The Gorgon in the room

by on September 15, 2008 at 3:08 am in Political Science | Permalink

The empirics on beautiful women imply that, in a great many cases, a) they have their own agendas, b) they stick to those agendas, no matter what they may say in public, or no matter what "more experienced" men tell them to do, c) they are very good at fooling the men they associate with and they are used to thinking they can get away with it, and d) agendas are often more local and less global than you think.  If you don’t believe me, read the final act of Henry V.

Andrew Sullivan is calling Sarah Palin "Rovian."  Maybe, but her first order of business has been to fool the Republican establishment, not
the American people.  (Read this silly AEI guy.)  Her few genuine words on foreign policy indicate her positions are hardly the modern Republican norm.  She is "unusual" on pot smoking and benefits for gays and juror nullification.  The Republicans are underestimating her role as a Hegelian agent of world-historical change, just as the Democrats did at first.

Which narrative do you find more plausible?:

"Lovely Sarah, she’s saying and doing everything we want her to.  What a quick learner.  How pliable she is.  Remember Descartes on tabula rasa?"

"Once John and I are elected, they’ll need me more than I need them."

The people who are right now the happiest may end up the most concerned.  For better or worse, they’re about to lose control of their movement.

vanya September 15, 2008 at 6:14 am

Sarah Palin is good looking (a 7), “beautiful” is a stretch. On foreign policy she appears to have no strongly held convictions or thoughts, so in all likelihood she’ll go along with whatever faction she thinks is most likely to support her and her real agenda, whatever that might be.

Anonymous September 15, 2008 at 6:53 am

Reality check. Vice-presidents aren’t agents of world-historical change, or much of anything else, not unless and until fate and circumstance conspire to promote them. This post is like one of those pre-written obituaries kept on file in a newspaper office: best not to see the light of day before it’s relevant.

Jason September 15, 2008 at 7:52 am

I don’t get it. Everything Tyler said about Palin goes double for Obama. And he’s running for President.

Funny to think of Palin as too smart for the job.

Andrew September 15, 2008 at 9:02 am

Addendum:

The critics are making the mistake of projection. I use my Dad as the quintessential moderate model. In a recent discussion with him, he didn’t even know what a neocon was. For the record, to me, that’s to his credit. I literally have not seen or heard the term “Bush Doctrine” in years, even though I rail against it any time it is insinuated and read a lot about this crap. I bet it isn’t even really a thing, maybe started out as a Krauthammerism but became more of a pejorative. We haven’t heard axis of evil in a while either. Do I think someone like my Dad is going to care if someone else doesn’t know what Charlie Gibson rhinks he means by the “Bush Doctrine?” Nope.

The media will catch up:
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24345216-20261,00.html

E. Barandiaran September 15, 2008 at 9:13 am

I cannot stop laughing at Tyler’s post. In the first paragraph he pretends to play social scientist–tell us, is beauty a sufficient or a necessary condition for the five great ideas that you learnt by reading Henry V? (I ask a question so I cannot be compared to GWBush). In the second paragraph, his reference is Andrew Sullivan–a prominent social scientist, well known because of his contribution to the practice of claiming victimhood. Finally, he tells Republicans that Sarah can be good or bad depending on what type of Republican you are–but don’t worry because she may not know what kind of Republican she is and you cannot control her.

Anonymous September 15, 2008 at 9:36 am

Reality check. Vice-presidents aren’t agents of world-historical change

She won’t change the world directly. However, she is opening up the GOP in some needed ways. I’m strongly pro-life, but recognize that in our country with representative government many people of good will do not agree with me. (But don’t ask, or compel, me to pay for abortions.)

So, she’s going to get McCain elected and will turn out to be less socially conservative than advertised. Sounds good to me!

Sounds good to me, too (even though I’m a social conservative).

I’d go further and say that Sarah Palin has already transformed the conservative movement, by forcing them to openly embrace ambitious young women, working-class husbands who give up work for their career wives, declared pot smokers/inhalers, premarital sex and pregnancy, and children with special needs.

Bingo.

How many fathers of daughters, especially “socially conservative fathers of daughters”, want less for their daughters than for their sons? None that I know, and I know plenty.

