Sarah, we are not that different, you and I

I think Rod basically nails it:

I remember the morning I woke up in my college dorm room and went in to take my final exam in my Formal Logic class. I knew I was unready. Massively unready. And now I was going to be put to the ultimate test. I sat down in Dr. Sarkar's class and resolved to wing it. Of course I failed the exam and failed the class, because I had no idea what I was talking about. I wasn't a bad kid, or even a stupid kid. I was just badly unprepared, and in way over my head. Seeing the Palin interview on CBS, I thought of myself in Dr. Sarkar's exam. But see, I was a college undergraduate who had the chance to take the class again, which I did, and passed (barely). I wasn't running for vice president of the United States.

I've been thinking a lot about this nomination and rewatching the videos of Palin's interview. Honestly, it's all made me tremendously sad. There are lot of us lefties who are guffawing right now and are happy to see Palin seemingly stumbling drunkenly from occasional interview to occasional interview. I may have been one of them. But I'm out of that group now.

The Palin pick was the most crassest, most bigoted decision that I've seen in national electoral politics, in my--admittedly short--lifetime. There can be no doubt that they picked Palin strictly as a stick to drum up the victimhood narrative--small town, hunters, big families and most importantly, women. Had Barack Obama picked Hillary Clinton, there simply is no way they would have picked Sarah Palin. To the McCain camp, Palin isn't important as a politician, or even as a person. Her moose-hunting, her sprawling fam, her hockey momdom, her impending grandmother status are a symbol of some vague, possibly endangered American thing, one last chance to yell from the rafters "We wuz robbed." Lineup all your instances of national politicians using white victimhood to get into offices--Willie Horton, White Hands, Sista Souljah, Reagan in Philadelphia etc.--they were all awful no doubt. But I have never seen a politician subject an alleged ally to something like this.


Let us take this story seriously for a moment. I have watched this whole Palin thing with some twinge of personal recognition. I come from a family of seven kids by four women. As I've said before, I've got brothers born in the same year, and brothers born to best friends. My father was a high-school drop-out. I am a college drop-out. I was a father by 24--my father had kids when he was 22. I come to books and learned things in a hard, organic way. I was watching Palin explain to Couric how it could be that she just got a passport last year, and I was thinking, "Shit, I don't have a passport now." What can I say? Azeroth was always a foreign country to me.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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