Sarah Seeks Yang
Copyright © by Len Holman, 11/5/10
It would do little good to ask Sarah Palin who she is. She doesn’t really know. She thinks she knows what she wants, and she thinks she knows what she needs, but she—like many of the rest of us just putting one foot in front of the other in life—doesn’t really appear to know very much about herself at all. Sarah Palin doesn’t just put one foot in front of the other, though. She rushes, chasing her desperately-sought, self-constructed destiny. She seeks after the yang of American politics, but carries too much yin to catch it and hold it.
Roman games in the Coliseum had nothing on American politicians. Our putative democratic give and take is a blood sport with lots of give and very little take. It is as macho as anything can be, as macho as traditional war, itself. It is yang, pure and simple, and to participate in our politics, one must brandish and wield one’s yang like a broadsword, or be cut down. Sarah Palin is no dummy, and she knows all this, at least on an instinctual level, but still she pushes her considerable yin into the fray ahead of her, already complaining that the “Republican Establishment” is trying to deny her the 2012 nomination. Palin oozes yin like a maple tree oozes Mrs. Butterworth, and in our politics, this is the kiss of death, no matter how much credit she takes for Tea Party successes.
It’s not a woman thing at all. There have been many women who have ruled with iron—even bloody—hands: Boudicca, Queen Elizabeth I, Benazir Bhutto, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, just to name a few. But each of these women has had to hide her yin and wave her yang to even get into the game. It’s about balance. In the Asian concept, the universe has a balance, a certain rhythm, composed of yin and yang, the masculine and feminine principles through which the Dao operates. Too much of one or the other puts the universe out of balance, puts one’s life out of balance. And no amount of Tea Party endorsements will cure this. Now these midterm elections are over and some Tea Party-backed people won and some didn’t, but the REAL drama starts now: will Sarah run for the Republican nomination or not? Aside from the politics of the old boy dominated system, Sarah needs to balance her yin with some bodacious yang to even be considered a serious player. In other words, she needs to be more than eye candy to get the nod, and right now, she is stumbling at the edges of the that black-and-white curvilinear symbol the Chinese know and love so well. It wouldn’t be too facile a thing to say she needs to man up
So here’s what Sarah needs to do. First, she needs to pick up a book. She doesn’t have to actually read it, since her male counterparts don’t do much of that either, but she needs to get the Cliff’s Notes on several tomes so she can speak with the seeming authority this culture cedes (without much, if any proof) to men when they speak out of their asses. Next, she must learn to memorize. She can’t be caught with crib notes written on her forearm or shoe. She must project that male sureness which is mostly bluster, but SEEMS to be a command of the facts (whatever THEY might be). She must also tone down her wardrobe and rid herself of all that blush so as not to appear to be a Manchu concubine waiting for the emperor, who’s had a hard day of lopping of the heads of recalcitrant peasants. Blazing red was ok for Miss Wasilla’s bathing suit competition, but not for a serious yang candidate. It may not be fair, but she’s not butt-ugly, so she is a voyeur’s dream up on the podium, so shed the boots. Get the eyes of the audience on the face and the ears will have a chance to listen. Which means she’ll have to have something to say.
She needs to widen her world. She needs her staff to provide summaries of everything they can. Maybe she’ll get interested in something and actually read it, but the important point is to appear to have a wide-ranging world view. Actual knowledge is not critical, since how many of our political leaders read the bills they’re going to vote on? They have some Clearasil-wearing intern read the stuff and write a brief on it and then the senator or congressperson speaks about it on World News Sunday and gives the impression he or she knows what the hell the legislation is all about.
Then there’s that voice. It’s nasal, whiney, and totally unyang-like. She needs to slow her words down and lower her voice, or—failing that—sharpen her tone. Hey, it worked for Hillary. And her hands need work—not the shape of them, but their use. Yang-rich women jab fingers, pound lecterns, make slicing and quick forward motions with their hands—thrusting and cutting as they speak. It’s the speech equivalent of a Samurai sword thrust: very yang-like, indeed. Sarah cannot, and should not, hide her yin, but she must keep it toned down. This is tricky, as Elena Kagan discovered. Toned down too much, a female’s natural yin in not apparent enough for the yang-meisters who control our politics, and they whisper the “L” word a lot and think they know what’s what. They don’t, of course, but the dears are so SURE of what they think they know, it’s almost a crime to disabuse them of their biases. So Sarah must walk a fine line between beauty queen and crypto-lesbian.
Finally, she has to stop running off in all directions at once. She can have her makeup just right and her hair done to perfection, but she still acts like a woman who is late for work, rushing around the house looking for her keys. She is reputed to be capricious about attending events on time or at all, and when she does finally show up, she walks in like a star. She’s not a star, she’s a celebrity. Betty Davis was a star. Lady Gaga is a celebrity, and Sarah wants, I think, to be a star. So here she comes, in her toned down wardrobe, with just a hint of makeup, striding purposefully to the lectern, where she says what she means, what she came to say, what she either really thinks, or (as her male competitors do) what she knows her audience wants to her. She is clear, not cutesy. She is direct, not demure. She is yang-in-control. She already has one essential yang ingredient: ambition. That’s a good start. And who knows? 2012 is not that far away and if our current president doesn’t yin up a little, his coolness and lofty approach—his imbalance—will down him, and Miss Wasilla could become “Madam President.”
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