Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin: Strong Woman or Bellicose Bully? Fear and the Future

If you have not read this yet, please read it first, then come back and finish here. The posts are somewhat related.

A bit has been written about Palin's experience and management style. The fateful line, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities," caused concern and consternation from virtually everyone that has been a community organizer. It was a derisive statement, condescening and delivered with an aire of superiority and snub. Probably not coincidentally, after Palin's slam, McCain cancelled his next day visit to a Habitat for Humanity build site.

This article speaks to Palin's mayoral style and is clearly a heads-up on what we could expect, one of several reasons I am concerned.

But the part of the article that really bothered me was this about about Wasilla Police Chief, Irl Stambaugh, who she fired in her first term of office after requesting his resignation and that of nine others to prove their loyalty:

"Stambaugh was 6-foot-2, 240 pounds. Because he'd heard that Palin had felt intimidated by him during a meeting, he made sure to sit when talking with her, and to use a soothing voice. By early December, things had calmed down, and Stambaugh felt the threat of being fired had passed."

I cannot speak for another single woman (or man for that matter) in saying I am not the least bit unnerved by anyone I come up against, male or female. I am secure in who I am, and I know my subject. I don't need to tear into someone to make my point. Is the mark of a strong, capable man or woman fear of a physical characteristic of another?

Many of you reading this, being former Father Jake readers, know that on that site "bullying" was several times discussed. In fact, it was a common thread through many reader comments. So what do some psychologists see as typical behavior in bullies?

" ... Nevertheless, says Levinson, 40 years of consulting have given him some idea of what they do and why. They over-control, micromanage, and display contempt for others, usually by repeated verbal abuse and sheer exploitation. They constantly put others down with snide remarks or harsh, repetitive, and unfair criticism. They don't just differ with you, they differ with you contemptuously; they question your adequacy and your commitment. They humiliate you in front of others."

--Psycology Today, September/October 1995

"Some current findings are consistent with such older views as the idea, inspired by the work of Alfred Adler, that the bully is compensating for deep feelings of inferiority."

''We find that bullies have a strong need to control others,'' said John Lochman, a psychologist at Duke University Medical School. ''Their need to be dominant masks an underlying fear that they are not in control, and they mask the sense of inadequacy by being a bully.''

--New York Times, 4/7/87

In adults, it does not appear that bullying reduces productivity, nor does it seem to indicate that it stops one from rising to higher levels as the bully respects the power above them and are attracted to it:

"So tyrants spread misery, and from the outside it looks as if they are doing a fine job. It does not help matters, psychologists say, that people who enjoy abusing power frequently also revere it and are quick to offer that reverence to the even-more-powerful. Bullying bosses are often experts at ''managing up.''

"Subordinates know viscerally the high cost of going around a boss, even if it is simply to file a complaint with the human resources department. You are trouble. You are a whiner. You have called out the manager behind his back."

--New York Times, June 22, 2000

What we have seen in Sarah Palin since her rise is unnerving to me. I watch her and I just see something wrong; something looks out of sort. She looks and acts terse (fear). Add her hostility and grate, and I immediately want to go the other direction out of sight and sound. I could not name it until today--bully. Sarah Palin is a bully, and a bellicose one, at that. To me, Sarah Palin is dangerous, and especially so in the east wing a minute away from the west wing and calls on nuclear weapons and war. Her religious background doesn't make me feel any better about that, in fact it causes me even greater concern.


We have just lived through the most bizarre eight years of any two-term president. Our economy is a mess and growing more unstable by the day. There is now a list of 79 banks in trouble and not small ones, either. While homeowners are losing their homes, Freddick Mac and Fannie Mae have been declared DOA, a topic Palin, BTW, clearly hashed in her recent remarks making economists almost unanimously cry in alarm, 'She is clueless!' Yup, yup. Not much better on the McCain end where he has admitted he doesn't understand the economy.

We have warred ourselves into an untenable present and a more miserable and unstable future. We have virtually eviscerated our beloved Constitution. We have a president that doesn't talk to congress and presidential advisors that have the nation in a paranoid neck hold. We actually talk about torture instead of be repulsed by it.

