Remember all those months of the MSM building up the myth of Barack Obama, the Lightworker of unique spiritual powers whose image was frequently photoshopped to present his blessed head surrounded by a halo? Well, now Time magazine columnist, Joe Klein, is upset that Americans are supporting Sarah Palin because of another "myth" of a small town frontier America. Those who create the myths really shouldn't be complaining about what they perceive as myths but that is exactly what Klein does in his column (emphasis mine):
Sarah Palin has arrived in our midst with the force of a rocket-propelled grenade. She has boosted John McCain's candidacy and overwhelmed the presidential process in a way that no vice-presidential pick has since Thomas Eagleton did the precise opposite — sinking his sponsor, George McGovern, in 1972. Obviously, something beyond politics is happening here. We don't really know Palin as a politician yet, whether she is wise or foolhardy, substantive or empty. Our fascination with her — and it is a nonpartisan phenomenon — is driven by something more primal. The Palin surge illuminates the mythic power of the Republican Party's message since the advent of Ronald Reagan.
Sorry, Joe, but if you live by the myth created by the MSM then you shouldn't complain when you die by a "myth." First Klein builds up the Palins...but only for ulterior purposes:
To start with the obvious, she's attractive. Her husband ("And two decades and five children later, he's still my guy...") is a hunk. They have a gorgeous family, made more touching and credible by the challenges their children face. Her voice is more distinctive than her looks: that flat, northern twang that screams, I'm just like you! Actually, the real message is: I'm just like you want to be, a brilliantly spectacular...average American. The Palins win elections and snowmobile races in a state that represents the last, lingering hint of that most basic Huckleberry Finn fantasy — lighting out for the territories. She quoted Westbrook Pegler, the F.D.R.-era conservative columnist, in her acceptance speech: "We grow good people in our small towns..." And then added, "I grew up with those people. They're the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food and run our factories and fight our wars. They love their country in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America."
And now for the shootdown:
Except that's not really true. We haven't been a nation of small towns for nearly a century. It is the suburbanites and city dwellers who do the fighting and hourly-wage work now, and the corporations who grow our food. But Palin's embrace of small-town values is where her hold on the national imagination begins. She embodies the most basic American myth — Jefferson's yeoman farmer, the fantasia of rural righteousness — updated in a crucial way: now Mom works too. Palin's story stands with one foot squarely in the nostalgia for small-town America and the other in the new middle-class reality. She brings home the bacon, raises the kids — with a significant assist from Mr. Mom — hunts moose and looks great in the process. I can't imagine a more powerful, or current, American Dream.
During the past 50 years, the rest of the country has caught up to the South in the nostalgia department. We lost a war in Vietnam; Iraq hasn't gone so well either. And there are two other developments that have cut into the sense of American perfection. The middle class has begun to lose altitude — there isn't the certainty anymore that our children will live better than we do. More important, the patina of cultural homogeneity that camouflaged 1950s suburbia has vanished. We have become more obviously multiracial. There are lifestyle choices that were nearly unimaginable in 1960 — the widespread use of the birth control pill, the legalization of abortion, the feminist and gay-rights revolutions, the breakdown of the two-parent family. With the advent of television, these changes became inescapable. They intruded upon the most traditional families in the smallest towns. The political impact was a conservative reaction of enormous vehemence.
Enter Reagan. His vision of the future was the past. He offered the temporal pleasures of tax cuts and an unambiguous anticommunism, but his real tug was on the heartstrings — it was "Morning in America." The Republican Party of Wall Street faded before the power of nostalgia for Main Street...at least a Main Street that existed before America began losing wars, became ostentatiously sexy and casually interracial. In his presidential debate with Jimmy Carter, Reagan talked about an America that existed "when I was young and when this country didn't even know it had a racial problem." The blinding whiteness and fervent religiosity of the party he created are an enduring testament to the power of the myth of an America that existed before we had all these problems. The power of Sarah Palin is that she is the latest, freshest iteration of that myth.
Get it? People didn't really agree with Reagan but they liked the Main Street "myth" he perpetrated. Of course, the absurd Lightworker myth gets a free pass from liberals. Klein then asserts that Obama was never a part of what he claims is a myth:
The Republican Party's subliminal message seems stronger than ever this year because of the nature of the Democratic nominee for President. Barack Obama could not exist in the small-town America that Reagan fantasized. He's the product of what used to be called miscegenation, a scenario that may still be more terrifying than a teen daughter's pregnancy in many American households. Furthermore, he has thrived in the culture and economy that displaced Main Street America — an economy where people no longer work in factories or make things with their hands, but where lawyers and traders prosper unduly.
And now we come to the money quote of the column, unusual for Klein due to its dead on accuracy:
Obama is the precise opposite of Mountain Man Todd Palin: an entirely urban creature. He lives within the hilarious conundrum of being both too "cosmopolitan" and intellectual for Republican tastes — at least as Rudy Giuliani described it — while also being the sort of fellow suspected of getting ahead by affirmative action.
Klein then bemoans what he sees as the problem of the Democrats not having a myth of their own to counter the Republican "fantasy":
The Democrats have no myth to counter this powerful Republican fantasy. They had to spend their convention on the biographical defensive: Barack Obama really is "one of us," speaker after speaker insisted. Really. Democrats do have the facts in their favor. Polls show that Americans agree with them on the issues. The Bush Administration has been a disaster on many fronts. The McCain campaign has provided only the sketchiest policy proposals; it has spent most of its time trying to divert the national conversation away from matters of substance. But Americans like stories more than issues.
You mean like stories about the mythic Lightworker, he of photoshopped haloed head, who would heal the sick and make the sea waters fall? The MSM, which diligently tried but failed to sell the public on the Barack Obama myth, are now complaining about a Republican "myth" which is actually the true story about Sarah and Todd Palin. Klein concludes by complaining about Obama's anecdote gap:
So Obama faces an uphill struggle between now and Nov. 4. He has no personal anecdotes to match Palin's mooseburgers. His story of a boy whose father came from Kenya and mother from Kansas takes place in an America not yet mythologized, a country that is struggling to be born — a multiracial country whose greatest cultural and economic strength is its diversity. It is the country where our children already live and that our parents will never really know, a country with a much greater potential for justice and creativity — and perhaps even prosperity — than the sepia-tinted version of Main Street America. But that vision is not sellable right now to a critical mass of Americans. They live in a place, not unlike C. Vann Woodward's South, where myths are more potent than the hope of getting past the dour realities they face each day.
Perhaps the critical mass of Americans were too savvy to buy into the MSM-created myth of the Lightworker.