Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sharp as a Pistol

And once you dance with me,
You'll fall in love, you see.
Bristol Stomp will make you,
Mine all mine.

Even a dance show can illustrate the way of things. Since Sarah Palin’s national debut at the Republican Convention in September 2008, the unreasoned invective that swelled overnight into a torrent, (“I hate her because she’s stupid” is not reasoned criticism) has never weakened to this day. All of the anger isn’t partisan, either, though most of it is. A certain segment of the population are going to hate beautiful, likeable women out of sheer jealousy. Kathleen Parker, for example, and, Peggy Noonan, and others I won’t mention.

The flood grew quickly, and quickly widened to include Palin’s family, like her son, Trig, then her husband, Todd, and their daughters Willow and Bristol. I can’t help but recall that portent in Revelation of the mother and child who are hated so much by the dragon that he pours “water like a river out of his mouth” to sweep her and her offspring away, except that “the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon had poured from his mouth.” (Rev. 12.16).

Now I’m well aware that the Woman in the Bible, whoever she is, is not Sarah Palin. But keep in mind that once the dragon in that story was thwarted he went off, angry as ever, enraged as ever, “to make war on the rest of her offspring,” and I definitely consider Sarah to be one of the Woman’s offspring. As for the dragon, I just figure he’s the identical fiend he always is. That’s why I don’t want to be on his side.

Now Bristol Palin threatens to win the trophy on Dancing With the Stars. This potentiality has a lot of people upset, convinced it’s unfair when Bristol’s clearly not the best dancer. Bristol returns week after week in spite of her low scores by virtue of a landslide of votes from viewers. If she were to win now the show might be reduced to a mere popularity contest, instead of just a popularity contest combined with a dance competition, which is exactly what DWTS is.

Personally, I hope Bristol doesn’t win. She’s already proved herself. And if she wins now it will just turn into Bush v Gore all over again, and I’d rather not go through that a second time. I’d rather not hear Shirley Jackson Lee’s and Keith Olbermann’s ingenious explanations of how Jennifer Grey was denied the trophy because of race.

The issue isn’t Bristol’s dancing, but her popularity. And because of who Bristol is, that means the issue is the popularity of her mother. The unexpectedly large number of people voting for Bristol contradicts the going mood of the gallery of bubble-wrapped Palin-haters who really believed that Palin was being booed that night in the audience at DWTS, and that all of America was booing her, too. Like the old story of Pauline Kael, flabbergasted by Nixon’s landslide in 1972 when she didn’t know a single person who voted for him, the average Palin-hater has existed until now in safe ignorance there’s anyone around who can stand her.

There are certain kinds of collective hate that only feel good when it’s unanimous. Once have a gainsayer in the crowd and you start feeling shameful and small, and next thing you know you’re questioning the rightness of loathing someone just for saying, “refudiate,” while still driving around with that “Mean People Suck” bumper sticker on your Subaru.

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