Life imitates art when it comes to the Palin candidacy

Many years ago, courtesy of Turner Classic Movies (my favorite TV station), I watched The Farmer’s Daughter, a 1947 film starring Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten.  Over the years, I’ve carried a strong memory of liking the movie a great deal, and no memory at all of the plot.  So, when I saw that The Farmer’s Daughter was coming around again, I asked TiVo to catch it for me — and am I glad I did.

First of all, the movie is every bit as charming as I remember, and I’d probably think that even if I wasn’t a Joseph Cotten fan.  It’s a wonderful bit of movie-making from the heyday of the Hollywood studio system, with the stars luminous and the character actors pitch perfect.

Second, the movie seems prescient about Palin’s presence in the presidential race.  For those who don’t know (spoiler alert here), Loretta Young, sporting a strong American/Swedish accent, plays the eponymous “farmer’s daughter,” a young woman named Katrin Holstrom.   Katrin is beautiful, incredibly competent, strong, cheerful and has solid middle American values.

When we first meet Katrin, she is leaving the family farm for the big city, where she plans to attend nursing school.  Unfortunately, hoping to save some money, she hops a ride with City Slicker (yes, capital letters for that old fashioned concept) who tries to hit on her (she rebuffs him), and leaves her broke and stranded.  Undaunted by this setback, she makes her way to the City and, to re-earn money for nursing school, takes a job as a maid for the fabulously wealthy Congressman Glenn Morley (that would be Joseph Cotten).

Because this is a Hollywood movie from the 1940s, Katrin and Glenn, of course, fall in love.  But politics intrudes.  Glenn’s fellow congressman dies suddenly, leaving his seat open.  The “party” (unnamed but, in this Truman era movie out of already-then-progressive Hollywood, clearly the Republican party) nominates someone it thinks is electable — and Katrin objects, quite publicly, to his myriad political defects.  The “opposition” (Democratic, of course) sees a winner in Katrin’s beautiful looks, wholesome aspect and clear talk, and convinces her to run for Congress.

Katrin’s run is going very well indeed until, suddenly, scandal erupts.  The painter who took her money and abandoned her, appears to announce that she spent an illicit night with him.  She is publicly humiliated and her candidacy looks as if it will collapse.

So far, I’m sure you’re with me on the parallels to Palin’s story:  beautiful, incredibly competent, clear-speaking, honorable woman is plucked out of obscurity to great political acclaim.  However, as her candidacy picks up speed, nefarious forces emerge to try to tarnish her image (Tasergate, alleged faked pregnancies, alleged affairs, alleged censorship, and a whole lot of other alleged et ceteras).

And this, of course, is where the movie and the Palin reality part ways.  In the movie, as you can guess, the forces of good band together to save Katrin’s reputation and prove that she’s being unfairly besmirched, she and Morley profess their love for each other, and everyone lives happily ever after, in both life and politics.

How different from what is happening to Palin.  In Palin’s case, there is not one besmirching, but many.  And unlike the situation in the movie, where the removal of a single smear reveals Katrin as her true moral self, here the removal of one smear leads the opposition to redouble its efforts and come up with more and more slanders.

Worse, in the public narrative — the newspapers — there is no knight in shining armor to come and rescue Palin’s reputation.  Instead, it is shredded into ever smaller pieces, with each bit of exculpatory information buried deep within the papers’ unread pages.

The 1947 movie is a powerful indictment of the way in which political corruption and moral turpitude can come together to destroy the strongest person.  It’s only the Hollywood happy ending machine that keeps the movie going as a fairly light romance and prevents it from veering into tragedy.

We can only hope as we watch the machine rage against Palin that she is able to pull off a happy ending in real life, so that we can all watch the movie next year with a smile, rather than regret.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

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  • http://explorations.chasrmartin.com Charlie (Colorado)

    And unlike the situation in the movie, where the removal of a single smear reveals Katrin as her true moral self, here the removal of one smear leads the opposition to redouble its efforts and come up with more and more slanders.

    So far, 89 of them.

