September 12, 2008

Dreaming about Sarah Palin

It’s curious how politics worldwide is ever more often mass psychology by another name, and how politicians, political analysts, and even activists of any kind are so often victim of their own obsessions. Here in Italy we know the symptom, or, still better, we are very familiar with it—we have Silvio Berlusconi in power now, along with the conservative, religious and anti-immigrants right, but even when the Cavaliere was the leader of opposition he was the most hated man in the country, accused of almost anything, from the time of Caesar’s assassination downwards.

Sometimes there are solid reasons why this happens. Not only the faults, but also the good qualities of men, leaders, parties, etc., when the latter are clearly overwhelming and humiliating for the opponents. To make an example, take the words Arturo Parisi—a prominent leader of the left-wing Democratic party—used a few days ago to attack the general secretary of his party, Walter Veltroni: “He should have learned from Berlusconi, who is a great politician and leader, able to learn from both his own mistakes and victories.” [Il Giornale, in Italian]

Perhaps something quite similar is happening in the U.S., where GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, as David Plotz puts it in Slate [hat tip: Norm], “has gripped the American imagination in a way that seems designed to burrow into our dream lives.” “One Obama-supporting colleague,” he relates,

dreamed she had urged her young son to kill Palin with a string bean. Another dreamed she was at a fashion show and Palin served her crème fraîche on little scooped corn chips. A third says, “In the Sarah Palin dream I keep having, she has superhuman powers but is not really a person at all. In fact, she is more like the weather with glasses and an up-do, pushing clouds around and pitching lightning bolts.”

“Palin's supermom abilities,” he goes on,

provoke envy and anxiety in women, especially other working mothers. Her instant celebrity and dazzling speech have panicked Obama supporters who thought they had the election in the bag. And then there's her sex appeal. […]”

Definitely an interesting case. Much, much better than Berlusconi, in my view …



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