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Sarah Palin: Re-igniting the culture wars, Part II
By Aladdin Elaasar — “The hypocrisy is rank. Bristol, Palin’s daughter “made the decision on her own to keep the baby,” McCain’s aides told the press. That’s not a choice pregnant teens would have under the proposed administration of her mother and McCain. As for her claims to oppose corruption and pork – according to the Alaska press, she supported that costly bridge to “nowhere” for years, before finally canceling it as Governor. And experience? Again, according to Alaskan papers, during Palin’s tenure as Mayor, most of the actual work of running small Wasilla was turned over to an administrator after Palin’s precipitous firings gave rise to a recall campaign. Mayor Palin even tried to fire City librarian after she demurred at a proposal to censor the library’s collection”, Gadette says.
“Will the media see the substance or only the “Ms. Congeniality”? We’ll find out soon enough. But it’s likely she’ll get plenty of jabs in before then if her first performance on the national stage is anything to go by. Palin can dig at Obama more effectively than her running mate. (Does anyone not hear the racism in her allusion to John McCain’s as the “sort of name you find on small town war memorials.”) And if you’re counting on her getting a grilling on the campaign trail, don’t hold your breath. Reading from the Karen Hughes/Karl Rove campaign playbook, they McCain team will keep Palin from answering questions (as they did a young Texas Governor called Bush.)”
So will the public that’s been fed a fact-free diet of John McCain the “maverick,” see through Palin, the fresh-faced feminist? Don’t bet on it.
Columnist Robert Kuttner of AlterNet finds Palin’s Speech Tactic: is simply Substituting Cultural Symbols for Actual Policies who sees that in this strategy, every Democratic misstep is inflated into a cultural parable, while gaping holes in the Republican story are neatly sidestepped.
While thers are asking the big question: Are Americans Weary of the Culture Wars?
Columnist Andy Kroll explains the “Phenomenon of Culture Wars: “So now we understand what John McCain’s handlers were up to: Intensify the culture wars, and once again use cultural symbols as substitutes for policies. In particular, use Hockey Mom Sarah Palin to change the subject from why regular Americans are hurting in the pocketbook to why Palin is a more regular American than Barack Obama. Will the Democrats change it back? Whether they do will decide the election.”
We learned once again how Republicans keep managing to turn seemingly weak candidates and weaker economic circumstances into instruments of political victory:
They [republicans] are superb at creating master narratives that make Democrats, liberals, and “the media” into the cultural enemies of ordinary people, adds Kroll.
Those who view this as an overly narrow and outmoded Rovian tactic of throwing raw (moose) meat at the conservative base miss the point. The strategy of energizing the base is leveraged into using cultural symbols to reach out to everyone else who is frustrated
with how little they get back from the economy and the government–not just hard core right-to-life women in Missouri and Oklahoma, but downwardly mobile white men in Ohio and Pennsylvania, explains Kroll .
In this strategy, every little Democratic misstep is inflated into a cultural parable, while gaping holes in the Republican story are neatly sidestepped. The master narrative of Obama as an unqualified elitist will be reinforced again and again this fall, as it was last night with Palin lines like these: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.” “I might add that in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening. We prefer candidates who don’t talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.” (If you think that Palin came up with these zingers herself, I have a bridge-to-nowhere to sell you.) Kroll adds.
Republicans consistently play this kind of hardball. And, as effective as the Democratic convention was, it did not quite have as consistent a master narrative. Only at peak moments did the Democrats rise the necessary shaming of McCain, as in John Kerry’s superbly indignant speech, Biden’s talk of the kitchen-table frustrations of regular Americans, and a few of Obama’s better lines.
If the Republican master strategists can use Sarah Palin as Everywoman, just as they successfully used George W. Bush as the aw-shucks champion of regular people, they could turn the trick with a trained monkey Kroll contends, .
Will they succeed yet again? That depends on two factors.
