A New York Times column by Ross Douthat
I have no doubt my friend Bob will be as disappointed as anyone that The Bob Rule remains in effect. As Bob told me twenty odd years ago: to be a successful politician, you have to have only one thing, and that’s absolutely no sense of self-consciousness or embarrassment.
The Politics of Poopy Heads
A reoccurring theme in Governor Palin’s both spoken and written apologia as to why she is unable to govern was the “politics of personal destruction.” Governor Palin’s career was destroyed by “political operatives” (cue the theme from Mission: Impossible!) who kept filing frivolous ethics complaints against her. Answering those complaints took up all the Governor’s time and money. Not to mention, it was just plain low down and mean.
NY Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat put it this way in his July 6 2006 column:
Here are the lessons of the Sarah Palin experience, for any aspiring politician who shares her background and her sex. Your children will go through the tabloid ringer. Your religion will be mocked and misrepresented. Your political record will be distorted, to better parody your family and your faith. And a moron says what.
Has there been a considerable effort to accuse Governor Palin of murder, following the suicide of one of her friends, as happened to Secretary Clinton, following the death of Vince Foster?
Has Sarah Palin had to spend years defending against truly frivolous actions, the likes of Whitewater, “Filegate” (over misplaced files in the White House), or “Travelgate” (the firing of the White House travel agents)?
Have the “liberal bloggers” Governor Palin complains of launched a wholly frivolous lawsuit, as a naked, personal attack on her and the Governor’s office, as did the individuals behind Paula Jones’s suit against President Clinton?
Has Sarah Palin had to face an “independent” counsel like Ken Starr, who wrote a “report” about sexual acts between consenting adults, pointedly including details that were irrelevant to any ethical or legal violations, but were included solely to embarrass President Clinton?
Is there anyone, with any kind of platform, that has said about Governor Palin what Michael Savage has said about Secretary Hillary Clinton? (Admittedly, I try to be that mean—but poser that I am, I’m just not in Mr. Savage’s league).
Did anyone at a rally for President Obama yell that Governor Palin was a “terrorist,” and that someone should “kill” her? At one rally, it was Senator McCain—and not Governor Palin—who finally stood up and said that then Senator Obama was a “good American,” and not some fifth columnist for a totalitarian Islamic theocracy.
No, all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune suffered by Governor Palin are not anything unusual (or even undeserved), and she has no business complaining about it.
Will the Real Sara Palin, Please Stand Up!
Critic that I am, OF COURSE I think Governor Palin is the distillation of every right-wing pathology, from anti-intellectualism to apocalyptic Christianity. But why do I think that? Because I’ve been paying attention to what Governor Palin says, that’s why. Maybe Mr. Douthat has some reason to suspect Governor Palin is lying when she says she is a fundamentalist Christian who believes her version of the Bible (in English) is the literal, infallible word of god (sic), that the world will end in cataclysmic fire on the Last Days, and that she believes in the Rapture, with Heaven for those who accept Jesus of Nazareth as the son of god and their personal savior, and Hell for everyone who doesn’t. I don’t know--she sounds sincere to me. Maybe she is just pretending--but I doubt it.
Yeah, I think that Governor Palin is “anti-intellectual,” and I would describe myself as “intellectual.” Admittedly, I am one snotty guy (and not just the booger kind). I actually own copies of Richard Hofstader’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life;Dumbing Down, Essays on the Strip Mining of American Culture; Milovan Djilas’s The New Class, and a set of the pre-revised Great Books of the Western World. Ya feel me? (So I watch “The Wire.” See “poser,” supra).
When I say “Sarah Palin is an anti-intellectual,” this is what I mean: Governor Palin has a shallow grasp of politics, history, and culture. She is proud of that fact, and believes that having a broad grasp of those issues is a disadvantage, usually because people who have such knowledge risk losing their common sense. Why do I think that about Sarah Palin? Well, just because she doesn’t SAY nattering nabobs of negativism, you just know (in her heart) that’s what she means when she attacks the Unrepresentative Eastern Liberal Elitist Media Establishment (the UELEME).
Again, I am not the only person who thinks so. The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum felt compelled to respond to Governor Palin’s July 4 2009 broadsideagainst the “main stream” (Palin’s phase) media. After noting that Governor Palin accuses “Washington and the Media” of being unable to understand her (Governor Palin’s) decision to resign, because “it’s about country,” Ms. Applebaum says
In other words, for the past nine months, Palin has avoided difficult questions, preferring Runner's World to another Katie Couric interview; she has dragged her family into the spotlight when it suited her (baby Trig was in Runner's World, too) and grown angry when the spotlight became too strong; she has eschewed reason and logic (not to mention spelling and grammar), yet reacted in horror when her critics were unreasonable and illogical in response. Then, after all that, she smugly asserts the right to decide who is a patriot and who is not. It's not about "country," in other words, it's about hypocrisy. And Sarah Palin is full of it.
