Time for Palin Apologists to Let Go

January 24th, 2011 at 4:37 pm David Frum | 124 Comments |

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Dearly as I esteem Ross Douthat, I thought his blogpost today on the press and Sarah Palin did not hit the nail on the head.

Ross:

No politician, from Bush to Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi, is hated so intensely by so many Americans [as Sarah Palin]. And this is what’s so problematic, to my mind, about much of the Palin coverage: The media often acts as though they’re covering her because her conservative fan base is so large (hence the endless talk about her 2012 prospects), when they’re really covering her because so many liberals are eager to hear about, read about and then freak about whatever that awful, terrifying woman is up to now.

Now, question: WHY exactly is it problematic for the press to cover a politician who is widely disliked? Palin is not going to be president, conceded. But George Wallace was never going to be president either, yet time spent thinking about him between 1962 and 1972 was not time wasted.

There is a mood I know in the conservative world to downplay Palin’s significance. From the vantage point of 2011, the enthusiasm for Palin once felt by many conservatives – including conservative intellectuals – looks excruciatingly embarrassing. Better to say, “Who us? Never! It was Josh Marshall and Andrew Sullivan who inflicted Palin on the national debate.”

(No, I’m not making that last bit up. Here’s Ross again:

The fact that TPM was the first to seize on the “death panels” provocation is neither “funny” nor “ironic.”  Instead, it’s typical of the Palin-press symbiosis. If you were a casual consumer of political news in 2009, you would assume that Palin’s famous “death panels” remark received outsize media attention only after it became a rallying cry for the right-wing masses. But in reality, it received outsized media attention in part because a liberal Web site seized on it and ran with it as an example of the scary awfulness of Sarah Palin. And that pattern keeps repeating itself. It’s why there’s more Palin coverage in publications like TPM, MSNBC and Vanity Fair (not to mention, of course, a certain Palin-obsessed Atlantic blogger) than in many conservative outlets: Not because they’re the only places willing to tell the truth about her, but because they’ve built an audience that believes the worst about her, and enjoys wallowing in the fear and loathing she inspires.)

You’d never know from reading that passage that conservative thought leaders continue to use and justify the death panel phrase to this very day.

Ross would like to convince us – convince himself perhaps – that Palin-mania is a libel hurled at innocent conservatives by traffic-hungry liberals. Yet only just last week, the Wall Street Journal‘s house blogger James Taranto had this to say:

Professional jealousy and intellectual snobbery, however, only scratch the surface of the left’s bizarre attitude toward Palin. They explain the intensity of the disdain, but not the outright hatred–not why some people whose grasp of reality is sufficient to function in society made the insane inference that she was to blame for a madman’s attempt to murder Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

This unhinged hatred of Palin comes mostly from women. …[T]his goes beyond mere jealousy. For many liberal women, Palin threatens their sexual identity, which is bound up with their politics in a way that it is not for any other group (possibly excepting gays, though that is unrelated to today’s topic).

True, Taranto like many others – possibly including Ross – has moved to a second order degree of Palin-mania. Like Jennifer Rubin only a year ago the author of “Why Jews Hate Palin,” these second-degree Palin maniacs no longer defend Palin. Instead, they try to solve the baffling mystery: how could anybody possibly object to the half-term governor?

Is it because they look down upon those who lack fancy college degrees? Because they hate babies? (Those were Taranto’s theories.) Or perhaps because they despise military moms? Or are they just jealous that Palin is so damn sexy?

I’d be willing to join Ross in pretending that the whole shameful Palin episode never happened if I could assure myself that the second-degree Palin defenders really had learned the lesson of this experience. I see no sign of it.

So as a contribution to the debate, let me try to explain why the Palin phenomenon cannot be left behind quite so fast.

In 2008, the Republican party nominated for the office of vice-president a person who is now pretty universally agreed to be unfit for the presidency. (Even Taranto agrees with that.) Concededly: it’s not the first time in the history of the republic that this has happened. But here’s the difference between Palin and, say, Spiro Agnew or Henry Wallace. The Palin nomination elicited a huge outpouring of argument from Republicans and conservatives denying that competence mattered at all in a potential president.

Admittedly, much of this defense was insincere. But unfortunately – not all. Palin we could quietly consign to the attic of Republican embarrassments. The apparatus of excuse and justification that surrounded and protected Palin until the day before yesterday – that still chugs away over at the Wall Street Journal – that apparatus remains an overwhelming impediment to any hope of a more responsible conservatism of the future.


