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By now, Americans have grown accustomed to Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio saying (and doing) what most hard-line conservatives are only thinking.  So when Sheriff Joe tweeted that he gave Sarah Palin a pair of pink underwear, right-wing eyebrows weren't the only things being raised.  Of course, this episode is just the latest to highlight the enduring appeal of Sarah Palin to right-wing America.  In a nutshell (and with apologies to decency and decorum), conservative women want to be her; conservative men want to do her.

As it turns out, Arpaio's Palin PantyGate isn't quite what it seems.  As CBS News noted, "Arpaio is famous for making his inmates wear pink underwear and using pink handcuffs."  Still, Americans could be forgiven for assuming otherwise.  After all, Sarah Palin's Republican admirers have made no secret about either their drooling reactions to her looks or their sexist attitudes towards the women of the Democratic Party.

That was mad abundantly clear in August, when the Republican Party of Minnesota's fifty-sixth Senate district debuted a web video proclaiming the GOP's women are "hotter" than their Democratic counterparts:

It leads with images of prominent Republicans such as Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, and Michele Bachmann; the soundtrack, naturally, is the Tom Jones chestnut, "She's a Lady."

Then, there's an abrupt switch to the other side of the aisle. The theme is subtly conveyed with the strains of the Baha Men hit "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Photos of Michelle Obama, Janet Reno, Rosie O'Donnell and Hillary Clinton flash on the screen.

That brief chapter is just one in a long-running irony.  While her defenders and Palin herself claim the half-term Alaska governor is the victim of sexism on the part of the "lamestream" media, the men and women of the conservative chattering classes never fail to put her supposed sex appeal front and center.

Just one day after Rush Limbaugh proclaimed, "I love the women's movement - especially when walking behind it," Fox News host Chris Wallace in February added his voice to the long list of Sarah Palin's willing objectifiers:

IMUS: When you interview her, will she be sitting on your lap? (LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: One can only hope. (LAUGHTER)

Sadly for Wallace, he'll have to get in line behind National Review editor Rich Lowry.

Last November, Lowry greeted the appearance of Palin's book by basking in her "roguish charm":

It's September 2008 all over again. All the same players are lining up to put a good hate on Sarah Palin. She's like an isotope designed to course throughout our politics and culture, lighting up press bias, self-congratulatory liberalism, Christianity-hating secularism, and intellectual condescension wherever they are found.

The contempt of her enemies only increases the ardor of her fans.

And none is more adoring, it turns out, than Rich Lowry.

As you may recall, in October 2008 Lowry reported on his near orgasmic bliss watching Sarah Palin's debate performance against Joe Biden.  The impact of a vice presidential candidate winking at him left a breathless Lowry weak at the knees:

I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America.

As Lowry suspected, he's not alone.  At the Weekly Standard, right-wing worker-bee Matthew Continettti has dedicated himself to protecting his queen.  In his new tome, The Persecution of Sarah Palin, Continetti defends the "young, attractive, and pro-life conservative mom who connected with ordinary Americans" from the left's campaign of "distortion, exaggeration, fabrication, vilification, ridicule, and abuse."  Disgusted that Palin on the one hand is branded a "true Stepford candidate," Continetti argues on the other:

If you had gone into a chemical laboratory to concoct a politician whose background and manner would sound liberal alarms, you probably would have come up with someone like Sarah Palin.

To be sure, given that opportunity the usual suspects among Palin's bathwater drinkers would be sure to manufacture a right-wing American version of Princess Diana.  Rush Limbaugh, who in 1993 famously called the young Chelsea Clinton a "dog," blasted the likes of NBC's Andrea Mitchell for simply observing Sarah Palin is "not deeply read. She hasn't thought through a lot of these policies, and you have to do that."  As he groused in July:

Okay, and I hear this from a lot of people on our side, too. Primarily women, primarily women.  And I think many of them have been in Washington too long.  "Lord knows she's attractive."  That's the rub.  That's the rub.  Well, it's not the whole rub, but it's part of what grates on 'em.  Trust me, my friends.  Trust me.  When your poster chick is Barbara Mikulski, you get the drift.  When your poster chick is Nancy Pelosi. I don't care, pick one.

(To illustrate his point, Limbaugh features side-by-side photos of Sarah Palin and Democratic Rep. Barbara Mikulski.)

