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Sean Hannity Presents Sarah Palin As Abraham Lincoln

Reported by Ellen - October 16, 2010 -

Author Stephen Mansfield sounded a bit sheepish as he admitted to the Hannity audience last night (10/15/10) that it seemed like he was trying to turn Sarah Palin into Abraham Lincoln. “But the fact is,” Mansfield told a very credulous Sean Hannity, Palin’s childhood was “as much of a frontier existence as you could have at that time (in the 1960's) and it profoundly shaped her.” Maybe so. But I’ll bet rural Americans across the country were laughing outright at what Mansfield considered a “frontier existence.” As for it “profoundly shaping” Palin, I’d like to know whose childhood did not profoundly shape them?

Mansfield appeared on Hannity to promote a new book about Palin’s “faith and values.” Mansfield struck me as a nice, intelligent man but his supposed insights seemed insipid as well as ill-informed.

At the beginning of the segment, Hannity posted a graphic called, “Sarah Palin’s Roots, What Shaped Her Life.” There were four bullet points:

Family fashioned her life
Alaska shaped how she sees the world
Influenced by the Eskimo view of women
Believes there is a purpose for her life.

Except for the Eskimo part, the rest could have been written about almost anybody. Again, whose family and hometown or area has not fashioned their life and shaped their view of the world? It’s not exactly uncommon for people to believe there is a purpose to one’s life.

Then it was on to Sarah as Abe.

Hannity found it remarkable that Palin “was stacking wood at a young age.” Memo to “Great American” Hannity: that’s what people do in cold, rural climates. “Stacking wood at a young age” is akin to “helping with the dishes” or “helping to shovel snow” at a young age. If you don't believe me, check out Maia Nolan's AlaskaDispatch.com comments about what American journalists get wrong about Alaska. The Osceola, Iowa Sentinel-Tribune reports that there are 12 million wood stoves in use in the U.S.

Hannity continued, “She sat right in the seat where you are and told me a story. She went hunting before school and her father handed her moose eyeballs.”

Frankly, I’ve always had my doubts about that story, especially after reading in Vanity Fair:

“This whole hunter thing, for Sarah? That is the biggest fallacy,” says one longtime friend of the family. “That woman has never hunted. The picture of her with the caribou she says she shot? She got out of the R.V. to pose for a picture. She never helps with the fishing either. It’s all a joke.” The friend goes on to recall that when Greta Van Susteren came to the house to interview Palin “[Sarah] cooked moose chili and whatnot. Todd was calling everyone he knew the day before—‘Do you got any moose?’ Desperate.”

“That would have had a profound impact on me and my life,” Hannity gushed.

“It sounds like we’re trying to turn her into Abraham Lincoln,” Mansfield acknowledged. “But the fact is, she was born in 1964. That’s the year the Beatles showed up… in America. And yet, you’re right, she chopped wood in her youth to heat the family home. They went hunting for moose to feed the family… So she really had as much of a frontier existence as you could have at that time and it profoundly shaped her.” Mansfield went on to marvel that when a TV finally arrived in young Palin’s home, her father put it in an unheated room so that “they’d have to chop wood and heat it that way in order to watch TV.”

Mansfield made the dubious (given Palin’s lack of intellectual curiosity) claim that “books were the primary thing, radio, family reading to each other.” Mansfield said the family sang to whoever was washing the dishes. “That sounds like something out of Little House on the Prairie, but that was going on in their home.”

Hannity effused, “That’s sort of the rugged individualist spirit of Alaska. You grow up, you fish, you hunt, you don’t depend on the government for much.”

Mansfield, who has lived in Europe and various places in the south, may not be the suburban New Yorker Hannity is but, with all due respect, he has spun a fantasy. I know plenty of people in 2010 who heat their homes with wood and hunt to supplement their grocery buying. And not one of them is anything like Sarah Palin. Not even the ones who are into Native American spirituality.

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