Margaret and Helen

by CarlD

On October 3rd, after seven posts covering family Thanksgiving, Fall leaves and shooting raccoons (and a few even more personal that have since been removed), Helen “Philpot” wrote “Sarah Palin is a Bitch… there I said it.

Her post has received over 1,300 comments to date. Overnight a blog set up by a grandson to allow his grandma Helen and her best friend Margaret to stay in touch became a viral sensation, complete with a raft of google hits as ‘favorite blog ever’. Less than three weeks later, seven more posts in a similar vein and referrals by the likes of Rosie O’Donnell have produced almost 400,000 blog hits.

Margaret does not post; she prefers the telephone. Helen has a nice direct, pungent style and a good feel for homespun rhetoric. She scores some familiar zingers within the internal liberal conversation, distinguished largely by the saltiness of her language: Palin is a “stupid, conniving bitch;” “a weak, pathetic woman who thinks big hair, winking, baby talk and self deprecation is somehow becoming of a woman who wants to lead the free world;” a hypocrite and “the worst kind of politician.” She’s a sham governor, a bad mother and a whiner.

It’s safe to say that Helen is clueless about Palin’s appeal, even though she has the more conservative Margaret to talk to. She certainly does not think Palin is her kind of babe, a representative of strong frontier womanhood and plainspoken traditional values. Writing from Texas, Helen seems to be more of an Ann Richards kind of poo-kicker than a Barbara Bush kind of matriarch.

The personal politics of this are probably not very interesting. Strong personalities with sharp tongues get attached to the whole spectrum of political passions. But I wonder what void Helen filled in the lives of those hundreds of thousands of folks who tumbled so suddenly to her site and instantly saw there a special voice of wisdom and sanity? Perhaps the aura (or miasma) of virtuous traditionalism Palin exudes could only be dispelled by someone with superior cred, an older woman and a fellow outsider? The best counter for charisma is charisma, and Helen’s got it. But she’s preaching to the choir, in fiery tent-revival style. She’s unlikely to change any minds; the negative rants in the comments show how easy a “fat old woman” is to dismiss if you don’t like what she’s saying. Then again, changing minds is not generally the point of political commentary, as I’ve been discussing for the last few posts.

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