While obsessed blog and beltway denizens have been applying frenzied energy to solving the mystery of; “Sarah Palin: Who on Earth is this Person?” another mystery has gone unexamined and almost unnoticed in the nation’s capital.
Ann Coulter has disappeared.
Disappeared, that is, from the mainstream national media. There have been reports of brief sightings on Fox News and even places at the farther edges of conservatism. Most dubious are claims that she’s been haunting college campuses – entertaining dwindling crowds of sophomoric males with the same “babe” of bombast shtick she first used to gain male approval and attention as a 19-year-old at Dartmouth. Lending improbability to these reports, beyond the fact that the “babe” is now old enough to be the average Young Republican’s mother, are the unbelievable descriptions of her dress; mini-skirt, leather vest and Marianne Faithful hair do -- a style no self-respecting women has been seen wearing in public since 1975.
What has been confirmed is this; for the first time in decades she has not been seen, on the nation’s most portentous, televised political round tables and wraps ups, swinging her 4” stiletto heels (attached to the nation’s most famous and public display of nervous leg syndrome) at the heads of the “girly” boys and “ugly” women of the Left. Or, indulging her signature hair toss for the enlightenment of the generally male and frequently balding, or, if young, hopelessly geeky, talk show hosts and print media pundits and reporters who inhabit such venues.
I’d like to think the reason for this is an increasing sophistication and seriousness on the part of our political media.
But, frankly, the unlikelihood of that is the best argument for finding her disappearance seriously suspicious.
It's been suggested that Coulter has, as other members of her generation of once ubiquitous-in-the-media, blond Independent Women’s Council spokespeople did long ago, joined the Rich Republicans’ Third Wives Club. But no happy announcement has been made.
Plus, as Maureen Dowd discovered to her great disappointment (that inspired her not-too-bitter book, “Are Men Necessary?”) there’s a time limit for becoming a trophy wife -- a limit that Ann, like Maureen, appears to have let pass her by.
But, all speculation aside, based on the methods and advice of notable sleuth Miss Marple (“observe the Village”) I believe I can now reveal not only what happened to Ms. Coulter, but also why John McCain choose someone with as little experience as Sarah Palin as his running mate.
The answer is right there in Ms. Dowd’s sad book that details the sexual mores and gender attitudes in the small but powerful political, media and corporate Village she inhabits.
In the Village age is, unsurprisingly, a handicap for women. Especially those who aspire to TV celebrity. But much more important, in the Village experience and accomplishment mean nothing in a woman; they are not required virtues (as demonstrated by the selection of Ms. Palin who lacks them), nor highly desired and valued attributes (as demonstrated by Ms. Clinton). This is true in politics and TV punditry, and as Ms. Dowd shows in her book; in matters of romance and marriage. Women who have gained wisdom are just as in danger of dismissal and disappearance as those women who have lost their looks.
Coulter’s disappearance is the fate of any opinionated women, whether her politics are Right or Left, whether her opinions are earned in experience and accomplishment, or born in expediency and ambition. When she starts getting a little too long in the tooth nothing she says will ever again be seen as “provocative” -- and everything she utters will be suddenly recognized as "strident" and "shrill." It's time to "get thee to a nunnery" in the modern sense; PBS , if they'll have you, your own blog, a small country in which to do good works in obscurity and silence, or, The View.
It didn’t matter how fast and furiously Coulter could come up with liberal bashing quips and one-liners – or, in her desperation, how high the number of new ways to kill liberals she suggested– her exit was inevitable. What is cute and daring from the mouth of a 23 year old often is revealed, especially to the discerning Villager, as just crude and bitchy, perhaps even a little deranged, once the lady passes 45.
Plus, there are plenty of 23 year olds with opinions, like Coulter’s, designed to gain attention, promote powerful interests, and, most important, amuse, serve, and gain the approval and support of powerful men -- who are happy to promote a young “intellectual’s” career, as long as doing so promotes their own political and economic interests.
The Palin mystery, on the other hand, isn’t explained by her age, it’s explained by John McCain’s. He’s spent forever among the military jocks and political jokers, the hyper-masculine power brokers, and the mostly male beltway media sycophants to which the idea of a woman holding genuine power is an incomprehensible joke. It was impossible for him to see that offering Palin the Vice Presidency was offering her real power -- so he was shocked and unprepared when people demanded to know what experience and accomplishments he thought commended her to be trusted with that power.
The truth is, he never gave a thought to her experience and accomplishments.
When McCain picked Sarah Palin, he didn’t think like someone picking a powerful though untraditional candidate for the role of the nation’s VP. He thought like someone who wanted a brilliant and unexpected pick for the traditional role of the male hero's sidekick.
As a true Villager and old military man the only experience Palin had that he valued was experience that could be meshed with and used to further HIS storyline. On the campaign trail or in the Executive Suite he saw her serving only the long time traditional female role of loyal supporter -- hired on to buff up the hero, praise his ideas, confirm his strength and valor, and, when necessary, with a sharp tongue, saucy hair toss and small town girl grin -- even, if called for, a wink or two -- smite his enemies, shame his critics and charm his partisans.
The only role, a traditionally feminine and subordinate role, a long time member of the Village like McCain can really imagine for any woman.