In the aftermath of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's announcement last weekend that she plans to resign from office, pundits have been scrambling for an explanation. Personally, the whole matter has left me feeling a little like I did at the end of seventh grade, after a year spent passively watching bullies ostracize and pick on one of the only black girls in the school: sick, and embarrassed for all of us.
Whatever your passionate opinions, whatever your disagreements with her views, this woman and her family were savaged in a manner that went beyond any reasonable standard. She is a public figure, but her husband and children are not. That did not stop certain members of the media and blogosphere from ridiculing them in vicious fashion, even long after the election was decided. President Obama, to his credit, spoke out against it. Would that more of his supporters had shown the same level of decency.
Instead, we got ridiculing of Mrs. Palin's appearance, of her decades-old participation in a beauty pageant, and even of her children, which was especially cruel. Self-proclaimed "feminists" made a blood sport of hating and dehumanizing her. Personally, I do not agree with all of Governor Palin's views, such as her absolutist pro-life position. But such vicious hatred, on the part of self-described feminists, was an embarrassment.
The Governor's announcement, in which she offered her reasons for leaving her office, has, not surprisingly, been greeted with near-universal skepticism. But I am inclined to believe what she says. Essentially, she has been slapped with a slew of ethics complaints that have been dismissed as baseless. But, due to the nature of Alaska's laws, her family has been required to pay legal bills to the tune of $500,000 to defend her good name.
The Palins are not wealthy, and they want to be able to afford college tuition for their children. It would appear the Governor cannot afford to hold a modestly paid position while facing such ongoing harassment from her political enemies without potentially facing personal bankruptcy. Not to mention that, although these complaints have thus far been found baseless, the time and energy required to respond to them is apparently reducing her effectiveness as Governor.
Then there is the matter of how the media treated Mrs. Palin's family, especially her children. How sad that normal people may no longer wish to run for or hold public office due to this horrific sort of exposure, including abuse of their children.
It's true that American politics have often been spirited, at times even vicious. During the Civil War, for instance, President Lincoln was burned in effigy in the South, and during the campaign of 1828, newspapers favorable to the National Republican Party falsely accused Democrat Andrew Jackson of having beaten up another man to steal his wife, to cite just a couple examples from history. But am I alone in feeling that ridicule of a disabled infant, and rape threats, represent a new low? How intensely cruel and hypocritical this behavior was, often coming from "feminists" and "progressives" who probably don't realize how many conservatives they are helping to create, as anyone with a moral compass is likely to figure that, if that's how liberals argue, maybe they'll consider conservative ideas, thanks.
To a lesser extent, established media have embarrassed themselves and lost credibility. Since when do established feminists, for instance, dispatch with one of our nation's only female Governors by disparaging her looks ("Caribou Barbie").
Last month, the Governor's husband Todd erupted angrily over David Letterman's lewd sexual joke about one of the Palin's teenage daughters. Clearly, Mr. Palin was angry. Placing one's marriage ahead of one's career ambitions may be an unthinkable in the realm of "progressive" media, but perhaps that is what Mrs. Palin is doing.
For the record, the media did not cease its savage dehumanization after the election. In the August issue of Vanity Fair magazine, a lengthy article by Todd S. Purdum entitled (italics added) "It Came from Wasilla" cites the opinions of several unnamed Alaskans that Governor Palin suffers from "narcissistic personality disorder." Perhaps Mr. Purdum, who in a stunning feat of journalistic objectivity also asserts of Governor Palin that "no political principle or personal relationship is more sacred than her own ambition," should be reminded of a psychological mechanism known as projection.
Is it possible her critics are projecting onto Governor Palin some of their own grasping motives?
Now that their scapegoat has simply wandered off, they are left to analyze her departure through the prism of themselves. And they don't know what to think.
Hence, perhaps, they're theorizing that this hyper-ambitious, moronic-yet-calculating, misogynist Lady Macbeth must be hiding something evil.