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:
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?
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.”
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.