Drinking the Haterade

Audience participation time!

One of the things that I’ve noticed about the Bush administration is the sheer vitriolic volume of personal hatred directed toward the man.  Now to be fair, let’s just say I was never terribly charitable toward William Jefferson Clinton.  Like a lot of other conservatives, I didn’t have much use for a serial philanderer, perjurer, and alleged rapist in the White House (and that’s aside from all the policy differences).  But in eight years, I honestly never said “I hate Bill Clinton,” or “I hate Hillary Clinton.”  I didn’t like his behavior, but I didn’t hate the man for it.

Well, after 2000, it’s not hard to see examples of visceral, personal hatred toward George W. Bush.  Look at protests around the country–heck, around the world–and you see pictures of Bush-as-Hitler, Bush as a chimp, Bush as vampire.  There’ve been movies made about his assassination, and art exhibits with pictures of guns being held to his head.  Successful multi-millionaire rock frontmen (Zack de la Rocha, from Rage Against the Machine But Please Keep Buying Our Albums) have stood in front of thousands and screamed that Bush and Dick Cheney should be “tried as war criminals and hanged.” 

Well, isn’t that speeeecial.  And yet, at the same time, it’s almost understandable.  After all, Bush, being the President, is the focal point of the rage felt by the Left over a lot of policies it’s very angry with (the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, the economy, any number of other things both real and imagined).  He’s going to be the lightning rod.  He’s The Man, so he has to wear the big boy clothes and take the heat, and personally, whatever his other failings–and they’re legion, believe me–I think he’s done a generally classy job in handling it.

So, that having been said, here is my question to the multitudes assembled…

…why did Sarah Palin immediately start catching the exact same hate?

From the second she showed up in St. Paul and gave that great acceptance speech, it started.  The slanders that Trig Palin was actually her daughter’s baby (conceived with Todd Palin, in some of the more lurid accounts).  Proven lies about rape kits and book bannings in Wasilla, spread all over the media.  Feminist authors sneering that “she’s not really a woman.”  Then it got really ugly.  Somebody hung a Palin effigy, by the neck, from his house in West Hollywood.  Obama supporters photographed themselves on Facebook proudly wearing unbleeped “SARAH IS A CUNT” T-shirts.  A “revolutionary knitter” stitched a Palin sweater proclaiming “CUNTY FIRST.”  And everywhere, you could hear people saying the same thing:  “I hate Sarah Palin.”

Why?  What has a 44-year-old mother of five, Governor of Alaska done to provoke that level of personal hatred among so many?  Is it the fact she’s conservative?  So?  Why would leftists start slinging around that most vile of female insults, the “c-word,” at her just because she’s a conservative woman?  Was it simply a knee-jerk reaction because some liberals saw that she was wildly popular among the conservative base and the polls started to move back McCain’s way after he picked her?

I have never seen a politician–regardless of party or position–get treated like this.  Obama didn’t get treated like this–other than the usual Stormfront-style white-power morons, nobody on the right brought up his race because we knew it was irrelevant.  Biden didn’t get treated like this, and why should he?  Heck, McCain didn’t get treated like this; with very few exceptions, the Left treated him with a great deal of respect, certainly Obama himself did.  But Sarah Palin?  The Vice-Presidential nominee of a campaign that was a longshot from the word “go,” got a great big cooler of Haterade dumped on her head the second she walked into the Xcel Center, and it hasn’t stopped dripping since.

Help me out here, gang.  I am legitimately confuzzled about this.


10 Responses to “Drinking the Haterade”

  1. officergleason Says:

    I can tell you why: Palin, like Bush and Cheney before her, have done everything they can to call people like me–Liberal, agnostic, educated–“not American.” They have said I hate values, troops, babies, God, America, Jesus, Christmas and apple pie. Seriously. I love Apple Pie. I like Jesus, I love America. I wonder about God. I love babies. I support our friggin’ troops. Why?

    Because those are my values. They are big enough to accept the fact that there are differences in opinion, but there is a basic level of respect that all people should be afforded.

    I don’t want to get into discussing Rape Kits and Book Banning. At this point, there are other fish to fry. Specifically this: If the people in power dismiss half the country and say that they “hate america” it takes a person with more self control than I to say, “I hate you too.”

    The person that did rise above it got elected. I find that promising and inspiring.

    All that being said, I do suggest trying to read another blog (a real politics blog, not my sham of one) with a decidedly more liberal bent to try and understand where we’re coming from. In fact, we can even have a contest. Whomever sticks with reading the other’s suggested blog longer wins a prize. That prize can be: An Mp3 of being serenaded by the loser, a WoW Game Card, a pack of gum or some other fantastic thing. You up for it?

