What’s a superhero without super-villains? Barack Obama and the Democrats were first to the finish line with the first member of Generation X elected president.
But as a previously (and possibly once-again) conservative-leaning generation, the politicians who came of age during the Reagan Revolution are starting to emerge as foils to the new President.
We’re talking about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, born in 1971, who has been tapped to deliver the opposition party response to the President’s address to Congress on Tuesday. We’re talking about the “hyper-ambitious” Representative from Virginia, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, born in 1963 and said to revere both hyper-partisan Newt Gingrich and über-leader Winston Churchill.
And of course, there’s the 1964-born Governor Sarah Palin, whose cringe-worthy appearances we’ve been (blessedly) able to ignore since the end of the campaign.
(Disclosure: The Obama vs. Bizarro Obama superhero idea wasn’t mine. Slate’s Christopher Beam had it in an article about new GOP National Chairman Michael Steele. That works for me, but Lex Luthor needed his fellow masterminds in the Legion of Doom, even if Luthor was the villains’ acknowledged superior. Of course, this torpedoes my generational argument somewhat — Steele is a late-Boomer born in 1958 — shoo! Generation Jones™ commentariat — but does this work for you? No? Move along. Move along.)
With Obama carrying the mantle for Democrats born after 1960, he’ll need to both work with and occasionally battle these three Gen X rising stars from the GOP, who, like the President, have ascended to their leadership posts with diverse backgrounds — an Indian-American governor, the only Jewish Republican in the House, and the GOP’s first you-betcha’ing female VP nominee.
It’s somewhat worrisome, though, that the Democrats, at least in Congress, have no apparent Gen X sidekicks for the President. And according to my math, there’s only three Democratic Gen X governors, none of whom are household names: Chet Culver (born 1966) of Iowa, Brad Henry (born 1963) of Oklahoma, and Tommy Carcetti, er, Martin O’Malley (born 1963) of Maryland.
A good sense of humor, good sport, what else can you say? I may find her politics hateful and hate-inducing, and she certainly didn’t recite anything edgy on Saturday Night Live (well, what did you expect from a politician from either side of the aisle?), but Gov. Palin can spark a crowd like no one since, well, Sen. Obama. If her politics weren’t so awful — it’s nearly unbelievable (or is it anymore?) that she said she was happy to see the “pro-America” part of the country, as if the rest of us are anti-American? — you’d wish her political future well. In fact, The Root had an interesting article postulating an Obama-Palin ticket — placing the two Gen X candidates together, representing the changing political landscape of the country.
If Palin can cut down on the hate-promoting rallies and culture war-inducing rhetoric (which beget more hate) and instead stick strictly to her political views and to policy (however much I may diagree), then I can see her someday as a viable and worthy foil for the Democrats and a smart and inspiring leader for the next generation of conservatives.
But for now, her positions represent the politics of divisiveness, ignorance and hate. And unfortunately, the hate-rhetoric can carry a politician a long way. I hope, for my generation’s sake (if not for the GOP’s) that she soon departs from that path and instead she grows up and into the conservative values from the likes of William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan and not those of our current anti-intellectual president and his moloch, Karl Rove.
We’re deep into a unique level and type of hate in this country. No, of course it is no where near the level of hatred spewed centuries upon centuries onto people who simply looked different or believed in a different God than other people.
No, this is not that level or even type of hate. This is the hatred of bullies. This is the hatred of the uncivil. This is the hate of road rage, of the kids who cut into the lunch line and dared you to call the hall monitor, of entitled people embittered twice over because of the failures of the system and the failures of themselves. This is the hatred of the bloggers (guilty) and especially of the commenters, the hatred that would drive a mother to perpetrate a vicious hoax and bully her daughter’s one-time friend into suicide.
It’s a hatred McCain and especially Sarah Palin seem to have no trouble trading in.
I’ve been impressed with Sarah Palin’s rhetoric, at least when presenting a scripted speech. She more or less held her own in her debate with Joe Biden, essentially making up for her flubs and utter lack of knowledge in her two major broacdcast interviews. While a fresh perspective can make up for a lack of experience, it cannot make up for a lack of understanding.
That said, why would you want this person next-in-line for the Presidency and force your children to grow up — in 2008, still! — where this is acceptable and encouraged?
At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, “Sit down, boy.”
(Full article at Washington Post)
It’s one thing to shoot the messenger, as Palin has shown that’s about the only thing she’s adept at (in addition to her admittedly good rhetorical skills on the stand). It’s another to incite hatred.