February 9, 2010

Palin’s War

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Let’s face it: appearances are important. Just ask Sarah Palin.

At the first Tea Party Conference last week in Nashville, the former Alaskan governor and beauty queen gave herself — and the Tea Party — a makeover.

Perhaps it was an effort to marry the controversial political movement off to the Republican Party, debutante ball-style. Perhaps it was an effort to supersede the Republican Party altogether. Or perhaps she realized that kicking and screaming, while great for attracting attention, is not necessarily conducive to gaining mainstream support.

But certainly the Tea Party was, as Palin might say, mindin’ its P’s and Q’s.

Conspicuously absent from the conference were several staples of the movement: There were no posters of the President depicted with a Hitler ’stache, no accusations of Obama being a foreign terrorist and no gun-toting protesters.

Oh, and there were no poor people, either.

Tickets just to watch Palin’s keynote address, which she was paid an estimated $100,000 to perform, cost $349 a plate, while tickets to the full conference cost $549.

Reacting to criticism from the “irrelevant lame-stream media” — and from more modest Tea Partiers — that it is contrary to the spirit of the Tea Party to have an exclusive, for-profit conference, Palin promised her speaking fee would be reinvested right back into the cause.

What she meant, of course, is that she would be donating the $100,000 to Sarah PAC, a foundation she set up to raise funds for other Republicans. So far Sarah PAC has spent more than $63,000 buying thousands of copies of Palin’s New York Times bestselling memoir Going Rogue to ship to donators, and another $8,000 for colorful bookmarks.

At least she is doing her part to promote literacy, right?

In a move that can only be described as vintage Palin, the ex-governor mocked the current President for his use of a TelePrompTer when delivering speeches — ignoring that Obama went toe-to-toe with the entire Republican caucus in an unscripted televised debate just last week — while referring later in the night to her own cheat notes literally scrawled on the palm of her hand. They read: “Energy, tax cuts, raise American spirits.”

For those of us raised on The Simpsons, we couldn’t help but be reminded of the time when Homer referred to cheat notes on his palm which read, “Lenny=white, Carl=black.”

If President Barack Obama is Shakespearian in his style and substance, Sarah Palin is Simpsonian in her celebration of ignorance.

Certainly, she has nominated herself the leader of the Simpsonian Nation; the commander-in-chief in the war against thoughtfulness. And while she didn’t come out and announce her intention to take a run at the White House, she sure seemed to like the idea of a Palin 2012 nomination.

A prodigy of truthiness, Palin’s political platform, as outlined in her keynote address, is essentially an assault on intellectualism and rational thinking.

For example, Palin’s economic plan is to eliminate the deficit by lowering taxes (take in less money) and continuing the wars (spend more money).

She stresses that small business is the backbone of America’s recovery, but fails to acknowledge that Obama actually cut taxes for small businesses, as well as for 95 percent of working families.

She accuses Obama of undermining America’s free market principles by planning to raise the taxes on the highest-income Americans to a rate that is about 10 percentage points lower than it was during most of the administration of her spiritual leader, Ronald Reagan.

To put it another way, Palin offers no earthbound solutions to earthly problems.

Her master plan to solve America’s financial woes is to appeal to the Almighty. “It would be wise,” she explains, “to start seeking some divine intervention again in this country.”

Yes, divine intervention in the form of an economist. Jesus Christ in a boardroom with spectacles and a calculator.

Now, it’s one thing for the truly dim and the willfully ignorant people of the Simpsonian Nation to buy into these sorts of fantasies and to wage war on thoughtfulness. They don’t know any better.

But it’s quite another for pseudo-anti-intellectuals like Harvard-educated Bill O’Reilly and Cornell-educated Ann Coulter to encourage these absurdities and to attempt to perpetuate the notion that being smart and sophisticated — as personified by Barack Obama — is somehow un-American.

To find concrete examples of this war on thoughtfulness — this resentment of sophistication — we at Cornell need to look no further than our own backyard. Last year, Cornell law professor William A. Jacobson blogged near-obsessively when he heard Obama’s elitist, downright un-American decision to dress his hamburger with Dijon — Dijon! — mustard.

Real Americans prefer French’s. Except George W. Bush, the quintessential real American, uses Dijon in his deviled eggs recipe.

D’oh.

Cody Gault is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at cgault@cornellsun.com. Stakes Is High appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: Cody Gault