September
6th 2008
ZOMG: Erica Jong is working for the Republican Party!

Posted under: American history, class, wankers, women's history

UPDATED WITH NEW POLLS BELOW

Thanks for nothing, jerk.  Erica Jong calls Sarah Palin “white trash” and implies that “rednecks” are lesser Americans (h/t Ann Bartow at Feminist Law Professors):

White trash America certainly has allure for voters. Some people think rednecks are more American than Harvard educated intellectuals of mixed race. God help us in the next election. The NRA and the oil industry sure won’t.

As a very wise young historian once said, “keep it up, Dems!  Remember:  the people don’t think you’re laughing at Palin.  They think you’re laughing at them.

Apologies to Rose at Romantoes for suggesting that she was using the phrase “shut up” too much in her posts.  Obviously, there’s not enough shutting up happening around here.  We could all use a nice big cup of…well, you know.

UPDATE 9/7/08:  Well, well, well:  that strategy of Democrats and so-called “progressives” piling on Sarah Palin has worked really well–for John McCain!  Rasmussen has him tied now with Obama, and the Gallup daily tracking poll has him up by 3 points (margin of error 2 points)!  (H/t TalkLeft.)  Wow–great job, “lefty” blogs and “feminist” concern trolls!  Keep it up, and we’ll be on our way to a McCain landslide.  Keep laughing at the rubes, and McCain will laugh all the way to the White House in January!

29 Comments »

29 Responses to “ZOMG: Erica Jong is working for the Republican Party!”

  1. Rad Readr on 06 Sep 2008 at 8:25 pm #

    The more interesting point is the role that higher education is playing in this election. Clearly there’s an undereducated group that feels uncomfortable voting a highly educated Ivy League grad such as Obama or Gore. (They gave Bush a pass because clearly he got in as a legacy and was a C student.) This speaks to a kind of social split between the haves and have-nots in terms of elite degrees (or degrees at all) — and a kind of distrust of higher education at the same time that certain middle-class parents have become obsessed about getting their kids into elite universities and colleges. Higher education continues to be a mark of class, and thus the split that is happening. Interesting twist: Hillary changed from the elite Ivy LEague grad to a woman of the people, probably right after the Monica Lewinski situation.

  2. amy on 06 Sep 2008 at 9:01 pm #

    Great comment, Rad Readr! I am SO tired of feeling like my candidate needs to keep his dirty little secret — he got an education, gasp! — on the downlow.

    News flash to people who resent book learnin’: You’re SUPPOSED to get an education.

    As for Erica Jong, honestly, Historiann, you do more damage than good by publicizing her comment. You should let her wallow in has-been-land. When was the last time she wrote anything notable, anyway?

    Last problem, Historiann, my marriage is collapsing as I spend more and more time on your blog. You see my husband is also spending way too much time on your blog. Can this marriage be saved???

    Finally, I’d like to comment that we liberals are n’t as nice as conservatives when it comes to teens getting pregnant. Unlike the position taken by Palin — one of understanding support — my attitude is quite different. You get someone pregnant, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Seriously, whatever happened to reprimands???

  3. ej on 06 Sep 2008 at 9:15 pm #

    I’m with Amy, only its my career that is suffering, not my marriage. Stop with the engrossing posts, already! I need to get some work done, instead of checking your blog obsessively throughout the day!

  4. Rose on 07 Sep 2008 at 7:33 am #

    Erica Jong seems to have become one of those people who believes that we live in a post-feminist world where there is no such thing as sexism, only ironic, self-referential “sexism,” like the kind in TV commercials that condone sexism by mocking it. (Wish I could think of a rock-solid example right now, but it’s early. Pretty much any beer commercial should do.)

    Clearly, though, classism is still alive and well and perfectly acceptable to voice.

  5. Historiann on 07 Sep 2008 at 8:14 am #

    I’m at Historiann.com world HQ, enjoying my nice big morning cup of…you know, gazing out the window at my rose bushes and herb garden in the sunny, Colorado morning.

    Truly, every day since mid-week last week I’ve resolve NOT to post about Sarah Palin, but people allegedly opposed to her and her politics keep saying things that just help her and make people want to protect and defend her. And now, the campaign coverage in my Sunday Denver Post is as though Palin is running against Obama. Dems (from Obama on down) need to stop talking about Sarah Palin, unless they want this election to be a referendum on Sarah Palin instead of George W. Bush and his BFF John McCain!