If you think soccer moms are the only parents who are ambitious for their kids, you haven’t met a “socially conservative” soccer dad, especially if he has a soccer playing daughter.

David Gordon September 15, 2008 at 10:00 am

“Tabula rasa” is usually associated with Locke.

Andrew September 15, 2008 at 10:24 am

Re: Australians.

I’m learning there are basically two types of people. There are those who first thing look for something critical. These are the people who always make some remark about me writing e-mails at 5 a.m. Then there are those who look at possibilities and don’t care what the time stamp is on e-mails. But, that’s beside the point. Anyways…

Of course Australians don’t vote here, but they do pay attention, and I assume that our news sources pay attention to foreign news sites, who often have a better perspective on us than we do on ourselves.

s. weynard miller September 15, 2008 at 10:45 am

She is decidedly average looking.

joan September 15, 2008 at 12:06 pm

There is a fourth possibility. That she is proof that the feminist and social liberals have won the cultural war, even in red states, and we did not notice because we were listening to old men rantings about family values. Only the old men and the WSJ will be unhappy, the vast majority of red state voters know who she is. I doubt anyone that has spent their life in a state where the people expect the government to send them a check every year can really be an economic conservative. If you listen to the complaints of “culturally” conservative voters, what comes across is, not that there should no be government programs to help people, but they are not getting their share of the goodies, and in Alaska everyone gets a share.

Slocum September 15, 2008 at 12:36 pm

So S. Palin is an agent of change. How?

Cathy Young suggested one way:

“Mrs. Palin’s marriage actually makes her a terrific role model. One of the best choices a woman can make if she wants a career and a family is to pick a partner who will be able to take on equal or primary responsibility for child-rearing. Our culture still harbors a lingering perception that such men are less than manly — and who better to smash that stereotype than “First Dude” Todd Palin?”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122143727571134335.html

Feminists have been banging on for years about men not willing to take their share of the domestic duties. What would it be like to have such a couple in the White House (or, at least, Number One Observatory Circle)? And what would it mean if such a prominent example were conservative rather than liberal? What if an egalitarian marriage came to be seen as a solution that rendered government sponsored gender-equality measures (e.g. government-funded daycare centers) superfluous? It could well be that Palin would be an agent of change more because of who she is than how she would govern.

michael September 15, 2008 at 1:48 pm

If anyone actually read that Australian article it seems to be a round-up of what American political commentators said about Palin and the Bush Doctrine, not just an Aussie opinion piece.

Great blog, by the way, I only just found it through Daniel Finkelstein at the Times’ site. Keep up the good work.

CG September 15, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Jason,

You’re right–you don’t get it. Sarah Palin too smart for the job? Based on her interview with Gibson, I definitely wouldn’t say she’s smart, but she certainly is uninformed: Bush Doctrine, anyone?

Matt Weiner September 15, 2008 at 3:22 pm

“Tabula rasa” is usually associated with Locke.

Right; in fact, Locke’s empiricist evocation of tabula rasa, which emphasizes that we start with no knowledge and can only come to learn things through sensory experience, was a reaction to rationalism like Descartes’s, which emphasized what can be known a priori through reason alone. (I haven’t read Locke’s metaphysical stuff since I was an undergrad, so I might be mangling some of this, but that’s the dime version.)

I also think Barandiaran has a point: Henry V is paltry support for a claim about the “empirics on beautiful women.”

danny manning September 15, 2008 at 3:44 pm

What has bush done about this economic crisis?
With Websites like http://www.FAKEPAYCHECKSTUBS.com promoting the fact that if you buy their $50 program you can get any loan you apply for, Is it really any wonder why the banking system is in the turmoil it is in today? I have read that using this “Novelty Paycheck Program” was standard practice by Greedy Loan officers trying to push the loan through so that they can make the 6 percent commission on every real estate transaction! SIC

Justin September 15, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Everyone puts their hopes into an empty vessel. Including conservatives. Including Professor Cowen.

yaniv September 15, 2008 at 8:24 pm

2/3 “with-me-or-against-me” ambition, 1/3 pliable/unformed policy positions. We can’t know what she’ll do because she doesn’t, except that it will be right by God, and that she’s going to be President.

tracysnow September 15, 2008 at 10:17 pm

Both men and women that carry charismatic archetypal projections can be agents of world-historical change. Palin is a beautiful woman and beautiful women have an enhanced ability to carry projections — positive and negative.

