September 26, 2008
Sarah Palin and other sexy Puritans
I’ve avoided commenting Sarah Palin’s good looks because, frankly, I’ve been a bit repulsed by how often, and explicit, some fantasizing journalists have been. Yeah, she’s hot, but have you heard her speak?
Slate, though, has a fascinating article today that makes this topic worthy of dicussion. It’s about how Palin is the archetype for the sexy Puritan, a formidable foe of the left in the culture wars. Other pious honeys include Britney Spears before mental breakdown and “The View’s” Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Here’s how these warriors are purportedly used:
The right has understood for a long time that harsh social messages seem a lot more palatable coming from an attractive young woman than a glowering old man. What’s most striking about Palin thus far is her reluctance to engage in explicit cultural warfare, given some of the extreme positions she’s taken in the past. Her recent public statements on homosexuality and global warming are more conciliatory than one might have expected, designed to reassure socially moderate swing voters. And she’s in no position to pontificate on the benefits of abstinence-only sex education. For now, her role in the culture war is mainly symbolic. Millions of Americans clearly see her as “one of us”—a devout, working-class, “Bible-believing” Christian whose values and opinions and way of speaking reflect their own—and their exhilaration at having a kindred spirit on the GOP ticket has given the McCain campaign a jolt of populist energy.
In the weeks remaining before Nov. 4, the Obama campaign faces the challenging job of restoring clarity to the election, making people look at Palin and see not just a plucky, surprisingly hot, pro-life mom who made her way from the PTA to the governor’s office, but a “Young Earth” creationist who opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest and thinks a natural-gas pipeline is an expression of God’s will. In the meantime, though, she remains a perfect emblem for a stealth culture war: a sexy librarian who would be more than happy to ban a few books.