Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Tale of Two Journeys

Regardless of how you feel about Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, each rose from unlikely circumstances to prominent roles in our present social and political culture. A comparison seems inevitable. The author and journalist Jack Cashill has given us one. It begins this way:
In the spring of 1964, Sarah Heath, then just three months old, flew into backwater Skagway, Alaska (population 650) aboard a 1930s-era Grumman Goose to start a new life with her parents, brother, and sister.

At that same time, in America's other new outlier state, Hawaii, two-year-old Barry Obama was just getting used to a fatherless existence in the otherwise-comfortable world his white grandparents and occasionally his mother would make for him.

At the time, not even Nostradamus could have foretold that the paths of Barry and Sarah would intersect in the "historic" 2008 election, Barry as the first major party presidential nominee of African descent and Sarah as the first woman with a real shot at the vice-presidency.

Each would change names before reaching the national stage. Barry Obama would become Barry Soetero, and then Barack Obama. Sarah Heath would become Sarah Palin after eloping with the formidable Todd Palin. Obama would chronicle his journey in the 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father and the 2006 sequel, The Audacity of Hope. Palin would chronicle hers in the 2009 memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life.

How the literary/media establishment would respond to the respective memoirs of these two political figures would reveal far less about the authenticity, honesty, and literary quality of the tales the authors told than it would about the collective mindset of that establishment.
Depending on which of these two public figures you find the more plausible and attractive, you will agree or disagree with Cashill on his assessment. Whatever your initial bias might be, I hope you will find Cashill's summary as fascinating as I did, even if you don't share my belief in the accuracy of his analysis. Read the whole thing here.

2 comments:

Dean said...

A woman in a hot air balloon realizes she is lost. She lowers her altitude and spots a man fishing from a boat below. She shouts to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consults his portable GPS and replies, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

She rolls her eyes and says, "You must be a Democrat!"

"I am," replies the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answers the balloonist, "everything you tell me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you're not much help to me."

The man smiles and responds, "You must be Sarah Palin."

"I am, replies the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "You don't know where you are or where you're going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and now you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but, somehow, now it's my fault."

Dan Florio said...

I think the considerable and impressive virtues that Sarah Palin possesses are regularly obscured by her terminal chirpiness and chronically poor use of the English language. And whatever the huge moral blind spots that plague Obama, he tends to write and speak in an articulate, intelligent manner.

If Palin is the shining hope of the Republican party, then the party is dead. They need to find a charismatic version of a WFB-esque intellectual to crush Obama at his own game without compromising the bedrock principles of the party. It's not Palin. It's not Romney. I don't know who it is.