On Palin

by digby

I haven't the time right now to weigh in in detail on the Todd Purdham article about Sarah Palin in Vanity Fair, although it is a fascinating, if frustrating, piece. But I will say that I think Ed Kilgore gets to the real question that wasn't asked and he answers it correctly:

Purdham never gets around to examining in any detail why the Conservative Base loves her so. That's a strange omission, particularly since the whole piece begins with Palin's speech earlier this year at an Indiana Right-to-Life event--significantly, her first public appearance outside Alaska in 2009.

In all the hype and buzz about Palin when she first joined the ticket, and all the silly talk about her potential appeal to Hillary Clinton supporters, the ecstatic reaction to her choice on the Cultural Right didn't get much attention. She wasn't an "unknown" or a "fresh face" to those folks. They knew her not only as a truly hard-line anti-abortionist, but as a politician who had uniquely "walked the walk" by carrying a pregnancy to term despite knowing the child would have a severe disability. And all the personality traits she later exhibited--the folksiness, the abrasive partisanship, the hostility towards the "media" and "elites," the resentment of the establishment Republicans who tried to "manage" her, and the constant complaints of persecution--almost perfectly embodied the world-view, and the hopes and fears, of the grassroots Cultural Right. (This was particularly and understandably true of women, who have always played an outsized role in grassroots conservative activism.) Sarah Palin was the projection of these activists onto the national political scene, and exhibited the defiant pride and ill-disguised vulnerability that they would have felt in the same place.

This base of support for Palin--maybe not that large, but very passionate, and very powerful in places like the Iowa Republican Caucuses--isn't going to abandon her just because the Serious People in the GOP laugh her off in favor of blow-dried flip-flopping pols like Mitt Romney or blandly "electable" figures like Tim Pawlenty. To her supporters, mockery is like nectar. And that's why Sarah Palin isn't going to go away as a national political figure unless it is by her own choice, or that of the people of her own state.

She's got that Nixon Orthogonian thing going on. And it's more potent than ever in this environment of epic elite failure. I wouldn't assume that she, of all the Republican freakshow, won't be the one who survives. It's highly unlikely that she can transcend that passionate base and actually become president, thank goodness, but she could certainly be the one the party chooses. She is one of them through and through.