  2. Lauren Says:

    Before I address the Palin-hatred, I do want to note my objection to one of your points.

    There was a lot of race-related ugliness directed at Obama from the right. If you’re going to say “Well, all that was just a bunch of crazy people talking, that’s not how all conservatives think” then you have to allow the left to say the same about those who are trashing Palin as well. It’s not fair to say that we should ignore the attacks on Obama because the people who made them were a small minority of bigots, but then turn around and paint everyone on the left with a broad brush of woman-hating.

    Does that make sense?

    I don’t think you mean to say that attacks on Obama were okay because of that, but it’s how the statement reads. Not like you’re condoning instances of it, exactly, but downplaying it. People on the right absolutely brought up his race. They brought up his middle name, too, trying to suggest that his parents looked 40 years into the future with their Ouija board and picked “Hussein” to honor Saddam. How many of the sites listed on your blogroll have either regular contributors or regular commenters who refuse to refer to him as anything other than “B. Hussein Obama” in a snide fashion? He was indeed hanged in effigy at the University of Kentucky.

    What I’m saying is, you can’t say that ugliness on the left is wrong, but on the right, it can be explained away.

    It’s wrong on both sides. It doesn’t matter whether the hate was directed at a black man or a white woman, or from which side of the political fence the disgusting remarks were made. They were wrong. They were hateful, hurtful and reprehensible, and it is for people like you and me to recognize it and say “STOP. ENOUGH,” no matter who it is we’re saying it to.

    The feminist declaring that Palin’s not really a woman was loudly denounced by other feminists, but sadly, the denoucing wasn’t as “newsworthy” as the original statement, so it got buried. There is a website I read regularly, Shakesville, that you might want to check out. The blogmistress is definitely on the left side of the fence. She had legitimate, policy-related reasons that she didn’t like Sarah Palin. But she also has a series called The Sarah Palin Sexism Watch in which she calls out the people throughout the political spectrum for the awful statements they made. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, asshole radio hosts, you name it. Like the tagline at the end of the links says, they “defend Sarah Palin against misogynist smears not because we endorse her or her politics, but because that’s how feminism works.

    It’s wrong, it’s ugly, and I don’t like it. I seem to remember getting on a certain moose’s case for calling her “naughty-librarian hot” once upon a time.

    I disagree with her on many of the issues. I disagree with things she did and said on the campaign trail. But never, never will I condone or judge lightly the smears leveled against her because she’s a woman.

  3. Lewis Says:

    OK, let me address Lauren’s points first–I’ll have to come back to Marty’s later.

    I never said, nor would I say, that anywhere near a majority of people on the Left “hated” Sarah Palin. But a significant–or at least, a loud–group did. And they did it in some of the most vulgar, nasty, personal ways possible, as your links to Shakesville documented. (Heck, I thought I’d heard it all and I hadn’t even seen half of that stuff before.) What’s more, they were mostly so-called “progressives,” the alleged standard-bearers of diversity and equality. THAT’S what I can’t figure out. If you’re “progressive,” yeah, you’re going to dislike Sarah Palin’s stands on most issues, perhaps vehemently. But why take the step from there to “Trig is Bristol’s incest baby” or any of the other sexist insanity she got hit with?

    On to Obama. You brought up the whole “Hussein” thing, and I did miss that. (I also missed the UK effigy…enjoy your expulsion, assholes, I hope you have a fine career burger-flipping.) I was thinking about insults or hatred thrown at him specifically for him being mixed-race, which is narrower than the “Hussein” name issue, and offhand I don’t remember a single one other than that effigy. Remember that the times “Hussein” was used by anybody who even got close to the McCain campaign, McCain personally slapped that person down in the media afterwards, hard. Yeah, there are people on my side of the fence who still bring up “Hussein”…some because they still stupidly think he’s Muslim (come ON, people, give it a rest) and some because the Obama campaign reacted poorly to the use of the name, and they keep using it as a jab. And, admittedly, some because “HAY LETZ CALL HIM HUSSEIN HURR HURR.”

    I don’t think it’s deniable, though, that of the four principals, Sarah Palin, head and shoulders above either of the Presidential candidates (and certainly miles above Joe Biden), caused some subset of America to go totally batshit and start spewing out the most incredible hatred I’ve ever seen against a politician, and that includes George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. And the craziest part? She’s still catching it even after the election, and now it’s from her own side. That’s what I’m trying to grok. What is it about her, specifically, that caused this? Because she’s a conservative woman? Because she’s something of a political “outsider?” Because she energized the conservative base?

