Saturday, August 13, 2011

Strychnine in the soup?

Sarah Palin, probablement
by Jay Rothermel

In the United States the capitalist ruling class sets a grueling series of life-long tests for those individuals who want to become elected officials. Since these men and women are usually raised in families from the commanding heights of the bourgeoisie, or at least the higher echelons of the petty bourgeoisie, most pass the test. Private school, college, law school, then a run for Congress or state office. Others become professional fixers or problem solvers, "wise men" like Clark Clifford or Richard Holbrooke.

And then there is Sarah Palin.

US politics often thrives on bounders, working class individuals with aptitude who throw their shoulder to the wheel of Wall Street imperialism. Palin is that. Beauty pageants, sports, local TV news, politics, a place of the national ticket in 2008 were the stepping stones on her climb to higher degrees of public notoriety.

But then the tests began. For a while, Palin was the most vilified working class woman in the US, even more so than Nadya Suleman. A public media lynching on The David Letterman Show preceded her resignation as Alaska's governor. TV and book tours rose and fell, and then a bus tour where she seemed to be testing the waters for a run in the 2012 Republican primaries. The bus tour came and went, usually rubbernecking on the attention another candidate or candidate event was getting.

Palin is a powerful avatar for panicked and deeply atomized components of the US petty bourgeoisie. She performs their character as the affronted and injured Crusoe, ready to go it alone but constantly assailed. Because she is of working class origin and plays that up in her campaign to become the éminence grise of the "Teavangelical" cohort in middle class politics, most satire aimed at her is virulently anti-working class as well as anti-Republican. For BHO, she represents the "folks that just don't pay attention." Bourgeois liberals, for instance, were silent about the fact that a porno film depicting Palin was released. Truly the "pornographication" of bourgeois politics personified.

Surely it is doubtful Palin can achieve traction within the ruling circles of the Republican party as anything more than a useful talking head? And not because she enjoys the limelight or has a grasping, bottom-line mentality. Every figure in both ruling class parties in the US shares that mentality to a greater or lesser extent, as do all their supporters and detractors, from MSNBC to Fox News. Rather, it is because, on ruling class terms alone, she is a quitter, having declared "Mission Accomplished" and resigned as governor of Alaska. In US bourgeois politics one can Linkwin or lose, but one cannot quit.


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