Saturday, October 8, 2011

pauline palin

This week we've learned that Sarah Palin has decided not to run for President.
She’s an interesting character, as much for her similarities to our Pauline as for anything else.

Sarah and Pauline have both been the butt of some very big jokes. Laughter is healthy, and many of us owe both these ladies a big debt of gratitude.

Sarah had her Tina Fey

and Pauline had Pauline Pantsdown.

Sarah appeared on Saturday Night Live, while Pauline was a big hit on Dancing With the Stars.

They both seem to have earned a lot of followers because of their uncompromising honesty. While I may not agree with much of what either of them say, I will respect to the death their willingness to say it.
I was very jealous when I first saw my brother wearing a special T Shirt: On the front was a picture of Martin Luther King Jr, with the words I had a dream, and on the back a picture of Pauline, inscribed I had a fish’n’chip shop.

Well may I mock. I’ve never run a fish’n’chip shop or any other shop for that matter. Sarah too, seems to have always been self-reliant and a down-to-earth, hard worker, providing an extra hand for her husband during the commercial salmon fishing seasons. 
If she is unashamed of her willingness to go hunting and proud of this measure of self-sufficiency that fills her freezer, is this any worse than me buying meat at a supermarket without having to deal with the less appealing parts of the process?
They’ve both been rather naïve; naivety being something Pauline is more than ready to admit to.

She had no idea how to set up a political party legally or in administrative terms and so, reliant on others, allowed others with different agendas to hijack her popularity for their own ends.
Her famous comment that Aboriginals had once practised cannibalism was in a book she happily put her name to without ever reading it.

In her maiden speech to parliament she said Australia is in danger of being swamped by Asians. I think Pauline might be more culturalist than racist. A careless and ultimately damaging over-generalisation, but I’m confident she was not decrying all differences, simply the values that are incompatible with those already held by Australians.

I don’t think too many Australians do want to see the country sold to absentee landlords, or over-run by extremist values.
It’s an interesting exercise to compare the clip above with the following report from New Zealand.

Perhaps this highlights how different the Australian media’s attitude to open political debate in general as much as their attitude to Pauline. Yes, there are some decent shows on Australian television which tackle a little detail, but they rarely attract a significant audience. More popular and therefore successful current affairs programs here tend to limit themselves to product placement interspersed with the odd bit of David the consumer vs business Goliaths. 
It’s hard to know how much this reinforces lazy thinking, or how much it simply reflects it.

Palin’s famous gaffes include a reference to the ride of Paul Revere. It looks like a reporter has caught her in an unguarded moment when she was totally distracted by something else. I can identify with that [the distracted inarticulacy, not the camera magnet part]. I’m a plodding thinker, and prone to big leaps from one idea to another parallel idea without having the words to explain the link.

Even when she was given a chance to explain the Revere thing, she was unable to put her answer simply. Paul was captured by the British and, effectively, told them they would not win because a significant militia had been established, and was already winning its fight for liberation from British rule.

Which was worse, Palin’s idea that Africa is a country, or Pauline’s honest request that a reporter explain the meaning of the word xenophobia? 
Does democracy belong only to those who have made a career or study of politics – and experts on everything – or does it also belong to Joe the plumber who sees double standards at work in a number of areas?

Why is Jenny Macklin in charge of indigenous affairs? Why are we moving essential services towards regional hubs where Aboriginals will have no access to them? How familiar is Jenny with the legal and linguistic challenges faced by indigenous people in Arnhem land? Why are we paying through the nose for contractors to build inappropriate housing for indigenous people, when there are indigenous apprentices at a Darwin TAFE building more appropriate, more portable housing for a tenth of the cost?

Am I wrong to assume that Macklin, like many other politicians, relies heavily on the findings of public inquiries or briefings from government advisers to bring her up to speed? Or that Macklin has greater access to this information and advice than non-government MPs?
Is it fair to assume that she knows more about indigenous affairs now, but sfa detail about the war in Afghanistan because someone else is taking care of that; that there is no need for her to be an expert on everything?

Just one of the things I disagree with Pauline on is the need for reverse racism to address Aboriginal disadvantage. I do, however, agree with her that some people have made a lot of money out of what we might call an Aboriginal Industry. 

[In an earlier post I spoke about the issue of Aboriginal Identity and the advantages it might bring. Here, I am talking about something completely different - about white people in overpaid positions who are complacent, ineffective or ignorant, and people of any background who blatantly steal from these organisations.]

Palin, I admit, has some extremely unpalatable ideas. I’m not sure Australians are totally into the god, flag, and my country right or wrong jingoism Palin was selling. 
She makes no secret of her admiration for Reagan, or her extremely conservative attitude to economics and public debt. She believes Reagan’s greatest achievement was his ability to sell a vision to Americans.
Reagan’s Berlin moment, when he said “Mr Gorbachev tear down this wall!”, coincided with a process already in train. The fall of the wall had nothing to do with Reagan, but at least it was a vision.
McCain’s biggest failing was that he is not an orator’s bootlace, whereas Obama not only had some good ideas he was able to sell them effectively.

If McCain was happy enough to take Palin on as a running mate, why should she be the scapegoat for his loss? Like the ‘real Julia’, Palin was handled by campaign managers, told what to wear and what she could or could not say and whom she could and could not talk to.
Why the media criticism of her wardrobe? 

If Palin does not like the idea of sex before marriage but stood by her pregnant daughter, she deserves a little credit. If she does not approve of abortion but is able to love and care for her Downs Syndrome son, she deserves a little credit.

Sadly, independents don’t always have any power or if they do they can only horse trade on one or two issues. 
Sadly, opposition players – especially in Australia – seem fixated on what they don’t like and forget to offer alternatives. There have been one or two in our history who had a vision and were able to sell it, but for the most part all they are selling is cynicism.
Sadly, cynicism not only makes Pauline attractive to voters, but makes me despair sometimes for the future of this country.


Jayne from Our Great Southern Land has made an informative comment, which warrants a late addition to this post:


  1. Which came first? The cynical voter or the politician who made them cynical and panders to their cynicism? Given we aren't born cynical, we must have learnt to be through experience.

  2. We agree on much!

    Aloha from Honolulu;

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

  3. Hi Andrew,
    I've never thought before of cynicism as a learned attitude, but I think you have once again put your point neatly. The next challenge is finding an alternative product for sale. Perhaps I admire these two women because I am far too cowardly to risk such viciousness.

    Aloha Cloudia,
    It's always nice to speak with agreeable people.

  4. Hear, hear, on the Indigenous TAFE workers building cheaper housing (on another note the Jack Thompson Foundation has Indigenous workers learning the trades, building the houses to the plans as wanted by locals who will ive in them, on their own land, quicker, cheaper and with less red tape rubbish lining someone's pocket).
    Amanda Vanstone was ripped a new one (a few years back) in the media for daring to tell remote Indigenous communities to move in closer to regional hubs, wtf is Jenny Macklin doing the same and wtf does she think she's entitled to do the same?!
    Yes, a damn lot of people have made squillions out of the Indigenous industry, it's beyond time to stop treating Indigenous people as little children who have no idea how to manage their own affairs.

  5. Hi Jayne,
    I'd never heard of the Jack Thompson Foundation, but thank goodness Thompson and others are prepared to do what we once expected from the Labor Party. [I've added a YouTube clip about the foundation to the end of my post.]

    It infuriates me that because we are so arrogant we squander opportunities to do so many positive things that could be real win-win-win situations.

    I can't believe Macklin has bothered to learn a thing about the people for whom her portfolio supposedly exists. If she had, there would be no excuse for such indifferent rubbish happening.