How possibly, I wonder, could it get worse?

In a word, Palin.

Repeated comments by people that know her and/or have worked with her have focused on her reprisal and abandonment. Read: not a team player. Now add bully and fearful, and her potential for screwing up what little foreign policy we have left is overwhelming, let alone domestic environmental, energy and social policies left standing after eight long years of political assasination under Rove and Cheney.

I'm not sure I really need to understand more of what I already know about her policies derived both from her words, her actions and her inactions and her clear lack of knowledge on issues of import to this country. What little she has said (over and over and over again) is carefully scripted and honed by those that have already given us what we have. Most of it--other than the fact she is married and has five kids--seemingly borders on near pathological distortion. Her political about-face from assaulter to the "poor me" assulted is a calculated move to keep her out of the sunlight of transparancy; her lines given because she doesn't know enough to birth her own.

As a woman, I find myself puzzled over the outstreatched reach to Sarah; a pawing of other women resembling teenagers at a 60's Beatle concert a few short breaths from a mere faint. I don't see respect (and what would that respect be for? Two x chromasomes?) in the apparent leagues that follow, but near idolotry. I prefer the meat of ideas to the doily of charisma--something she obviously has a lot of.

I am very troubled by her potential rise to a presidency with absolutely no solid person in the wings to back her up. In this years race, the GOP platform needs to be a "three for all": John McCain, Sarah Palin and a third solid rock that could back her up if something were to happen to McCain. I hold this horrible image of Sarah at the desk in the Oval Office saying, "Oh shit! Now what do I do?" (as she hands the famous football off to the "first dude" who is well known to be heavily involved in her affairs as governor.) I mean, he might be a snowmobile racing champion, and I'm pretty sure he's got the diaper thing down, but...

On the issue stands I am familiar with--and the important things in her life--I am not in agreement with a single one as far as I know. I hate hunting if not subsistance. I don't like guns. Her support for aerial gunning of wolves (and she has said any means to kill them is fine with her) indicates a cold heartlessness that will get no nod from me, let alone her absolute and obvious loathing of science. Palin knows little about any energy other than oil--you know, the energy source that is the major cause of carbon output that causes global warming that she doesn't attribute to humans?

Palin isn't pro choice. She doesn't agree with stem cell research. She is an advocate of abstinance only (of course, condoms are okay, but she does not believe in abortifactints which include birth control pills, IUDs, IUS use, etc.). She obviously loaths the endangered species act as she is suing to delist the polar bear, and working vigorously to keep the baluga whale and three species of seals off the list.

Palin might have a clue about Alaska's economy, but no clue about the other 49 states. I'm not comfortable with her giving welcoming messages to an organization that her husband belonged to that wanted to succeed from the US and is akin to anti-us as the KKK is to segregation. Her office, as Governor, has not helped the aboriginal people of Alaska at all, in fact helped to harm them. She is not a Maverick, unless that is a part of working for Ted Stevens the now-indicted Alaska Senator and hiring lobbyists to get a lot of money for Alaska which is, in fact, a welfare state; they contribute nothing to the US national economy.

Palin supports the grueling Ididarod race which I find incredibly abusive to the animals forced to participate in it to the glory of the human. Dogs die in this "race". Palin is anti-gay marriage and her life-long church until 2002 is involved in "praying the gay away". Her former pastor (where she still attends and speaks on occasion) has said that anyone that supported Kerry will probably go to hell. None of that seems at all within the range of reason to me.

She let a Sheriff charge women for their rape kits which is so bizarre and cold it just makes my waiste-length hair stand on end. She is doing everything to stall an ethics investigation into herself after saying she would fully cooperate.

Perhaps it's just me. What's there not to like, right?

As for her experience as the vaulted mayor of a town of 5,000 (at the time), I think her own words express my feelings quite well:

"When asked how she would run the city without experienced department heads, she responded, 'It's not rocket science. It's $6 million and 53 employees.' "

Exactly, Sarah. You sum it up pretty nicely.