Monday, August 3, 2009

Palin and Ahmadinejad: mirror images?

While I could care less about the "maybe, maybe not" claims regarding an impending Palin divorce, which I consider nothing but a sideshow, what Palin continues to stand for is of concern given that she's still the face of the GOP. As the title of this post should make clear, there is good reason to believe that both Sarah Palin and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have quite a bit in common, at least to the extent that they are both right-wing populists. What is right-wing populism? Juan Cole gives an apt enough description:
Right-wing populism, rooted in the religion, culture and aspirations of the lower middle class, is often caricatured as insane by its critics. That judgment is unfair. But it is true that such movements often encourage a political style of exhibitionism, disregard for the facts as understood by the mainstream media, and exaltation of the values of people who feel themselves marginalized by the political system. Not all forms of protest, however, are healthy, even if the protesters have legitimate grievances. Right-wing populism is centered on a theory of media conspiracy, a "my country right or wrong" chauvinism, a fascination with an armed citizenry, an intolerance of dissent and a willingness to declare political opponents mere terrorists. It is cavalier in its disregard of elementary facts and arrogant about the self-evident rightness of its religious and political doctrines. It therefore holds dangers both for the country in which it grows up and for the international community.
Spend some time reading about the two of them, and one will figure really quickly that both espouse a very rigid fundamentalism (Palin as a Christianist, Ahmadinejad as an Islamist), both have strong ties to right-wing "patriot" or militia groups in their respective countries, both portray their political opponents and those dissenting against their respective policies and beliefs as pampered elitists, both tend to be allergic to inconvenient facts that might derail their ambitions, both adore militaristic language, and both seem to have at best a love-hate relationship with their respective party leadership. Under different circumstances, they'd be a match made in heaven.

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