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Whether we like it or not, we’re being bombarded with all things Sarah Palin, more so now pre-resignation than at any time since last year’s campaign. And, honestly, it was driving me nuts over the weekend.

But the right loves her, and continues not just to apologize for her, not just to cheerlead for her, but to pump her up out of all justifiable proportion. Which is fine, when you think about it, because the simple fact is, she’s not — and is not close to being — a credible national political figure. And that’s putting it nicely. I’d say she’s a joke, an appalling caricature of phony, mock-outraged populism, a caricature of herself, actually, though I’m not sure the caricature is any different than the real thing, so entwined is she with her own manufactured persona.

Whatever.

Let’s take a look at what a few conservatives have said about her in recent days:

1) Ross Douthat — One of the more thoughtful conservatives around, to be sure, with a perch at the NYT, one of the key media organizations of the coastal elite that Palin claims to loathe, and against which she directs much of her silly resentment. I was going to comment earlier on his ridiculous juxtaposition of “Palin and Her Enemies,” but I don’t have much to add to Mustang Bobby’s terrific post from yesterday afternoon.

While Douthat is certainly right that Palin has “tarnished” her own “ideal,” and that she remains popular, “beloved by millions,” it is ridiculous to suggest, as Douthat does, that Palin represents “the democratic ideal” — in contrast to Obama, who supposedly represents “the meritocratic ideal” — simply because she has shown “that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard.” I had no idea that going to an Ivy makes you somehow un-democratic, but this is the sort of populism that Palin spins, the sort that her story, and her political celebrity, has inspired on the right, including among elitist coastal newspaper columnists who are hardly Heartland material.

As Mustang Bobby puts it, Palin’s problems were her own fault, not the media’s, not the political commentariat’s, not liberals’ or Democrats’. Douthat claims that the attacks on Palin “had everything to do with Palin’s gender and her social class.” No, they had everything to do with Palin herself. And they weren’t attacks, they were justifiable criticisms of a self-absorbed dimwit who was in way over her head but who nonetheless managed to arouse the GOP mob.

**********

2) Fred Barnes — Kristol’s pal at TWS and an unabashed partisan (and Palin booster). For Barnes, who can’t seem to keep it in his pants, Palin is “the most exciting Republican figure to emerge in decades.” But, alas. While she has “a super-abundance of charisma,” she also has “shortcomings in experience and knowledge” — which is just another way of saying she has a nice personality, but…

And so Barnes, after tracing the history of Republican presidential nominees since WWII, looks ahead, a long, long way ahead: “By itself, two months on the Republican ticket won’t propel her to the presidential nomination. But there is a way: win Alaska’s lone House seat in 2012 and oust Democratic senator Mark Begich in 2014. A term in the House and another in the Senate — nothing would do more to groom her for the White House than this and transform her into the best Republican candidate for the presidency in, say, 2020, when she’d be 56.”

Woo-hoo! Palin 2020!

Actually, it’s not so unreasonable, given that Palin has a much brighter future in Alaska than nationally, and she may just be able to do what Barnes suggests. But her bright future has dimmed even in Alaska, and I wonder if her career path to 2020 is as clear as this. Obviously, we shall see. What I do think is that we haven’t heard the last of Palin the politician.

But back to Barnes. Despite the fact that Palin has glaring “shortcomings” and “limitations,” he still things she was a brilliant veep pick for McCain. He even claims she won the debate with Biden, which is insane. He apparently was watching a different debate than the rest of us, perhaps one firing off in the recesses of his imagination. And he claims that “she could have taken Joe Biden apart while demonstrating her own knowledge and brainpower had she known more about national issues,” which is also insane. The fact is, she didn’t have any knowledge or brainpower to demonstrate, and she didn’t know anything about national issues beyond the facile talking points that had been fed to her. Her “personality and likeability” in that debate just came across as smarmy arrogance. And yet Barnes still wanted her to be, as they say, a heartbeat away from the presidency? How irresponsible is that?

**********

3) Jim Prevor — Also at TWS, Prevor puts even Barnes to shame with respect to Palin-boosting, as there is apparently no end to what Palin can accomplish if she just puts her mind to it:

Will she write a thoughtful book? Become a syndicated columnist whose ideas make her a “must read” for everyone? Will she found an important new think tank? An important journal? Spearhead an effort to help the unemployed? Decide to launch a business? Or maybe she will start a new political party?

