Permit me to borrow one our president’s most famous turns ofphrase–Carrie Prejean‘s story could "only happen in America." Most ofus who don’t consume a daily diet of shows like Access Hollywoodand TMZ would normally not have heard of Miss Prejean, but now that she’sbecome a regular on Fox News, an author and poster child for "Palinized" conservative women everywhere–she’s almost unavoidable. Most recently she appeared on Larry King Live, where she repeatedly snapped at the septuagenarian host for being "inappropriate."
For the uninitiated, a quick recap:
Carrie Prejean was competing the Donald Trump-funded Miss USA pageant, and was representing California. Apparently she was well ahead in points when she reached the question-and-answer segment. Openly gay blogger Perez Hilton, serving as a judge, asked her about her position on same-sex marriage. To which she replied (emphasis mine):
Well I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And, you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman.
Following her second place finish in the competition, a pretty vicious war of words ensued between Hilton and Prejean. Prejean, who considers herself a Christian conservative, appeared in ads slamming gay rights advocates. Then she was fired by the Trump organization for not fulfilling her duties as Miss California and for appearing in previously undisclosed semi-nude photos. This flurry of scandal culminated with Prejean suing the pageant for "religious discrimination," insisting that her stance on same-sex marriage was the real reason for her less-than-amicable departure.
Even after her initially squeaky clean image was further sullied by the revelation that she’d had breast implants paid for by the pageant and had appeared in a sex tape that would shortly be leaked onto the Internet, Prejean found sympathetic ears at Fox News. Claiming that "Sarah Palin is my hero," she told a captivated Sean Hannity (who wrote the forward to Prejean’s book Still Standing) that all of the controversy surrounding her was part of a "disturbing" liberal media double standard.
Sound familiar? Even the staunchly resilient title of her book is Palin-esque. Palin’s most enduring characteristic during the past year since she and John McCain lost the presidential election is to hurl tirades at imagined or unnamed enemies on the left who are apparently hellbent on her destruction. Her infamous resignation speech from the governorship of Alaska was littered with broadsides directed at critics who apparently loathed the fact that she was a strong women and a dedicated mom. Just like the terrorists, they hate her freedoms.
But these claims are a startling departure from reality. Barack Obama and Joe Biden never ran an attack ad directly aimed at Sarah Palin. Katie Couric did not "attack" Sarah Palin. Tina Fey did not "attack" Sarah Palin. Just like Carrie Prejean, all of Palin’s wounds have been self inflicted.
And yet the right is buzzing with the prospect of a new (as of this year–or in Lou Dobbs’ estimation the last six months) left wing conspiracy that is targeting among other things, conservative women. Right-wing women like Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Carrie Prejean have all cried wolf for being asked to simply explain their own, often incomprehensible, statements. These same women remained silent when Hillary Clinton actually endured real ridicule and hateful smears but suddenly now they have discovered their appreciation for feminism.
Or could it be that maybe the right is just having a hard time with losing. At the end of the day Carrie Prejean is not the victim of a witchunt, she is just a victim of the pageant circuit. Contrary to popular conservative belief–progressives don’t have a problem with strong women, in fact we champion them. We just don’t approve of self-serving hypocrisy and using religion as a defense for prejudice. Prejean’s argument has essentially been, ‘you’re being intolerant of my intolerance.’
For progressives, it’s been surreal to say the least to hear the right wing fringe suddenly take up the cause of defending free speech and fighting government encroachment of civil liberties. It seems that as soon as Democrat took office the entire country changed overnight. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!
The right needs to recognize that perhaps the country has begun to move slightly to the left but that doesn’t make Barack Obama a socialist or healthcare reform a plot to murder your grandmother. This could be a unique opportunity for conservatives to reposition themselves as thoughtful critics or as a reasonable counter to the president’s proposals. But right now it seems like they’d rather behave like they’ve been cheated. And that’s kind of "disturbing."