Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jul/09

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Right-wing identity politics

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Victor Davis Hanson hits hard at Sarah Palin’s liberal attackers today, launching the usual and undoubtedly often justified accusation that they have been driven to a state of frenzy by her anti-elite lifestyle.  But Hanson, for whose intellect, learning, and writing talent I have only the highest respect, fails to show that identity politics—or what Davis approvingly calls Palin’s  “authentic middle-class persona”–are not just as central—indeed, exclusively so–to the frenzy of her supporters.  He says not one word about the most serious count against her: her abysmal control of language and argument when speaking extemporaneously, a lack of control that raises questions about her capacity to make complex decisions, lead, and inspire.  Instead, he attacks a series of straw men: 

[As] a mother of five, knee-deep in local politics, without money and leisure, [she] is not going to be reading Gibbon for perspective, or spending the afternoon perusing Foreign Affairs. Nor is she going to remember a quip that her Prof at the Kennedy school once offered years ago. Nor is she going to recall clever repartee at a Georgetown dinner party from one grandee to another.

Now perhaps some people are truly disturbed by her lack of Kennedy School quips.  But how about the series of non-sequiturs with which she regaled the public in her resignation speech, or the pretense of moral righteousness which she slathered on her decision to quit office midterm?   (We will pass over in silence her excruciating interview performances during the campaign.) 

Davis doesn’t mention the actual content of her recent speech at all, other than to speculate about whether the resignation will damage her politically.   I don’t understand why conservatives, who should stand for the defense of the highest achievements of intellect and culture, so gleefully revel in Palin’s inarticulateness.  Obviously, there are plenty of people with her background and associations who could make strong arguments and speak clearly, but she is not one of them.  It is not “elitist” in the negative sense to hope for a political leader who can use our wonderful capacity for reason and eloquence to even modest effect. 

Nor does Hanson offer any strong evidence of her skills and accomplishments other than to say that a. she must be capable, given her position in Alaskan politics and b. people with agricultural or mechanical talents are smart and more trustworthy than the elites.  These are categorical arguments, not Palin-specific ones.  She had plenty of opportunities to show off her alleged skills during the campaign; I would argue that she did not deliver on them. 

Palin has always shown every sign of believing the hype around her: that merely by being who she is, she was qualified for the highest office of the land.  Hanson mocks the left’s efforts at psychoanalyzing her.  Arguably, she set herself up for such efforts.  Is Hanson really charmed by her cloying mannerisms, which he unflinchingly captures:

She winks, and gestures as if she’s running a raffle stand at a PTA carnival and flirting with the local State Farm insurance agent.

and does he really find them appropriate for the leader of the Western world?

Hanson is absolutely right that liberals and the left should expose themselves to the perils of entrepreneurship.  But their own blindness to the economic and social values that undergird American prosperity and stability is no excuse for conservative indifference to the values of achievement,  learning, and eloquence that we should expect from our leaders.    If Palin does try to pursue the presidency, she will further fracture the country’s conservatives.

(Hanson mentions a Huffington Post satirist joking about Trig’s disability, in which case I was obviously wrong in doubting whether anyone would be so callous as to do so.)

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41 comments

  • wisetrog · July 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    In which world are you living in? Absolutely demeaning jokes about Trig Palin are par for the course. Wonkette published a photo with Trig and a coat hanger saying “better luck next time.” Huffington Post posted on her resignation day that she’d be bettering the nation with retardation. So on and so forth.

  • wisetrog · July 10, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    You place a high quotient on “intellect” and “learning”. Is intellect only proved by going to Ivy league schools? What about right values, right principles, adherence to conservative platform, ability to energize voters, ability to negotiate complex business deals worth billions, extraordinary ability in public governance, extraordinary success in public service career– do these matter at all in a politician? Is ability to “articulate” the only standard to measure?

    Most Palin supporters know her difficulties in expressing herself extemporaneously, though these are exaggerated beyond belief (she is much better than Obama, for instance), we are willing to wait and give her a chance to develop her abilities in this regard and acquire policy chops, since there’s lot of time before the next election. The fact that you’re not willing to do so seems to imply that not being able to speak is not about required eloquence for the job but rather a put down on her station in life.

    Since you value intellect so highly, why don’t you step aside from the feeding frenzy and offer advice with respect as befitting a public figure and take chance on her? Why feed the media frenzy?

  • wisetrog · July 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    By the way, you demand “highest achievements of culture” in a politician running for public office, not opera competition, presumably because of your background. Isn’t that identity politics?

  • TangoMan · July 10, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    He says not one word about the most serious count against her: her abysmal control of language and argument when speaking extemporaneously, a lack of control that raises questions about her capacity to make complex decisions, lead, and inspire.

    Talk about overblown rhethoric. Why is it that you prominent wordsmiths seek to elevate her communication style to such a degree of seriousness? The only folks I see making the charge that her unpolished communication style is the most serious charge against her are you, Sally Quinn, Maureen Dowd and Peggy Noonen. I’d say that far more of her critics are making the charge that she was unprepared for her time in the national spotlight.

    Watch her 2006 performance in the Alaska Gubernatorial Debate. She speaks extemporaneously just fine, on par with her political competitors, her control of argument and language was sufficient to enable her to make her case to the voters and to garner their support. You must be blind if you’re making the argument that she has no ability to lead nor to inspire. She may not inspire you, but she seems to be doing a far better job on the leadership and inspiration metrics than her political competitors. As for her ability to make complex decisions, her record in Alaska is an open book. Crack the book and make informed comments based on her record. Campaign performance, especially as the second banana dancing to someone else’s tune says nothing at all about the ability to make complex decisions.

    But how about the series of non-sequiturs with which she regaled the public in her resignation speech, or the pretense of moral righteousness which she slathered on her decision to quit office midterm?

    Again with the focus on style over substance? I don’t get this fixation and the need to enact transference via blogpost. The fact that her style doesn’t appeal to you is evident, but trying to leverage your personal preference on this issue into some general principle is a leap too far. Moral righteousness is a tool that politicians can use or misuse and in many cases moral righteousness is determined in the eye of the beholder. If Governor Palin let loose with the moral righteousness then it seems, from recent polling, that it didn’t have a serious effect on her popularity or stature with the general audience. Sure, I get it, you didn’t like it. OK.

    I don’t understand why conservatives, who should stand for the defense of the highest achievements of intellect and culture, so gleefully revel in Palin’s inarticulateness.

    There’s nothing wrong with admiring high achievement in intellect. That should be the preferred option. However, it can’t, and shouldn’t, be the only metric for higher office. Clarity of political vision, the ability to translate political ideas into executable policy, the ability to develop coalitions, the ability to garner public support, the ability to motivate volunteers to aid in one’s election, these are all very valuable traits. While Palin may suffer in comparison to some of her competitors on the ability to project high intelligence, she clearly towers over them in other attributes, and on net, she seems to be doing well for herself and for energizing many dispirited conservatives.

    She had plenty of opportunities to show off her alleged skills during the campaign; I would argue that she did not deliver on them.