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124 Comments so far ↓

  • lolapowers

    I agee with Poiks. Palin does not speak for me and never will. She only appeals to a tiny fraction of the American public: those who are nostalgic for an America that will never be.

  • CK MacLeod

    The apparatus of excuse and justification that surrounded and protected Palin until the day before yesterday – that still chugs away over at the Wall Street Journal – that apparatus remains an overwhelming impediment to any hope of a more responsible conservatism of the future.
    …like so much else of Frum’s writing on Palin, even where it’s illuminating, it’s also somewhat diversionary. Yes, the continued defense of Palin long past the date that, given a chance to chart her course, she charted it right into the arms of Beck, Levin, Limbaugh, and the rest, does indicate something fundamentally wrong with contemporary conservatism, but it’s not the “apparatus,” or only the apparatus, but at least as much the ideological position, the actual political content, that matters. Palin isn’t a contradiction of American conservatism ca. 2010-11, she represents it. It’s up to conservatives to prove that she – her politics, not her syntax or personal baggage – doesn’t.

  • Churl

    talkradiosucks.com // Jan 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm,”This is simply an attempt to evade the real issue by asking for something you know to be impossible.
    That something cannot be easily quantified does not mean it cannot be assessed. The lack of intelligence of Palin supporters cannot be measured like the temperature, but it is demonstrable through their own inability to state reasonable, factual justifications for why they support her, along with their irrational evasion of the mountain of evidence clearly showing that she’s a vapid, dishonest fraud. Among other things.”

    Well, you’re off to a start. Fair enough, you have no quantitative data to support your contention that Palin supporters are “dumb”. I believe this, because there isn’t any. So, how about some backup for your very subjective contentions above. By the way, “Among other things” is not persuasive evidence.

  • KBKY

    I never thought I’d do this, but I am about to write a post defending Sarah Palin. Not because I believe that she should be President, far from it; and not because I could see myself ever voting for her, I couldn’t; but because I think many of the comments here are both unfair and inaccurate.

    Ms. Palin is, firstly, not an idiot. No one could have manipulated our current media circus the way she has without being a very shrewd politician. Does this mean that she is a policy wonk? No, but there is a difference between being uninformed on issues (and a bad choice for President) and being an idiot. I’m still not sure if she just wasn’t able or prepared to present herself on a national stage. Our political system is absolutely vicious and brutal (to everyone, regardless of political leaning) and she just seemed caught off guard. She was then unable to break out of the mold she’d developed for herself. A mold that, most can agree, had a huge number of flaws.

    In my opinion, this ties into her three biggest flaws: an inability to present herself on the national stage, a large ego, and a very thin skin for insults. If you look at her record while in Alaska (Frum’s linked article on Jews and Palin has some information), she was actually fairly moderate. She had a reputation for working with both sides and was quite popular. Once she got into the limelight, however, she just didn’t know how to handle it and she (in my opinion) fell back on the easy cliché of political attack dog. Because she loved the attention she went too far (pallin’ around with terrorists, etc.). It should be mentioned, however, that this is common for politicians. Look only to recent examples of members of both sides comparing each other to Nazis. A true statesman (and Presidential/Vice Presidential candidate), however, should be able to absorb insults and not lose control. Palin just wasn’t able to handle the constant criticism as well as Hillary or Barack. Even today, we see these qualities. Most reports from those who know her describe a warm woman who cares about her country, yet for a majority of voters she is unable to represent herself as such. Even on her TLC show, which should have been a ripe forum to show her humanity, audiences constantly saw tacky cattiness (like the snide comment about the First Lady and her nutrition program).

    Does this mean that she’s an idiot? No. Does this mean that anyone who supports her is in the “bottom ten percent of the national intelligence”? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that she is a charismatic figure who has not shown herself able to handle our intense, vicious, and often unfair political arena with skill and grace. In addition, she has been unable to present herself and her ideas in a concrete and inspiring manner to the majority of voters. All of these things (in my mind) make her unqualified to be President. They don’t, however, make her the evil, insane, fool that many here are claiming.

  • arcturus

    Can I suggest a second reason why we shouldn’t allow conservative intellectuals to forget about Palin so easily? It’s been alluded to in the comments here already: not so much the fact that she still might win the nomination, but the structural problems that make that possible.