**”Lovely Sarah, she’s saying and doing everything we want her to. What a quick learner. How pliable she is. Remember Descartes on tabula rasa?”

“Once John and I are elected, they’ll need me more than I need them.”**

I think John Mccain, for one, is behaving as if both narratives are true.

Consciously, he sees her as his blank page, his student, his soulmate.

Subconsciously he sees her as a threat, which I think is why he keeps grossly overstating and misstating and embellishing her accomplishments — he fabricates details that even she has not claimed to be true and are easily debunked, like selling the jet on ebay and making a profit. It’s passive aggression. While appearing to brag about the brightness of his star pupil he is subconsciously trying to make sure that if elected, the thoughtful people who are paying attention — both conservative, liberal and in between, will not take her seriously. He trying to undermine her power before she has any.

This plot line is probably in Shakespeare somewhere. And then someone eventually gets poisoned or falls on a knife. McCains perceived ethical meltdown — everyone says he’s acting nuts– may be a result of the emotional tension caused by his very own internal Helgian/Jungian conflict. Synthesis would be nice, but 2 months of edgy,televised passive aggression is more likely.

Anonymous September 15, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Palin should have kept the plane. But then the media would have ragged on her for being extravagant. She won’t ever please them, but who cares. The Sarah hackers are helping McCain/Palin. Keep it up.

mathemusician September 16, 2008 at 9:34 am

Where can I read “the empirics on beautiful women”?

Anonymous September 16, 2008 at 1:24 pm

CG
Which bush doctrine are you referring to? The other times that Gibson asked someone about the Bush Doctrine, he explained what he meant. With Palin, Gibson used it as a gotcha question. And he used it according to his interpretation of it. How many different meanings does the Bush Doctrine refer to CG? Is it like The Monroe Doctrine? CG you need to read this article at Townhall.com.

The Gibson Doctrine

bob September 16, 2008 at 11:25 pm

Oh, yes, the empirical evidence suggests she’s a beautiful woman on the cusp of Hegelian world historical change, i.e. marijuana legalization, jury nullification, and carefully parsed statements on gay partnership benefits?

And the McCain supporters call everyone else sexist?

To paraphrase Amy Poehler/Hillary Clinton, “Where was all this concern about sexism when I was running for president?”

Kirslis September 17, 2008 at 5:37 pm

McCain is Illegally Tampering With Palin Investigation! McCain Must Be Forced to Obey The Law!

Edward O’Callaghan, hired by McCain, is illegally medeling by actively blocking the Palin investigation to steal the election for McCain! Newsweek journalist Michael Isikoff reports “The growing role of Edward O’Callaghan, who until six weeks ago served as co-chief of the terrorism and national security unit of the U.S. attorney’s office in New York, illustrates just how seriously the McCain campaign is taking the so-called “troopergate† inquiry into Palin’s firing last summer of Walt Monegan, Alaska’s Public Safety Commissioner.†

Where is the media outrage to cry foul! McCain starts by making false accusations against Obama while intentionally and illegally tampering with the legal juriprudence of the Alaska state congress! After the GOP twice stole presidential elections in Florida and last time in Ohio, the media and Democrats must stand to stop McCain stealing the election! McCain is taking an aggressive illegal strategy aimed at shutting down a pre-election ethics investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin! The media must insist that Callaghan and second unnamed McCain advisor leave Alaska immediately and the investigation and 13 subpoenas be allowed to continue!

McCain knows Palin illegally used her office to fire Monegan over a personal attack against Wooten! McCain knows the ethics investigation report will destroy his candidacy! The investigation and 13 subpoenas must continue and McCain’s illegal medeling must be squashed! McCain wants to make his own law like Bush and must be stopped!

Joe September 19, 2008 at 5:16 pm

Not only is tabula rasa “usually associated with Locke,” as the astute commenter noted above, but Descartes was his primary target in advancing the notion. If anybody was opposed to the “tabula rasa” conception of mind, it was Descartes. You’ve got your “empirics” mixed up with your rationalists. For shame.

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