I assume it is unnecessary to answer the logically prior question of whether or not they hate Sarah Palin. The level of vitriol flung at her over the past week and a half by critics in every liberal outlet ranging from The New York Times to Air America is particularly awe-inspiring given that this is all the longer they’ve even known her name. Ordinarily, such hatred takes years to cultivate. The force and acceleration of their vehemence virtually demands psychoanalysis. Since this sport is in vogue, I’ll give my diagnostic skills a shot at the trophy.
The natural first reaction of a Palin-hater to this column is to deny the hatred. They will say it’s her politics, her religion, or possibly the whiff of scandal some have managed to ladle upon her. But if they’re honest with themselves, they’ll have to admit three simple facts.
First, the reasons they give aren’t the reasons they hate. If they didn’t have these, they’d manufacture others. There’s an old story about a man asking to borrow his neighbor’s lawn mower and being told, “No, I’m making potato soup.” “What does that have to do with me borrowing your lawn mower?” the incredulous man replies. “Nothing, but if I don’t want to loan you my lawn mower, one excuse is just as good as another.” Likewise, Governor Palin is not hated because of whatever reasons they offer. These are afterthoughts to an animosity which is embarrassed to admit it was born prior to reason. Hence, refuting them will prove futile.
Second, even those who persist in asserting such reasons as their motive will have to admit that all of them put together still can’t justify the disproportionate vigor of their attacks upon her. To use an aging phrase, this is the politics of personal destruction; a nuclear response to what their own arguments admit is a merely conventional threat.
Third, no one can hate this deeply this quickly. Conservatives generally despise certain political figures such as Bill Clinton, Teddy Kennedy and John Paul Stevens. But it’s taken us years, sometimes decades to detest these people. Similarly for liberals, contempt only begins to describe their feelings toward George W. Bush, Rick Santorum, and Antonin Scalia. But, again, at least such a sentiment has developed over time. It took Sarah Palin less than a week to receive treatment these men have taken years to earn. Such an immediate mauling of someone’s character says far more about the predators than about their prey.
So, what explains this pathology? I have two mutually compatible theories.
Theory 1: The Cult of Personality