    She very clearly showed off her skills as a politicians during the campaign. On some traits she hit the ball out of the park and on other traits she fouled disasterously. As others have noted, lack of knowledge can be remedied over time. You argue that she didn’t deliver on her skills, to which I respond that you’re discounting every skill she possesses and focusing solely on her lack of knowledge, which no argument is important and which she lacked. I counter your argument by pointing to her campaign and debate performance from her Gubernatorial run where she performed remarkably and delivered on all of her skills. The difference between the Alaska campaign and the national campaign is that she had knowledge mastery in Alaska and was knowledge deficient in the national campaign. Senator McCain gambled, and lost, on the proposition that a VP candidate who was green but had the right political instincts could be brought up to speed after victory, especially considering that Obama lacked Palin’s executive experience and was mostly as much a lightweight as Palin on the issues with his primary advantage being a year’s worth of additional immersion in the issues. If Palin can demonstrate mastery of arcane issues in Alaska, and develop this mastery either on her own or with a very small coterie of advisers, then McCain probably believed that she could do the same as a sitting VP with diverse advisers becoming available to aid in her knowledge development. Who would have thought that the public would be so schizophrenic that they would care more for the lack of knowledge possessed by the VP candidate than they would the lack of experience and knowledge possessed by the Presidential candidate? It’s very hard to predict public schizophrenia.

    Nor does Hanson offer any strong evidence of her skills and accomplishments

    He doesn’t have to in that the newspapers were filled with stories about her record of accomplishments in Alaska. Oops, sorry I was in Bizarro Universe for a moment there. If you want to know of her record of accomplishments, the details are available. Too bad that the press never seemed interested and instead focused on the bookkeeping details from her time on city council hoping to find scandal.

    Palin has always shown every sign of believing the hype around her: that merely by being who she is, she was qualified for the highest office of the land.

    This isn’t argument, it’s conjecture. Is this supposed to convince anyone or is it designed to make you feel that your accusation is true if it read by others who agree with your bias. Saying something many times over doesn’t make it any more true. If Senator McCain, who fashions himself a maverick, sold Governor Palin on his desire to use Palin’s history and experience as a reformer, then Governor Palin had very legitimate reasons to accept his offer and to believe that she was qualified for the role that McCain wanted her to fill.

    If Palin does try to pursue the presidency, she will further fracture the country’s conservatives.

    And if she doesn’t run for the presidency, then she will increase the chances that Democrats will capture the presidency. Look, every candidate has detractors. Your focus on style over substance is your prerogative but plenty of conservatives will argue that they prefer substance over style. They want accomplishments in moving their agenda forward. It’s very hard to move an agenda forward if your party loses elections.

    is no excuse for conservative indifference to the values of achievement, learning, and eloquence that we should expect from our leaders.

    A shuffling of priority with respect to achievement, learning and eloquence is not the same as charging indifference. Governor Palin has achieved a lot in her executive capacity. She has learned a lot and put that knowledge to use in her role as Governor. She failed to know enough about national issues during the campaign and this is a problem that can easily be solved with time. Why don’t you aid her in her deficiencies by schooling her on immigration issues. As for the eloquence, my hypothesis is that Palin’s eloquence is proportional to her degree of comfort with the subject material, so if the hypothesis holds true, I predict that her eloquence on national issues will increase as she develops subject mastery on the various topics that she will confront, much like Obama did in his time of preparation, as he developed relationships with advisers and colleagues. Time will be the test of my hypothesis. I can’t accept your description because you make no attempt to reconcile Palin’s winning performance in the realm of Alaska politics to her uneven performance in the realm of national politics.

  • Alice · July 10, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    It does seem that a lot of women intellectuals are driven to excessive fury by Palin. Perhaps it is Palin’s authenticity and the absence of such in the intellectual herself? How many of these harridans could accomplish so much in such a short lifetime? Virtually none. No wonder they are so put out by the woman.

  • Art · July 10, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    America is–is no longer, uh, what it–it, uh, could be, uh, what it was once was…uh, and I say to myself, ‘uh, I don’t want that future, uh, uh for my children.
    - Barack Obama

    Yes, it’s a real quote.

  • law school ninja » sarah palin link dump · July 10, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    […] From the Secular Right blog, a post on Right Wing Identity Politics […]

  • Gotchaye · July 10, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Art – but at least that expresses a coherent thought. There’s something to be said for someone like Bill Clinton who can sound intelligent and smooth even when off the teleprompter, but the ability to do both is extremely rare. Lots of politicians can do smooth when off script, and Palin is definitely one of them – she sounds really good if you just hear without listening. But when you actually look at what they’re saying, very few of the smooth ones are making any sense or exhibiting any degree of original intelligence. Palin, for one, often sounds like a blithering idiot. Obama isn’t very smooth when speaking off the cuff, but it’s usually pretty clear that he has a well-considered opinion on whatever it is he’s talking about. And usually what seems to trip him up is a desire to moderate his thoughts so as to duck a question or sugarcoat something (he learned a bit from the “clinging to guns and religion” debacle, I’d guess). In your quote, for example, it seems obvious to me that he’s searching for the least offensive way to express the thought, not searching for a thought to express.

    Alice – it’s hardly just women intellectuals, and it’s a bit silly to ascribe Palin’s lack of popularity with women to women being threatened by her authenticity. If you need an explanation that makes her detractors look bad, at least consider something like “feminists see her as an Uncle Tom”. Very few female intellectuals would particularly want to have accomplished what Palin’s accomplished, and the dislike for Palin among female intellectuals is rather like the gay community’s dislike for gay Republican politicians – a politician’s embrace of anti-gay policies is seen as more outrageous than it would be if the politician were straight. Palin as anti-woman was not an uncommon meme during the election.

  • Lorenzo · July 10, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    I recommend people read this post by a feminist who is puzzled by the rage, even misogyny, against Gov. Palin among feminists. This is the big issue: not ordinary quibbling about the policies and performance of a politician, but the insane lengths the vitriol got to, and continues to be at, regarding Gov. Palin.

  • Mike H · July 11, 2009 at 12:08 am

    There’s a lot of road between the Palin haters and the “Palin 2012″ fan club and I find myself on that vast yet seemingly rather empty stretch of asphalt.

    Most arguments “in favor” of her really seem to be defensive for the most part and aimed mostly at haters – but there’s very little evidence brought forward with regards to what exactly recommends her for national office.

    Why should a major party choose her as candidate? What would make her a better candidate than say a Mitt Romney? What do we have to go on that allows to ascertain her qualifications for any higher office? An incomplete stint as governor of Alaska? There must be dozens of GOP politicians with a list of better achievements. There are certainly a few who project more format.

    Choosing her for the highest office of the country simply because of her being a “normal woman” from a small town, who speaks in the language of the party base and agrees with it on most issues would be another milestone on the path towards complete political banality. Conservative conviction alone should guard against such indignity, yet it appears to be not out of question.

  • Derek Scruggs · July 11, 2009 at 6:57 am

    I agree with Mike H. Ironically, above TangoMan wrote:

    If you want to know of her record of accomplishments, the details are available.

    That’s not my problem. It’s the problem of Palin supporters to make that case. But you spend so much time being resentful that you don’t, as Mike asks, “explain why a major party should choose her as a candidate” except that liberals hate her and she’s authentic.

    This all reminds me of Dan Quayle. He was arguably the front runner because he polled well among values voters in 1996 — jeez, he popularized the phrase “family values” — but he flamed out and now no one cares about him. He at least had four years as the veep on his resume.

