The Palin Age

A good link from Radley Balko about the anti-intellectual right. William F. Buckley, Jr., where has your spirit gone? Today's leader's on the right not only don't mind being provincial, superstitious, and generally ignorant, they make it a virtue.

Two words: Sarah Palin. Case closed.

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My way of thinking on this matter is more along the lines of this guy's.

Here's a good parts version:

[...] the unacknowledged assumption that what is called intellectual is, in fact, meant to be synonymous with intelligence itself, specifically the kind needed to make decisions [...]


He [Anthony Blanche] succeeds brilliantly in his goal of attracting attention. He is more a master of style than of substance. But in his social context, he might be pardoned for believing that verbal quickness and cleverness are the most effective proof possible of authentic intelligence.


Worse, his [WFB] columns embodied exactly the same refusal to communicate clearly and directly. His sentence structure was perverse, his syntax rococo, his use of vocabulary deliberately opaque, and his anti-egalitarian insistence on being incomprehensible to those who did not know Latin or Greek made me regard him as more poseur than political evangelist.


Intellectualism is not the same thing as intelligence. In many ways it is frequently the opposite.

[From an earlier, linked entry]

It's just that when they step forward to tell the rest of us what it means to be an American conservative, I can't help wondering if what they really are is Tories. You know, the colonial elite who understood that the American Revolution was misbegotten and doomed to disaster [...]


The Tory conservatives continue to think twentieth century conservatism began with Buckley. It didn't. It began with a lot of hard-working Americans whose traditional middle-class values were violently offended by the gross egalitarian excesses of FDR, a president they despised as deeply as today's cartoon leftists hate George W. Bush.

What Buckley brought to the table was not the first expression of disbelief in the rightness of a continuously expanding federal government, but the charm of a Talleyrand. [...] He could debate John Kenneth Galbraith and company without becoming physically ill. [...] He therefore succeeded in creating a conservative voice that was permitted to coexist with the overwhelmingly dominant liberal intellectual hierarchy which ruled both houses of congress and the government's purse strings for a span of 48 years [...] [WFB was the] barbarian admitted to polite society on the strength of his many elite credentials -- learning, wealth, travel, gracious civility, and (consequently) harmlessness.

But the real conservative movement in this country was never a function of the elites. It came from the west, from Goldwater and Reagan. Its whole ascendancy was fueled by a new kind of populism, the common voices of the competent -- those who knew they were doing the real work and creating all the wealth that government wanted to take and redistribute to those who demanded it most plaintively. That's a huge difference from the old-style populism Brooks is trying to lump conservatives into, the Huey Long or William Jennings Bryan (or John Edwards) variety that appeals to those who believe they are helpless victims of a power structure so entrenched they never have a chance to get out from under without a dispenser of booty focused exclusively on them. The populism of the conservative movement that took the White House and congress from the Democrats in 1980 had one simple message "Get government off our backs so we can live our own lives and make our own decisions."

And this is a kind of populism the intellectual and social elites of the Tory class can never comprehend.


In the social, academic, and organizational milieus in which they move, opportunity is achieved by the approval of others in a hierarchy.


That's why there's nothing in their experience to justify the meteoric rise of a Sarah Palin or for that matter a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama.


But they're wrong about most of what they assume to be bedrock wisdom. In the America they've never been a part of, inexperienced talents like Bill Gates come out of nowhere and take down invulnerable gray giants like IBM. Ronald Reagan comes from Eureka College and Hollywood to win the Cold War, slash taxes, and restore American pride.


The saddest part of their ignorance is that it's clear they've never lived in a world of profit and loss, where accountability can be determined in stark terms and where sometimes the greatest, most productive changes can be effected by those who enter a staid bureaucracy with fresh eyes and see clearly, without the camouflage of convenient jargon or the grievous half measures and failures perpetrated in the name of prudent experience. American history is full of Sarah Palins. Many of our greatest moments have been achieved by raw talent and decency backed by unexpected courage.


[...] I damn well hate the snotty, superior tone these small-minded men use to make their case for reduced expectations and incrementally lessened socialism as the apogee of American conservative aspirations.


To hell with the National Review and the Weekly Standard if they insist that our own candidates have to be able to sing Nessun Dorma to Charlie Gibson's satisfaction. He's never sung it to my satisfaction. And if he looked down his nose at me, I'd probably break it on the spot.