    Historiann is not out to destroy anyone’s marriage or career (at least not with her blog!)–people, get a grip! As Rad points out, the Clintons were Ivy-educated and yet the charges of elitism didn’t stick. PLEASE Dems, read up on some recent history–it didn’t take a prognosticator or an astrologist to predict that the Republicans would accuse the Dem ticket of being out-of-touch and elitist, by comparison to the down-home regular folks on the Republican side. Figure out how the Clintons did it–and do it! (Or, at least, please just shut up!)

  6. Historiann on 07 Sep 2008 at 8:23 am #

    p.s. Some linky goodness, especially for you Californians: Anglachel points us to this article in the SF Chronicle by Willie Brown. Brown points out that in choosing Palin, the McCain campaign has upstaged Obama as the new kid in town, and their act only has to run for the next 2 months…

  7. lambert strether on 07 Sep 2008 at 10:46 am #

    As I said elsewhere:

    What was it Bill Clinton used to say… “That’s the….” No. “It might be…” No. “It’s a ….”, no, but maybe … “It’s the… It’s the… It’s the 17-year-old’s uterus?” No, not quite. “It’s the eccch?” … “It’s the ecdysiast?” … “It’s the EC?” No, none of that seems right.

  8. Historiann on 07 Sep 2008 at 11:31 am #

    Right on, Lambert. The economy is the Dems’ winning issue, always, and if they can’t make the case this year, then they should just fold their tents and go away.

  9. Kathie on 07 Sep 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    These trends are of course not new in American political life, just see Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963 Pulitzer Prize winner for history). Intellectuals have in general not figured out how to counter American ideas that advanced education equals out-of-touch elitism (how did Bill Clinton succeed in doing that anyway?). As Erica Jong’s unfortunate outburst illustrates, attacking people for being anti-intellectual only confirms their belief that intellectuals are elitist and condescending.

  10. Historiann on 07 Sep 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    Right, Kathie–and can we blame them? I don’t, especially when words like redneck and white trash get slung around as those those class- and ethnic slurs are A-OK with everyone.

    Clinton’s bubba credentials helped, but I agree with Lambert: it’s the economy, stupid. People get it if they think that an intellectual really cares about them, and kitchen table issues are the way to (certainly this year!) I don’t think that Obama has yet made that sale. I don’t know how he will do it either, because I think to a large extent he has presented his authentic self, which is cool and cerebral, rather than a passionate fighter.

    Notice, in Colorado Springs yesterday, that McCain/Palin were continuing their “There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you” line of attack–I think this is the “politics of contrast” that the Republicans are setting up. Obama = too cool for you, McCain = fight fight fight.

  11. Geoff on 07 Sep 2008 at 10:25 pm #

    Barbara Boxer had a good take on this a few days ago, when she listed all the policies that McCain had fought hard against, such as minimum wage, health care, social security…the story can be found here on Kos : http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/9/6/34821/39471 (I hope that worked, I’ve never pasted a link before).

    Obama has been talking about the economy for a long time, but he and other Democrats in general would do well to tie Republican policies to negative effects on the economy, not just listing what the Democrats could do a little better. Generally the Republican orthodoxy of lower taxes=better for business, lower wages=better for business, less unions=better for business goes explicitly unchallenged. Now we’re in a situation where Asian governments are holding trillions in our currency due to uneven balance of payments, lack of investment in education is reducing our competitive advantage in high tech & engineering, and we’re only able to maintain our Iraq war by borrowing heavily. Maybe he’s talking about all that on the stump and I’m missing it, but it should be front and center.

    Obama’s presentation of his authentic self is more of a strength than a weakness. He’s been pretty much the same person throughout this process, and isn’t susceptible to charges of inauthenticity or posturing that have dogged other Democratic candidates in the past. He is both cool and intellectual and someone who feels passionately about the issues. Certainly the domestic policy debate will be his big opportunity to challenge McCain on all these topics, and given how close the race is, may well be the most pivotal event between now and election day.

    What were we talking about? Erica Jong? I guess I’m just seconding y’all talking about the importance of the economy.

  12. Shinhao Li on 07 Sep 2008 at 10:48 pm #

    I respectfully disagree – small-town Republicans are not resentful of Ivy League grads. It’s that kind of thinking that puts the Democrats and the media in the predicament they are currently in.