    Since self-identified hard-core liberals are a small minority, and are less energized by talk radio and echo-chamber groupthink, any Democratic candidate for national office can’t even compete for a nomination without some kind of coalition or moderate support. Thus, it’s really hard for a primary challenge to succeed from the left, and Democratic presidential primary debates tend to be about who can most successfully distance themselves from Dennis Kucinich.

    This is not true of conservatives, which is the problem that Palin has illustrated so perfectly. Even now, when every actual Republican politician realizes that a) Palin can’t win a general election and b) it wouldn’t be so hot for the country if she did, the possibility of her energizing enough primary voters to catapult her to the nomination is very real, and there’s not much they can do about it. Once 1/3 of self-identified conservatives believe that Obama is or may possibly be the Antichrist, there is simply no way to flank a lunatic from the right…and they can’t exactly fight against her with a moderate in the primaries, can they?

    From a horse-race political point of view, I’ve said for years that Rush and the other maniacs do their party more harm than good, for exactly this reason. Hopefully Palin will finally (eventually) help the Republicans realize that standing up to the windbags, even occasionally when it’s politically inconvenient, is a necessary battle.

  • MikeH

    In my opinion, a majority of the people who support Palin are cut from the same cloth as those who followed Jim and Tammy Fae, who thought Joseph McCarthy was the voice of reason, who were glued to the radio when Father Coughlin did his show.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “I never thought I’d do this, but I am about to write a post defending Sarah Palin.”

    For what it’s worth, I give you a lot of credit for your post.

    “Ms. Palin is, firstly, not an idiot. No one could have manipulated our current media circus the way she has without being a very shrewd politician.”

    This is a common argument, but I’m not sure it really has that much merit.

    If you think about it, how much did Sarah Palin herself really have to do with the manufacture of “Sarah Inc.”? Not a hell of a lot. It was mostly a creation of the GOP machine. She only went along with it, and even then not very … shrewdly. Think about not just her famous messups in interviews, but other silliness like arguing with their handlers, contradicting McCain, the clothing silliness, etc.

    Even in the years that followed, she made one blunder after another, so much so that even if she only wanted money and fame, she left a lot of it on the table by flatly being a bad politician.

    “I’m still not sure if she just wasn’t able or prepared to present herself on a national stage.”

    It’s been 2.5 years; she’s hardly a debutante, and still doesn’t have the simple common sense to know how to respond to a tragedy in a way that isn’t tone-deaf. That’s not a matter of preparation.

    “Our political system is absolutely vicious and brutal (to everyone, regardless of political leaning) and she just seemed caught off guard.”

    This argument too doesn’t hold much water, I’m afraid, because all of the evidence from her time in Alaska until the present day is that she is just as vicious and brutal herself as anyone she claims to have been victimized by.

    “Once she got into the limelight, however, she just didn’t know how to handle it and she (in my opinion) fell back on the easy cliché of political attack dog.”

    Even if I grant your claim about what she was like in Alaska before, this is not much of a defence, as it speaks to her own lack of intellect, lack of moral center, and ability to be manipulated. All of which are at the core of any list of complaints about her.

    “Even on her TLC show, which should have been a ripe forum to show her humanity, audiences constantly saw tacky cattiness (like the snide comment about the First Lady and her nutrition program).”

    She’s been using the “inability to communicate” line since the Couric interview. After a while, reasonable people come to the inescapable conclusion that she presents the way she does because that is who she is.

    “They don’t, however, make her the evil, insane, fool that many here are claiming.”

    She’s not insane. But I do think the other two apply.

    My problem is not so much with her as the people who A. blindly follow her; and B. promote her for cynical political reasons.

    And I find it easier to accept that she’s actually fairly smart than I do those who blindly follow her. I’m sorry but everything I have seen over the last 29 months — and I’ve seen a lot — suggests that her manufactured political personna has been directly targeted to get votes from people who are easily emotionally swayed, who are not capable nor interested in thinking critically, and/or who vote for people solely based on identification and cultural issues rather than the candidate’s qualifications. Most of these people really are stupid, and it’s not a coincidence — it is by design. It’s very cynical, and very, very dangerous.

  • mickster99

    Conflating “hate” with “disapproval of” or “negative opinion of” or “she’s not qualified to be President” or “she’s only in it for money” is a common linguistic styling of right and left.