Let’s just say that reasonable minds may differ to the extent my own responses to Governor Palin are “illogical" and/or "unreasonable,” but no one can deny Governor Palin couldn’t name then (and has not since) a single source of where she gets her “news,” she has refused to be interviewed by anyone not named Sean Hannity (or the equivalent thereof), and her statement explaining her resignation reads like it was written by a below average high school student. More importantly, the fact that Governor Palin is troubled by none of these things, that puts her firmly in the anti-intellectualism camp.
Forget Annette Funicello. Who All is in the Sarah Palin Fan Club?
Mr. Douthat cites a Pew poll, finding that 46 percent of “independents” and 48 percent of Americans without a college education have a favorable impression of Governor Palin. Mr. Douthat’s point is
Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology. In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal[:] that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become the great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal[:] that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard . . . [S]he’s an essential democratic role[:] the ordinary citizen who takes on the elites, the up-by-your-bootstraps role embodied by politicians from Andrew Jackson to Harry Truman.
I mentioned earlier that I am a snob, that I am an elitist. That means when I needed surgery, the fact a particular surgeon may have had a favorable approval rating with 48 percent of Americans without a college education, that meant less than nothing to me. I wanted a surgeon who had a favorable approval rating with people who knew about the surgery I needed. Why should I be any less demanding (and snobby) about the caliber of my political leadership?
Now, just because Paul Krugman has the kind of “big fat resume” that Governor Palin was dismissive of after she was named the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, does that mean Paul is right and Sarah is wrong? Of course not. For example, one of America’s greatest physicists was William Shockley, who won the Nobel Prize for his invention of the transistor. Dr. Shockley, who died in 1989, was also (arguably) a committed racist. So, for questions about electrons and holes in semiconductors, Dr. Shockley has my attention. But for questions about eugenics—no, he is not The Man.
Still, not all opinions are created equal, nor do they all deserve equal consideration. Looking at both Dr. Krugman and Governor Palin, I am persuaded by Dr. Krugman. As for the fact that almost half of the population without a college education find Governor Palin’s economic analysis more persuasive, for me that is a cause of concern about America's non- college educated. That fact alone, however, does not give any credence to Governor Palin’s opinions.
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
No, we just can’t.
One of the themes of Mr. Douthat’s article is that while Governor Palin certainly shot herself in the foot numerous times, the elititists still treated her unfairly, because of her gender and social class.
In 1970, Nebraska Senator Roman Hruska carved his niche in history, when on the Senate floor, he defended President Nixon’s nomination to the Supreme Court of notoriously mediocre G. Harrold Carswell, by declaring “[e]ven if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.”
Sorry--but no: the mediocrities do not deserve even a little chance. And yes, weshould aspire to have all Brandeises and Cardozos. More importantly, the press has the responsibility to point out who is mediocre and who is Benjamin Cardozo, and not mince words.
How on earth can Governor Palin claim to have been mistreated (absent The Bob Rule about not being embarrassed by anything)? In her statement, Governor Palin insists “[e]very one – all 15 of the ethics complaints have been dismissed. We’ve won!” No, she didn’t “win” every one of the complaints. She is just wrong. At a minimum, Governor Palin has had to reimburse the State for some of her children’s travel expenses. Additionally, the state legislature concluded that Governor Palin did in fact abuse her powers, when she tried to get her ex-brother in law (the state trooper) fired. But who else besides Samsara Samizdat has had the bad manners to point that out?
[I]t may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: "Sit down and shut up”, but that’s the worthless, easy path; that’s a quiter’s way out. And a problem in out country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and "go with the flow".
I’m not sure whether the responses would have been illogical and unreasonable, but you better believe they would have been pointed.
Eugene Robinson is absolutely correct when he takes Governor Palin to task for her assertion that “And (sic) though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make.” Mr. Robinson asks:
"What is she talking about? Who are these "countless others" who supposedly have made the same decision to abandon governorships for no credible reason? The names don't come rushing to mind. Why is any criticism of Poor Little Sarah the result of the "different standard" that mean old "Washington and the media" always apply? Because blaming her favorite alleged persecutors allows her to ignore the bewildered reaction from her constituents in Alaska who are stunned and mystified at her decision to skip out."
More to the point, it is intellectually dishonest for “Washington and the media” to notreport that following her resignation, Governor Palin is either delusional or deliberately talking nonsense to hide something….like maybe (for instance) she just plain lacks the ability and wherewithal to be a Governor of even a small state.
Or maybe (I'm just saying) Governor Palin is trying to dodge a civil (as opposed to criminal) investigation by the IRS (as opposed to the Department of Justice) that some or all of her 34,500 square foot house that was ostensively built by her fisherman husband and a few of his buddies was in fact given to her by some of the contractors who were awarded bids for construction of the Wasilla Sports Complex and the Palins “forgot” to include the gift as income on their income tax return or report it as a contribution which then Mayor Palin may have been required to do so by state and/or federal law.
Not that I’m re-publishing defamation or propagating defamatory material without answering to it in a court of law or being responsible for the abuse of my right to free speech under the Alaska Constitution or continuing to publish falsehoods of criminal activity that is reckless, done without any regard for the truth, and is actionable or anything……….
I’m just asking here: who built and paid for the Palins' Wasilla home?