  • John · July 11, 2009 at 9:59 am

    It’s funny how much we don’t know about Palin. I know she is a conservative on social issues, but what about economic issues or foriegn policy? I don’t know, because I’ve never been told. All I learned from the press is that the press doesn’t like her, and she is controversial. Yeah, yeah, but give me the FACTS! I have no idea what her opinions are on social security reform, immigration, taxes, funding the F-22, the space program… I’m willing to forgive a modest IQ if someone is right on the issues. Clinton was smart and a good speaker, but what did he say in his entire 8 years as president that was intellectually interesting?

    Heather MacDonald makes an interesting point about identity politics. We conservatives (correctly) scold the left for playing identity politics, but we saw an awful lot of it in the 2008 Republican primaries. The evangelicals voted for Huckabee, and the seniors voted for McCain, and we lost an opportunity to nominate a real conservative.

  • Susan · July 11, 2009 at 11:11 am

    If you go to her gubernatorial website, her stated priorities are “faith, family, and Alaska,” in that order. If you go to sarahpac.com, which purports to be the only website authorized by her, she’s in favor of “reform” of government, health care, etc. without (as far as I can find) a clear statement of what the reforms would constitute. She is in favor of energy independence.

    The beauty of being in favor of unspecified reform is that anyone can read anything into the statement he or she likes.

  • Susan · July 11, 2009 at 11:36 am

    If today’s Washington Times is correct, her stated values are limited government, strong defense, and, again, energy independence, and she will campaign not just for Republican candidates but for independents and Democrats who share those values. Good luck finding a Democrat who’s in favor of limited government.

  • John · July 11, 2009 at 11:43 am

    @Susan
    Thanks, Susan

  • Susan · July 11, 2009 at 11:52 am

    You’re welcome, John. Maybe a good project for her after she leaves the governorship would be to set up a website where she clearly articulates a) what her plans are and b) EXACTLY what her positions are on fiscal policy, foreign policy, health care, defense, education, etc. Her extreme followers (the ones running around wearing the t-shirts that say “I Am Sarah Palin”) might know, since they claim to understand exactly what she’s thinking, but for the rest of us, some clarification is in order.

  • TangoMan · July 11, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    I have no idea what her opinions are on social security reform, immigration, taxes, funding the F-22, the space program… I’m willing to forgive a modest IQ if someone is right on the issues.

    I’d like to know the answers to those questions too. It’s too bad that VP candidates can’t advocate their own policy platforms instead of having to be surrogates for the Presidential candidate.

    The best we can do, for now, is to make inferences on Governor Palin’s political ideology by judging her on her own political history. All of the following information and quotes, unless indicated otherwise, are cribbed from her Wiki entry.

    “On the council, she successfully opposed a measure to curtail the hours at Wasilla’s bars by two hours. This surprised Hartrick because she was then a member of a church that advocated abstinence from alcohol.”

    The inference I make is that her personal religious beliefs are not imposed on the public through her actions as a politician.

    Shortly after taking office in October 1996, Palin consolidated the position of museum director and asked for updated resumes and resignation letters from some top officials, including the police chief, public works director, finance director, and librarian.[31] Palin stated this request was to find out their intentions and whether they supported her.[31] She temporarily required department heads to get her approval before talking to reporters, saying that they first needed to become acquainted with her administration’s policies.[31] She created the position of city administrator,[29] and reduced her own $68,000 salary by 10%, although by mid-1998 this was reversed by the city council

    Seems like a good execution of good management principles. Align the agents to the direction set by the principal or, if the agents can’t align with the principal then be prepared to find new agents.

    She cuts her own salary. Compare to the rent-seeking behavior that characterizes Obama, and his wife, throughout their careers. Obama is elected Senator and his wife gets an immediate $$200,000 raise in her job as diversity officer in a hospital. Shortly thereafter he seeks to earmark a $1,000,000 to the hospital.

    Palin and her husband built their wealth in the private sector. Obama and his wife continually refinanced their home and lived at the margin of financial stability. The inference I draw from the comparison of the two families is that personal financial management informs how one views their responsibility for managing the resources of the people.

    Palin cut property taxes by 75% and eliminated personal property and business inventory taxes.

    Implementing good policy, consistent with a position that favors smaller government.

    Using municipal bonds, she made improvements to the roads and sewers, and increased funding to the Police Department.[29] She also oversaw new bike paths and procured funding for storm-water treatment to protect freshwater resources.[28] At the same time, the city reduced spending on the town museum and stopped construction of a new library and city hall.

    Favors spending government resources to further a limited view of government, one which provides public safety and one which invests in productive assets that are public goods. Cuts spending on non-productive assets.

    She was also elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.

    So far as election to this position is a mark of earned respect from colleagues, she seems to have been held in high regard.

    The city’s long-term debt grew from about $1 million to $25 million through voter-approved indebtedness of $15 million for the sports complex, $5.5 million for street projects, and $3 million for water improvement projects. A city council member defended the spending increases as being caused by the city’s growth during that time.

    Acting on the will of the people, expressed via ballot measure, the sports complex is built, under time and under budget. More funding for streets and water distribution, projects I classify as promoting increased productivity and/or growth in the community.

    Governor Murkowski appointed Palin to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.[53] She chaired the Commission beginning in 2003, serving as Ethics Supervisor.[54] Palin resigned in January 2004, protesting what she called the “lack of ethics” of fellow Republican members.

    After resigning, Palin filed a formal complaint against Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioner Randy Ruedrich, also the chair of the state Republican Party,[56] accusing him of doing work for the party on public time and of working closely with a company he was supposed to be regulating. She also joined with Democratic legislator Eric Croft[57] to file a complaint against Gregg Renkes, a former Alaskan Attorney General,[58] accusing him of having a financial conflict of interest in negotiating a coal exporting trade agreement,[59] while Renkes was the subject of investigation and after records suggesting a possible conflict of interest had been released to the public.[60] Ruedrich and Renkes both resigned and Ruedrich paid a record $12,000 fine.

    She took on crooks in government. I wish the same could be said for Obama and other politicians. In most cases, it can’t.

    In 2006, running on a clean-government platform, Palin defeated incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

    Clean government. I’m for that, especially in light of Obama’s efforts to use government resources to reward his pals, to incorporate ACORN into the official census operation, etc.

    Despite being outspent by her Democratic opponent, she won the gubernatorial election in November, defeating former governor Tony Knowles by a margin of 48.3% to 40.9%

    As the head of a ticket she can win elections, even when outspent by the opposition and even when the opposition has more experience. How is this a mark against her?

    She took office on December 4, 2006, and had been very popular with Alaska voters. Polls taken in 2007 early in her term showed her with a 93% and 89% popularity among all voters,[65] which led some media outlets to call her “the most popular governor in America.”

    When portrayed by fair reporting, she connects with the people. When a media that is agenda driven reports on her, that is when they have the time after getting off their knees in front of President Obama, we find that the agitprop sticks and her popularity declines.

    Palin declared that top priorities of her administration would be resource development, education and workforce development, public health and safety, and transportation and infrastructure development.[64] She had championed ethics reform throughout her election campaign. Her first legislative action after taking office was to push for a bipartisan ethics reform bill. She signed the resulting legislation in July 2007, calling it a “first step”, and declaring that she remained determined to clean up Alaska politics.

    She stated her priorities upon taking office, so it’s only fair that she be judged by the yardstick she laid down. More later.