  • BrianE

    Very enjoyable movie, and a fitting comparison. If McCain/Palin have a chance, they need to heed this movie and remain authentic. If her handlers advisors have their way, she’ll soon fade. She needs to admit she’s not an expert on foreign affairs, remind folks that John McCain is and take the challenge to become one in the next eight years. And while I hope conservatives never become as disingenuous as their liberal conterparts, where questions are ignored and the candidate answers a different question, Palin needs to bring all questions back to her energy experience by taking on her own party and the evil oil companies.
    Energy is the answer to nearly every question facing the world. That and islamic terrorism. And the fact the country is broke, but neither campaign is talking about that.
    If you examine Obama’s record, his trip to Ukraine with Lugar which resulted in the minor legislation tauted as a major accomplishment, is what Obama is apparently hanging his foreign experience credentials. A trip to Ukraine makes you an expert?
    “A Face in the Crowd” was on last night, and while you have to squint to see Obama in the role, the use of media to manipulate the voters comes through. It is Andy Griffith’s greatest role, except “No Time for Sargeants” which ranks high as my all time favorite comedy.

  • Jeremayakovka

    Timely and temperate commentary. Have you read Kaylene Johnson’s Sarah?

  • Mike Devx

    BrianE says,
    “A trip to Ukraine makes you an expert?”

    Well, even if it made him an expert on Ukraine, it sure didn’t help him with Georgia, did it?

    Jeremayakovka, I’ve got Sarah on order, should be here soon. I’m looking forward to it. It’s supposed to be very factual and clear, and not at all just a bubbly cheerleader kind of a book. Have you read it (has anyone), and what did you think of it?

  • Danny Lemieux

    Book – “We can only hope as we watch the machine rage against Palin that she is able to pull off a happy ending in real life, so that we can all watch the movie next year with a smile, rather than regret.”

    I think Palin’s “happiness” provides a critical clue to what is really going on here.

    Put yourself in the mind of her feminist critics. Here are women whose entire lives have been dedicated to the idea that they are at war with men in order to achieve what they believe to be “equality in the workplace” and “social standing”. In exchange for pursuing their ideal, many have given up having sex with men (“real men”, anyway), having families with happy children. They pursued degrees at elite institutions so that hey could hold those degrees above the heads of others as a measure of self-worth. Many of them, probably, had very unhappy childhoods, perhaps due to abuse suffered upon them by men, whether fathers or boyfriends. In the process, they became unhappy, hateful, shrewish personalities that sold their souls (read Book’s posts about what the abortion lobby has become) and their chance for happiness on the alter of “accomplishment” . But that was OK, they could reason, because it was all for a good cause.

    Then, along comes Sarah Palin, the High School beauty queen that these women all hated, who dated and married the kind of hunky guy that these women could only dream about but could never get a date with. Sarah Palin has a family, has many children, is very comfortable in the presence of men, and managed to parlay an undergraduate degree from a relatively unknown university into several successful careers marked by accomplishment, including a governorship.

    So, here you have Palin: accomplished, attractive, happy and with a great family and without any regrets about who she is. She has accomplished all that her opponents set out to do with their lives…and much, much more. She shows them that the template they chose for their lives was flawed and, for most of these women, it’s too late to change. All of her harpy opponents in the MSM must be asking themselves, “I sold my soul…for what?”.

    Palin is the mirror in their faces, and what they really don’t like what they see. That hurts.

  • suek

    >>Palin is the mirror in their faces, and what they really don’t like what they see. That hurts.>>

    What’s more, she married a man who supports her both in the sense of her work and in raising her family. Don’t you wonder about those who are saying “she can’t possibly do justice to her family if she’s the VP”? Are they saying that a “Mr. Mom” just can’t cut it when it comes to raising kids? Do they realize what they are saying about all those gay male couples who want to adopt kids?

    The whole reaction is _really_ bizzare, imo, though I think you’re right on here. What’s even more is that they’ve also pretty much destroyed the type of man Sarah has as a husband – one who cooperates and supports instead of just more competes. They’re a _partnership_. They express what a traditional marriage and family _should_ be (even if in a sort of non-traditional way), and there are those who want to destroy that institution so that they can replace it with the State. The Palins set out for all to see just how big a loss to us all that would be.

  • Mike Devx

    An article on American Thinker argues that Sarah Palin represents the frontier values and indomitable spirit of America in exactly the same way that Maureen O’Hara did.

    As soon as I read that, I sat up in my chair and practically shouted, “Yes!” That’s exactly the comparison that matches how I feel. I had forgotten about Maureen O’Hara; so many years have passed.

