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Palin and Folksiness « The Washington Independent

Somewhere after Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s fourth “Gee” in last night’s vice-presidential debate, I lost it. In writing about the presidential campaign, I think I’ve been fair in calling people out when called for and praising people when they deserve to be praised.

But Palin’s performance last night was more than fodder for a “Saturday Night Live” skit. It was an embarrassment to those who come from small towns.

After the debate, many pundits declared that Palin’s style of speaking is authentic, a breath of fresh air, a cadence that plays well in middle America.

Well, gosh darn, golly gee, I come from middle America, went to school with the sons and daughters of farmers, knew people who struggled to go to college. And there’s only one thing I felt about Palin’s “authenticity”–insulted.

Palin is not authentic. She instead is what people who live on the coasts believe to be middle America.

She insulted me in another way.

Palin’s debate performance was a slap in the face of some great people who have made great contributions to the betterment of this country during some of its darkest hours–but who didn’t happen to come from small-town America.

What, for example, would Palin say of Teddy Roosevelt–Sen. John McCain’s supposed hero–and his experience?

Born to great affluence, Roosevelt was a man who suffered great tragedy, disappeared into the Badlands only to emerge as the man who busted up the trusts.

And what would Palin say of Franklin Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, neither of whom suffered through the Great Depression but who inspired a nation to raise itself from the ashes of economic collapse by showing Americans how to reclaim their national spirit and self-worth?

And certainly Palin would have had a field day with Bobby Kennedy, who also came from great wealth but understood and cared for poor people as no politician has since his assassination in June 1968. Would she have mocked his knowledge of the ancient Greek poets? Would she have ridiculed his large home, his father’s wealth?

The truth is, Palin represents something troubling in U.S. politics. In seeking to be the champion of the struggling middle class, she uses her folksiness to discredit and mock the possibility that someone who speaks with intelligence, grace and reason can know what it means to suffer.

I would search for a quotation here, but I suppose that would show my disconnect from the common folks.

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