Friday, July 10, 2009


I should begin this with a disclaimer. Or two, actually. First, this post isn't about our desire to add a cat to our family; sorry. Second, I don't really think, at this point, Sarah Palin ought to run for high office. If she gains some experience and figures out how to thwart the media's narrative that she's incurious, unthoughtful, unserious, and so on, it might be different; but until then, she's probably going to do more harm than good, and her family will bear the brunt of the media's dislike for her.

That said, though, I find myself shaking my head over recent columns by Peggy Noonan and Maureen Dowd. (Dowd's most recent attempt, a fake "diary" entry supposed to be written by Sarah, is so embarassingly juvenile, so journalistically inept, so revealing of Dowd's own inner emptiness that I'll do her the favor of not bothering to link to it.) First, here's Peggy:
In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn't say what she read because she didn't read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn't thoughtful enough to know she wasn't thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. "I'm not wired that way," "I'm not a quitter," "I'm standing up for our values." I'm, I'm, I'm.
Has Noonan bothered counting the appearance of the personal prounoun in Obama's speeches? He, too, has a little "I" trouble. It's indicative of our age--but it's not restricted to Republicans, nor even to those Republicans who haven't amassed the right credentials to appeal to the party elites.

But Noonan's gentle clawing isn't even on a par with Dowd's vicious hissing:

Sarah Palin showed on Friday that in one respect at least, she is qualified to be president.

Caribou Barbie is one nutty puppy.

Usually we don’t find that exquisite battiness in our leaders until they’ve been battered by sordid scandals like Watergate (Nixon), gnawing problems like Vietnam (L.B.J.), or scary threats like biological terrorism (Cheney).

When Lyndon Johnson was president, some of his staff began to think of him as “a sick man,” as Bill Moyers told Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Moyers and his fellow Johnson aide Dick Goodwin even began reading up on mental illness — Bill on manic depression and Dick on paranoia.

And so it was, Todd Purdum learned, as he traveled Alaska reporting on Palin for Vanity Fair, that the governor’s erratic and egoistic behavior has been a source of concern for people there.

“Several told me, independently of one another,” Purdum writes, “that they had consulted the definition of ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — ‘a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy’ — and thought it fit her perfectly.”
Gee, Maureen. I wonder how many people have said the same exact thing about you--with one difference. A New York Times columnist may be a legend in her own mind, but I doubt you've ever drawn the kind of screaming crowds Palin does--not even twenty years ago, when your hair was still a somewhat-natural color. Why do I get the feeling Palin would rather be "Caribou Barbie," complete with Caribou Ken and a group of smiling children, than "Times Columnist Barbie" who comes with a little laptop and an aura which banishes all thoughts of commitment from her gentlemen callers?

There's one aspect of Palin's appeal that the cats on the right and left will never get. I think it might just be the way Palin manages to deal with her opponents without ever showing her claws. This trait will serve her well in the private sector, where I think she'll soon be giving these columnists a run for their money. Maybe literally.


Ragamuffin said...

I'm going to disagree slightly. Not on Dowd. She's a bitter old shrew.

But I think I pretty much agree with Peggy Noonan. I've tried to hold out hope. I was excited about Palin's candidacy because of her strong pro-life views and example. But was is out of her depth. She's just not ready and it's not just because the media was mean and dismissive to her. The media didn't think much of Reagan back in the day but he could parry their blows. But that was because Reagan studied the issues. He knew what he believed on key political matters because he'd thought deeply about them and forged his worldview over years. No amount of boning up and cramming is going to make Sarah Palin be anything more than a speed bump back the White House for Obama.

I don't know who the next great conservative on the national scene is going to be, but we'd better look elsewhere. Mrs. Palin ain't it.

j. christian said...

I agree with Ragamuffin. Noonan isn't always right, but sometimes she's spot on, and I think her "not thoughtful enough" comment is exactly what's wrong with Palin. It's not about intelligence or education credentials -- everyone knows you don't need to have those to be a great leader. It's that "I just need to be tenacious and smile at everybody" attitude that she thinks is going to win the day. Sorry, not good enough.

Mike Licht said...

Peggy Noonan writes that Sarah Palin is "self-referential to the point of self-reverence"?

An understatement. Try "delusions of royalty."

Mrs. Palin actually said she loves Alaska so much that she's "sacrificing her title" for the state.


Dymphna said...

The Republican party better come up with some strong leaders in light of Obama's recent appointments of the likes of John Holdren and his frightening views on forced abortion, sterilization and involuntary birth control.