and middle classes and their values. Though the Left insisted that criticisms of Obama’s tenure as a Chicago “community organizer” were little more than racist dog whistles to the unwashed, easily frightened white masses, the media ‘elite’ were merely projecting their own coded attacks on Palin that could be found in their sneering dismissals of Sarah as a “small town, rural mayor” from Alaska—a truly transparent attack on her whiteness. I shudder to think what would have been written about her had Palin hailed from Mississippi (though I imagine it would have involved dressing Sarah in Klan robes and jokes about Trig being the product of a family reunion.)

This can’t be too surprising, of course, given that Democrats nationally haven’t won a majority of the white vote in presidential elections since LBJ in 1964, a half-century bleed-out the mighty coalition that FDR had built. Thus the party and its cohort in the media indulge something of a schizophrenic dance with white America, at once leery of antagonizing them too consistently all while harboring a high-voltage resentment of them that rarely abates. Watching the Democratic candidate on the stump in majority white swing states every four years is like watching a divorced couple in an awkward slow dance, caught in that minefield of emotions between fond memories and lingering betrayal.

Sarah Palin became the marquee name (and vibrant, gorgeous visage) of a political movement that is speaking more directly and openly to an increasingly disenfranchised white America that has buffeted by sweeping demographic and cultural changes in which it has had no voice and battered by economic losses that has pushed it deeper into a sense of isolation and anger. It is a growing powder keg with existential implications for the nation, as Sen. Jim Webb among others has tried to point out.

That Sarah speaks the language of ‘hockey moms’ and ‘NASCAR dads’ and unapologetically reflects and defends their values and beliefs and hopes—or as you describe it, “[bringing] out the worst in people”—marked her not so much for a vigorous public vetting by the media, but rather resulted in the brutal, ongoing public rape of her human dignity, her intelligence, her values and ultimately, as your column demonstrated today, even the back-handed savaging of her genetic composition (along with her offspring) for apparently being below the acceptable standards of the Columbia University crowd. (Ah, the rich irony of it all, given the philosophical underpinnings of your devaluation of Palin’s DNA would have almost certainly brought a smile of satisfaction to Reinhard Heydrich, not to mention the students at Pitzer College that I watched in 2008 publicly denounce Palin as “a retard” with as much unflinching, clear-eyed confidence in their cause as Bull Connor and his club-wielding boys demonstrated as they drawled ‘Nigra!’ during their Alabama heyday.)

While you seem disappointed that you remained more of a spectator to the Rape of Sarah Palin over these past two years rather than an early participant to it, don’t be too hard on yourself, there was quite a crowd around her and I am sure they heard your cheers. And at any rate, you certainly jumped in with savage gusto this morning, which I am sure will result in many toasts at salons across town this week.

So enjoy. Salud!

But at the end of the day, Meghan, I must say your column’s most potent though unintended accomplishment was to again highlight the radical polarization that is continuing apace throughout America; offering in stark relief the unmitigated hatred that much of the media now so deeply harbors for working white America and the candidates that embrace it. The media’s revulsion of Palin, as epitomized in your column, now passes as something as a membership card, the participation in her public rape a professional rite of passage to be recalled with pride in years to come, probably while teaching a class somewhere.

But the one-eye-over-your-shoulder watch you keep on Palin’s poll numbers betray your fear of her larger constituency, and I think rightly so.

Truly grim days for the nation lie ahead if the frenzied assault on Palin continues to be the media’s template for reporting and critically assessing candidates that speak for the majority in this country. While you clearly are hoping your column today was your contribution to Palin’s political obituary, rest assured it is much more likely merely a passage in the preface of what may soon well be some very dark chapters in America.

Cheers,

Mark Cromer