Palin's apparent sex appeal isn't limited to the men of the right.  Ann Coulter, too, made clear that if loving Palin is wrong, she doesn't want to be Right:

The peculiarly venomous hatred of Palin is driven by women of the left and their whipped consorts. All that needs to happen is for a feminist to overhear two Nation readers saying, "I hate to admit it, but Palin is kind of hot" and ...


Democrats are a party of women, and nothing drives them off their gourds like a beautiful Christian conservative. (How much money has that other beautiful born-again, Carrie Prejean, been forced to spend on lawyers to respond to liberal hysteria?)

(Unsurprisingly, the public statements of Sarah Palin and Carrie Prejean are virtually indistinguishable.)

No doubt, the Republican Party's leaders past and present share Limbaugh and Coulter's adolescent assessment of the beauty of the right and the beasts of the left.  After all, in 1998, Palin's running mate John McCain followed in Limbaugh's footsteps, joking, "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno."  (McCain later apologized to Hillary and Bill Clinton, though not to Janet Reno).  For his part, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in May 2009 laughed off Time magazine's selection of Sarah Palin as one of America's most influential people:

"But was that the issue on the most beautiful people or the most influential people?"

That July, Politico asked leading figures from the left and right "Are women in politics still routinely demeaned in the news media, or is it all about Sarah Palin?"  (Grover Norquist argued that "Sarah Palin is not being attacked by the establishment media because she is a woman," but because she's a "possible leader of Reagan Republicanism.")  Earlier this year, former Bush press secretary and new Obama appointee Dana Perino left no doubt where she stood on the question:

"There is a special burden for women in politics. And we saw that even for Hillary Clinton. And especially if you're an attractive woman and a conservative woman, then that burden is even greater."

As for Palin herself, she made clear in March 2008 that she had no patience for the whining of women candidates - like Hillary Clinton:

"Fair or unfair, I think she does herself a disservice to even mention it...When I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or, you know, maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, man, that doesn't do us any good. Women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country. I don't think it's, it bodes well for her -- a statement like that...It bothers me a little bit hearing her bring that attention to herself on that level."

(In that case, Sarah Palin the on-again/off-again feminist might want to speak to Delaware Senate candidate and ardent masturbation foe Christine O'Donnell, who told CBN this week, "I'm not whining but there certainly is a double standard especially when it comes to conservative woman.")

But far from producing crippling cognitive dissonance among her heavy breathing supporters, Palin's transparent hypocrisy and stunning contradictions only deepen her hold over them.  For the likes of Rich Lowry, no Palin transgression could wipe the starbursts from his eyes.  No Palin failure could ever lead to a political divorce.  Instead, the louder the objective criticism of grows, the more the right-wing objectification of her becomes.

But that won't make her President of the United States.  Given Palin's sky-high disapproval ratings, that would require either divine intervention or, in John Heilemann's telling this week, a Michael Bloomberg third party candidacy in 2012.

But for all the speculation about her White House prospects, it was Republican strategist Michael Murphy who months ago summed up Sarah Palin's hold on the conservative mind and its media mouthpieces alike:

"If Sarah Palin looked like Golda Meir, would we even be talking about her today?"

** Crossposted at Perrspectives **

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 12:24 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Anyone that thinks Michelle Bachmann.. (8+ / 0-)
    ...Sarah "Sister Grifter" Palin or Michelle Malkin are super-sexy is beyond redemption...I'm surprised they didn't throw in the ghoulish-looking FemiNazi Ann Coulter and Christine "Won't Touch My Own Body" O'Donnell, too.

    Someone needs to remind them of the old saying that Satan's (Lucifer's) best disguise is as an angel of light...

    "Ridicule may lawfully be employed where reason has no hope of success." -7.75/-6.05

    by QuestionAuthority on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 12:40:13 PM PDT

  •  Photo of Christine O'Donnell campaigning (6+ / 0-)


    We shall overcome, someday. Yes we can.

    by Sam Wise Gingy on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 12:44:58 PM PDT

  •  Sarah Palin (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MikeTheLiberal, kyril, DRo, Siri

    Guns/Babies/Jesus/ and Pink Panties.

    by misterbluesky on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 12:49:47 PM PDT

  •  But if you criticize her, she calls it "sexist" (9+ / 0-)

    I get confused sometimes... so as long as you're straight Republican male lusting after her, it is fine to treat her like a sex object.

    But any legitimate left wing criticism of her is clearly sexist because we're (obviously) afraid of a strong conservative Republican woman.

    God, she's got this victimhood thing down flat, doesn't she?

