Sunday, October 26, 2008

Palin as "redneck woman" and rural voters as discerning enough to reject her (though not necessarily on that basis)

Both are aspects of Judith Warner's column in today's New York Times that caught my eye.

Regarding the first, Warner recounts something Palin tells country musician Gretchen Wilson: "Someone caled me a 'redneck woman' once, and you know what I said back? 'Why, thank you.'" Warner offers this comment on the exchange, suggesting that Palin has a blind spot with regard to "what it takes for real women to make progress in seizing power.":

I guess Palin has never seen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman” music video, which, in addition to images of an attractive Wilson driving a variety of fuel-inefficient vehicles, features a couple of stripper-styled babes dancing in cages, one of which is made of chains.
Warner's criticism strikes me as more balanced than many we've seen since Palin burst onto the national political stage because, like a few other elite NYT columnists (here and here), Warner gives Palin her due (perhaps more than that) with respect to how she communicates, suggesting Palin is on par with "her crowd pleasing male peers."

She is a woman who is able to not only get by but also be quickly promoted on the kinds of attributes that were once the exclusive province of unremarkable white men: rapport, the right looks or connections, an easy sort of familiarity.
Warner quotes Colin Powell regarding what she calls some of Palin's other "admirable" and "enviable" qualities: her ambition and her ability to connect with an audience, as well as her "looks, her grace, and her charm." I think Warner (along with Powell) hits the nail right on the proverbial head. Even with these admirable qualities, Palin is really just ordinary, and we don't have to criticize her verbal blunders and folksiness in order to figure out why she is not qualified to be vice president. (See my earlier comments here).

Assuming that rural and small-town voters are the "real America" as Palin and the Republicans have asserted repeatedly in recent months (a debatable proposition, of course), Warner also gives them their due. She suggests that they, too, want more in a political leader than Palin has to offer.

Time --and election returns--will reveal whether Warner's right about that . . .

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