    Just about the only John Wayne movies I’ll rewatch these days have her in them. And the old ‘Parent Trap’ remains a complete joy to me, not because of Hayley Mills or Brian Keith, but because of Maureen O’Hara. There’s just something so fantastically wonderful about her energy and optimism and fire and spark and verve and, yes, beauty, too. The intelligence and the emotion.

    And Sarah Palin evokes the same response for those of us who still value those American values and that indomitable American can-do spirit. America loved Maureen O’Hara, and America loves Sarah Palin. I understand my instinctive response to Sarah Palin now.

  • dagon

    book,

    just curious…what “smear” being floated by the msm has been removed?

    as far as i can tell, she’s still being painted as a scary, incurious, lying opportunist, with marginal reasoning skills. and she has done nothing to extricate herself from that portrayal.

    peace

  • Danny Lemieux

    “…as far as i can tell, she’s still being painted as a scary, incurious, lying opportunist, with marginal reasoning skills. and she has done nothing to extricate herself from that portrayal.”

    But, dagon, you haven’t really tried to find out whether that’s true or not, have you?

  • dagon

    danny,

    i’ve done more than most. it would help if she ever conceded to give a press conference.

    peace

  • Mike Devx

    Dagon says,
    “…as far as i can tell, she’s still being painted as a scary, incurious, lying opportunist, with marginal reasoning skills. and she has done nothing to extricate herself from that portrayal.”

    This just goes to show that Plato’s reflections on a cave wall are nothing more than our own projections. Everything I see and hear and read concerning Sarah Palin reinforces my positive opinion of her. Everything dagon sees and hears and reads reinforced his negative one.

    You have to wonder exactly which steps dagon would have to see, by which Sarah Palin could take to “extricate herself from that portrayal.” Which steps would convince him that that whole string of negative perceptions was wrong?

    I have EXACTLY the same problem with my own (continuously growing) string of negative impressions of Obama. I doubt there’s anything he could do to sway me, and I doubt there’s anything Sarah Palin could do to sway dagon.

  • dagon

    mike

    a press conference would go along way to giving me a more accurate impression of her merits. so far, all we’ve seen are prepped speeches by a former sportscaster, and on the one occasion she was asked to think on her feet, she failed miserably and kept on repeating talking points.

    this is unprecedented in american politics btw, for the vp nom of any party NOT to have had a press conference at so late a date after their selection was nominated. make of that what you will. there’s a mountain building against this nomination, and try as you may you people can only shovel so much of it away.

    i think once the exit polls are counted, palin will be shown to have been an albatross.

    peace

  • gd

    Obama is back up in the decision markets to the same level as pre-VP selection, as the Palin euphoria’s impact on predicted election results has apparently petered out. It will be interesting to see whether she now does harm rather than just serves as a non-factor, but it would seem that she and the campaign will need to change tactics if she is going to deliver McCain a more lasting boost.

  • dagon

    Obama is back up in the decision markets to the same level as pre-VP selection, as the Palin euphoria’s impact on predicted election results has apparently petered out. It will be interesting to see whether she now does harm rather than just serves as a non-factor, but it would seem that she and the campaign will need to change tactics if she is going to deliver McCain a more lasting boost.

    yeah, i saw that. obama is up in the 4 leading polls. and palin’s approval is going south daily. we’ll see how things shake out after the debate.

    peace

  • gd

    dagon, not polls. Decision markets. As others have pointed out, the polls are unreliable even when coming from non-partisan groups like Gallup–to say nothing of ABC or Fox News. Decision markets don’t rely on any moron to construct or answer a poll, but base projections on people betting their own money on long-term contracts not open to interpretation. Empirically, they perform much, much better as leading indicators.

    You can find a great summary of these markets on Yahoo’s Political Dashboard by clicking on the “markets” box under the Electoral Vote Projections tab. Obama is up with a projected 291 electoral votes to McCain’s 247. What is really interesting is how NOT close the election really is, if the decision markets are to be believed, since there are only 5 battleground states (NH, VA, OH, CO, NV) and, with the exception of NH, McCain has to run the table in them to win the election. According to the markets, he is leading in only one of them now (OH, by 3-4%).

  • dagon

    gd,

    thanks for the clarification. remember however, that i am speaking to be understood HERE. polls matter to these guys; and he’s up in the 4 leading polls as of today as well.

    peace

  • Ymarsakar

    I watched High Noon )1952) with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelley. Really nice, Book, if you haven’t seen it yet.