    Rural residents have nothing against credentialed smart people, or Ivy League grads (I don’t want to brag, so just trust me, I am in a position to know) – they just don’t want to be talked down upon. They don’t want their opinions to be dismissed as poor and misguided. They want to be respected.

    Let’s be honest – here in academia, we do look down on blue-collar workers. Would you marry one? Would you tell your friends you are dating one? That is the problem. They can smell disdain, and faking respect won’t help.

  13. Historiann on 07 Sep 2008 at 11:03 pm #

    Geoff–I don’t think Obama is yet making the sale, but we will see. It is the economy, but the Palin nomination has reawakened some bad juju among the Dems, which had barely been tamped down since Clinton’s suspension of her campaign, and the Republicans are excited and hopeful now for the first time this year. See this commentary by Matt Stoller–I think he makes some good points.

    And, Shinhao Li: some academics may look down on blue collar workers, but I know of at least one who married a blue collar guy–Geoff’s wife! Also, most of those looking-down academics might change their gaze to envy when they learned that many blue collar workers have better job security and benefits than we do in our Ivory Towers. (Those in unions anyway.) I agree with you that it’s the talking down to & name calling that’s the root of the problem, not the credentials. (And, Geoff has a background of professional study in European intellectual history, so like most of us, his story is more complex and interesting than labels suggest.)

  14. amy on 08 Sep 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    NO JOAN OF ARC

    Historiann, I think you’re making a martyr out of Palin. First of all, she’s a media darling and she’s up for a really BIG promotion — she’s far from oppressed.

    Second, if she turns this election, it won’t be because of Ivy League elitists and their elitist comments, sex novels or lattes. It’ll be because Palin is the living, flesh-and-blood embodiment of the pro-life philsophy and, in so BEing, has successfully energized the once-lackluster base. They’re out there making phone calls and we’re here trading intellectual nuance. Or something.

    Bottom line: We are a conservative country and we like conservative leaders. It’s not that Obama is a screw-up or that Pelosi is incompetent; it’s that their views are not as popular.

    And as for the Clinton distinction, the Clintons were constantly derided as elitist. I remember one commentator remarking how bad it made Hillary look because she only had one child. I remember the Republicans reading aloud Hillary’s law review article at the ’92(?) convention and booing it for its elitist sentiments (comparing stay at home moms to indians on the reservation).

    No, Historiann, the fault does not belong to the liberal pundits. It’s the electorate itself, or at least 52% of it. As for the rest of us, my feeling is if the red states don’t like us, maybe it’s time to talk divorce. Leave us our cities, our universities, trial lawyers, teachers, high tech industries, public parks and all the rest.

    Peace out.

    On more thing: PLEASE STOP THE SELF=HATING STUFF

    If you are sick of losing, stop doing the usual Democratic number of turning it on ourselves. Register at mybarackobama.com. It’s so easy to find out what’s happening near you and you can sign up and get directions online for small but helpful assignments.

  15. Shinhao Li on 08 Sep 2008 at 3:01 pm #

    Historiann:

    Well, I profess no knowledge of Geoff or his family, of course. Just think about the past Democratic presidents – Clinton, Carter, JFK/LBJ. Clinton and Carter were well-educated, but they never disavowed their small-town roots, but instead embraced them. JFK would not have gotten elected if LBJ didn’t deliver Texas for him. LBJ won as the successor to an assassinated president, and a Southerner. This is how they won.

    People don’t want to be told what to do, and don’t want to be given pity and aid from those that think themselves better than them.

  16. Historiann on 08 Sep 2008 at 3:33 pm #

    Amy–I’m not making a martyr of Palin! My hit count is way below Huffington Post, or DailyKos, or any of the so-called “liberal” and “progressive” sites that are piling on her. I’m just calling out bad behavior where I see it–and I’m afraid in that, I’m vox clamantis in deserto.

    If the Dems don’t win this year, there will be plenty of blame to go around, starting with the candidate on down. Historiann is all about making sure that everyone keeps their sticks on the ice. (I know how you love those hockey metaphors!)

  17. Historiann on 08 Sep 2008 at 4:30 pm #

    And–Shinhao Li–I was just teasing you…of course you couldn’t know!