    Whether it’s Bush haters, Obama haters, Palin haters, or, in those rare instances “Frum haters” it’s only purpose seems to be pandering for hits ergo more ad revenues, readers, speaking engagements, blogging, Foxcasting, cable newscasting, radio bloviating, etc. ad infinitum ad nauseum.

    Doesn’t work for me.

    However, I think it works for Doubthat and apparently David Frum.

    Ever wonder why political discourse has to be so intolerably inept?
    The answer lies within?

  • mickster99

    In case no one is aware of this, Palin has written several books, hosts her own cable tv program, host her own Foxcast program, keynotes at rightwing talkfests, is only available for interviews on rightwing media, twitters a bit, posts to FaceBook, does book tours, has her own radio studio in Alaska, etc,

    Ross somewhat dimwittingly misses these points albeit through the common devices of language (deletion, distortion, generalization e.g. see Chomsky).

    He conveniently does not seem to have noticed these outlets and venues in his unsupported opinion on who exactly is infatuated with Palin and those who are not.

    If she were to be more available to news-type organizations that are not totally Palin-approved e.g Hannity etc. there might be less “obsessing” left-wing perhaps.

  • mickster99

    Ross is a talented opinionist.

    Look at the quality of his propaganda:

    “the scary awfulness of Sarah Palin.”

    “an audience that believes the worst about her, and enjoys wallowing in the fear and loathing she inspires.”

    Evaluating a blog, any blog, by the quality and content of one of more anonymously written/submitted comments is useless at best and damaging at worst.

    The reality of the web is that anyone of any age can start up browser and go to a blog and author comments without any sort of self-editing or self-imposed constraint.

    To then use those comments as suggestive of anything other than the work of self-indugent adolescents is just plain pointless.

    Of course, I am an exception. Of course.

  • Churl

    MikeH // Jan 25, 2011 at 5:33 pm gurgles, “In my opinion, a majority of the people who support Palin are cut from the same cloth as those who followed Jim and Tammy Fae, who thought Joseph McCarthy was the voice of reason, who were glued to the radio when Father Coughlin did his show.”

    Well, MikeH, you certainly have an opinion. It would be more interesting to see facts backing it up. Otherwise, your opinion of Palin’s supporters is as useful here as your opinions on birdhouse construction or pocket lint.

  • anniemargret

    KBKY: Your analysis of Palin doesn’t compute. We are talking here about a huckster. A woman who realized that she wasn’t of presidential timber (McCain’s handlers said she knew ‘nothing’) but kept America thinking she would be running. She did this because she could rake in the money with books, fan appearances, Fox News slots, tweeting ad nauseam.

    Palin stoked fires whereever she goes. She likes it. It gets her attention. She removes herself from serious situations where she might not be able to fool the public. What is there to admire here?

    Every female in US history that has tried to run for political office must prove her stuff. She is not given passes, nor given easy questions or cocooned while doing it. No one would respect a woman in politics who does that. What is good for the men, is good for the women. It’s a level playing field, and should be.

    Palin upended all that. Because she is 1) pretty and 2) snarky, she got away with it. No more. No more passes. She can continue to milk the cow with her pitbull persona and those people that admire her for that can continue to help her fill her coffers.

    The rest of us knows who she really is, and what’s she about and we figured it out a long time ago. Either she proves herself or she doesn’t. After 2 1/2 years on the national stage, in the limelight 24/7, with every detail of her life on display, she still cannot command respect from the majority of Americans.

    There’s a reason for that.

  • anniemargret

    Further, I tend to agree that her fans are not discriminatory when it comes to Palin. She is given a pass every time. We all know that if it is revealed tomorrow that Palin is a bigamist or cheated on her taxes, her fans will always find a reason to forgive her. This isn’t a constituency, it is a cult.

    Ask a Palin supporter why they would vote for her for President. Almost to the one, it is about cultural issues, about their collective hate for Obama, about her ‘Christianity’ or some other ethereal aspect of her life. Nothing substantive about domestic or foreign policy abilities. They don’t care about that.

    Because of that, other Americans can hold their feet to the fire and ask, why. Why Palin and not Romney? One is superficial, the other substantive.