    In June 2007, Palin signed a record $6.6 billion operating budget into law.[74] At the same time, she used her veto power to make the second-largest cuts of the construction budget in state history. The $237 million in cuts represented over 300 local projects, and reduced the construction budget to $1.6 billion.[75] In 2008, Palin vetoed $286 million, cutting or reducing funding for 350 projects from the FY09 capital budge

    She seems to have a pretty good record with the veto pen. Compare to Romney:

    Governor Mitt Romney vetoed $108.5 million yesterday for healthcare contractors, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, courts, and alcohol- and tobacco-control programs, as he signed a new $24.5 billion state spending plan

    When considered on a proportional basis she vetoed $8 of spending for every $1 vetoed by Romney. How much spending did President Bush veto?

    In December 2008, an Alaska state commission recommended increasing the Governor’s annual salary from $125,000 to $150,000. Palin stated that she would not accept the pay raise.[84] In response, the commission dropped the recommendation

    Compare to all of the politicians who vote themselves pay raises.

    Palin declared that the people of Alaska “can and must continue to develop our economy, because we cannot and must not rely so heavily on federal government [funding].”[86] Alaska’s federal congressional representatives cut back on pork-barrel project requests during Palin’s time as governor; despite this, in 2008 Alaska was still the largest per-capita recipient of federal earmarks, requesting nearly $750 million in special federal spending over a period of two years.

    She states a wise course of action that is consistent with a belief in reducing the size of government and growing the size of the private sector. Under her leadership the transfers from the Federal Government were cut back. Isn’t the easiest course of action one which showers money on special interests? She didn’t take the path of least resistance.

    Palin’s decreasing support for federal funding has been a leading source of friction between herself and the state’s congressional delegation; Palin has requested less in federal funding each year than her predecessor Frank Murkowski requested in his last year.[89]

    Again, not taking the path of least resistance. For a drooling moron, Governor Palin seems to be implementing stern oversight of fiscal management. Where I have a lot of trouble in agreeing with her critics is on the issue of how her responsible leadership as Governor will not transfer to higher office. I see a pattern of leadership style informed by a small government philosophy. That appeals to me. Her record as Governor trumps the records of Romney, Pawlenty, and Huckabee when judged against factors that I hold to be important. Furthermore, she showed the backbone to go against entrenched interests in her state, at various points in her career, and at risk to her political career. She, unlike Obama, is not a go-along to get along, type of politician. She reformed the oil extraction royalty rate so as to create maximum benefit for the citizens of Alaska rather than making the terms favorable to oil companies. She favored a pipeline deal that created maximum benefits for the State rather than favoring a pipeline deal backed by the major oil companies that would have transferred price variability risk onto the State. She brought to fruition a pipeline deal that’s been in the works since the Carter Administration but couldn’t get off the ground because of State-level factors.

    We don’t know her stances on issues of national importance but there’s no excuse to ignore her actual record as an executive and we’re all free to make inferences about her governance principles based on the policies she advocated and implemented.

  • TangoMan · July 11, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Maybe a good project for her after she leaves the governorship would be to set up a website where she clearly articulates a) what her plans are and b) EXACTLY what her positions are on fiscal policy, foreign policy, health care, defense, education, etc.

    That’s an excellent suggestion. Perhaps people can refrain from calling her an idiot because she isn’t yet a fully fleshed out candidate. She was brought onboard the McCain ticket to be his VP, not to run as a candidate on her own platform. If she had a well articulated platform at that point in her career then she probably would have considered entering into the primaries herself.

    BTW, I checked around to see what Pawlenty’s foreign policy platform states and I can’t find any statement. Funny how he can be touted for President at this early date when he doesn’t have an articulated platform but Palin is a moron and written off because she, like Pawlenty, doesn’t have a fleshed out platform.

  • TangoMan · July 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    The beauty of being in favor of unspecified reform is that anyone can read anything into the statement he or she likes.

    Get used to this. Obama proved this to be a winning strategy. You can’t hang a candidate with his own words and positions if those words and positions are scarce or obscure.

  • wisetrog · July 11, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    I watched a Romney clip today when he talked about healthcare. His answers don’t seem to be full of insight, they are full of usual tropes about government. Compared to him, Palin does have an accent and I suppose that’s the problem people like Heather have.

    I also think that this snippet of news isn’t going to help Romney to flesh out his entire policy, I also remember that Gov.Palin’s ideas had to be gleaned from such snippets. Romney ran his own campaign, so he probably did the rounds of writing his own editorials, giving policy speeches etc. I also remember that the Mccain campaign wasn’t interested in letting Palin give her policy speeches. So, why don’t people wait till she gets off to work and starts promoting her own ideas and then critique them? There’s a lot of time for the next election.

  • Susan · July 11, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Well, obscure statements may work in the short term, but generally they come back to bite you. As Obama may well discover.

    But that’s beside the point. We can argue all day about Sarah Palin’s intellect. For all we know, she could be another Madame Curie. Or she could be about as bright as a toaster oven bulb. I don’t think she’s either. But the only thing that counts is that the press has portrayed her as an idiot, and that’s the image she has to overcome. As people have said, Dan Quayle was forever tagged with the low-grade imbecile label. Does anyone know what he’s doing now?

    Sarah Palin will never win over liberals. But losing the rube locutions and mannerisms, doing some serious study of economics and foreign policy, and demonstrating her mastery of these issues might well win her the support of a lot more people who don’t belong to the “Sarah loves the Lord, and that’s enough for me” crowd.

  • TangoMan · July 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Well, obscure statements may work in the short term, but generally they come back to bite you. As Obama may well discover.

    Yes, but for a politician it’s better that the bite-back occur as they occupy the White House, rather than during a campaign that leads to their loss. Presumably Obama believes that his agenda is “better” for America than McCain’s agenda, so even if he has to deal with blowback he’s probably thinking that the sting is mitigated by the gain of being able to do “good” for America.

    But the only thing that counts is that the press has portrayed her as an idiot, and that’s the image she has to overcome.

    I agree, this is a problem. However, just because the press set out on a propaganda scorched earth policy with regards to Governor Palin doesn’t mean that I have to be a willing rube and accept their characterizations. With some digging it’s quite possible to read of her accomplishments. OK, I’ve known of Governor Palin long before she hit the public consciousness, and my opinion of her was formed more by my early exposure than the press machine wilding that occurred in the eight weeks preceding the election. I saw a competent accomplished governor stumbling, but also delivering, when she hit the national scene. I don’t treat her stumble any differently than I treated my own stumbles. When I was a wee lad I got into the deep end of the pool and flailed about because my swimming skills were not well developed. Today I bodysurf whitewater (not me in photo). My failure, earlier in life, foretold nothing about my future swimming ability. Governor Palin achieved remarkable success as Governor, implemented most of her agenda, managed state finances remarkably well. She floundered in a situation for which she was unprepared. If her future performance more closely matches her VP experience than her Gubernatorial experience, then I’ll join you in condemning her, but until I see her actually fail for a job that she has prepared for, I can’t find a basis upon which to condemn the woman as a drooling moron.