    (BTW…it’s good to see feminists standing up for Palin as a person even as they disagree with her politically. IIRC there was something of a dead silence from the “old-school” feminists…the Friedans and the Steinems and the like–as all this unfolded.)

  4. torteya Says:

    I’ll have an actually thought-out response, but right now I’m having trouble with:

    don’t think it’s deniable, though, that of the four principals, Sarah Palin, head and shoulders above either of the Presidential candidates (and certainly miles above Joe Biden), caused some subset of America to go totally batshit and start spewing out the most incredible hatred I’ve ever seen against a politician, and that includes George W. Bush and Bill Clinton

    Perhaps I am just not well informed enough in all the nasty, wrong, unacceptable shit that was said about Palin, but I don’t remember hearing people shouting “Kill her,” “Off with her head,” etc at rallies.

    Please don’t take this to mean that there were not pretty nasty, wrong, unacceptable shit said about her. I know there was, even if I am not well informed as to the extent, frequency and degree of it. I just don’t remember right now anything said at the same level of what I mentioned.

    Or maybe I’m missing the point and you were talking about mean shit said by alleged rational people, which would certainly exclude those nutjobs I’m thinking of. And yes, people perceived as level headed did say (as they always sadly do) pretty hateful, misinformed, nasty crap towards both sides. Is this what you were talking about, and not so much the utterly indefensible nutcases?

    Oh, for the record, this lefty right here can’t wait for Sullivan to find a new cause celebre, find himself dissapointed with the left wing he currently seems to have a crush on, and stop being perceived as being “on my side.” That Trig shit he was pushing was on the same level of ridiculousness as Obama’s fake birth certificate. He’s a petty, egomaniacal dimwit who keeps finding himself turning to the party that happens to be en vogue at the time.

  5. Itanya Blade Says:

    I didn’t like Palin for some simple reasons. I thought she was unqualified. I thought she was frankly as misued by the McCain campaign. And that comment about the “real America” or the “pro-America” parts of America was an instant deal killer for me.

    Marty said it before me… These people have decided because I do not agree with them that I hate America, which is ridiculous. And pig-head and just damn wrong.

  6. Lewis Says:

    OK, a couple quickies here in between doing actual work.

    Pill and Marty: I’ve got a post brewing that talks about what I think conservatives need to do to retool and move forward after 2008, and you both hit on one point in it–the concept of simplistically calling liberals “anti-American.” You MIGHT be considered “anti-America-the-way-I-would-like-to-see-it,” but that’s not anti-American. That’s just policy differences. Now I happen to believe that there ARE people on your side of the political spectrum, way out on the horizon, that are anti-American. But the vast majority aren’t. And a failing of ours on the Right is that we, IMO, are too quick to sling that label around.

    Now I still don’t consider that on the level with what Palin received. The closest parallel I can make to “Palin is a c—” would be if somebody called Barack Obama an n-word. And I never heard of that happening. Not once. I don’t remember anybody on the Right coming close to the sheer level of crassness that Andrew Sullivan or some other commentators plumbed regarding Palin.

    This is what I can’t figure out. There is a certain level of hate that’s going to get slung around during a political campaign, unfortunately. It happens. People get passionate and say stupid things, and afterward, hopefully, they look around and say “oh man, was I a moron.” But I’ve been politically active to one degree or another since 1984, and in those twenty-four years, I have never seen a candidate, Democrat or Republican, left or right, engender the sheer, vicious, personal foaming-mouth hatred that Sarah Palin did.

  7. Jewben Says:

    I have to say that while it can be argued that Sarah Palin drew some pretty severe lines of attack, she was also by FAR the hungriest attack dog of the candidates, so to speak. From her debut at the Convention, where she dismissed Obama’s community service in a fashion that would have drawn VOLCANOES had it been applied to McCain’s military service, to her volatile stump speeches flinging around baseless charges of “socialism” and remaining quiet while members of the crowd screamed death threats and epithets, she lowered the tenor of the 2008 campaign in an unbelievable sense.

    The absolute bottom of the barrel was seizing on the loose association with Bill Ayers to state, publicly and repeatedly, that Obama “pals around with terrorists.” To accuse a United States senator of allegiance with agents of domestic terror, when this country generally identifies terrorism as the #1 organized violent threat in the world, is shockingly irresponsible at best; at worst, it is actively inciting hatred and accusations of treason.

    If she’s covered in mud, it’s not just from slinging it – she jumped down into the pit willingly.