  • KBKY

    @talkradiosucks.com

    “This is a common argument, but I’m not sure it really has that much merit…”
    Yet, despite her blunders she still remains popular. Pundits follow her and give her opinions weight. She has two national best sellers (yes, ghost written, but I don’t hold that against her because I don’t hold it against other politicians. Being a good writer is an incredibly difficult skill.) and is a highly paid television host. Any other politician, with only one of the incredibly stupid blunders that she has had, would be finished. She understands her audience and core base enough to not go to far (for them). She’s been too successful where it counts for me to dismiss her as a bumbling fool. I think she was unprepared for what was required of a Vice Presidential candidate and created a negative first impression that she doesn’t have the skill to undo.

    “This argument too doesn’t hold much water, I’m afraid, because all of the evidence from her time in Alaska until the present day is that she is just as vicious and brutal herself as anyone she claims to have been victimized by.”
    Not at first. She lacks polish and grace and the situation with her and the media devolved incredibly quickly. The vast majority of reports from Alaska prior to her being brought on as a candidate, however, showed her as being polite and considerate to those across the aisle. At the time, many Democrats from Alaska were shocked at her national persona. I think she made a persona error and then her inability to take the insults of politics meant that she sank lower and lower.

    “Even if I grant your claim about what she was like in Alaska before, this is not much of a defence, as it speaks to her own lack of intellect, lack of moral center, and ability to be manipulated. All of which are at the core of any list of complaints about her.”
    I would argue that it speaks to her inability to function as a national stateswomen. This has nothing to do with her morals or intellect. If you watch her, she seems incredibly insecure. I’m not sure I can judge her so harshly for that, as I couldn’t handle the mud that gets slung in the political arena today and I’m not so sure I could rise above it. I’m also not sure about the ability to be manipulated, I think McCain’s folks wished that she could have been a bit more malleable.

    “She’s been using the “inability to communicate” line since the Couric interview. After a while, reasonable people come to the inescapable conclusion that she presents the way she does because that is who she is.”
    A majority of people don’t like the health care bill, yet when asked about the different provisions they are in favor of the majority of them by large percentages. I have seen Democrats lose the fiscal responsibility message (despite their record) far too many times to judge politicians on the other side for losing a similar battle. Messaging is difficult and I don’t think that Ms. Palin has the ability to respond to the media’s negativity with grace and poise and I believe that this is the only thing that could turn American opinion around. The cameras don’t and can’t catch it all, however. I’d agree that that’s an aspect of who she is, but probably not all.

    “My problem is not so much with her as the people who A. blindly follow her; and B. promote her for cynical political reasons.”
    People do indeed promote her for cynical political reasons. I have problems with people who blindly follow any political figure, but I can understand why she appeals to people and the media’s constant scrutiny and attacks probably contribute more to her continued support than anything else. Americans tend to sympathize with someone they feel is being treated unfairly. Exhibit A: the fact that I have now written 2 posts defending a political figure that I dislike and for whom I would never vote.

  • anniemargret

    KBKY: She is inflammatory. That is why the media love her. It is why her fans love her. There is no surprise there. Combine ‘pretty’ with ‘snarky’ and you get Palin. That about sums her up . And why no one expects much more from her.

    She has NOT been treated unfairly in any way. Hillary Clinton was crucified after the Bill Clinton mess and years thereafter. She didn’t hide. Palin hides. No other political figure, male or female would be the prima donna Palin is and think they will make progress. Sure, she has fans who like this. But the vast majority of Americans don’t respect her… that is HER doing and no one else’s.

    Stop giving her a pass. She has made her own bed. She wanted the grizzly bear and pitbull image and milked it for what it’s worth and will continue to do it as long as she can. She has a bank account that’s bulging at the seams. Poor,poor Sarah.

  • KBKY

    @anniemargret
    “Your analysis of Palin doesn’t compute. We are talking here about a huckster. A woman who realized that she wasn’t of presidential timber (McCain’s handlers said she knew ‘nothing’) but kept America thinking she would be running. She did this because she could rake in the money with books, fan appearances, Fox News slots, tweeting ad nauseam.”
    I don’t think she truly believes that she isn’t of presidential timber. One of her flaws is a lack of self-awareness. She keeps people thinking that she would be running because she probably keeps imagining it and wondering to herself if she could win. I also can’t judge her for making money. She’s an American politician and a capitalist. I can’t judge her for something that thousands of other Americans (including some I admire) do.

