Here are lessons of the Sarah Palin experience, for any aspiring politicianwho shares her background and her sex. Your children will go through the tabloid wringer. Your religion will be mocked and misrepresented. Your political record will be distorted, to better parody your family and your faith. (And no, gentle reader, Palin did not insist on abstinence-only sex education, slash funds for special-needs children or inject creationism into public schools.)
Male commentators will attack you for parading your children. Female commentators will attack you for not staying home with them. You’ll be sneered at for how you talk and how many colleges you attended. You’ll endure gibes about your “slutty” looks and your “white trash concupiscence,” while a prominent female academic declares that your “greatest hypocrisy” is the “pretense” that you’re a woman. And eight months after the election, the professionals who pressed you into the service of a gimmicky, dreary, idea-free campaign will still be blaming you for their defeat.
All of this had something to do with ordinary partisan politics. But it had everything to do with Palin’s gender and her social class.
Sarah Palin is beloved by millions because her rise suggested, however temporarily, that the old American aphorism about how anyone can grow up to be president might actually be true.
But her unhappy sojourn on the national stage has had a different moral: Don’t even think about it.
Poor, poor Douthat. America rejected Sarah Palin a long time ago, preferring to vote for anyone but a Republican, but Douthat still feels the sting, for Palin was Douthat and Douthat was Palin. Palin was the only candidate in recent history that genuinely seemed to believe in the same things as Douthat. She is a fundamentalist and as long as she seemed to have political power, Douthat felt he had political power. She proved that you could believe in magic and witches and still become a national player. She proved that you could enforce your own religious beliefs on women and best of all--actually force them to carry their child to term, whether they wanted to or not. We won't know if Bristol wanted an abortion until the inevitable Mommy Dearest book comes out, but there is no question that Palin's career would be affected, if not ruined, if she let her daughter choose for herself and her daughter chose to have an abortion.
He was so close. So close to seeing his beliefs celebrated instead of mocked in the public sphere. So close to control, to power, to teaching those Pill-popping sluts to pay for their lack of godliness. Now it's gone, all gone. Sob!