The XX Factor

Sarah Palin Embarks on New Career as Professional Crank

Emily , I agree with you that Sarah Palin just needs to go away. But I think that it’s oversimplifying the case to say her womanhood explains the fascination with her, though that is part of it. Palin’s political career is almost surely over, but that doesn’t mean she’s going away or that she’s been neutered. I don’t think Palin intends to fill a political hole in the Republican party. This book and book tour incline me to think she instead wants to challenge the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks of the world as America’s Next Top Crazy Right-Wing Nut Pundit. And that will make her way more dangerous than she’d be impotently running for office.

Sarah Palin isn’t a smart person, or a curious person, or a kind person, but she is a master at channeling the hatred and resentment of the folks I like to call the “25 percent-ers”-cranky white people who live in a perpetual state of paranoia, feeling hemmed in by hippies, women’s libbers, and immigrants. And yes, they’re still fighting the culture wars of the ‘60s, an era that Palin herself barely remembers.

Palin plays these fools like a fiddle. She makes them feel superior to people they don’t care to understand , coddles them with sentimental nonsense, flatters their desire to believe that willful ignorance is a virtue, and distracts them from sticky policy questions while feeding their belief that all politics is culture wars. Last year during the election, a neighbor of mine put out an aggressively stupid yard display in support of McCain/Palin, complete with Confederate flags and signs with misspellings like “Mavrik” and “Socialest ,” and while taking that picture, I asked the man who put up the display about his support for McCain. He announced that McCain was all right, but it was Palin for whom he really wanted to vote. It was then that I realized how dangerous this woman really is, and we wave that off at our own peril.