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September 16, 2008

Experience Matters


At this point, there seems to be a clear disconnect between the “media elites in the GOP” and the anti-intellectual, anti-Washington instinct behind the Palin pick.  The following snippet is from the column, Why Experience Matters, by David Brooks (by way of today’s “Playbook” by Politico’s Mike Allen).

‘Is Sarah Palin qualified to be vice president? Most conservatives say yes, on the grounds that something that feels so good could not possibly be wrong. But a few commentators, like George Will, Charles Krauthammer, David Frum and Ross Douthat demur, suggesting in different ways that she is unready. … The elitists favor sophistication, but the common-sense folk favor simplicity. The elitists favor deliberation, but the populists favor instinct. This populist tendency produced the term-limits movement based on the belief that time in government destroys character but contact with grass-roots America gives one grounding in real life. And now it has produced Sarah Palin. Palin is the ultimate small-town renegade rising from the frontier to do battle with the corrupt establishment. …

‘As George Will pointed out, the founders used the word ‘experience’ 91 times in the Federalist Papers. Democracy is not average people selecting average leaders. It is average people with the wisdom to select the best prepared. Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.

‘The idea that ‘the people’ will take on and destroy ‘the establishment’ is a utopian fantasy that corrupted the left before it corrupted the right. Surely the response to the current crisis of authority is not to throw away standards of experience and prudence, but to select leaders who have those qualities but not the smug condescension that has so marked the reaction to the Palin nomination in the first place.’

This image was posted on the TIME White House photo blog back on September 3rd, with the title and caption:  “Closet Space: The dress worn by Sarah Palin at the announcement of her candidacy hangs in the shower on the campaign bus.”

In his gifted way of applying political commentary, photographer Christopher Morris uses visual metaphor to at least suggest something that would otherwise come off as overly harsh in words, which is that the wearer of this garment, in terms of her ability to fill out her designated role, is more of an empty suit.

(slighty updated 12:45 pm PST)

(image:  Christopher Morris/ VII for TIME)

  • Roschelle

    This election has brought out the absolute worst in this country. To some McCain and Palin can do no wrong even though the evidence says otherwise. This country, founded over 200 years ago only afforded black Americans the right to vote when Obama was 4 years old (1965) That is paramount in understanding what this campaign is faced with.

  • bystander

    I’ve been puzzling over MonsieurGonzo’s complaint about the vicious caricature of Mrs. Palin that BAGman put up yesterday ~ only to reconsider and scrub it from this site before too many people saw it. Huh? Gee, what image was that? I figured I’d missed it. But, this photo brought it back, and sure enough, as I scroll backwards, I can’t find that New Yorker caricature of Sara Palin in the red dress, with wide toothsome grin, and the neck that seems to disappear before it fully descends into the dress. Funny how images get connected, and stored in association. If I’ve identified the right image, I’m still not sure I understand the complaint, but I’m glad to have recaptured the image from memory. I was able to dig around in The New Yorker’s site and find it. And, it was this “empty suit” which recalled it for me.

  • donna

    “destroy a corrupt establishment — and replace it with her own”
    There, I fixed it for you, Brooks.

  • The BAG

    bystander (and Gonz),
    You guys are amazing. It’s one thing to do The BAG, or be The BAG. It’s another thing though to integrate the knowledge that people are actually students of the bag. And when I say “students,” I’m referring to people who not only study the images here and think deeply about them like I try to, but also wonder, remember and even interpret those images I put up and then take down very quickly on occasion (the same way I have a habit of editing and re-editing posts I’ve already posted) because I don’t think I’ve got it right.
    Anyway, I’m not going to re-post the post from Sunday because (Gonz) I still think what I had to say (simply) didn’t address the image fully enough. However, and it’s a great call by bystander, I did have today’s image AND the one from Sunday in mind as a pair. You might have had trouble finding it, though, because it was way in back of the New Yorker two weeks ago as part of their TV coverage of the RNC. To relieve everyone who is also curious, and show how the other image plays to “the suit,” here is the illustration in question.
    (illustration: Steve Brodner/The New Yorker.  September 15, 2008.  Accompanying: Convention Wisdom by Nancy Franklin. p. 84)

  • bystander

    *blush* WellGeezeIDunno…
    You invite me to think about these images, and so I do. Sometimes coming back several times to look at the same image again, think about what comments people have made, subject it to an atmospheric soak, and come back once more to make a comment – if I think I have anything to say at all.
    I was genuinely puzzled by Gonz’s response because I could NOT recall the image to which he referred. Puzzled because I try to peek in frequently, and so, two things, I couldn’t figure out how I missed it, and if it were that striking, how I might have forgotten it. But, when I saw today’s image, it came back in a flash. What intrigued me, then, was the suggestion as to the way I’d stored that image in memory … and, what prompted me to recall it.
    I thought about including the link I found to The New Yorker in my earlier comment, but not being clear why you had taken it down, decided I’d leave it alone. Thanks for closing that loop. I felt a little guilty letting it hang, but didn’t want to overstep a boundary.
    I think this is a great site, and I’m learning a lot by checking in here. I’m flattered to be called a “student of TheBAG.”

  • paulimorph

    behold a pale clothes horse

  • Books Alive

    The white plastic hangar brings a couple of things to mind. I associate it with lower priced clothing stores, like Ross or Nordstrom’s Rack, and without reading the text, I decided it couldn’t have been Cindy’s outfit. SHE would have had a padded hangar, at the least. I suppose the flag pin should have been the clue, but it didn’t cinch it for me.

  • Books Alive

    Gosh, among the photos in “Time White House photo blog” is one from the Olympics. It was posted August 11, and shows that scene of Pres Bush with hands cupped, and daughter Barbara looking on disapprovingly. But it’s a big, wide shot that shows Laura looking up behind them, and, of all things, Henry Kissinger and his wife in the row in front.
    That was a good discussion the BAG had!

  • jean

    Vicious caricature? What planet does he live on? Looks like a standard political cartoon caricature to me. I thought the Greenburg stuff was more extreme. But thanks for the link. That was such a tease, I wrote out a whole comment about it @ ~ 1am and then lost it. Screw it. But serendipity! heeerrre’s Sarah! and Lehman Brothers!

  • elfpix

    Chris strikes again. He’s been using his Canons to make commentary on the current occupant and his sycophants nearly since the thing began. The great thing about his images is how they only pack a whallop for those who can see. The blind just take them literally, and the images make those people feel warm and proud all over – help me, I’m not recollecting which pundit said something about a shiver up their leg when Palin first appeared…

  • elfpix

    As for the Brodner drawing, if you really want to get the scoop, head on over to your iTunes store, search for Steve’s little cartoon vids in the Podcast department, download a few of them and enjoy. Very different from the Telnaes cartoons, but equally essential as commentary on the current scene.

  • paulimorph


  • momly

    My first look at this made me think it was the uniform for a pilot hanging in a luggage space on a plane.
    I wouldn’t want her flying that, either.

  • Duros Hussein 62

    This image says one thing to me.

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