Apologies to my American friends for a rather personal, possibly self-indulgent post, but it might be said, to paraphrase Dr Johnson, the sage of 18th century London, that an Englishman blogging about Governor Palin is “like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”
Considering that this Englishman is a retired teacher who has hardly ever written anything for the public prints, who was born when Germans were raining down their bombs over England and who actually watched Bill Haley and the Comets play live in London at the height of their fame, you must be talking serious old age – so, why am I not pottering around our garden or quietly checking my stamp collection or doing all those things that old men are supposed to do in the evening of their life? Why have I got myself involved in the political street fighting of a country thousands of miles across the ocean?
Curiously enough it has something to do with St George – and the Dragon.
Yesterday, April 23rd, was the day of St George, the patron saint of England. It is said that he was a Roman soldier executed on the orders of Emperor Diocletian for refusing to deny his Christian faith. However to most people he is the knight in shining armour who rode out from a crowd of terrified cowards and single-handedly slew the maiden-devouring dragon. Pure legend, of course, but the potency of the myth can never be denied – it has all the elements that we English admire – courage in the face of overwhelming odds to protect the weak against the depredations of a powerful and terrifying evil. However despite recent attempts to revive George as a way of celebrating Englishness, our media elite regard any manifestation of patriotic pride as out of tune with the zeitgeist of the times, at best quaint and old fashioned, at worst xenophobic and uncivilised – something to be either ignored or treated with a sneering disdain.
Perhaps George Orwell nailed it – even though he had never seen how the media dealt with Joe the Plumber or Norm the Tea Partier:
Until recently the characteristic adventure stories of the English-speaking peoples have been stories in which the hero fights against odds. This is true all the way from Robin Hood to Pop-eye the Sailor. Perhaps the basic myth of the
Western world is Jack the Giant-killer, but to be brought up to date this should be renamed Jack the Dwarf-killer, and there already exists a considerable literature which teaches, either overtly or implicitly, that one should side with the big man against the little man…. and for several decades such phrases as “Play the game,” “Don’t hit a man when he’s down” and “It’s not cricket” have never failed to draw a snigger from anyone of intellectual pretensions.
You see I happen to believe that those old fashioned values are a good litmus test for personal conduct. That doesn’t mean that when you are on the cricket pitch or in the boxing ring or on the political hustings you don’t play hard, but you do play fair.
I’m a political junkie fascinated by politics not just here in the UK but all over the world and especially in the US; so when at the end of last August, I clicked on to Drudge and saw that John McCain had picked Governor Palin as his running mate I did some research, and the more I read about her the better I liked her. In the days between the announcement and the convention, however, I became concerned about some of the messages coming out of the US media. Maybe she was a fish out of water, a pretty face elevated higher than her paygrade – but her convention speech and her connection with the audience won me over. And throughout the campaign whenever she stumbled (and there were some stumbles) she recovered from the ropes and came back fighting.
So, if it had just been a straight contest, I would have remained an interested spectator, waited until the final bell, accepted the result and called it a day. But it wasn’t a fair game, and I watched with mounting anger as the media, both in the US and over here, acted as a conduit for some of the most vile and vicious and demeaning attacks ever thrown at a woman – and her family – that I have ever seen. And I felt as if they were attacking my wife, my mother, my daughter…crazy as it might seem I began to take these things personally. Here was a woman in a land that was not my land, a total stranger who I shall never ever meet and I was almost punching walls in frustration about the lies and distortions coming out of the media and from her political opponents and, even worse, the silence of many in her own party.
So I started to comment on my own blog almost as a kind of therapy – it didn’t matter that I was shouting in a silent room, I got used to the zeros on the sitemeter – at least it released some tension. I saw myself as a latter day St George, slashing at the Dragon of media lies with my sword, protecting a noble lady almost broken by the beast’s claws.
But of course she wasn’t broken, she didn’t crumble, she still stood strong and firm in the face of the Dragon, although seemingly without a bodyguard….or rather without an official bodyguard. For then I came across other Georges, ragged bands of francs-tireurs, worrying the Prussian army of occupation and their collaborators from behind the hedgerows at Hot Air, Lucianne and Free Republic. I discovered Team Sarah, C4P and the other Palin blogs. At first I lurked, then I risked the odd post and now I find myself an honorary C4P “ordinary barbarian” wielding my sword in consort with the real soldiers. Originally a company, then a regiment, now a legion and soon an army, all volunteers, not all of us American, ready to march through the gates of hell for this honest, decent woman with her old fashioned values.
And is it worth it? With all the months of her absence from the national scene, the ankle-biting in Alaska, the sustained sniping from the media and the infantile gossip about her family I did start to wonder about how this would impact in the Lower 48. But when I opened the clip of the Evansville Dinner and felt the crackle of electricity that surged through that solid, stolid Midwest audience when they saw her slight figure standing on the stage – yes, it’s worth it.