*****

Maybe Sarah Palin thinks she can change the world without becoming president. Maybe she is deeply and authentically conservative and isn’t certain that aiming to change the world is such a good idea.

Maybe plumes of white smoke will herald her election from atop the Vatican.

Maybe she’ll win back-to-back Nobels, if not for literature, maybe for peace and chemistry, or for whatever areas she wishes to tackle upon her return to private life.

Maybe she’ll hit .400.

Who knows? Who can say?

As TNR’s Chris Orr notes, it’s rather curious that Prevor put quotation marks around “must read.” Are we to take it that Prevor is being ironic, that there’s no way Palin would ever be a legitimate “must read”? No, surely not, but I think Chris is quite right that the passage reads better if you put quotation marks around “thoughtful,” “ideas,” “important” (twice), “effort,” and “business” as well. I’m quoting more than Chris here, so I’d also put them around “change the world” and “deeply and authentically conservative.”

Seriously, though, does anyone other than her mindless admirers at TWS actually think that Palin might found a think tank or journal, or “help the unemployed”?

I’ve had enough of Sarah Palin, yes, but thankfully her fan club keeps me entertained with its stupidity. At a time like this, we can at least be thankful for that.

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)

The cartoon by Taylor Jones, Politicalcartoons.com, is copyrighted and licensed to run on TMV. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

MICHAEL STICKINGS, Assistant Editor
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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • Guest

    I’m still a big fan of the “finishing school” theory: http://bit.ly/pN5Np

  • the simple fact is, she’s not — and is not close to being — a credible national political figure. And that’s putting it nicely. I’d say she’s a joke, an appalling caricature of phony, mock-outraged populism, a caricature of herself, actually, though I’m not sure the caricature is any different than the real thing, so entwined is she with her own manufactured persona.

    Haha, incisive (translation for Palin fans, “biting”) summation. For an even nastier and incisive take on her popularity, you have to look to Matt Taibbi (but Palin lovers, don’t. it’s infuriating to you)

    Here’s the thing about Americans. You can send their kids off by the thousands to get their balls blown off in foreign lands for no reason at all, saddle them with billions in debt year after congressional year while they spend their winters cheerfully watching game shows and football, pull the rug out from under their mortgages, and leave them living off their credit cards and their Wal-Mart salaries while you move their jobs to China and Bangalore.
    And none of it matters, so long as you remember a few months before Election Day to offer them a two-bit caricature culled from some cutting-room-floor episode of Roseanne as part of your presidential ticket. And if she’s a good enough likeness of a loudmouthed Middle American archetype, as Sarah Palin is, John Q. Public will drop his giant-size bag of Doritos in gratitude, wipe the Sizzlin’ Picante dust from his lips and rush to the booth to vote for her. Not because it makes sense, or because it has a chance of improving his life or anyone else’s, but simply because it appeals to the low-humming narcissism that substitutes for his personality, because the image on TV reminds him of the mean, brainless slob he sees in the mirror every morning.
    Sarah Palin is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the modern United States. As a representative of our political system, she’s a new low in reptilian villainy, the ultimate cynical masterwork of puppeteers like Karl Rove. But more than that, she is a horrifying symbol of how little we ask for in return for the total surrender of our political power. Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she’s the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV — and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation.

    Ouch!

  • casualobserver

    I suppose if moderate Americans gave two sh*ts about what Stickings, Rolling Stone magazine or GreenDreams had to say, it might be worth an ouch.

  • jchem

    Is it all that possible to analyze this woman any more? Douthat’s column has already been dissected twice here, and I think Joe made a point about Barnes’ column the other day. Seems your a bit late to the game.

    Since polls used to be a hot topic here at TMV, perhaps someone would like to take a gander at the Quinnipiac poll, which describes Obama’s rating in Ohio as “lackluster”. Or better yet, that Gallup poll released showing by nearly a 2-to-1 margin Americans are becoming more conservative, despite the incessant highlights of the stupid Republican of the Day.

    But let’s roll out another 10 or so posts about Sarah Palin. Go ahead and get it out of your system so we can actually get back to the “news”.

