Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sarah Palin as Mad Hatter

Palin In a recent Slate article Dahlia Lithwick argues that far from being the cause of her downfall, the media actually was Sarah Palin's greatest strength: in their efforts to create coherent arguments, they were constantly challenged to make sense of her seemingly nonsensical pronouncements. This was nowhere more evident in her resignation speech. In the course of Dahlia's argument she compares Sarah Palin to the Mad Hatter.

I find it interesting that people often describe Sarah Palin as a Mad Hatter because of her incoherent arguments. The interesting thing is that in Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter is an amusing and entertaining character. (If there is any doubt, look who's playing him in the upcoming movie version). We are amused by the fictional character in part because there is some wit displayed at the tea party, but I think it's also because the Mad Hatter is so out of the ordinary. Our political system, for good or for bad, tends to value the ordinary: people who stick to the scripts, use the same talking points, and give the sense of order and coherence. No party has made more formidable use of the ordinary than the GOP. In contrast, Palin often did none of this, and so just like the Mad Hatter, people found the unusualness entertaining. It also enabled her to voice opinions that were just false or unjustified in a way that some supporters probably wish they could. And she could always pass the fault on to the media. So, if there is any mystery about Sarah Palin's popularity, it seems wise to look to Alice. Although, when it comes to the idea of Palin actually governing something, one feels that Alice was probably right, "I think you might do something better with the time . . ." It seems that Palin finally agrees.

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