The only thing more disgraceful than the liberal treatment of Palin was the treatment she got from some so called conservatives. And it should be pointed out that this site was very negative towards Palin. This post set the tone for what followed.The link is to Allah's first foray into Palin pessmism on Aug. 29 -- the day Palin was announced. But that's just Allah being the Eeyore of the conservative blogosphere. You can't hate him for that, folks. Depression is a disease, and there's no point arguing with Allah when he is mired in darkness.
Of course, in a truly dire situation, depression is a synonym for realism. The inarguable fact is that the Republican Party hasn't been in such utter disarray in 15 years, perhaps even 35 years, if you want to go back to the Gerald Ford era. The problems of the GOP are multilayered, and each layer contains an apparently insoluble problem.
The biggest problem of all is a lack of leadership. If you've listened to Rush Limbaugh in the past couple of years, you've heard him say a thousand times that the problem with George W. Bush is that he never was, never wanted to be and never could be, The Conservative Leader.
You can go back to Dubya's original signature issue, No Child Left Behind (the subject of a write-up in Friday's Washington Post), which was (a) not conservative, and (b) never going to work. NCLB was nothing but pandering to soccer moms who sincerely want to believe in a Lake Woebegone world where "all the children are above average."
The same unconservative belief that informed NCLB -- that human beings are so many lumps of clay who can be magically transformed by the proper government interventions -- has also, when you think about it, informed U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. military did an excellent job of destroying the regimes of the Taliban and Saddam, but then "mission creep" set in and the idea took hold that we would transform these nations into modern democracies (complete with women's suffrage) essentially indistinguishable from Belgium.
Unfortunately, the State Department failed to supply adequate quantities of the one ingredient necessary for this project: pixie dust.
More than 200 years ago, Edmund Burke said of the French Revolution:
The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations.If Bush had minded that single maxim of Burke's -- and this is just one of many conservative truths that have been ignored for eight years -- he might not have done a lot of the things that have since led to disaster. Which brings us back around to Sarah Palin.
You see, one of the reasons Palin horrifies so many conservative intellectuals (and Allah seems to be one such) is their fear that she embodies all that was wrong with Dubya. You have to go back to 1999-2000 to recall how the conservative movement got into this disastrous cul-de-sac known as Bush 43. If you are a Republican, think back to the debates between Gore and Bush, think about the issues as they were discussed then, think about how Gore was hobbled by the stain of Clinton's scandals, and how Bush's basic job was to convince Americans that (a) he would restore dignity and decency to the White House, and (b) tax cuts are good for the economy.
Even with such an apparently simple political task, Bush placed second in the popular vote. The Republican "brand" (as it is now fashionably called) was already damaged in 2000, and even then it was apparent that Dubya hadn't brought any pixie dust from Austin.
What exactly was the GOP's "brand damage" problem in 2000? Well, under Newt Gingrich, the Republican Party was stuck with the image of being "mean-spirited," "divisive" and "partisan" (note: Democrats are never harmed by accusations of partisanship). Therefore, in an attempt to reverse-engineer the "triangulation" method that Dick Morris had taught Bill Clinton, Bush was marketed as a "compassionate conservative" who could address the concerns of "soccer moms" in Republican ways.
Bush spent seven months and three weeks trying to put that agenda into action, when suddenly Mohammed Atta et al. changed everything. In the two ensuing election cycles -- 2002 and 2004 -- Team Bush won big on the national security issue. Beyond tax cuts and Supreme Court fights, the domestic agenda receded into political irrelevance. And who cared? As long as the GOP was kicking butt every election year, any conservatives who complained were ignored (or denounced as "unpatriotic").
Yet somewhere between Bush's historic triumph in November 2004 (when he became the first president since 1988 to be elected by a popular-vote majority) and November 2006, the wheels fell off the Permanent Republican Majority. Suddenly, as if awakened from fairy-tale slumbers, conservative intellectuals began to regret that George W. Bush was not one of them.
Think about it. Peggy Noonan, Christopher Buckley, David Frum -- what is the thread that connects them? All worked as speechwriters: Noonan for Reagan, Buckley for Bush 41, Frum for Bush 43. While these Republican wordsmiths had all praised Dubya's machismo magnificence when he was contrasted with such pompous rivals as Al Gore and John Kerry, the bloom fell off that rose after 2006.
