Palin Channels Ahmadinejad

Her self-presentation, politics, and biography are like his
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 3, 2009 9:13 AM CDT
In this Sunday, July 26, 2009, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gives her resignation speech in Fairbanks, Alaska.   (AP Photo/Al Grillo)
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(Newser) – Sarah Palin and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have their differences—but their images, politics, and even life stories show significant overlap, writes Juan Cole for Salon. Both are former governors of “frontier states,” both drum up support through “wounded nationalism,” and both battle foreign influence. “Above all,” however, “both are populists who claim to represent the little people against wily and unscrupulous elites.”

Both politicians call themselves mavericks in their ordinariness. Palin says she’s “not a member of the permanent political establishment”; Ahmadinejad says he’s not inside the longstanding Iranian “power circle.” Both see media criticism as stemming from an “elite conspiracy,” a hallmark of potentially dangerous “right-wing populism,” which can ignore the facts and stifle dissent. But while Palin’s looking like a possible president, Cole concludes, “at least Iranians only got Ahmadinejad because of rigged elections.”