  18. hysperia on 08 Sep 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    The piece by Jong is somehow both sickening and laughable at the same time – sickening for obvious reasons, I hope, and laughable because it’s such a stupid thing to say and even more stupid to believe it, as I assume she must if she said it. “Rednecks” comprise a large part of the electorate and if Sarah Palin is meant to appeal to them, people like Jong are certainly emphasizing the point for the Republicans. I wish enough people would read your post, Historiann, to stop this nonsense and I DO hope you keep putting it out there. One day, perhaps the people who could make this nonsense stop will get the message! If your readers don’t think this stuff spreads through the Republican blogs like wildfire, they’re leaving too much of the reading to me! It can’t hurt if some people on the left speak out against it. Though it might not help quite enough.

    As for the whole “intellectual elitist” thing, I was by far the most educated person in my extended family, which managed to be simultaneously proud of and threatened by my education. Sometimes, they held me up as an example of the ability of “poor folk” to rise above their “station” in life; other times, they knocked me viciously down off what they perceived to be my pedestal and left me rolling around in the muck. I learned to walk a very fine line with them. And they with me, perhaps. It’s worth paying attention to the threat posed. People who haven’t had the opportunity for any kind of “higher” education believe that we who have had that opportunity have something that they don’t. Presumably, at some level, we do. This, too, becomes an arena for a conflict between “haves” and “have-nots” and its a bit of an exercise of privilege for “us” to deny it.

  19. e.j. on 08 Sep 2008 at 7:42 pm #

    I think the one advantage the Republicans have over the Democrats is their ability to unify-even if they don’t like the candidate. If you watch enough CNN/MSNBC/FOX (which I only admit to doing because I’m in the gym at the time) you’ll see the exact same talking points coming out of everyone’s mouths. And I’m sure the same is true of the blogs, though I admit to not reading them. The only time you see dissent is by accident (i.e. Peggy Noonan). Many of them weren’t crazy about the Palin pick, but we’re not going to hear it. And I’m sure W isn’t happy that McCain is basically running on complete and total rejection of him, but again, we’re not going to hear it.

    The Democrats are continuing to debate amongst themselves, some still mourning what happened to HRC, some still unhappy with Obama, some unhappy with their party in toto. And as a Dem, I support this type of debate, but am beginning to think that that is why we are ultimately destined to lose elections to the GOP. Even more than Republicans, we don’t like “being told what to do”. And we really don’t like being told what to think.

  20. Historiann on 08 Sep 2008 at 8:37 pm #

    ej, you’re right, although the Dems have historically been capable of unity. 4 years ago, there were no such thing as Howard Dean holdouts after it was clear that Kerry had won the primaries early on. All of us banded together and didn’t look back. George W. Bush was a powerful uniting force in our party, and I think one reason it hasn’t happened that way is that GWB is going in January no matter what, and even many Dems aren’t as appalled by McCain as they were by Bush.

    It’s also a LOT easier to unite around a VP pick, who is always appointed by the candidate (instead of going through a primary), and who (as in the Palin example) is clearly firing up a lot of party members, even if she’s not everybody’s favorite. I like what Big Tent Democrat said tonight over at TalkLeft:

    In essence, Obama opened the door by not picking Hillary Clinton and McCain walked through it. McCain’s Palin gamble clearly has worked. He is in the game. And he would not have been if he had not chosen Palin. And McCain would not have chosen Palin if Obama had picked Clinton.

  21. e.j. on 08 Sep 2008 at 8:50 pm #

    I was actually thinking about that very issue today. Let’s face it-if Palin were running against McCain, instead of with him, their views about “sexist” attacks would be very different. They don’t, after all, have the best record on women’s issues. But it serves them well to be able to rally around her and decry the “sexist” attacks of the left-whether they are real (and some are) or not (and some aren’t).

    Its much different on the Democratic side, where the war was intra-party. I did see Big Ten Democrat, and I saw those poll numbers, but I have to question whether that many women are just immune to actual policy when casting their vote. HRC and Palin couldn’t be more different on the issues. Do we really want to accept that so many women are just voting for a woman? I get the small town appeal, but that might be all they have in common. I’d like to see the other polls broken down, because I’ve read very different things about the “Palin effect”.

  22. Historiann on 08 Sep 2008 at 8:59 pm #

    Yes–good points and good questions. I think the fact is that many supporters of Hillary Clinton were probably attracted to her for superficial reasons, and Palin may push some of those same buttons. It’s hard to say, unless and until we see if women actually vote for McCain/Palin in such high numbers. I’m skeptical myself, since women are the backbone of the Dem party base.

