In defense of Bristol Palin

I deplore anti-intellectualism. I cringe when a somebody brags about “going with my gut” or sneers at smartypants Ph.D. eggheads who think climate change or natural selection are real. Unlike a majority of my fellow citizens, I actually even like that our current president is emotionally continent and speaks in paragraph form.

My television habits are decidedly skewed toward PBS and the Science Channel, although I admit to watching way too much HGTV. I have never seen America Has Talent or Dancing with the Stars or any of the modern variants of Ted Mack and The Original Amateur Hour.

When those competitions make the front page of my newspaper, however, I have been known to hit YouTube to see what the fuss is about. Like everyone else on Planet WiFi, I was gobsmacked when the famously plain and unprepossessing Susan Doyle opened her mouth and made jaws drop around the world.

That video brings me to tears every damned time.

So when Dancing With the Stars crept into my consciousness in the past few days, I checked YouTube to see just how terrible Bristol Palin was. The news coverage gave me the impression that she was laughably bad and had only gone forward in the competition because her mother’s political fans had voted her in.

But isn’t the idea of the show to take a completely untalented non-dancer and see how well that person can do after weeks of lessons and work with a professional?

If that’s the criterion, then Bristol actually did a remarkable job.

She started off as self-conscious and physically shy as my darling husband was when we took dancing lessons decades ago. Now, Don is a prince among husbands, but if I ever dump him and run away to live in sin, it’ll be with a man who can dance. Don has never been able to get over the horror of being seen when he tries to bust a move, and that is the single thing about our 40-year marriage I wish were different.

So: good for Bristol and for her dance instructor! Her performance demonstrates that there’s hope for wooden-legged non-dancers everywhere.  Show a little respect, folks. Nobody should sneer at the guts it took for her to be on that show or the work she put in to improve her performance.

And perhaps her appearance on the show will demonstrate something else to people who sneer at anyone who knows more or does something better than they do. Mere talent requires requires years of relentless work if it is to become professional skill and grace. Similarly, opinion requires years of  serious study if it is to become expertise. Question experts, but show a little respect when you do.

10 thoughts on “In defense of Bristol Palin”

  1. I don’t care a fig about Bristol Palin or her mother but I am totally in the same place as you are with a fabulous husband who does not dance. One of my few regrets as it’s hard: I am from New Orleans where dancing is part of the culture and I miss it so much. I have sublimated my love by doing Jazzercise and other dance like exercise such as step classes that are dancerly.

    Happy Thanksgiving. My son is arriving from Chicago in an hour and laughed that Reno temps were colder than the windy city. Enjoy your holiday! Best regards, Ruth R.

  2. Yeah, I admit, much as I think her mother is an embarrassment to intelligent, competent women I did feel bad for Bristol. She gave it her best and that’s to her credit.

  3. Thanks for standing up for someone who’s been treated like an untermensch. You got me to watch the clip on youtube and I agree that Bristol Palin acquitted herself very well and deserves credit for it.
    Esther Hecht (also married to a prince of a husband who doesn’t dance)

  4. Tolerance is not a natural part of the human genome — okay, I can’t say that for certain as I’m no scientist — so it is not surprising that we are quick to judge.

    Sometimes I think God is having a hoot watching us look down our noses around that log in our eyes to find the splinter in others’.

    This “I’m okay, you’re not” way of going through life is exhausting. More of us should get up and dance, no matter how ridiculous we might look. Life would really be fun then!

  5. Hmmm. I always find it interesting when women, such as Kathleen, are vicious towards other women who are competent and attractive such as Sarah Palin. It seems like it starts in middle school and never ends. Kathleen, Sarah Palin is not a threat to you and it would be wonderful if you could celebrate a woman who not only is successful in career, but in family life as well. It would be wonderful if you could celebrate a woman who makes the difficult decision to raise a handicapped child when it would have been so much easier to just abort that child. It would be wonderful if you could celebrate a woman who raised a son who defends the liberty of all of us in the armed forces. Sometimes I ponder if the emotional/social violence women perpetrate against each other is as bad as the actual violence men perpetrate against them.

  6. I really came on this site to mention that I just finished “A Thread of Grace” after an all day reading extravaganza, because I could not put the book down. I’m going to pick up this authors other books tomorrow. It was a perfect way to spend the day after Thanksgiving. What a wonderful book. I had never read before about what was going on in Italy during WWII and it was a fascinating read that I am going to recommend to others.

  7. Dear Mary:

    All-in-all, her dancing wasn’t that bad. Especially when one considers her competition: athletes, and entertainers.

    It seems to me that the complaining media pundits were probably aghast that she managed to remain in contention despite being consistently at the bottom of the leader board. The fans’ voting kept her there. I believe George Bernard Shaw said that Democracy is a device which insures that a people get the government they deserve. Therefore, whenever a ton of politically-correct thinking innundates something that is otherwise laudable but for a few obvious faults, I refer to Pat Conroy’s commentary on certain Ivy League’s schools banning of Huckleberry Finn.

    Like most Americans, I always root for the underdog.

    That’s why I love Moby Dick: the whale won.

    “Ah! The good old time–the good old time. Youth and the sea. Glamour and the sea! The good, strong sea, the salt, bitter sea, that could whisper to you and roar at you and knock your breath out of you.”

    Joseph Conrad, “Youth”.

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