  8. officergleason Says:

    I wrote a longer post on this on Shannon’s Dell…but I guess I hit delete or clicked something (or her dell hates me). First, I have heard the N-bomb dropped as frequently as teh C-Bomb. I don’t think its fair to say Palin has endured more than Barack, nor do I think it is right to say that Barack has been treated fairly. Both people are powerful figures in their own right–and when individuals of a group that does not have the same standing as White Men get to that level of political recognition, trolls of all shapes, sizes and political parties come out and throw crap.

    The evidence of who was hurt more may actually be on the internet–but do you really want to go through the clips and posts to determine who was wrong more? There are no merit badges for being a victim of ignorance.

    As to the second point: If you look to the far left, then I suggest looking to the extreme right. There are Dominionist Christians in this country who want to replace the Constitution with the Bible. Personally, accusing someone of being Anti-American because of a particular religious or political belief smacks of McCarthyism, and I think we should move well beyond that. One’s beliefs do not necessarily make them anti-American. In this country, we have procedures to find individuals guilty of Treason. That is the bar by which anti-Americanism should be judged.

  9. Lewis Says:

    Marty, remember early on, Obama stressed that his family was “off limits?” Know what? They were, and rightfully so–I don’t want to see those two daughters of his get dragged through the mud, they don’t deserve it. Did Sarah Palin get the same courtesy? Not two days after the convention, a massive opposition data dump was released that left her SSN partially un-redacted. Did this ever happen to Obama? Was it ever documented that somebody called Obama a you-know-what? I was pretty active this campaign and I never saw anything about it.

    I’m still trying to see the equivalence between being called “anti-American”–remember, that’s a charge that I said should NOT be leveled at the vast majority of folks on the Left, but a charge that’s thrown around every single election–and a “cunt.”

    Reuben, I don’t see where any of that is mudslinging as much as it was somewhat clumsy attempts at “preaching to the choir” and trying to rev up a conservative base that was decidedly “meh” about John McCain. To a right-wing audience, “community service” of Obama’s type is largely a joke, rightly or wrongly–it’s seen as just a way to get more people onto the government dole and voting Democratic. Remember, at the time, he was claiming that his brief stint as a community organizer plus his time as a candidate was somehow equal to Palin’s years running a small town, and year-and-a-half running a state…a debatable claim on its merits, and hardly mudslinging.

    “Socialism?” Well, he IS on record about “spreading the wealth around” instead of generating more for everybody, that sounds kind of socialistic.

    Death threats? The Secret Service investigated that whole “kill ’em!” incident and found NO evidence that it happened as reported. None.

    Bill Ayers? Oh jeebus, don’t get me started. Bill Ayers and his wife blew up government buildings to spread panic…sounds like a classic definition of “terrorist” to me. He admits it. He’s been photographed standing on an American flag. He’s been quoted as saying that the Weather Underground didn’t do ENOUGH. And this is a guy that helped launch Barack Obama’s political career, and has drifted in and out of his circle ever since.

    “Pals around with terrorists” is a bit strong, and probably was an ill-considered distraction that the McCain campaign didn’t need. But please explain to me how Republican Congressthings could meet Jack Abramoff a couple of times and not know that Abramoff was a scumball and STILL get tagged as “sleazy and corrupt friends of Jack Abramoff” by the media…and yet it was somehow “off limits” or “mudslinging” to bring up Obama’s association with Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, et al.

  10. officergleason Says:

    As for trying to understand the “equivalency” I think you’re misinterpreting my point. People on the left have been attacked repeatedly–and when Palin continues the attacks, they react with words that should not be used for anyone. I tried to explain the anger, not establish equivalency.

    Furthermore, I pointed out that when people who are not white men get into positions that threaten old white men’s power, they are subject to vicious attacks. Palin, as with Obama, has suffered similar attacks.

    We can go through comments on various websites and track the threats, slurs and scary behavior on both sides of the aisle. That is not productive. I am explaining the anger and the comments. I’m not justifying it.

    Remember how angry you were when Mike was commenting on my blog? Imagine that treatment, for eight years, and you begin to see how angry a lot of liberals got. Some of us, myself included, behaved much better than others. I never dropped a c-bomb on Palin, nor did I call her a B. I didn’t dismiss her intelligence because she is a woman–but I did attack her positions, I found her ideas to be reactionary and I was nasty. Like the majority of liberals, I kept it clean.

    If you get the idea that liberals were out to get her, it could be because you’re listening to more right wingers than liberals. The problem may be your source.

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