    Gee, maybe we should revisit the strategy of beating up one female candidate for high office after another? D’ya think? One thing you have to say about Republicans: they take care of their base, instead of beating it up.

  23. amy on 09 Sep 2008 at 5:09 pm #

    Historiann, I’m glad that you brought up the point that the reason McCain was able to work the Palin pick effectively was because Obama left himself vulnerable by not picking Hillary Clinton. No doubt — I even saw Republicans scratching their heads on that one.

    I’d also like to second EJ’s comment. Bill Clinton said that Republicans “fall in line” with their candidates, while Democrats want to “fall in love” with them. That really has to change.

    So on that sentiment, I want to remind everyone that it’s super easy to go to mybarackobama.com and sign up for some phone work or registering new voters. (You can search by zip code and sign up online.)

    Because conservatives are rallying and telephoning as we speak. They’re not sitting around feeling happy that a few well-meaning professor types validated their ‘working class’ status on Historiann.

    They’re flexing their muscle.

  24. amy on 09 Sep 2008 at 5:18 pm #

    One last thing, Historiann (post expresso, younger child still in after-school care, can you tell?)

    You mentioned looking at how Bill Clinton managed to get elected. I think he did it by playing it pretty conservative, pledging to “end welfare as we know it,” pulling a Sister Souljah, applying the death penalty, etc.

    Here’s my question, if anyone’s interested, and I’m serious and not trying to make any larger point: What conservative positions would you be okay with Obama taking in order to win (along the lines of what Clinton traded off)? Can we lose choice? What about health insurance? Prolong Iraq? What’s most important and what can go?

  25. Historiann on 09 Sep 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    Well Amy, I agree that Clinton tacked right in the general election in 1992, as most candidates do once the nomination is all wrapped up. But, Obama has done that–courting evangelicals, refusing to speak out forcefully for abortion rights, and of course the unnecessary FISA capitulation. And, he saw a substantial lead in June melt steadily away, to the point now that he’s between 1-10 points behind nationally, and he’s fallen behind in key swing states too. (Not Colorado–he’s 3 points up here according to the latest poll, I think.) So I don’t think that jettisoning yet more progressive and Democratic positions is the way to go.

    I think the reason he seems to have lost ground is that he just seems out of gas. I don’t see him showing any passion out on the stump, nor in his recent interviews. He seems to be fumbling along and unable to articulate why it’s critically important that he be elected president. McCain/Palin are effectively mobilizing the Republican old standby, ressentiment. It seems to have caught Obama off guard, but it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that they’d run that play against him. The Republicans have specialized in portraying Dems as out-of-touch elitists since forever, but they’ve been especially good at it in the 2000s.

    Bill Clinton is right, except that this year, a lot of Dems really fell in love with Obama, but a lot of Dems really didn’t and still aren’t in love with him. Me, I would find passion and even righteous anger absolutely loveable in Obama right now. Maybe he was only passionate about beating Hillary Clinton–he just hasn’t mustered the same fire in the belly to beat McCain.

  26. amy on 09 Sep 2008 at 6:32 pm #

    I think you can make a good case that Obama is firmly in the middle, but a fair number of the people I’m telephoning believe he is liberal and will impose unwanted liberal policies on them, whatever he might say. So maybe FISA isn’t enough.

    As for issues, my most important issue is U.S. belligerence in the world — as in, bomb bomb Iran. I already felt this way but the fact that I have a son three years away from drafting age has me pretty concerned. Obviously the volunteer army isn’t stretching as far as the Admin. needs it to, given their ambitions.

    As for choice, to quote Peggy Noonan, “It’s over.” In four years, McCain will run against the do-nothing Democratic congress and then it’s four more and then Palin for prez… so I for one am hoping she faked her pregnancy because our side really needs a break!

  27. Historiann on 09 Sep 2008 at 6:58 pm #

    Ha-ha! Good one, Amy–but you sound like you’ve given up on your candidate. Have you? Don’t you think he can turn it around?

  28. Kathleen de la Peña McCook on 28 Sep 2008 at 8:05 am #

    Ms. Jong needs to realize that there is a tradition of state universities that may not have the status of Harvard, but are rigorous and respectable places to earn a degree. Some of them are in Illinois.

  29. Historiann on 28 Sep 2008 at 8:17 am #

    Yes, Kathleen–exactly. Some of them are in Colorado, too! But, never let it be said that a Democrat lost an opportunity to be condescending to those of us who study and teach outside of the Ivy League…

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