Sunday, January 30, 2011

Finding Their Own Paths

In a quite thorough piece for Salon, historian Glenn W. LaFantasie compares failed half-term Alaska governor Sarah Palin to the Republican Party’s first presidential candidate, John C. Frémont--another blunder-prone, maverick-y, “celebrity as well as a politician” (though Frémont actually did heroic things to earn his celebrity)--and finds the former wanting. But he does identify one clear commonality between the two:
... they are both American originals. They stand out for being different and remarkable. American originals, like Frémont and Palin, always march to a different drum, constantly find themselves in scrapes and controversy, make headlines and great news copy, prefer always to face West (or northwest), and spring up without warning out of the nation’s rich soil, like a rare Jack-in-the-Pulpit in the middle of a dense forest. They amaze us and befuddle us. American originals have left indelible marks on our nation’s fabric; sometimes those marks are stains, sometimes they form intricate, captivating designs. Whether you love or hate her, Sarah Palin--like John C. Frémont--is a true American original.

It’s just a little too easy for progressives to make fun of Palin, dismissing her malapropisms, questioning her intelligence, making fun of her Fargo accent (but, gosh, she does sometimes sound like Margie, the lovable cop in the Coen brothers’ movie), gloating as her popularity tanks in the polls, and predicting that she can’t possibly capture the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. I, for one, am reluctant to write her off. Yet, like Frémont, she frequently is her own worst enemy. Trying to emphasize how much she truly loves the Alaska outdoors, she said on her reality show: "I’d rather be doin’ this than in some dusty old political office. I’d rather be out here being free." If she’s not careful, she just might get her wish.
You can read the full article here.

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