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So Many Victim Cards, So Little Time

When I wrote about the sad whipping feminism has taken this election, I thought (hoped) that maybe I was being a bit grim about what Sarah Palin's candidacy would mean. Instead, I've spent the subsequent couple of weeks watching Team McCain drag the entire GOP down into a spiral of whining, victimology, and grievance politics that makes Hillary dead-enders look almost reasonable. The Carly Fiorina clip Jason posted is a particularly laughable example. But it is the predictable by-product of a campaign that has no other response to any concerns or questions about its VP nominee other than to duck, dodge, lie, and shriek "sexism." 

More broadly, I suppose this entire display shouldn't surprise anyone considering that we are talking about a party that--its professed scorn for whiners notwithstanding--has been peddling a kind of grievance politics and vicitimology for years now. How does the GOP rally its base come election time? By promoting the culture-war notion that red-staters are part of some noble, stoic, "authentic," god-fearing, patriotic subset that is constantly under siege and scorned by snooty, wind-surfing, arugula-eating, Europe-loving elites. Poor, poor conservatives! The elites are out to get you. They think you're ignorant and backward and crass and ridiculous, and they can't wait to take over the government so they can confiscate your guns and triple your tax rate to fund mandatory abortions for teen girls and homosexual indoctrination classes in grade schools nationwide. Rise up and vote Republican because we respect you!

This strategy plays on plenty of pre-existing chips on shoulders: many Southerners' enduring cultural defensiveness, many evangelical Christians' enduring persecution complex (hey, Jesus's followers were always told that the world would hate them for their radical embrace of the Truth), and so on.

With Palin, I initially assumed the McCain campaign would stick with its time-tested class-warfare approach: Dismissing all criticism of her as the result of snotty elitists scorning her small-town cultural conservatism. And they have done plenty of that. But they've now also turned into a bunch of whinging feminists. Honestly, it's getting so you can't figure out which victim card the GOP will play next.

--Michelle Cottle