    “Palin stoked fires whereever she goes. She likes it. It gets her attention. She removes herself from serious situations where she might not be able to fool the public. What is there to admire here?”
    Again, she’s a politician who believes in her own message and likes making money. She removes herself from situations that would be too stressful for her to deal with. There’s nothing to admire, but also nothing that is so uncommon that we should judge her so harshly. Is she a stateswoman? No. But her behavior in this respect isn’t any more malicious or absurd than other politicians or public figures.

    “…Palin upended all that. Because she is 1) pretty and 2) snarky, she got away with it. No more. No more passes. She can continue to milk the cow with her pitbull persona and those people that admire her for that can continue to help her fill her coffers.”

    This statement actually offends me a tad. Every politician, man or woman has to “prove their stuff” to get elected. She didn’t get away with anything. I despise her and even I have to acknowledge that she is scrutinized and criticized far more harshly than other political figures. Senator Jim Bunning stated (repeatedly) that he never reads any newspapers and will only get his news from Fox. He said this proudly. There wasn’t near the uproar that would have occurred had Palin said something similar. Of course male politicians are occasionally coddled, I feel that they are given the benefit of the doubt more than female candidates, and she was not spared when push came to shove.

    “After 2 1/2 years on the national stage, in the limelight 24/7, with every detail of her life on display, she still cannot command respect from the majority of Americans.”
    I would argue that it is impossible for any figure in the limelight so often to command respect from the majority of Americans. She’s human, no human could go through this scrutiny intact. Of course, she invited a great deal of it, which speaks again to her insecurity and unfitness for public office on a national scale. It doesn’t speak to her being such a creature as your comments portray.

  • KBKY

    @anniemargret
    “She has NOT been treated unfairly in any way. Hillary Clinton was crucified after the Bill Clinton mess and years thereafter. She didn’t hide. Palin hides. No other political figure, male or female would be the prima donna Palin is and think they will make progress. Sure, she has fans who like this. But the vast majority of Americans don’t respect her… that is HER doing and no one else’s.”

    She has been treated unfairly. She was treated unfairly differently than Hillary, but she was. So was Obama and so was McCain. We treat our politicians terribly and I don’t blame her for not always coming out guns blazing. I couldn’t handle a quarter of what she, Hillary, or Obama has and I can guarantee I would have run to hide under a rock far quicker than any of them. Also, we have a great number of prima donna male politicians. Edwards and his $400 haircuts, Senators and their Gucci suits. Boehner cries every other interview, but it is viewed as endearing or with an eye roll. If Palin cried that amount, there would be rage. We give men a much higher pass in this country than women and they succeed a great deal with their prima donna habits. I won’t begrudge her what male politicians engage in all the time (it was Joe Wilson who couldn’t contain himself from shrieking “You Lie!” during the last SOTU. Imagine if that had been Palin or a female candidate.).

    A good number of Americans don’t respect her. Despite the absurd length of these posts that I’ve written defending her, I don’t respect her. But she does not deserve this vitriol. I’m not giving her a pass, I’m just trying to react to her in the same manner that I respond to Democratic, male, and other political figures.

  • anniemargret

    KBKY: You are a better person than me, KBKY!

    Truly. I cannot go there with you. I don’t think she is a ‘creature.’ Actually I think she is very clever.

    It is precisely *because* she is a woman that I find her so appalling. She could have taken the high road. I would expect her to dispute Obama on policy – that is to be expected. She took her prominence in the national spotlight to call him a near terrorist. She lied to the American people about his ‘death panels’ with Obamacare. Thousands of seniors across America believed her.

    These are egregious things. She attacked the President personally, not just on policy, making fun of his community activism, his wife, etc… very unseemly and very unclassy. She called 3/4 of Americans not ‘real America’ – which insults most of my family because they risked life and limb in the military.

    Has she gotten some harsh criticism? Of course! She is not going to be immune from it, and sorry….she did not get half the insults that were thrown on Hillary, who not only withstood it and fought back with dignity, but went on to complete her public service to this country.

    Yes. There are some terrible awful despicable politicians. I agree. But for someone as prominent as Palin, who had the media wrapped around her little finger, with so much support from her party, she could have done something *good* for this country, than rising up more resentment and fear.

