OK, folks, so why is it that 62% of Republicans now say that their dearest wish is for Sarah Palin to run for president in 2012…and yet, we can’t get Darcy Burner elected? Or, for that matter, why Hillary Clinton seems to arouse the most murderous emotions in them?
Is it a case of gender or (cue scary music) ‘perceived brain power”?
To answer this question, I turn to our friend John Dean and his work in “Conservatives Without Conscience”. Here are a couple of things he said in articles at Findlaw.
“.. In addition to being especially submissive to established authority, Altemeyer’s research revealed that those he calls right-wing authoritarians also show "general aggressiveness" towards others, when such behavior is "perceived to be sanctioned" by established authorities. Finally, these people are always highly compliant with the social conventions endorsed by society and established authorities. ..
Based on Altemeyer’s study, as well as those of other social psychologists, [Dean] prepared a list of the additional traits that these personalities, both men and women who test high as right-wing authoritarians, often evidence: highly religious, moderate to little education, trust untrustworthy authorities, prejudiced (particularly against homosexuals, women, and followers of religions other than their own), mean-spirited, narrow-minded, intolerant, bullying, zealous, dogmatic, uncritical toward their chosen authority, hypocritical, inconsistent and contradictory, prone to panic easily, highly self-righteous, moralistic, strict disciplinarian, severely punitive, demands loyalty and returns it, little self-awareness, usually politically and economically conservative/Republican. “
On the leader end:
[Dean] prepared a listing of the traits revealed in the testing of these remarkably manipulative and cunning personalities, who are typically men: dominating, opposes equality, desirous of personal power, amoral, intimidating and bullying, faintly hedonistic, vengeful, pitiless, exploitive, manipulative, dishonest, cheats to win, highly prejudiced (racist, sexist, homophobic), mean-spirited, militant, nationalistic, tells others what they want to hear, takes advantage of "suckers," specializes in creating false images to sell self, may or may not be religious, usually politically and economically conservative/Republican.”
So, let’s go back to Darcy, Hillary and Sarah(and if you like, we can throw in right wing pundits like Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin). What card has Sarah (and Ann and Michelle as well) played? Appearance. Whatever other traits she might or might not have, she has played the girly/appearance card consistently and has appealed to authoritarian (“I’m fighting fraud”) cards consistently. She also waved the flag that she’d gone to five different colleges before she finished. The message there is “I’m just like you – I had to try and try and try in order to finish up because I’m not too smart.”
Was Darcy Burner’s Harvard degree something that voters used against her? Did she pose an intellectual threat? Was her appearance not ‘girly/sexy/conventional” enough so that the smears thrown at her by the Seattle paper allowed voters the excuse to not vote for her? If she had been built more along Palin’s lines or dressed more like Palin or acted more like Palin, would that have been enough to outweigh the newspaper’s smear tactic?
Even if we take away people’s almost hysterical anger at Hillary Clinton during her presidential bid and look at how the Right Wing went after her before, during and after Bill Clinton’s administrations, it certainly seems that one of the factors in people’s almost pathological hatred of her is based on the fact that Hillary Clinton is a smart woman – one who makes no bones about being on an equal basis with men. To me, there seems to have been a real "anti women with brains" factor in Darcy Burner’s lack of success because she waved not only a college degree, but a degree which carries some of the same issues as the "Martha Steward carrying the Birkin bag into the courtroom" problem: Smart, rich, and "I’ve got something you can never get". I am not saying that Ms Burner needs to change her appearance in order to win – far be it – but it is very possible that IN THAT DISTRICT, in order for a progressive female to get herself elected to Congress, looking smart and using what is perceived as a ‘rich man’s’ credentials will not work.