223. Progress (VI)
The Alaskan valkyrie, Sarah Palin, represents a missed opportunity, for she was really America’s Thatcher—albeit of a more homespun sort. President Palin would have been a Trump before Trump; she was, after all, the small-town mayor who maintained America could be run just like an Alaskan town, just as Trump hoped to run America as a private business. “Sarah, honey, it’s so much more complicated than that. You need experts.” Natch. It is exactly the same; the nation is a big town—Main Street, USA.
Palin was charged with ignorance, with a failure to keep up with what the media said about the day’s issues: given that the media is usually wrong about the day’s issues, Palin’s ignorance was potent anti-knowledge. As with Trump, Palin inhabited a semi-poetic mode of existence: she told the media that Russia was her next door neighbour; she understood Putin. The media rolled out the same faux commitment to factual accuracy that we saw with Trump and the “fact checkers”: Palin could not see Russia from Wasilla, Alaska—these places are separated by miles and miles of sea and mountainous terrain. A parody presented Palin as so stupid that she claimed to see Russia from her kitchen window; it was another case of gross ignorance, probably connected to her belief in the literal creation of the world in seven days—or, like, whatever.
As with Trump’s vigorously fact-checked statements, Palin spoke in the register of poetic metaphor: Alaska has a similar geography to Russia’s east; it once belonged to Russia; and, indeed, it is the closest place in America to face Russia. Her statement was not ignorant, just metaphorical—as metaphorical as Obama’s promises of “hope” and “change”. As Palin observed some years later, “How’s that hopey-changey thing working out for ya?” She declined to “fact check” Obama; she has an intuitive feel for politics that understands nobody, left or right, is motivated by facts or statistics; perhaps they are moved by the idea of facts and statistics. I can assure you that Sarah Palin knew how to be the popular girl at high school; she knew politics—all politics is a woman’s game in the end.
After Schopenhauer, Palin knows that it is all, at base, a show; even people who pretend to care about statistics and facts are showmen—their show is being the smart and reasonable college professor. The self-described “centrists” are the most unbearable prigs: reactionaries and progressives agree that the white populations of the European countries are in decline—the former abhors this development and the latter applauds it. The centrist neurotically denies it in the name of reason and facts: beware identity politics! But they play their own identity politics: the game of being a nice harmless centrist.
As with Thatcher, Palin hit at the psycho-sexual level: this woman had moose carcasses in her garage; her father had piles of antlers at home. Things happen on the frontier, out in the real America. People just…disappear. Alaska is a big place. “No, we don’t talk to outsiders.” For progressives, supposedly enamoured with “strong women”, this was too real—shades of Manson and nature’s revenge on Hollywood. Palin sails above Rodeo Drive in her Bell JetRanger, her rifle picks off stray homosexuals and the daughters of Azerbaijani used-car salesmen. The bodies are skinned later: waste not, want not.
Palin’s candidacy led to an immediate boon in look-alike “MILF”—“Mother I would like to fuck”—pornography. Eroticism often relies on reversals, especially in decadent societies: women on top, blacks on top, the cuckold, and so on. People are so bored they pinch themselves just to feel something, Schopenhauer strikes again. Thatcher was “the nanny”: the only woman in a conservative masculine world who could administer spankings. For Americans, “the nanny” meant less than “the mom”. As men say to each other all day: “Fuck your mother! Your mom.” “Actually, my mom is going to fuck you until you behave.” What!!?? This is the appeal of Sarah Palin.