  • haha, well good thing I don’t give a damn what CO thinks either. Hope that article didn’t offend you.

    jchem, I don’t think Sarah plans on going away, so you can count on another 10 at least.

    • jchem

      jchem, I don’t think Sarah plans on going away, so you can count on another 10 at least.

      You know, GreenDreams this is the sad truth, and it does a disservice to the public discourse. While everyone is “falling all over themselves” (to borrow Michael’s phrase) to cover her, Sanford, or Jackson, no one seems at all interested in breaking down many of the difficult and complex issues out there, and there are many. When all of this “news” is front-and-center, it almost feels as if the National Enquirer or some other tabloid is in charge of the news cycle.

  • But the right loves her, and continues not just to apologize for her, not just to cheerlead for her, but to pump her up out of all justifiable proportion. Which is fine, when you think about it, because the simple fact is, she’s not — and is not close to being — a credible national political figure. And that’s putting it nicely. I’d say she’s a joke, an appalling caricature of phony, mock-outraged populism, a caricature of herself, actually, though I’m not sure the caricature is any different than the real thing, so entwined is she with her own manufactured persona.

    The scary thing is…this is what was said about Ronald Reagan in 1972 and 1976. Not exactly, of course, but substantively.

    • AustinRoth

      Thurman –

      The difference is Reagan really did have a deep, well-defined philosophy, as his diaries and letters show. He truly was underestimated, knew it, and played it to the hilt to his advantage.

      I cannot image that there is a layer of depth to Palin she has managed to keep hidden from everyone.

      • jwest

        AR,

        I tend to think Palin has a vast reservoir of intellect and ability, as evidenced by her accomplishments up to the point the press decided she was too popular.

        Not many people have the ability to defeat a sitting governor and powerful industrial forces at such a young age and to lead a state with an 80% approval.

        But I guess if you don’t think Katie Couric’s question about what magazines you read is serious enough to answer, there is no hope for you on the national stage.

        I’ll go against the flow (as live fish do) of opinion here and predict our gal Sarah has a bright future in national politics.

        • AustinRoth

          jwest – against the flow??? Nope, only if you were left-leaning could you say that. I am painfully aware of the absolute ‘irrational exuberance’ (to steal a great turn of a phrase) about Palin. She is a new Huey Long for the Right, only much less competent a politician. And not as bright.

          I am the one swimming against the tide – a right-leaning conservative/libertarian that absolutely thinks she is a waste of the party’s time, rather than worshiping her every convoluted and practically unintelligible utterance.

          What she really does is suck up all the air from potential real candidate emerging, In fact, I think that may be part of the Vast Left-Wing Media Conspiracy(tm) – to make sure no viable Republican candidate can get any air time by keeping Palin front and center.

          Well, that, and to give Andrew something to obsess about.

  • DLS

    Stickings makes Palin look like a genius intellectually as well as a saint behaviorally.

  • DLS

    Palin was a great choice by McCain until the initial introductory experience wore off. J. West, I’m not so much concerned about libs in the media whom better people have long disparaged and written off such as Katie Couric (on her “General Motors”-quality as well as lockstep-liberal network) but, for example, the questions and bad answers during the session with Charlie Gibson. Not being able to explain pre-emptive military policy (which is not the demon the demented libs would claim) is a more relevent example. For other reasons (I am not a social conservative and have other preferences — see below) I would rather see someone else and another “path” for the GOP to take (and for a different emphasis for US conservatism as an alternative to liberalism and the Democratic Party and pale-imitation-Democratic Republicanism).

    I would like to see the GOP revive as a party seeking right-sizing of Washington (meaning severe downsizing, enabling us to view with contempt the babbling and sobbing hordes laid off there who were expecting to live and thrive there forever) and economic-regulatory reform (as opposed to the current Dem combination of lunacy and fascism when not outright federalization of too much more, and vastly more spending and debt than ever before). A writeup like the following, by Nolan Finley here in Detroit metro, that is critical of Palin, is an immoderate measure of relief from Mikey’s latest splattering of waste here.