    She wanted to be the Queen of the Culture Warriors and she is. No one forced her to that place and when you insult people, you get it back. Because I am woman I want to see women rise up and do good things for this country, not bring it down.

    with all due respect…we will have to agree to disagree…

  • anniemargret

    ps…I wouldn’t mind her making her money (as a capitalist) but first, as a former governor and politician, she should have at least offered some service to her country…. before she went out to put her daughter on DWTS, her reality shows, her tweets, etc…. she was all fluff. I have a hard time with it.

  • jerry ebert

    anniemargret hit the nail on the head with the best one-word description of Palin: a huckster.

  • SallyVee

    Agree with Frum, especially this:

    “The Palin nomination elicited a huge outpouring of argument from Republicans and conservatives denying that *competence* mattered at all in a potential president.”

    And of course the same applies to Dems/Libs regarding Mr. Incompetent, Barack Obama.

    Agree with AnnieMargret:

    “Huckster.”

    Yep, that’s the conclusion I’ve finally, finally come to, much as I wanted to avoid it. It probably took me longer because I have for 4 or 5 years now developed ways to keep the culture and media to a minimum assault in my life. Yet even with minimal invasion, I can see all the way to Sarah’s Soviet style ruse.

    Agree with KBKY:

    “she doesn’t deserve the vitriol.”

    That’s true too. It makes her more important that she is. Yet Frum is also right that we should examine what Sarah Palin means, though I’m about out of energy for that task.

  • indyreader

    @KBKY

    I too appreciate your attempt to highlight positive values from Ms. Palin, but in reading your rebuttals, its simply strikes me that you, like many others, haven’t actually engaged the criticisms leveled at Ms. Palin, but rather, seek to find positive personal qualities that may contradict the same (which seems to be based on the assumption that somehow, her detractors have all just been focusing on the wrong aspects of her personality, etc).

    For example: you state, “Yet, despite her blunders she still remains popular.” If you mean that she still gains a lot of attention, then yes, I agree. If you mean that she is “regarded with favor, approval, or affection by people in general,” (the definition) than I would disagree.

    You state, “I think she was unprepared for what was required of a Vice Presidential candidate and created a negative first impression that she doesn’t have the skill to undo.” How she continues to fail to overcome an image she helped create (and continues to enhance) and why that isn’t attributable to her own doing is beyond me. These comments simply take all responsibility for her actions, writings and appearances and places them on the audience – its the audience who just continues to misunderstand.

    You state: “She lacks polish and grace and the situation with her and the media devolved incredibly quickly.” What exactly should the media have reported? What did she attempt to do to change this? At every opportunity she has failed to present the picture painted here.

    You state: “I would argue that it speaks to her inability to function as a national stateswomen.” And yet she presents herself on this stage time and time again, even choosing to abandon what you deem as her strong suit. Why is this not her failing and how are theses decisions divorced from her moral and intellectual self? It seems both issues have arisen over time as she seems incapable of recognizing why some of her decisions have been poor and her positions ignorant. It seems to me, she’s following the path she’s most comfortable with: intellectually unengaged and acting in an extremely partisan manner. Neither strike me as demonstrating the intellectual ability or the moral standing you seem to proscribe to her. Similarly, achieving notoriety doesn’t take a high amount of intelligence.

    I do not understand your comments about the healthcare debate. Her role in that debate was to hype non-problems and ignore actual problems. She picked the most sensational line she could, ran with it and never looked back. How that helps anyone (other than getting a person attention), I don’t know. It certainly didn’t add to the level of understanding and, arguably, as her comments were so far off base, detracted from it.

    You state: “Americans tend to sympathize with someone they feel is being treated unfairly.” While that may be true, that isn’t the problem here. She’s not being treated unfairly. That said, the media (I would argue) tends to seek controversy and create the same in coverage, so perhaps she gets a disproportionate share of negative airtime and perhaps, she really has more depth than we’ve seen. Even so, she seeks controversy (seemingly at every opportunity), but conversely does not seek to enhance her moral or intellectual capacity or standing.

    I would still concede I don’t know the whole of Ms. Palin, but I also don’t see any of the positive qualities that you may. I’ve seen a couple comments about how she may be “clever” or otherwise (not all yours), but I’m still inclined to disagree. She’s not charting a course, she riding a wave; a wave that she stumbled onto by happenstance. The latter isn’t a personal failing, but it also doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that she must have positive personal qualities or somehow has created success in a novel manner, which would support a finding that she is anything other than the image portrayed (and again, cultivated).