    But losing the rube locutions and mannerisms, doing some serious study of economics and foreign policy, and demonstrating her mastery of these issues might well win her the support of a lot more people

    She can keep her mannerisms if it was up to me, because I don’t give a damn about style. As for her studying up on topics, yes, she certainly needs to do that. We’ll see how smart she really is. How well will she be able to control her public image? She’s got her book coming out. Another book entitled “The Persecution of Sarah Palin” is forthcoming. Buyer’s remorse may set in for some Obama supporters. A lot of the white guilt that helped propel him to victory might not rematerialize because it has now been quenched, what with white liberals and moderates feeling the original sin of racism has now been expunged from their souls. Will Palin learn a lesson from Obama? He observed that it was madness to not strike for the presidency when he was the center of so much public fascination. If he bided his time, developed seasoning, he’d, a decade or two hence, be just another windbag senator. There is a lot to be said, from the perspective of personal ambition, to strike while you occupy the zeitgeist.

  • Susan · July 11, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    I don’t think I’ve condemned Sarah Palin. I have criticized her mannerisms pretty heavily. But condemnation may be in the eye of the beholder.

    Sure it’s possible to read about Palin’s accomplishments, “with some digging.” But how many people are going to do the digging? Why should it even be necessary to dig? Why not just put it all out there on a website, along with some clear policy statements?

    I appreciate that style doesn’t matter to you–although I think the ability to speak well is something far more important than a matter of mere style–but unfortunately, “style” is what counts for many, if not most people. The press rhapsodized over John F. Kennedy’s “style” and “charisma” just as they rhapsodized over Barack Obama’s “soaring rhetoric” (as an overheated acquaintance of mine put it)and “eloquence.”

    Call me a cynic, but in politics, substance without style and two dollars will get you on the subway.

    Call me an even bigger cynic, but I also wonder if Palin’s “you betchas,” non sequiturs, and winks aren’t a contrivance. What the hell, in private maybe she talks like Edith Wharton.

  • TangoMan · July 11, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Sure it’s possible to read about Palin’s accomplishments, “with some digging.” But how many people are going to do the digging? Why should it even be necessary to dig? Why not just put it all out there on a website, along with some clear policy statements?

    All good points.

    1.) Apparently very few people are inclined to dig.
    2.) It shouldn’t be necessary at all. You’d think that the press, when presented with a candidate for the VP, or a candidate from Chicago running for the Presidency, would do the work for you and document their political accomplishments. I read more about Palin’s stint on the Wasilla Town Council than I did about her accomplishments as Governor. The press seemed to be very focused on the socially conservative lifestyle of Palin and any hypocrisies that they could manufacture to zing her with (why didn’t she disown her pregnant daughter who violated socially conservative mores?)
    3.) You know, I’d love for everyone to do things that worked to my timetable, but I seem to be having a heck of a time getting the world to cooperate. :) If Palin ever runs for higher office I assume that she will be like every other candidate that does so and have a website fully stocked with position papers. I think that it’s likely that over the next 2 years that her positions on issues will start to coalesce, and this will probably occur as a reaction to Obama initiatives.

    Call me a cynic, but in politics, substance without style and two dollars will get you on the subway.

    Call me an even bigger cynic, but I also wonder if Palin’s “you betchas,” non sequiturs, and winks aren’t a contrivance. What the hell, in private maybe she talks like Edith Wharton.

    I’m with you on the cynic charge. I wonder about whether she plays it up as well. If she is, then it’s calculated, and I assume that she continues because she believes that the gain outweighs the cost. It’s always important to keep in mind a simple truth – the vote of Bubba at the gun show cancels out Heather Mac Donald’s vote. How many Bubba’s are there compared to Republicans who’d rather have an eloquent Obama than a You Betcha Palin in the WH?

  • Sean Kinsell · July 11, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    TangoMan:
    “We don’t know her stances on issues of national importance but there’s no excuse to ignore her actual record as an executive and we’re all free to make inferences about her governance principles based on the policies she advocated and implemented.”

    I don’t think critics on the right are ignoring her record, TangoMan. Anyone who’s reading what you wrote above is likely to have been reading non-MSM news sources when Palin was nominated and to have learned a fair bit about what she did in Alaska. Perhaps Ms. Mac Donald was unwise to use the word intellect, which seems to accept the premise that the issue is geeks vs. jocks (or cogitators vs. doers), when it’s not. The issue is whether Palin sticks to her principles because she’s tested them and understands why they’re better than the alternatives or, on the other hand, is just the sort of person who knows what she knows. It’s possible to be a knee-jerk conservative as much as it’s possible to be a knee-jerk liberal, after all. I’m all for giving Palin time to develop as a politician, but I find it hard to fathom why so many people on the right don’t seem to be even the eensiest bit worried that she couldn’t answer forthright questions about the Bush doctrine or what she read. (Just because the media were trying to make her look like a lamebrain didn’t mean she had to help them.)

    As for Palin’s tendency to rubber-hose grammar, usage, and mechanics until they scream for mercy, I thought conservatives believed that standard English was the justifiable key to advancement in society, whatever foreign language or dialect one spoke at home, and that using it showed a sense of dignity and respect. As the child of working-class parents, I have to say I’m a little insulted at the idea that we should be cutting Palin slack for not being able to string sentences together, because, you know, that’s how real Americans “authentically” express themselves. Silly me, I was brought up to believe that proper, forceful English–as movingly exemplified by our founding documents–was the birthright of every free American, accessible because of its relative plainspokenness. And now we have conservatives arguing, in effect, “Well, why should we be getting after Sarah Palin for not speaking clearly? That criterion’s for Swarthmore grads!” It’s mind-boggling.

  • The White Peril 白禍 » Blog Archive » Over and over · July 11, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    […] still later: Heather Mac Donald has (again) posted about Palin at Secular Right and is (again) getting a good beating-up for floating the gingerly […]

  • TangoMan · July 11, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I’m a little insulted at the idea that we should be cutting Palin slack for not being able to string sentences together, because, you know, that’s how real Americans “authentically” express themselves.

    That’s not my complaint. I’m not arguing that people should cut her slack on her language usage. Go to town. I’m pushing back against this being the primary focus of criticism. I just don’t find this monomaniacal form of criticism to be credible. Bush’s manglings didn’t get under my skin, it was his policies that I found distasteful. Similarly, Palin’s social conservatism isn’t my cup of tea, but she doesn’t have a history of forming policies based on these beliefs, so to me, those beliefs are superfluous, much like Bush’s mangling of language.

    Compare to Obama’s Marxist viewpoint – this belief set informs and infuses his policies. Palin governs as an old style conservative. Obama governs as a Chicago-style pol. I’m judging these politicians on how they’ll impact my life. Sure, I suppose having to listen to a politician mangle language could lower the quality of life for some people whose lives celebrate the beauty of language, but my political and aesthetic values aren’t so concentrated, and so I find it easier to overlook the Palin and Bush and Kerry and Obama mannerisms that make other folks feel like they’re listening to fingernails scraping against a chalkboard.

    Lastly, no doubt other Republican contenders have a better command of the language. No argument from me. Too often though they haven’t governed as closely to conservative or libertarian principles as I would like. Or on the pragmatic side of the calculation, they don’t inspire as many folks as other candidates. It would be great if we could front a candidate who hit all the checkmarks, but where is this mystical candidate?

  • Maciano · July 12, 2009 at 2:33 am

    “But Hanson, for whose intellect, learning, and writing talent I have only the highest respect (..)”

    You have got to be kidding me.

