Sarah Palin and Marilyn Monroe in the same breath? Huh? I am, of course, aware that Ms. Palin is enormously popular with many Americans. Well, you know, different strokes for different folks, I suppose... For example, a lot of people, for reasons that are to me utterly inexplicable, think it's a good idea to have pythons and alligators for pets. I -- and most people I know -- think the idea is just appalling.
I can understand, however, that people might associate Palin with something Hollywoodish -- Hollywood, after all, is the world's capital of glitz, shallowness, and fakery -- and I think Maureen Dowd makes an excellent point in her column. But the Hollywood character that Sarah Palin brings to mind is not Monroe, but another legendary blonde: Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen, in Singin' In The Rain). "What's wrong with the way I talk? What's the big idea? Am I dumb or something?"
Another relevant Palinesque Hollywood moment is the Family Guy episode where Lois Griffin runs for mayor (skip to 0:45). In fact, I'm inclined to believe that her handlers are deeply indebted to Seth McFarlane, because, as is obvious from the short clip, there is Palin's -- not to mention Tea Partiers' -- whole message: Blah.
Watching throngs of "middle" Americans throw themselves at the leather-clad, Lear jet- and luxury suite-demanding Palin, the ultimate "corporate-jet conservative," is astounding, especially since it would be difficult to maintain that "middle" America's experience with the powers that she represents has been a luxury jet ride. All they have to show for years of Republican devotion are higher taxes, monstrous deficits, lower wages, poverty, economic meltdown, unemployment, benefit losses, and an overlord class that makes Marie Antoinette look like Mother Theresa. But that hasn't stopped voters from flocking to the right's driveling dames of demagoguery for a ticket to their brave new world, where stupidity is a virtue and ignorance an admission requirement.
Understandably, people are angry; most Democratic voters were expecting more "change" from Obama and the Democrats, in particular that they'd squeeze Wall Street and bankers by the balls, instead of seemingly bending over for these criminals (I won't take the analogy any further). But it's nice to have regulatory agencies now actually allowed to do their jobs; more Americans having health care; the economy, which Republicans managed to trounce into the ground, didn't crash and burn. I'd like to have seen more change, especially in the form of Wall Street thugs joining Madoff in his federal suite, but the bellyaching bimbos of the right would surely hate to see their funding sources behind bars.
How these angry voters believe reelecting the politicians and the powers that created the nation's mess in the first place is going to fix anything is a mystery. The guys you once hired to do maintenance work on your house, who stole your valuables and burned down your house -- why would you rehire them to rebuild it? Even if you don't like everything the current crew is doing and it's taking too long for your liking to rebuild the house -- what makes you think the guys who ruined it in the first place are now going to build for you a sturdy, beautiful dwelling?
Something is fundamentally wrong in the soul of a nation when its people repeatedly are able to reach conclusions that are so detrimental to their own well-being, when in response to complex problems they settle for nonsense and jingoism (insert any of Palin's drivel): "We'll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion...," "we'll take our country back..." (Back from whom/where?) America is now exactly where it's been for the last decades: firmly entrenched in the claws of corporate interests and the super-rich, whose plush existence must be making the robber barons of old spinning in their graves with envy.)
This logic -- or lack of it -- says a lot more about voters than just that they're angry and want "change." Americans no longer debate politics on the basis of facts. They approach information as if they were shopping for cars or clothes, skimming the media landscape for what appeals to them and ignoring the rest. But voters would be wise to do some research before they buy the right's nostalgic drivel about "taking our country back."
Their vision of America may sound like a scene from a Hollywood '50s fantasy, but America under conservative rule preceding liberal reform was anything but attractive. Social insurance and education systems and the regulatory apparatus that protects our health and environment didn't just bounce into existence fully formed. These reforms were the result of decades of thankless work, protesting and bloody fights. What all these advances, that people now take for granted, had in common, however, was conservatives' unwavering opposition.
The America of conservatives' dreams may be their paradise, but for the majority of Americans it's a nasty hellhole. We ignore its history at our peril.