  • Primrose

    SallyVee,

    It is a common Palin Republican argument to compare Gov. Palin’s “incompetence” President Obama’s “incompetence” —as if the two were anything alike in qualifications.

    President Obama starts of the gate, much, much better educated. B.A.’s from good schools (2 years one, 2 years the other)and a law degree from an Ivy, president of the law review. He worked in a large corporate law firm. He taught law. He served in the Illinois state senate for eight years. He was a senator when he was elected. He further went through a long and difficult primary challenge, very long, very difficult.

    Gov. Palin got a BA but only after bopping around at a lot of different schools, and not ones of the same difficulty level. Since neither had a financial advantage on the other, we can’t cry elitism.

    Gov. Palin was the mayor of a small town in Alaska, a very, very small town. She was governor of Alaska for two years, a state no larger than Obama’s district, a state which receives large subsidies from the government and does not have the magnitude of urban blight that the rest of our nation’s cities (or possibly any).

    And of course, as VP candidate, she did not have a primary challenge to shape her.

    If you see these people as equivalent in experience, there is something else going on in your calculations, and it ain’t pretty.

    As to whether Gov. Palin is smart. I’m still not convinced. Any high school head cheerleader can do what she did/does, i.e. get all the attention and convince people she’s wonderful. It is a skill to be sure, and not possible for the truly dim-witted, but does it really make her smart?

    At best in a very narrow, idiot-savant way, and not in a way that would be useful for making any other decision.

  • BradleyD

    I may get branded a troll and idiot for bringing this up, and maybe it’s an insignificant issue now, but I still am struck by the Babygate thing and what it says about Palin. I truly find it hard to believe she is the biological mother of Trig (just like Andrew Sullivan) — and if she isn’t, then she seemingly is a sociopathic liar.

    I’ve followed the Trig birth issue from the very start of Palin’s VP nomination, collecting pretty much all the information on it that appeared anywhere in the public domain. No matter how hard you try, you can’t officially confirm ANYTHING about the birth — not the hospital, not a single person in attendance, not the date, etc. (Don’t believe me? Go ahead, Google it all.) Additionally, Bristol DID leave school, and there are no photos of her during the period when someone was very pregnant with Trig. (However, I am not arguing she is the mother; there’s just too much smoke surrounding the whole matter to strongly make that argument.) But no matter how deeply you dig, you just find more and more evidence suggesting Sarah could not be the biological mother.

    Palin, you may recall, announced her supposed pregnancy in its seventh month — the day after McCain locked up the nomination — and an article that appeared in Alaska’s main daily newspaper the next day observed that she did not look pregnant at all, adding how shocked everyone was, including her own staff. Then for two months she wore loose scarves that covered her belly and made it hard to see any baby bump. However, some published news pictures around that time showed her looking rather trim. Then after she was nominated and questions about Trig arose, two pictures were anonymously posted on the internet (both taken months earlier in the Alaska capitol building) and they showed a very pregnant looking Palin — and standing next to her in one of those pictures was the reporter who would soon become her new PR director. (Yes, I’m suggesting the pictures were staged.) Unfortunately for Palin, a different picture was found online (innocently posted by a constituent of hers) which was taken about two weeks before the supposed birth, and it showed what looked like a small pillow fastened around her stomach — Palin carelessly left her coat unbuttoned at a signing ceremony in a museum. (Many folks who frequent “Palingate” and similar sites call it the “nail-in-the-coffin photo,” but no publication has picked up on it – understandably, given the existence of Photoshop.)

    If you think you can cast doubt on anything I’ve said, please post your evidence in this thread – I truly would like to see it. But you shouldn’t rely the statement about Trig’s birth made by Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson (Palin’s personal physician at the time) without noting the following: the doctor released the statement just hours before the voting started (meaning she and Palin could – and did – refuse to answer follow-up questions after election day because the race was over); she managed to avoid giving a birth date, naming a hospital, or saying that she was actually in attendance at the birth; and she avoided using first-person pronouns in the section about Trig, unlike where she described the births of the other Palin children (meaning what she related about Trig could have simply been what Palin had told her). The doctor’s statement, in its fine use of obfuscation, feels like it was written by lawyers and publicists.

    So what do we make of all this? I think Palin’s a sociopathic liar who in fact perpetrated a hoax concerning Trig’s birth.