Tribal Fertility Totem Elicits Strong Emotions
September 02, 2008, 04:37 PM
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Over at The American Scene, the always sensible Noah Millman returns from the Labor Day Weekend to make some sensible comments about Sarah Palin: e.g., she might have made a better Keynote speaker, like Obama in 2004, than VP candidate. (By the way, though, how often do you think Democrats have kicked themselves since 2004 that they didn't let themselves get carried away at that convention and nominate Obama for Veep by acclamation back then, instead of what's his name, that loser with the hair? John Kerry might be President today.)

But Noah then added this postscript, after he realized that we're in the middle of a full-blown national freak-out over the various Palin Pregnancy stories, true and false, that have obsessed attention since he left for the weekend.

 

UPDATE: You know, I wrote this post, and made my little points, and then I started working back through some of the comments (not on my posts, actually – I haven’t gotten back that far, and I’m not sure I will). People are seriously losing their minds here, in a way that I’ve never seen before on this site. And not just people who have obviously wandered over here for the first time: regular readers are going off their rockers. I’m really not sure what we all ought to do about this. I wrote a little sermonette but I just deleted it because I can’t imagine anyone who’s gone off their rocker reading it and doing anything but getting angrier. I’m open to suggestions on what to do. Myself, I swear my next post will about Canadian theater.

Right.

And here’s the fundamental reason underlying all the rage on one side and amusement on the other over Sarah Palin: it’s all about … female fertility.

Human beings have extremely strong emotions on the topic of fertility. It’s an obsession — look at the celebrity gossip columns these days. The who is sleeping with whom stuff bores people now compared to the pregnancy news. Thus, celebrities auction off rights to pictures of their new babies for millions, even though all newborns look alike. The top breeding stock parents — Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt — were looking to snag something like $6 million for the exclusive rights to the first photos of their twins.

Now, the Breeding Wars have moved into the political arena. Barack Obama launched his Presidential run at the 2004 Democratic convention by devoting the first 380 words of his speech to describing in great detail the two stocks from which he was crossbred. His message is that by uniting in his DNA the two races, he will end the racial conflict that has long plagued this land. (Noah should take a look at Henry VII’s speech ending Shakespeare's “Richard III” for the classic expression of the logic of dynastic merger, in this case between the Lancasters and the Yorks.) Obama left out the part about his mom being 17 when she got pregnant and his father already being married with a kid and another on the way.

Palin has horned in on all that subliminal symbolism with her own. She’s had five kids while shooting caribou (a picture of her and a daughter standing over a huge beast she shot is the LA Times most emailed article of the day even though it's not an article, just a picture) and throwing the crooks out, and now she has a 17-year-old daughter who is pregnant and will marry a handsome hockey player.

The Blue Whites are alarmed and outraged to be reminded that the Red Whites can afford to outbreed them and are outbreeding them. Modern people tell themselves they don't care about stuff like that, but they do, oh, they do.