That born-again, down-to-earth, drawling Texas thing -- somehow, it had once made Bush seem like Gary Cooper in High Noon. But as the disasters mounted and the poll numbers headed southward, that Gary Cooper glow faded and these conservative intellectuals turned on their TVs to behold, with unspeakable horror, President Jethro Bodine.
Thus their reaction to Sarah Palin. While the Republican Party grassroots looked at Palin and saw an American Margaret Thatcher (except much sexier), the conservative intellectuals looked at her and saw . . . Vice President Ellie Mae Clampett.
Shootin' her some vittles! Takin' care of young 'uns. Let's go a-swimmin' in the ce-ment pond!
You see? The fear and loathing of Sarah Palin among (some) conservative intellectuals is a subconscious reaction to their belated recognition of Bush's weaknesses. The liberals who bashed Bush as being "in a bubble" and "out of touch" had a point. Since 1999, Bush really has been encased in a hermetic capsule of expert advisers. And this capsule was purposely constructed with the eager assent of the conservative intellectuals because, deep down, they never really believed he had it.
By "it," I mean what Ronald Reagan had, that finely-honed political sense, that keen instinct for the right word, the right stance -- the "vision thing," as Bush 41 once said.
Reagan had that, had it in his very marrow, in every molecule of his being. As much as the Noonans, Frums, Buckleys and David Brookses of the GOP wanted to believe that Dubya had that Reaganesque quality, he never did. He was . . . just another Bush.
Looking back, these intellectuals realize they deceived themselves, projecting onto Dubya qualities he never had. So now they see the GOP grassroots enthusiasm for Sarah Palin and, with all the cynical disillusionment of the ex-True Believer, they say, "Don't kid yourself."
Just as the conservative intellectuals once projected their hopes onto Dubya, now they project their disappointments onto Sarah. But the fault is theirs, not hers. And Sarah has something the intellectuals don't have -- an army. Brother, I've seen that army.
So you can take your David Frums and your David Brookses, and let Sarah take that army and, by God, we'll see whose Republican Party this is.
UPDATE: Fellow insomniac Ed Driscoll:
She certainly could have been a fine vice president if McCain hadn't "suspended his campaign", permanently, in retrospect, in late September. But does that make Palin the next Gipper?Does she have to be, Ed? What Would Reagan Do? Well, I think the first thing is, he'd tell us, "Stop looking for the next Ronald Reagan, you morons!" Why not just do the best we can with what we've got? Whatever Sarah Palin's faults and shortcomings, she's still got more natural political talent than any Republican candidate whose name is currently being floated for 2012. Don't overthink it.
UPDATE II: John Cole blames Sarah for "whip[ping] up McCain/Palin crowds into something that resembled a modern day Triumph of the Will." This is nothing but undiluted Team Obama spin, as I explained last month in the American Spectator:
The tactic of blaming Palin for "racist anger" toward Obama developed as a theme during the fall campaign, evidently based on post hoc ergo propter hoc thinking within Team Obama. Threats against Obama increased as the campaign heated up after Labor Day, and since this followed the Aug. 29 announcement of the Alaska governor as Republican running mate, Palin herself was scapegoated.And for an Obama supporter to be flinging around Triumph of the Will comparisons -- oh, that's rich.
That claim was distilled in a November article in the London Daily Telegraph with the misleading headline, "Sarah Palin blamed by the US Secret Service over death threats against Barack Obama."
The Secret Service never said any such thing and the Telegraph's story didn't actually say that they had said it. Rather, Telegraph reporter Tim Shipman was paraphrasing a Newsweek account of the campaign that quoted Obama adviser Gregory Craig in mid-October expressing concern about "the frenzied atmosphere at the Palin rallies." The same paragraph of the Newsweek story asserted (without attribution) that the Obama campaign had been "provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and very disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October."
It was the Obama campaign, not the Secret Service, which suggested a connection between the "frenzied atmosphere" around Palin and the threats. Obama himself appeared to believe there was such a connection, raising it in his final debate with John McCain.
That accusation evidently stemmed from an Oct. 14 newspaper report that an audience member at a Palin rally in Scranton, Pa., shouted "kill him" when Obama's name was mentioned. The Secret Service investigated but was unable to corroborate that account, as Newsweek subsequently reported, and yet the alleged threat has entered the colloquial what-everybody-knows version of the campaign.
UPDATE III: A reader helpfully points out, "Reagan never looked like this":
"Frenzied atmosphere," indeed.