    Heather, I’ve been very much impressed by your fact-based, logical, non-PC writing of the past decade. But praising a man like VDH, a pro-Iraq war cheerleading, all-is-related-to-the-greeks-blabla babble-mouth, ‘Europe=CCCP’-rambling, Israel-über-alles proclaiming nitwit is just sickening. This destructive court historian deserves nothing but scorn and careful avoidance from polite society.

    I take it that this blog is intended to discuss the Palin-emperess has no clothes. Sure, I’ll side with you on that one — again you’re factual, logical, non-PC. But any defence of or nice words on VDH are just as awfully wrongheaded.

  • Sean Kinsell · July 12, 2009 at 6:24 am

    TangoMan:
    “That’s not my complaint. I’m not arguing that people should cut her slack on her language usage. Go to town. I’m pushing back against this being the primary focus of criticism. I just don’t find this monomaniacal form of criticism to be credible.”

    But I think you’re missing the point about what it signifies, which has nothing to do with beauty and everything to do with whether Palin understands her own belief system. She can deliver the crowd-pleasing abstractions, and she can hold forth on very specific issues with lists of predigested talking points. Fine. But there’s that territory in between that involves awareness of how all the issues in play interrelate and having a sense of how to prioritize them as they develop in real time, which is most of a president’s job, and I think that’s what Palin seems to be missing. Or, to put it less adversarially, that’s what Palin hasn’t taken the opportunity to demonstrate she has.

    A related issue is that she doesn’t seem to be very inquisitive about anything that isn’t demonstrably useful for the job at hand. It’s great to be task-oriented, but America is a key player in a dangerous world with a lot going on. Surely we want candidates who are keen to know as much as they humanly can so that they have plenty of background knowledge to draw from when the unexpected happens.

    So the issue isn’t one of beauty, at least as far as I’m concerned. It’s whether she knows what she’s getting into, knows what she doesn’t know, and has the conceptual framework to make all this “boning up” people want her to do utile in office. I myself am certainly willing to give her a chance. Why not? If she comes back in an election cycle or two and is the better candidate, I’ll vote for her ticket again. I do understand the need for compromise. What I find chilling is the sight of conservatives, who I thought stood for clarity of thought, falling all over themselves to explain away concerns that Palin sounds frankly scatterbrained when she’s out of her comfort zone. It would never have occurred to me to make that one of my “checkmarks” before because I just always naively assumed any politico who couldn’t pass that test would be weeded out.

  • The Right Kind of Elitism « From the Second Balcony · July 12, 2009 at 6:35 am

    […] Kind of Elitism Posted on July 12, 2009 by Herself From Heather Mac Donald (Secular Right, Right-wing identity politics, July 10, 2009): Hanson is absolutely right that liberals and the left should expose themselves to […]

  • OneSTDV · July 12, 2009 at 6:42 am

    I’ve written a blog post both defending Palin’s cultural background as irrelevant to her being a national politician and criticizing her for political glibness.

    http://onestdv.blogspot.com/2009/07/palin-and-flyover-country-whites.html

    TangoMan didn’t like my post either.

  • Ivan Karamazov · July 12, 2009 at 7:54 am

    I’m kind of a bottom line guy, and the fact of the matter is, she has been Dan Quayle’d.

    The GOP runs Palin at their extreme peril. She is unelectable for POTUS.

    As Will Munny says in “Unforgiven”, “‘Deserves’ got nothin’ to do with it.”

  • Susan · July 12, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Let me quote, verbatim, a recent post by a Sarahbot on a website dominated by Sarahbots: “She also talks like many us not elete’s just Americans.”

    What I find simultaneously irritating and depressing is the not-so-veiled implication that anyone who speaks and writes properly is somehow not a “real” American. Or is an “elete.” While I realize that it’s unfair to cherrypick quotes and try to use one as representative of a whole group’s thinking, I’ve read a LOT of nearly identical comments from the Sarahbots. This is not an anomaly.

    It’s a commonplace that there’s always been a vein of anti-intellectual sentiment in American life, as witnessed by hoary old aphorisms such as “If you’re so smart, how come you’re not rich,” as if the one presupposed the other. And I think it’s a real pity that conservatism should be associated with it. A lot of Palin’s fans appear to love her not because of her position on missile defense, or free markets, but because she’s incoherent. And because she “loves the Lord,” but that’s a somewhat separate issue.

    By the Sarahbot definition of what constitutes a true conservative, everyone here at The Secular Right is a liberal.

  • TangoMan · July 12, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    And I think it’s a real pity that conservatism should be associated with it. A lot of Palin’s fans appear to love her not because of her position on missile defense, or free markets, but because she’s incoherent. And because she “loves the Lord,” but that’s a somewhat separate issue.

    I sympathize. I too wish that conservatism manifested as all that is right in the world and that every conservative could serve as an exemplary ambassador for conservatism. I simply don’t know how to make that come about. As has been noted repeated over on GNXP sometimes those who embrace your positions are your worst enemies. The Democrats have to deal with this problem too, recall the woman who was ecstatic that she would no longer have to make car or mortgage payments once Obama was elected.

    I’m sure that many of us agree that we’re put off by many Sarahbots, so the question becomes twofold, on principal what should we do and in terms of practicality what should we do? Palin’s SarahPac will release its fundraising numbers in a few weeks. This is the first reporting cycle since the election. Four years ago we saw Obama raise $800K+, Hilary raised about $700K+. Keeping in mind that Palin’s fundraising efforts have been non-existent in this reporting period, her donation total will tell whether enthusiasm from supporters can translate into a credible shot at political power or not. That’s the practical issue. The principled one is, presuming that there exist practical considerations (if Palin has no practical considerations then she can safely be written off) whether to get inside the tent and have influence or to stand outside and support the better candidate who is less electable.

    I’m kind of a bottom line guy, and the fact of the matter is, she has been Dan Quayle’d.

    I’m kind of that way too. Who would elect an actor who starred in a movie with that chimp, Bonzo? My point is that the bottom line is calculated either during the primary season or on election night. By my criteria I don’t need to make a bottom line decision before all of the facts are in.

    But there’s that territory in between that involves awareness of how all the issues in play interrelate and having a sense of how to prioritize them as they develop in real time, which is most of a president’s job, and I think that’s what Palin seems to be missing.

    Frankly, I think that Obama is missing this mental skill. I believe him to be out of his depth on the economy, I look at his decision on the Honduras crisis and I don’t see much awareness of interrelated issues. His call for health care reform, and the seeming lack of concern for the financial burden it will generate, the growth depressive effects of tax increases, etc. He’s giving every indication that he can’t see cause and unintended effect in his management of his Administration. I could argue the same for most recent Presidents.

    I’m not disagreeing with you that this is important, all I’m saying is that if you’re holding this up as a very important criteria, then it should be a uniform standard applied to all candidates and some method of determining whether candidates possess this mental sophistication should be detailed.

    Surely we want candidates who are keen to know as much as they humanly can so that they have plenty of background knowledge to draw from when the unexpected happens.

    Yes, if I could mold a perfect, electable candidate out of clay and program him with scores of desirable qualities, this would be at, or near, the top of the list. I grant you that not having these qualities diminishes the potential greatness of a President but I contend that a less that perfect President who has a history of undoing rent-seeker deals, who works to create conditions that foster the creation of private wealth, who is intent on diminishing the power that arises from Petro-dollars flowing to unstable regions of the world, who is intent on insulating America from the economic and foreign policy risk inherent in having a not insignificant portion of our energy supply arising from an unstable region of the world, etc is a better choice than having Obama in the White House.

