When the News Isn't Fit to Print ... Blog


In Palinography, Sarah Palin on 15/04/2010 at 06:56

Paul Starobin wrote an interesting op-ed for the National Journal last Friday. “Palin Is No Puppet” is one of the most insightful and unbiased takes on Sarah Palin we’ve seen to date, and every elitist Republican – both in and out of the Beltway – should read it.

While Republicans trample each other running for the door at the very mention of the possibility of a Palin presidential run in 2012, Starobin points out that Republican nature has always been to distance – if not outright kick to the curb – some of their best leaders.

These types of Republicans, by way of introduction, are the Joe Scarboroughs, who thinks of himself as positively too hip for the room, and the Peggy Noonans, whose main claim to fame is having once written a couple speeches for Reagan (which Ronnie rewrote). Well, we all know them when we see them.

Writes Starobin:

Even within Republican circles in Washington, there is a school of thought that Palin is a “blank page,” a tempting device for would-be handlers, as a former Bush staffer told a British journalist. This impression is fed, if inadvertently, by supporters who labor too hard to vouch for her intellectual credentials. Thus, in a blog posting, the veteran GOP hand Fred Malek offered this description of Palin’s performance at an Alfalfa Club dinner of Washington VIPs to which he had invited her: “It was great to see her in deep conversations with people like Alan Greenspan, Madeleine Albright, Walter Isaacson, and Mitch McConnell. For sure, nothing shallow about this lady.”

Madeleine Albright? And Alan Greenspan et al. And not one mention as to whether Palin used the right fork!

The impetus of Starobin’s essay is that some of America’s greatest leaders have not been intellectual powerhouses, and that it is a mistake to count Palin out based on intellectual snobbery. Ronald Reagan was long believed by elitists in both camps to be an amiable dolt until his writings saw the light of day after his presidency.

Starobin also implies – as we have also said – that much of Palin’s folksy quality is a calculated political technique. The governor is comfortable being underestimated, it has been the case throughout her political career, and the cheap shots only serve to strengthen her base. Through it all, she has managed to remain in the front tier of candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

While Starobin doesn’t attempt to place Palin with the likes of Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich in intellectual prowess, he does point out the historical mistake of discounting her out of hand. Of the insinuations that she is a GOP puppet, he points to Washington, McKinley, and Eisenhower, as others who fielded the same criticism.

He goes on to make the case that leadership abilities are as often honed by experience as education, and that deep, centered convictions can be just as valuable as a Harvard degree.

For Palin (and this is a personal comment), more important than the ethereal musings of the Founding Fathers while drafting the cornerstone documents of our democracy – something most politicians are wont to do – is the defending of a democratic republic under attack, here and now.

Starobin accurately portrays Palin as a free trader and an American exceptionalist, characteristics she shares with Ronald Reagan. He also cites her grasp of foreign affairs, much maligned by both parties, and goes to her tenure as governor of a state that derives much of its income from world trade for support. He deals with her stance on the Middle East crisis as well.

What Starobin didn’t say, but we must, is that Barack Obama, on the other hand, organized welfare schemes in Chicago. How’s that suit you for a global resume? It certainly shows.

Starobin sums it up:

Palin’s critics would be wise to marshal the best assault they can on the basis of her convictions — on the substance of her vision of America and her policies for fulfilling that vision. This is unimpeachable ground for an inquest. So what if she scribbles crib notes on the palm of her hand: She’s doing the scribbling, and the only really interesting question concerns what she is writing down.

So, if you hate Palin, read this article. You might be surprised.

  1. It’s a shame but some of our conservative friends seem to ignore her accomplishments in the great state of Alaska and think she is just too much of a hick!

  2. […] continues on to say that Republican elitists should try to learn from Sarah Palin. “These people are urban. They have practically no exposure to anything beyond the beltway. I […]

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