Cracking The Class Ceiling

We’ve lived with the Palin Rules these past two years … the rules being that everything Governor Sarah Palin does is subjected to microscopic scrutiny and interpreted in the worst possible light for her. Yesterday’s nontroversy over Governor Palin’s inflation joke was case in point, as Sheya pointed out.

And just the opposite is true for President Obama.

For instance …

If President Obama wrote two best-selling political memoirs in two years, and conducted two well-received tours for those books … (actually he has written two best-selling books, but not in successive years), he would be praised for being the first serious “author president,” and a man of the people.

When Sarah Palin does it, she’s a diva, a money grubber, and a hypocrite (because everyone in Couricville believes Palin can’t even read books, much less write them).

If President Obama were to allow The Learning Channel into his boyhood home in Hawaii and his mansion in Chicago, and go on to host an entertaining glimpse into the hardscrabble livelihoods and beautiful scenery of his home states, no doubt he would be hailed as a political superstar who has “not forgotten his roots.”

When Sarah Palin does it, she’s an unserious person, only interested in publicity and using her state for her own gain.

We could sit around all day citing examples of the double standards and wonder why a conservative hockey mom and former governor from Alaska is singled out for a media stoning no matter what she does, while a liberal Harvard-educated attorney president receives the red carpet treatment. I don’t have to mention that if Obama were to issue a political map with targeted Congressional districts and use commonplace colloquialisms like “don’t retreat, reload” it would never be misrepresented as an incitement to violence.

What does this say about our society? Our gutless, status-quo-protecting press?

In a day and age when ordinary Americans routinely come out of nowhere to dazzle in reality music competitions and athletic endeavors, are we still living with a “class ceiling” when it comes to running for the the highest office in the land?

At a speech in North Carolina during the 2008 campaign, Governor Palin told an audience that it was nice to be in what she called “Real America” — one of her patented shots across the bow at the political and cultural establishment. She went on to praise the work ethic and patriotism of the everyday folks who “grow our food and fight our wars” among other things.

Call it a Tea Party in utero.

The venom that immediately spewed forth from the far left over that seemingly innocuous stump speech was disproportionate to the supposed crime. Jon Stewart countered Palin’s praise for the little guy with a self-righteous “F*** You.” Two years later drama queen Aaron Sorkin is still piqued by that supposedly divisive “Real America” comment. Appearing on Parker-Spitzer recently, he revealed his unhinged belief that Sarah Palin was personally dissing the patriotism of Sorkin’s father, a proud New Yorker, who served in the Army. (He must have missed the part of every Palin speech that honors military veterans wherever and whenever they served.)

I’m trying to imagine if Barack Obama visited an inner city union hall in say, Oakland, Detroit, Chicago (or Madison, Wisc.), and told the folks gathered there that it was nice to be in what he called “Real America” with everyday working class folks, and went on to praise their work ethic and patriotism, if anyone would bat an eye. Praising an audience is nothing new for politicians.

What is new is that unlike so many politicians, Sarah Palin is actually part of the audience she’s praising. She is not patronizing “Real America” — she is Real America.

And what is Real America? I think the urban elites got it wrong. I don’t believe Sarah Palin was referring to a particular place, but more to a particular class of people. Perhaps the ones who are routinely given the “Joe-The-Plumber” treatment whenever they dare mix it up with their so-called betters. Not to go all Bill Clinton on ya, but consider what the word real really means:

1. Of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things.
2. Not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory : genuine.
3. Occurring or existing in actuality.
4. Of or relating to practical or everyday concerns or activities.
5. Existing as a physical entity and having properties that deviate from an ideal, law, or standard.
6. Having objective independent existence.

Any one of those definitions of “real” could be applied to Sarah Palin, her cultural constituency, and her policy views. Indeed, in the working class “real” world she inhabits, most people aren’t terribly impressed by fancy words, fat resumés, or Ivy League degrees. In Alaska, those niceties alone won’t help you survive the bitter winter, fend off a bear attack, or balance the budget. Chopping wood, mastering a fire arm, and developing natural resources will, however.

Compared to the pallid world of words inhabited by Obama, Sorkin and Stewart, Sarah Palin truly does live in a different America. The only question is whether “real” Americans will embrace one of their own to lead them or continue to defer governance to the red-carpet elites.

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I'm a mother of three, and devoted Palin blogger.

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