“One is whether Sarah Palin’s faux-feminist machismo, Alaska style, is just a little too weird for the lower-48. Can she and her handlers succeed in using purely symbolic appeals to camouflage her actual record and the plain contradictions in her story? Only time will tell. As Tim Egan, who has covered Alaska for the Times, has observed, she may be the only vice presidential candidate since Teddy Roosevelt who “knows how to field dress a moose,” in Fred Thompson’s memorable words (note to SNL, how about a moose in a party dress), but how many other Americans have actually dressed a moose-or care? “
About the Author
Aladdin Elaasar is a syndicated columnist and lecturer. Some of his writings are: “Iraq, the State and Terrorism”; where he predicted the downfall of former Dictator Saddam Hussein. Elaasar also wrote: Silent Victims: The plight of Arabs and Muslims in Post 9/11 America. And “The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Volatile Mid East” and “Barracuda: The Unauthorized Biography of Sarah Palin: What You Do Not Know and Should Know about America’s Potential Vice President”.Elaasar has been a frequent commentator on Middle Eastern affairs on several local American TV and Radio networks and media and cultural consultant since 1992. Email him at: email@example.com
Praise for “Barracuda”
Aladdin Elaasar’s “Barracuda” is a must-read for all American voters and those following American elections and politics. The result of this year’s election will not only impact the USA, but many nations around the globe.
In this timely book, Aladdin Elaasar investigates: Who is the real Sarah Palin? Palin’s Political Records; Palin’s connections with Big Business and Big Oil. Is Sarah Palin’ an Extremist? Is she a Zombie Republican or a Right Wing Feminist? How Populist is Sarah Palin? Can Sarah Palin’s faux-feminist machismo and her handlers succeed in using purely symbolic appeals and Culture Wars to camouflage her actual record and the plain contradictions in her story? Will the Slogan of the McCain/Palin Administration- in their quest for oil- be: Drill, Baby, Drill?
Praise for the Last Pharaoh
“Peeling back layer after complex layer of Egyptian intrigue, culture and politics, Aladdin de-mystifies Egypt without tarnishing her almost mystical status as the pinnacle of Arabian culture, and the bedrock of human civilization. The book is stunning in its revelations of Mubarak’s stranglehold on every aspect of life in this glorious, long suffering nation. Connecting one mysterious dot to the next, Aladdin teases the reader from chapter to chapter as he lucidly explains the details of Egypt’s worst kept secrets of all…the ‘secret’ of Mubarak’s power and how he plans to rule from his own royal crypt. “
– Professor Tate Miller, expert on International Negotiations; Conflict Management; Government Relations and Diplomacy; Cross-cultural Communication, and Senior Lecturer at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
The Last Pharaoh should be indispensable to anyone –
“Combining an uncanny sense of clarity and understatement, Aladdin Elaasar weaves Egypt’s historical grandeur with an unnerving cascade of political intrigue that reveals a side of Mubarak the world cannot long ignore. In one fell swoop, my admiration for Egypt is both strengthened, and the source of my unease revealed, as the author sheds light on the darkness of Egyptian politics that could one day turn catastrophic. With so much at stake, the west is slowly coming to grips with a new reality; a reality which no single book or author could possibly address. But the views expressed by Aladdin Elaasar in The Last Pharaoh should be indispensable to anyone hoping to understand Egypt’s role, not only the Middle East, but the potential for Mubarak’s Egypt to impact the destiny of global events.”
– Professor Tate Miller, Assistant Dean for Academic Programs and Senior Lecturer of International Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies
Why everyone has to read this book? –
“Let me give you the four scariest words I can’t pronounce in Arabic: Egypt after Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak’s “emergency rule” dictatorship is deep into its third decade, making him one of Egypt’s most durable pharaohs. His succession plan is clear: Son Gamal tries to replicate Beijing’s model of economic reform, forestalling political reform… “
– Thomas P. M. Barnett, Esquire columnist and author of “The Country to Watch: Egypt”
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at TheArabDailyNews.com, TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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