    “Immodium”:

    http://www.detnews.com/article/20090705/OPINION03/907050306/Palin-not-right-for-the-GOP

  • DLS

    “While everyone is ‘falling all over themselves’ (to borrow Michael’s phrase) to cover her, Sanford, or Jackson, no one seems at all interested in breaking down many of the difficult and complex issues out there, and there are many. When all of this ‘news’ is front-and-center, it almost feels as if the National Enquirer or some other tabloid is in charge of the news cycle.”

    I already noted this aloud a few days ago — more than once. It applies to this site as well as the “news,” as I noted, even using the obvious three names of the three over-attended people of note recently.

    * * *

    For an even nastier and incisive take on her popularity, you have to look to Matt Taibbi (but Palin lovers, don’t. it’s infuriating to you)”

    I’m not a Palin lover, though I’ll defend her against low-life, scummy attacks by him or by Stickings, etc.

    • jwest

      DLS,

      Palin needs to take a lesson from Obama.

      It’s obvious that Palin is far better than Obama in interviews and speaking publicly off-the-cuff. Obama has a hard time stumbling through even the easiest softball questions when they are not pre-planned and loaded onto a teleprompter, while Palin has taken the best the media can dole out while holding her own.

      Sarah should give a series of speeches for down-ticket Republicans strictly from a teleprompter. These speeches would be written by the best writers the right has to offer, just as Obama’s are a product of the left’s best and brightest. By sticking to the script, every syllable and nuance could be defined, controlled and defended, just like Obama’s.

      She needs to practice defensive speaking, cutting answers short and not being so open and honest. Although these traits endear her to the base, the left wing media uses every opening to mischaracterize anything she says in a negative light. Just like Gibson’s question about defining the “Bush Doctrine”, only one of the three major themes that could be defined as the Bush Doctrine was associated with preemptive military action. If someone as reasonable as you has been misled by the misreporting of that incident, just imagine how screwed up the general public views it.

      Is she the best bet for President in ’12? I don’t know. If I was going to hand pick a woman to run at this point it would be Lynn Cheney. Palin has the populous “X” factor that makes people want to flock to her, so it’s up to her to turn that into votes in a few years.

  • DLS

    “It’s obvious that Palin is far better than Obama in interviews and speaking publicly off-the-cuff. Obama has a hard time stumbling through even the easiest softball questions when they are not pre-planned and loaded onto a teleprompter, while Palin has taken the best the media can dole out while holding her own.”

    I thought Palin should be able to do better, but you’re right about Obama, though I believe the reason the media are manipulated (not relied on to stay blindingly worshipful forever) isn’t so much to avoid forcing Obama to diverge from his TelePrompTer material, but actually to mold and shape and steer public opinion, a broader approach than that limited to exploiting the campaign-atmosphere personality cult.

    “the left wing media uses every opening to mischaracterize anything she says in a negative light”

    True, which is their standard practice, but skip forward momentarily to

    “If I was going to hand pick a woman to run at this point it would be Lynn Cheney.”

    and I’d only say that if you thought the hatred and bile from the media toward Palin was bad, consider what they would feel about an already-loathed figure that they would _truly_ fear like Lynn Cheney. (To Tell the Truth is an outright abomination!)

    “By sticking to the script, every syllable and nuance could be defined, controlled and defended, just like Obama’s.”

    I have a cynical thought here. Fox is the one legendarily-hated “heretic” that strays from the liberal path among the major media and networks, so let them become an even more openly conservative and partisan media outlet (like Rush Limbaugh at election time), which still isn’t as bad as what the rest of the media do on behalf of the Dems (and how they have been part of Team Obama to date) routinely. Then what if it got successful enough it encouraged one of the other, liberal, sources to stray, too, sometime?

    “only one of the three major themes that could be defined as the Bush Doctrine was associated with preemptive military action”

    True, but because pre-emption was mentioned explicitly I felt Palin should have been able to explain that.

  • DLS

    “She needs to practice defensive speaking, cutting answers short and not being so open and honest.”

    And speaking of Lynn Cheney — what about her husband? Why not Palin speaking like Dick Cheney?

    After all, she’s going to be hated, anyway.

  • thegorn

    Without Palin, Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard, will have to find another empty vessel to fill. Palin loves the attention too much to go away like Kristol’s old puppet, Dan Quayle.