A reader commented on a recent post discussing Pulitzer Prize winner Leonard Pitts’ column on Governor Sanford’s “I made a mistake, so all is cool now” excuse as follows:
Pitts is a lightweight, predictable Dem columnist, simply less tiresome than worse hack Paul Krugman and more substantial than worse-than-worthless Maureen Dowd.
Feeling real bad about my poor columnist selection and trying to level the playing field, I will now highlight a column from a heavyweight, conservative columnist, who wrote a column on Sarah Palin in the New York Times this morning.
Conservative Ross Douthat’s article, “Palin and Her Enemies,” starts as follows:
She should have said no.
If Sarah Palin’s political career ended last Friday, 10 tumultuous months after she was introduced as the Republican Party’s vice-presidential nominee, those five words will be its epitaph.
And, he continues:
Had she refused John McCain, Palin would still be a popular female governor in a Republican Party starved for future stars. Her scandals would be the stuff of local politics, her daughter’s pregnancy a minor story in the Lower 48, her son Trig’s parentage a nonissue even for conspiracy theorists. There would still be plenty of time to ease into the national spotlight, to bone up on the issues, and to craft a persona more appealing than the Mrs. Spiro Agnew role the McCain campaign assigned to her.
On Palin’s political future, Douthat has mixed emotions:
And now, seemingly, it’s over. Oh, maybe not forever: she’s only 45, young enough (and, yes, talented enough) to have a second act. But last Friday’s bizarre, rambling resignation speech should take her off the political map for the duration of the Obama era.
Just as he does about her motives for stepping down:
One hopes that was intentional. A Sarah Palin who stepped down for the sake of her family and her media-swarmed state deserves sympathy even from the millions of Americans who despise her. A Sarah Palin who resigned in the delusional belief that it would give her a better shot at the presidency in 2012 warrants no such kindness.
But, Douthat staunchly defends Palin and blames her critics and detractors—the media, the elites, male commentators, female commentators, Democrats (and their “meritocratic ideal”), the political establishments, etc.—for past, present and future attacks on her, including the “professionals who pressed you into the service of a gimmicky, dreary, idea-free campaign will still be blaming you for their defeat.”
In her defense, Douthat mentions that in a recent Pew poll, a slightly higher percentage of Americans regarded Palin favorably than those who regarded her unfavorably, and that such higher number included 48 percent of Americans without a college education.
From this statistic Douthat concludes that “Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology,” and that “Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard.”
While admitting that such ideal “has been been tarnished by Palin herself” with “…her missteps, scandals, dreadful interviews and self-pitying monologues,” Douthat does have some nice things to say about Sarah Palin:
Sarah Palin is beloved by millions because her rise suggested, however temporarily, that the old American aphorism about how anyone can grow up to be president might actually be true.
He concludes with the warning: “But her unhappy sojourn on the national stage has had a different moral: Don’t even think about it.”
It remains to be seen if Palin follows her conservative mentor’s advice.
Ross Gregory Douthat is a conservative author and blogger. He is the author of “Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class” , and co-author of “Grand New Party,” which David Brooks has called the “best single roadmap of where the [Republican] party should and is likely to head.” In April 2009, Douthat became an online and op-ed columnist for the New York Times, replacing Bill Kristol as a conservative voice on the Times editorial page.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.