Here's a brief history of Sarah Palin's relationship with the establishment Republican party and its supporters in the press: They sat on their hands after John McCain picked her as vice president because she was able to fire up a despondent base; they continued to sit on their hands in the two years leading up to the 2010 elections because Palin raised tons of money while mobilizing the Tea Party; and now that that's over, they don't want her to run for president because she's an embarrassment to the nation and clearly incapable of doing the job even if she were to somehow win, which she won't.
But they can't just call her an incompetent joke in public. The base would rush to her defense! So instead they come up with meek, over-intellectualized excuses for why they don't like her and want her to disappear forever. A Politico story today about top conservative commentators' problems with Palin includes many of these excuses.
Politico tells us that Palin's "flamboyant rhetoric" — the same sort of rhetoric that all conservative commentators and politicians stuffed their faces with during the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency, for the purpose of winning a midterm election — has been met with a "backlash... from some of the country's most influential conservative commentators and intellectuals." See that? After only three years, "the country's most influential conservative commentators and intellectuals" have finally noticed that dumb nonsensical lies come out of Sarah Palin's mouth every time she opens it.
But again, they can't just say this. It has to be translated into the strained freshman-seminar language of the country's most influential conservative commentators and intellectuals. A sampling:
- As Politico summarizes, "Palin's politics of grievance and group identity, according to these critics, is a betrayal of conservative principles." Oh my god. Didn't an entire party just spend an election season playing up the ol' "snobby east coast commies hate Real America and think they're better than you" card?
- The "conservative intelligentsia" also — wait for it — "fear that her rise would represent the triumph of an intellectually empty brand of populism and the death of ideas as an engine of the right." Right: they think she's a moron. But when conservative columnist George Will is cited to back this up, he doesn't just say, "she's a moron who could destroy the entire Republican party." He says instead, "For conservatism, because it is a creedal movement, this is a disease to which it is susceptible." Bon mot, George Will.
- Circling back to the problem of Palin's "politics of grievance and group identity," we get Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute trying to spin this with classic Republican talking points against affirmative action: "Practicing identity politics completely undercuts the idea that you don't have to be white to govern whites or black to govern blacks and that gender and chromosomes are completely irrelevant job qualifications. It's just a total rejection of a very important principle which is that race, gender and class don't matter."
- Conservative writer and think tank guy Pete Wehner gets points for terseness with his fake reason for not wanting a dingbat like Sarah Palin anywhere near a presidential election: "The concern for me is this culture of aggrievement." This would've been a more profound statement with a "creedal" or two, don't you think? But not everyone can be George Will.
So that's what they're working with: Sarah Palin violates the most fundamental conservative principles, now, and that's why she should stay away from presidential politics.
[Image via AP]