B.P. (before Palin) this was already a campaign with pretty clear lines: the Experienced Warrior versus the Post-Sixties Uniter, yadda yadda yadda. But those were largely politics-and-policy lines: what Palin brings to the situation is a personality and a background that highlight the cultural lines, and (I would argue) the inability of the “cosmopolitan elites” — that’s what we’re supposed to call them now, right? — even to imagine, still less understand, the values that govern the lives of people in Flyover Land. (A polity of which Alaska is an honorary member.)
Thus many commentators could only see Todd Palin’s statement about his wife’s decision to fly back to Alaska rather than have her baby in Texas — “You can’t have a fish picker from Texas” — as a frivolous throw-away line, when in fact it was a wry way of affirming a very deep commitment to place, to being rooted somewhere and wanting one’s children to be rooted there too.
This incomprehension is going to be revealed over and over again in the coming months, but I don’t have much confidence that it will be remedied. This morning Alessandra Stanley, writing in the Times about Palin’s speech last night, comments on Palin’s “disarmingly flat ‘Fargo’ voice” — which says pretty straightforwardly, “All I know about non-Californians from west of Chicago is what I’ve seen in Coen Brothers movies.” Stanley and many others now have the opportunity to learn a little more, should they choose to take it.