    Secondly, even if we grant that Obama is in possession of this quality, because we see hints of it in his press hagiographies, what good is this quality if his ideology consistently overrides his depth of background knowledge? Plenty of people have noted that Obama is very gifted at sitting down with opponents, listening to them make their case, then acknowledging their point of view, and often times doing so more convincingly, and then turning around and doing what he intended to do beforehand, a course of action that is driven by his ideological orientation. If you have this talent but never use it, is it really useful?

    What I find chilling is the sight of conservatives, who I thought stood for clarity of thought, falling all over themselves to explain away concerns that Palin sounds frankly scatterbrained when she’s out of her comfort zone. It would never have occurred to me to make that one of my “checkmarks” before because I just always naively assumed any politico who couldn’t pass that test would be weeded out.

    Different conservatives support her for different reasons. As Susan has pointed out, there are many who support her because they see in her an ordinariness with which they identify. Other conservatives likely support her because of sheer pragmatism – if Palin can generate crowds which translate into voters, if she can pull in donations, etc, then considering that more Obama is the alternative, she is the horse to bet on. Others are drawn to her anti-corruption efforts which have, to a significant degree, cleaned up Alaska. Others are drawn to her because of her willingness to veto spending when the easier course of action is to play along. Frankly, I’ve no way of knowing, yet, whether her demeanor when she is outside of her comfort zone is a reflection of lack of innate intelligence or because she is so frequently put outside of her comfort zone. For instance, most candidates prepare diligently for their primary runs. therefore all of their future political interactions will be well within their comfort zones and we’ll never see them stumble badly. Palin was plucked from obscurity, in part for her value as an identity candidate, which I disapprove of, and in part for her record as a Maverick reformist governor. She didn’t get a chance to prepare. I compare her conduct in Alaska-based issues, where I see competence, to her conduct on the national stage, where I see a more hit and miss performance. I never have seen how President Obama would conduct himself in the minutia of oil politics. I imagine he’d be a pretty good bullshitter, on the Joe Biden model, but I would think that his contribution would be lacking any real value. So, because Palin has demonstrated competence in the realm of Alaska politics, I assume that she has the ability to rise to the challenge. I don’t need to make a call on her competence for national office at this point in time, so I’ll reserve my judgment until I am required to make such a decision.

  • Susan · July 12, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Tango, one thing immediately leaps out at me from your post, and that’s your contention that the Democrats have to deal with idiotic Obama supporters to the degree that Republicans/conservatives have to deal with idiotic Palin supporters. No, they don’t. I haven’t seen anywhere any indication that Obama has suffered because of that dipwad in Florida, or indeed from any of the ditzo comments of his less-than-intelligent idolators, who appear to be legion.

    George W. Bush has always been a better speaker than Teddy Kennedy, even when Kennedy was in his dubious prime. Back in the eighties, Kennedy gave a speech in Iowa which he repeatedly referred to “fam farmilies” instead of “farm families” (a dubious locution in and of itself, since it’s open to varied interpretations). Was any wide publicity given to this, any more than wide publicity was given to the fact that Al Gore had to ask the identity of the bust of the man at Monticello? No. It’s Bush who’s the idiot, and Gore and Obama who are the towering intellects.

    As proof of my point, I read a news article today that MSNBC is going to do an investigation of the website Free Republic because some of its posters have made racist comments about the Obama daughters. Well, Free Republic deserves to be raked over the coals for that. But MSNBC should also investigate those websites that have made vulgar comments about Sarah Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy, and worse, about Palin’s infant son’s retardation. That’s not going to happen.

    You could make the argument that Sarah Palin is never going to win over the press, no matter what she does, including if it’s revealed that she has an IQ of 180 and spends her spare time solving linear equations and writing dissertations on the works of Edmund Burke and David Hume (the dead Scottish guy, not our amiable host).

    If she’s the candidate in 2012, I’ll vote for her. But I’d rather not do it solely on the grounds that anything is better than Obama, even my dog. And my dog has been dead since 1993.

  • TangoMan · July 12, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    One thing immediately leaps out at me from your post, and that’s your contention that the Democrats have to deal with idiotic Obama supporters to the degree that Republicans/conservatives have to deal with idiotic Palin supporters. No, they don’t. I haven’t seen anywhere any indication that Obama has suffered because of that dipwad in Florida, or indeed from any of the ditzo comments of his less-than-intelligent idolators, who appear to be legion.

    You’re setting up the problem by contending that the ideological movement, or party, is hurt by the characteristics of idiotic partisans, and then you test this against Obama, rather than the party. If that’s the test, do you have any evidence that people are not supporting Palin, not because of who she is or because of how she comes across, but because of the nature of her fervent supporters? I don’t see any evidence of that. Most of her negative ratings, I believe, can be attributed to how her detractors view her.

    I think that liberalism suffers when we see liberals parading their kids like little Hitler Youths in the service of Obama. I can certainly see how conservatism suffers when some of its adherents embark on the path of celebrating a cult of personality. The test isn’t whether the leader of the movement is harmed, it’s whether the movement is harmed.

    That being said, what should be done? This is a problem that likely arises from having universal franchise. Your reasoned vote is canceled by the vote of the undecided voter who remembers the last talking point they were exposed to before entering the ballot box.

  • Susan · July 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Tango, I may not have made my point clear. That point was that ONLY Republicans/conservatives are hurt by idiotic spokespeople/candidates. Can you deny this? Of course it’s reprehensible that “liberals parad[e] their kids like litte Hitler youths in the service of Obama.” But you can’t seriously think that anyone in the major media is going to be lamenting this any time soon, do you? Why should they? They agree with the sentiments expressed. If one of the Obama daughters sports a “no nukes” t-shirt, that’s cool with people who support unilateral disarmament. Which happens to be most of the press.

    And who’s going to disagree but for people like us? Despite the power of the Internet, the vast majority of people still get their news–and form their opinions on the basis of what they hear–from sources that are deeply disposed to praising liberal rather than conservative solutions to problems. My favorite example of this is a well-loved uncle of mine. In his sixties, he converted from conservatism to liberalism. During the evil Bush regime–you know, the regime that wanted to steal Medicare and Social Security benefits from senior citizens–he had, for free, otherwise very expensive heart bypass surgery and two very expensive cancer surgeries. As I’ve tried many times to explain to him when we’ve discussed this, if we lived under the system he now wants, I’d be putting flowers on his grave rather than arguing with him over a vodka martini. (I lived for four years under Britain’s National Health care when it was better than it is now; believe me, you really, really, really don’t want this, even the “better” version of my youth.)But my uncle doesn’t accept my argument–because the New York Times has told him that Republicans are determined to impoverish and kill him. And because “Democrats care about the common man.” I do give my uncle credit for not saying that Democrats care about the little people, a phrase that always makes me wonder if I’m living in the U.S.A or Oz.