    Once social change begins,it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read...You cannot oppress people who are not afraid anymore.

    by terjeanderson on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 12:53:29 PM PDT

    •  You nailed it (7+ / 0-)

      Victimhood doesn't really become the Republicans, but they keep playing it anyway.

      Where did a bunch of rich white folks get the idea that they're so bad off?

      "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

      by MikeTheLiberal on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 12:59:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A lot of people haven't grasped (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terjeanderson, Naniboujou

      (and this includes, sadly, a lot of would-be liberal feminists, including some here - but it's most common among conservatives and reactionaries) that sexism is still sexist when it's ostensibly complimentary to women. To many people, only negative comments and criticism can come off as sexist.

      •  I'm a long-time liberal feminist.... (4+ / 0-)

        and I think that it's not just women who use their "charm" to get what they want.

        Look at Ronald Reagan. And, God help us, George W. Bush.

        Any time I see a good-looking, smiling, charming politician telling me exactly what he or she thinks I want to hear--with no regard to the facts--I see the reptile beneath the veneer.

        Gandhi had charm. Golda Meir had charm.  But theirs came from strength, character, a sense of humor and true humility. Not from capped teeth and a willingness to tell people appealing lies.

        Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses. He took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil!
        Golda Meir  

        Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

        by Sirenus on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 03:14:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I understand that McCain met with her for an hour (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean, janl1776

    ...and was so smitten that he didn't even insist on in-depth vetting.

    Which lost him the Presidency. I know a number of Republicans who refused to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket because the idea of someone as happily ignorant and manipulative as Palin becoming president scared the hell out of them.

    Palin is a right-wing man's wet dream. She's sexy, against abortion, lets her man play with expensive toys, loves guns and has prom queen charm.

    Of course, charm is not exclusively a female thing. Reagan had it and used it; so did Obama. But with Obama, there was solid intelligence, experience and vision to back it up.

    Palin? The charm just masks the selfishness, stupidity and greed beneath.

    Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

    by Sirenus on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 03:06:30 PM PDT

  •  what did Donny Deutch say about her? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Thanks for a little spice. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean, DRo

    Just when I censor myself, and think, "Oh, I better not post that.."I am pleasantly surprised to read, "Conservative men want to do her,"and I am glad, Avenging Angel that you speak your mind.  

  •  Excellently sourced smackdown. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 08:50:16 PM PDT

  •  I support Obama (0+ / 0-)

    I don't have time to join the Sarah Palin mock parade,adding flames to their fire, and reinforcing the Republican base.
     Newtons law also works in politics.
    Unfortunately,thanks to all the Palin and company ,free publicity,I expect a record number of Republicans voting next week.

  •  well they don't want these women (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Naniboujou, Calamity Jean, DRo

    for their brains!

  •  Well done! (0+ / 0-)

    I am of the belief that Sarah gets far too much attention. However the truth-fullness of this made it enjoyable.  Thanks.

  •  Sharron Angle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    varro, Calamity Jean

    sure gets a lot of attention, and she's no hottie. Neither is Meg Whitman or Carly Fiorina.
    Palin's looks are her shield, sword, and stock in trade, but her deeper connection to her followers, is her ignorance. She is just like the folks who are like her. They don't have any understanding of how we got to this state of affairs, but they don't like it a bit.
    Like Sarah, they can't answer what Supreme Court decisions of the past were important. They don't understand economics, the political process or the wider world in general. They are as thin skinned about their ignorance as she is.

    Palin's training in public speaking was learned on the beauty contest circuit, where the main objective is to keep speaking and never look bewildered or confused, even when they are. It's the classic old adage: If you can't dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bullshit. Carrie Prejean learned the same techniques from the same circumstances.

    Take away the come-hither training both women got from the speech, and the speech won't have the same effect. It's much more than just good looks alone, but attractiveness never hurts.

    A great diary, AA!

    I'm old enough that, for me, the sexiest part of any female is her brain. I already know about all that other stuff.

    Right many are called, and damn few are chosen.

    by Idaho07 on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 07:44:40 AM PDT

    •  Also, she was a newscaster... (0+ / 0-)

      ...and remember the scenes from "Anchorman" when the staffers screwed with Ron Burgundy's teleprompter?

      Every time Sarah Palin speaks off the cuff is a "Boom Goes the Dynamite" moment.  (Student sportscaster who filled in and very poorly ad-libbed his lines when the teleprompter went out - but managed to put his catchphrase in!)

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 12:50:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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