If, in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 election, you had asked me to put together a broad-based panel on reviving the right, I would surely have chosen to include David Frum. Yeah, I know he had been strongly critical of John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, but, at the time, he seemed to have based his objections on rational arguments, notably her lack of experience on the national stage.
But, lately amidst the many good ideas he has offered for GOP rebuilding and strong arguments he has made against the policies of the Obama Administration, he has manifested a peculiar animus toward certain figures, not just Mrs. Palin, who have found an enthusiastic following among conservatives outside the intellectual enclaves in coastal (and near-coastal cities).
This week, he offered a rather strange comment about her appeal:
This is a woman who has got into a position of leadership by sending very powerful sexual signals. And we see that in the way that men like her much more than women do.
Dan Riehl (whose post alerted me to the comment) contends that “Frum is obviously reacting to Paln as a homosexual would.” And while I do grant some gay men have strange reactions to strong and capable women, many of us appreciate such ladies. At the Log Cabin luncheon in St. Paul last summer, the gay men there were most enthusiastic about the GOP Vice-Presidential nominee.
Indeed, McCain’s choice of the then-Alaska Governor increased the esteem in which one of our readers, a gay man who supported Hillary for the Democratic nomination, held the Arizona Senator.
As to Frum’s contention that men like Palin more than women do, I suggest he take a look at footage of the lines to see that reformer on her book tour. In Michigan, it appeared to be at least 60% female. When Mark Steyn saw her campaign in New Hampshire “he was surrounded by moms with strollers.”
Frankly, I don’t see her sending out sexual signals. When certain female celebrities do that, it turns me off. Yet, if Palin gives off any particularly feminine signals, they’re more maternal or sororal than sexual. And maybe that’s why women like her so much. Most have warm feelings for their mother and sisters, but bristle a rival for the affection of their man.
Last night, I saw a few of her supporters interviewed on On the Record with Greta, with the women offering particularly heartfelt statements of admiration for this woman and support for her ideas. Most of them seemed more animated than the men chiming in. Sarah Palin’s appear is more than sexual.
And yet some men reduce her appeal to a sexual one. This allows them to ignore this charismatic reformer’s ideas and accomplishments, misrepresenting the nature of her appeal and dismissing the concerns of those who admire her.