Blog RSS

Why Appearances Matter—and Corrupt

October 7, 2008

In response to passionate comments both pro and con on my previous post "What Did Sarah Learn?", I have been thinking a lot about why it matters that Sarah Palin uses her looks, her cutesy down-home phrases, her flirty moves. All politicians use whatever it is they've got to appeal to voters, after all.

In fact, each and every one of us uses whatever we've got to appeal to our "publics", even if that's only to negotiate who's cooking dinner tonight within our immediate families.

Goodness knows, I use my Texas sayings and small town upbringing all the time in my speeches and writing. I do it to engage people, because I like those stories, and because it authentically shares a lot about who I am. I also own up to wearing lipstick, and I have a penchant for clothing that is both tailored and just a tad funky, like Sarah Palin's black suit, severe but for the peplum flourish.

In our society, it is well known if not well acknowledged that physical appearance makes a big difference in how positively we are received by others, however fair or unfair that may be. And that there is always some element of sexual tension in attractiveness, however, much we might try to take that out of the equation.

But the real issue is that Sarah uses her style and uses it brazenly to cover up for utter lack of substance. I don't mean that she's not smart--she's plenty smart to have amassed the power she has and to have won the elections she has won. In the big boy power games, as she did in high school basketball, she has always excelled, and as I said in previous posts and comments, you do have to respect her for that.

But power devoid of empathy is dangerous. Power devoid of information is dangerous. Power devoid of actions for the good of others is amoral if not immoral. Power devoid of the honesty and/or perhaps the ability to answer reporters' questions is devastating to the integrity of the political process. It corrupts, makes a mockery, of democracy.

Abraham Lincoln's personal narrative of small town, humble beginnings and self-taught law education is revered, not for their own sake but because his political actions served the public good. I see absolutely nothing in Palin's "accomplishments" except an opportunistic march to power for its own sake. I see much to fear and to fight in the political philosophy to which she has hitched her wagon. I see deliberate dishonesty in her brassy rejection of Gwen Ifill's debate questions.

The big question raised by Sarah Palin's candidacy (and John McCain's choice of her for a running mate) is this: In our Rovian world, where George W. Bush got away with the artful dodge so blatantly--and with the complicity of the mainstream media-- have we become so inured to this corrupted way of evaluating people for public office that we're going to let the right wing get away once again with electing yet another vessel for their mean-spirited agenda?

I say voters' answer to that this time around must be a resounding "No!"

cross posted from