Why Palin might win

I’m guessing Barack Obama feels pretty good about his re-election prospects about now. While his poll numbers are not great—Gallup says 46 percent of U.S. adults approve of his performance and 45 percent disapprove[1]—judging by reaction to the possibility, however remote, that Texas Governor Rick Perry, who last gained national attention by threatening to secede from the Union, might run, it would seem the Republican field is in considerable disarray.[2]

But the economy sucks, and if the “shellacking” Democrats received in the 2010 elections is any indication,[3] Republicans may well overcome their overreach with the Ryan Medicare plan,[4] particularly, I suspect, if they run an anti-establishment candidate.

We are by no means out of the woods economically.[5] Fears of yet another housing meltdown,[6] endless high unemployment, and an absolute insensitivity of the elite to these problems[7] does not bode well for any establishment candidate in either the Democratic (more accurately described as wannabe-Republican) or Republican factions.

Cue Sarah Palin, whom even Roger Ailes warned against making the Gabrielle Giffords shooting about her, but did so anyway.[8] Palin’s weaknesses are legion. Probably the most serious is that she resigned before completing her term as governor of Alaska, even after having lost her bid to be Vice President on the John McCain ticket in 2008.[9]

"I may be broke, but I'm not flat busted."
Photo published on the Huffington Post, attributed to her family, apparently via the Associated Press.
But she has a strength which I think most pundits underestimate: she looks how working class white males want her to look and she says what they want her to say. She does not in any way challenge a white male hegemony, which particularly in the working class, has been threatened by the export of well-paying factory jobs that has decimated their traditional role as providers for their families. Women whose financial prospects are worse than men’s,[10] in Palin’s scheme, remain pliant, barefoot, and pregnant, as Faye Ginsburg explained,

support[ing] the linking of female sexuality to pregnancy, marriage, childrearing and homemaking. When a woman can safely and legally choose to terminate a pregnancy because she does not want to be a mother, the insistent motivation to connect female sexual activity to this cultural chain of events is undone.[11]

Palin’s gaffes are mind-numbing. That she might be president in 2013 speaks to the possibility of an electorate so disenchanted with experts who have answers for every question except for how they will survive that they might as well elect an idiot. It’s awfully early to be making forecasts, but right now, this is what I’m guessing will happen.

  1. [1]Gallup, “Obama Job Approval,” May 26, 2011,
  2. [2]Chris Cillizza, “Will Rick Perry run for president in 2012?” Washington Post, May 23, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/will-rick-perry-run-for-president-in-2012/2011/05/23/AF4CRz9G_blog.html
  3. [3]CNN, “Obama blames economy for Democratic ‘shellacking’,” November 3, 2010, http://articles.cnn.com/2010-11-03/politics/election.obama_1_president-barack-obama-majorities-in-both-chambers-republicans?_s=PM:POLITICS
  4. [4]Huma Khan, “Will Medicare Debate Cost Republicans a New York Congressional Seat?” ABC News, May 12, 2011, http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/medicare-debate-cost-republicans-york-26-congressional-seat/story?id=13582468; Natasha Lennard, “Paul Ryan dons shirtsleeves, pushes back,” Salon, May 25, 2011, http://www.salon.com/news/budget_showdown/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2011/05/25/paul_ryan_medicare_fight; The Week, “Democrat Kathy Hochul’s upset victory in NY-26: 5 theories,” May 25, 2011, http://theweek.com/article/index/215610/democrat-kathy-hochuls-upset-victory-in-ny-26-5-theories
  5. [5]The American Dream, “Why Is The Economy So Bad?” May 28, 2011, http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/why-is-the-economy-so-bad
  6. [6]Dan Weil, “Bond Expert Gundlach: Housing Collapse to Spark Second Financial Meltdown,” MoneyNews.com, May 26, 2011, http://www.moneynews.com/Headline/Bond-Expert-Gundlach-Housing/2011/05/26/id/397891
  7. [7]Dave Lindorff, “Jarring Disconnect: If Joblessness and Hopelessness Undermine Democracy in the Middle East, What about Here at Home?” This Can’t Be Happening, May 28, 2011, http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/637
  8. [8]Glynnis MacNicol, “Fox Boss Ailes Told Sarah Palin To Keep Quiet After Giffords Shooting…Instead She Came Out With ‘Blood Libel’,” Business Insider, March 14, 2011, http://www.businessinsider.com/sarah-palin-roger-ailes-giffords-2011-3
  9. [9]Associated Press, “Sarah Palin resigns amid uncertain future,” MSNBC, July 26, 2009, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32154668/ns/politics-more_politics/t/sarah-palin-resigns-amid-uncertain-future/
  10. [10]Susan Faludi, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, 15th Anniversary ed. (New York: Three Rivers, 2006).
  11. [11]Faye Ginsburg, “The Body Politic,” in Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality, Carole S. Vance, ed. (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984), 185.

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