    But we’re getting away from Sarah Palin. What harm will it do her to sound more intelliegent and informed, and make her positions more explicit, instead of saying that she’s been drawn to a “higher calling”–which would mean, if you interpret the phrase as it’s traditionally been used, that she’s going to enter a seminary and study to be a clergywoman. Which is fine with me if that’s what she really wants. As I’ve said, she’s never going to win over the liberals. But she might win over some independents with a carefully planned program of well-articulated positions. Even if the only place she has to articulate them is a website, Fox News, and the Washington Times.

    All this may be moot. It could well be that Palin’s been so thoroughly Quayled (thanks for the word, Ivan) that whatever she says or does, she’s doomed.

  • TangoMan · July 12, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I may not have made my point clear. That point was that ONLY Republicans/conservatives are hurt by idiotic spokespeople/candidates. Can you deny this?

    I’m not sure. Consider the prevailing wisdom which holds that all of those liberal professors at universities indoctrinate their students into becoming liberals. Funny thing is though, that despite the liberal-bias these students swim through, the indoctrination doesn’t really take root, or stick around, after the student leaves university. I suspect that something like this is at work with media influence. Palin resigns, the media pundits declare her dead in the water, and lo and behold, polling after the resignation shows that, for the most part, her resignation didn’t hurt her and that a good majority of people understand why she made the decision, and this despite the media pundits wailing about her incoherence and how very few of them understand why she committed career suicide.

    The media applies double standards against conservatives. This morning I watched David Gregory, with a smirk on his face, ask Senator McCain if Governor Palin is a quitter, completely oblivious to the fact that President Obama and his entire top echelon should be tagged with the same label. Again, with Palin in the crosshairs, the media is driving a narrative, but significant portions of the public are seeing through the narrative. As with academic liberal bias, the question is whether the institution, media, is damaging itself more with display of bias, than it is gaining by advancing an agenda. Are they making themselves less relevant and thus less able to act as gatekeepers and Quayle-creators?

    What harm will it do her to sound more intelliegent and informed, and make her positions more explicit, instead of saying that she’s been drawn to a “higher calling”–

    No harm that I can see. Again, I don’t need to make my judgment on her, believe it or not, until we get closer to the wire. I’m curious to see how she plays out this chess game. Unlike most of her critics, who are calling for her to concede the game after her first two moves of pawns, I think that she has every right to play a full game until she is beaten or she wins. I don’t see any reason to call for her to resign the game or to disqualify her.

    In the meantime, it’s great sport to puncture the Palin caricatures crafted by insular analysts residing in the New York – Washington mediaplex, analysts and pundits who are part of a self-referencing network mired in a status game built on earning the respect of colleagues by espousing foundational liberal attitudes, even when the pundits and analysts are conservatives. They can’t speak honestly about race, crime, immigration, a host of other topics, and now, there is something about Governor Palin which brings out their vapid and shallow criticisms – it’s like they’re waging a class-based war against her, and their arsenal is mostly devoid of facts.

    As I’ve said, she’s never going to win over the liberals. But she might win over some independents with a carefully planned program of well-articulated positions.

    That she might. If she shows a big haul with her SarahPac then she is in a better position to develop a support staff of advisors. Let’s face it, Palin being in Alaska, never had the opportunity to develop sufficient political gravitational mass to snare into her orbit a coterie of advisers and allies. Presidential candidates are not the originators of the ideas that comprise their policy book. They rely on many experts to guide them. Once Governor Palin starts building a team, then I expect she’ll be speaking more substantively on issues of national import. Will she then have sufficient gravitas to be taken seriously? I have no clue.

    In terms of electability, Romney has trouble in the Southern Red States, but I’m sure he plays better with Northeastern Republicans. Unfortunately, those Republicans who live in Manhattan are lost in a sea of Democrats. Huckabee doesn’t play well outside of Evangelical circles. Palin, though not as popular is Huckabee with the Evangelicals, and not as popular with the fiscal conservatives as Romney, has a credible foot in both camps. Further, she can appeal to small government voters and to clean government voters. Whoever is the next Republican candidate needs to swing Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina while holding the existing Red States and they win the Presidency. This isn’t an outlandish task, not with Obamanomics unfurling across the land. I can’t see Huck winning Ohio and Pennsylvania. I can’t see Romney winning North Carolina or Virginia. I certainly don’t see Palin winning Mass, Vermont, Maine, New York, New Jersey, but they’re all Blue States anyway. I see her as most capable of holding the Red States and having the best chance in the Swing States.

    All this may be moot. It could well be that Palin’s been so thoroughly Quayled (thanks for the word, Ivan) that whatever she says or does, she’s doomed.

    Time will tell. QUayle never set out to independently take charge of his image. He disappeared from the political scene. That actor who was ridiculed for playing 2nd fiddle to Bonzo the chimp did undertake an independent effort to reshape his image, and even still he wasn’t taken seriously by his critics and was mocked mercilessly as being empty-headed and cliche spouting. It seems to me that Palin is attempting to work on redefining her image, but maybe I’m misreading her actions. All she needs is more events like Auburn, where the media isn’t acting as gatekeeper. Check out her speech. She seems entirely coherent here and while she glances down at her notes occasionally I don’t see her using a teleprompter. Let the local news be the primary reporters on her events and the media image should start to change.

  • Susan · July 12, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Tango, I had meant to respond to your comment about the issue of universal suffrage, but I ran out of cyber-breath. Certainly universal suffrage allows idiots, non-citizens, and dead people to vote, generally more than once in any given election.(I have no doubt that some of my paternal ancestors are traipsing off to the polls in their mobcaps, tricornes, knee breeches, and hoop skirts to punch the ballot, repeatedly, for whomever the most liberal Dem on the ballot might be.) In theory, at least, there’s a way to prevent illegals and corpses from voting. But who decides otherwise who’s fit to vote? ACORN? Or, on the other side, people who think that all you need to do to be an informed citizen is to read the Bible, since everything anyone needs to know azbout anything is contained between its covers? Limiting the vote to property owners leaves out a lot of conservatives who might have once owned real estate, but sold it for any of a variety of excellent free market reasons (like to make a huge profit) and now pay real estate taxes in the form of rent.

    I guess we’re stuck with universal suffrage, and the hope that Jerks for Obama are outnumbered by Jerks for…Whoever in 2012.

  • TangoMan · July 13, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Palin’s SarahPac will release its fundraising numbers in a few weeks. This is the first reporting cycle since the election. Four years ago we saw Obama raise $800K+, Hilary raised about $700K+. Keeping in mind that Palin’s fundraising efforts have been non-existent in this reporting period, her donation total will tell whether enthusiasm from supporters can translate into a credible shot at political power or not.

    News released today:

    SarahPAC reported $733,000 in total receipts through June 30, of which $420,000 was “unitemized” or from donors who contributed $200 or less. . . .

    Palin’s PAC totals put her on par with fellow potential 2012 candidates. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s PAC, Free and Strong America PAC, reported $404,000 raised in the first six months of this year for a total of $1.4 million raised.

    With no active effort on her part, she matched the historical performance of Obama and Clinton, and raised almost double that of Romney in this reporting cycle (6 months for Romney, 5 months for Palin) so I take this total to be indicative of a power base developing that matches Romney’s. How could a political idiot do this?

  • The White Peril 白禍 » Blog Archive » Super trouper · July 13, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    […] (that’s not my being queeny; it’s her actual blogname) uses Heather Mac Donald’s most recent post about Sarah Palin’s resignation as a point of departure for a rumination about the role of […]

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