Frontier Fecundity
September 11, 2008, 06:59 PM
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Here's the opening of the Sarah Palin article I wrote last week for the upcoming issue of The American Conservative:

Why, in one uproarious week of American politicking that not even H.L. Mencken would have expected, has the once unknown Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, outraged roughly one-half of the country and overjoyed the other half?

What intrigues people about elections aren't the platform planks. Deep down, political contests are about picking symbolic champions. Just as Barack Obama, recently of the Illinois legislature, has arationally excited tens of millions by his emphasis on his bloodlines, by his implication that national racial reconciliation is "in my DNA," the overstuffed life story of the caribou huntress and mother of five (and soon to be grandmother at age 44) embodies the oldest boast Americans have made about their homeland: the fecundity of the frontier.

Compared to Obama's much-lauded but tedious life, cautiously plotted in countless Chicago backrooms, the Alaskan-sized lustiness of Gov. Palin's full-throttle biography comes as a delight. The way the only-in-Alaska factoids about her keep piling up, like in an Old West tall tale, always leaves me laughing.

Consider, for example, Palin's husband Todd. What kind of man could be married to a woman so hormonally exuberant, with her dual archetypes straight out of a Camille Paglia reverie: half Alaskan Amazon, half Venus of Willendorf? Exactly the kind of man you'd expect: he works as both a North Shore oilfield roughneck and a salmon fisherman. He's also won the state's snowmobile championship, the 2,000 mile Tesoro Iron Dog race, four times, but only finished fourth this year because he had to ride the last 400 miles with a broken arm after being thrown 70 feet. Did I mention he's part Eskimo?

I won't give away the rest of my article, but veteran readers can guess how this all ties together with many of my long-time obsessions such as Affordable Family Formation. I'm always accused of having weird obsessions, but they seem to eventually turn out to be everybody else's weird obsessions, too.