The last time I paid much attention to Sarah Palin was in July, when she announced that she would resign as governor of Alaska. Her speech was mesmerizing. Not, as you might hope from a former candidate for vice president of the United States, for the skill of her rhetoric or substance of her ideas, but rather, because it was as odd, disjointed and disorganized as the rest of her media appearances.
Rubin, in her piece, attempts to parse the reasons.
While Palin enjoys support from some prominent Jewish conservatives, it is not an exaggeration to say that, more so than any other major political figure in recent memory (with the possible exception of Patrick J. Buchanan), she rubs Jews the wrong way.
Palin rubs a lot of people the wrong way.
Rubin singles out Jewish women as a category, tossing off our dislike of Palin (as if it were any different than any other woman’s) as being part of that reductive category of female-ness, “emotional:”
Naomi Wolf, the feminist writer, sputtered that Palin was the “FrankenBarbie of the Rove-Cheney cabal,” articulating the mixture of contempt and fear that seemed to grip many Jewish women. The disdain is palpable and largely emotional.
Actually, Ms. Rubin, here is why this Jewish woman does not like Palin: She is dumb. How silly of me to want my elected officials to be intelligent and capable of articulating their ideas in ways that make sense.
What is it about Palin that so grates on American Jews? Rarely does one hear an American Jew reply, “I don’t like her position on health care” or “I’m pro–gay marriage and she isn’t.” This is not just about differences over issues or party labels. There is something more fundamental at play.
Sadly, Ms. Rubin, it was usually impossible even to get to the issues with Palin because when it came to her responses to simple questions, we heard the howling winds of an empty tundra rather than anything meaningful.
Rubin goes on to again generalize, but this time Jews, and not just Jewish women:
[Palin], like Bush, soft-pedaled her intellectual interests—and, more important, suggested that her policy views and problem-solving abilities were derived not from what she had learned in books but rather from character and instinct. For those for whom an Ivy League education is the essential calling card for leadership of any sort, an elite-bashing populist with a journalism degree from the University of Idaho who lacks both a mellifluous grasp of policy and a self-consciously erudite vocabulary was always going to be a hard sell.
Rubin derides “the successful effort to paint her as a know-nothing lightweight with a stunted vocabulary.” Sorry, Ms. Rubin, the only person holding the paintbrush to her reputation was Palin herself. At least Rubin accurately describes one of Palin’s interviews with Katie Couric, calling it “disastrous.”
During the course of it, Palin appeared miffed when asked to name her favorite news publications. Whether this was evidence of her lack of interest in reading and current events or whether it was a display of intellectual modesty (she would later say she refused to answer out of irritation), Jews found such reticence hard to fathom and quickly came to believe it was not reticence but utter ignorance. When rumors circulated that she had “banned books” (she had not), that image became intensified, as pro-Obama media outlets suggested ominously that she was not simply lacking in sophisticated book learning but was literally anti-book.
Silly us for wanting a vice president who reads.
For more of Palin’s tidbits, check out this website.
Speaking not just for Jewish women but for women on both sides of the political aisle, Ms. Rubin, let me tell you how hungry we are for a female candidate for President or Vice President who is up to the job, and how disappointing it was to see a female vice presidential candidate put forward who was exceedingly well-packaged and well-coiffed, but horrendously incapable of answering the most basic questions.
Was she the best-qualified woman the Republican party could find to put forward? Why don’t you write a piece examining that?
Of course, if your idea of a good time is to spend time with those who like Palin and share Rubin’s idealogical perspective, you can always join her, John Podhoretz and other speakers on Commentary’s upcoming “Conference of Ideas” cruise to Alaska.
Wave hello to Palin for me while you’re there. And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even be able to see Russia!