Good post. But it's more

Good post. But it's more enjoyable being a snob.

Perhaps I'm not seeing it...

...but where is the source of this quote?


I linked to this blog entry. That entry contains the first part of the quoted material. That entry in turn links, at its very beginning, to this earlier entry. That entry contains the second and last part of the quoted material, the part prefaced by: "[From an earlier, linked entry]"

Not mine, but appropriate.

Sums it up for me.

Palin's stupidity in historical perspective

Palin is not the first conservative that the folks who knew what's what knew was shallow, unsophisticated, unschooled, and unthinking.

Moreover, at the time, Reagan's optimism was deemed pejorative. It was the cockeyed optimism of the simpleton, a man too shallow, unsophisticated, unschooled and unthinking -- in short, too stupid -- to know better. An "amiable dunce," as Clark Clifford, wisest of the Washington wise men, dubbed him. Justin Kaplan's 1992 edition of Bartlett's has only three quotes from Reagan -- all trivial, all designed to make him look silly. It was only under pressure that the next edition added "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" and other historic lines.

Clifford and Kaplan spoke for an establishment that considered Reagan a simplistic primitive -- whose simplistic primitivism was endangering the world. These were the twin themes: Reagan was stupid, and his stupidity made him dangerous. Those too young to remember the 1980s would be astonished to know how common the notion was of Reagan as a warmonger.


Umm no.

Clifford and Kaplan didn't know what's what. They were spectacularly wrong about Reagan.

This book should be sufficient evidence. But, there's much more.

The Palin Age

I object, first, to your "two words: Sarah Palin" remark. She has not said anything particularly dumb, except when asked dumb questions.

She was saddled with the job of defending an idiotic comment by John McCain (to wit, that Alaska's proximity to Russia is a substitute for -- or actually is -- foreign policy experience or expertise). McCain should have said that Gov. Sarah Palin has as much foreign policy experience as the vice presidential nominee as did Gov. George W. Bush, Gov. Bill Clinton, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, Gov. Ronald Reagan, Gov. Jimmy Carter, Gov. Adlai Stevenson and Gov. Thomas Dewey when they accepted their parties' nominations for president. (OK, maybe it would have been bad for McCain to go back that far.)

On the matter of reciting Obama's middle name: Isn't it standard fare to recite an opponent's full name for derisive purposes? Didn't the aforementioned Dukakis constantly refer to his opponent's running mate as "Jay Danforth Quayle"? Didn't various Democrats often make fun of the middle name "Milhous"?


"She has not said anything particularly dumb, except when asked dumb questions." <----- Uhh

Try again please. Your bias is creeping up on you, time to lure it back in. Every political figure says "dumb" things. You can't do that much talking in the spotlight and not get burned. Blaming the questions is quite a stretch.

Did you want specifics? I can do that quite easily, I just feel it's not required at this point.

Sarah Palin is the one bit if relief we've gotten.

Here's more on establishment versus grassroots conservatism (a conflict that parallels some conflicts among libertarians). The linked item is very well, very clearly expressed. But I'll do a concentrated good-parts version anyway (those are kind of fun and help to concentrate my own mind). Emphasis mine.

[...] movement conservatives have felt betrayed by their own establishment [...] never more so than in the last four weeks.

[...] the Republican Secretary of the Treasury acted as a handmaiden to socialism. [...] the forced nationalization of banks is socialism by any grade school definition.

[...] there is almost irresistible movement-conservative temptation to raise the figurative middle finger to anyone or anything associated with establishment Republicanism [...]

In the midst of the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, conservative establishment pundits appear to blame John McCain's inability to seal the deal not on the misfortune of being the candidate of the in-party of his thin track record on economic matters or his jarring response to the crisis, but on a hockey mom from Alaska. Who just happens to be part of the grassroots conservative [...] circle. Who, from a conservative point of view, happens to be the one bit of relief we've gotten from this crap sandwich of a political environment that's been going on for three years now. Who, in a movement and a party bereft of fresh faces, seemed to represent a rising new guard.

Can you see why [...] we are angry?


In what universe do Sarah Palin's gaffes matter, and Joe Biden's 20 years of gaffes get ignored? In what universe does Sarah Palin get called unqualified, and this prompts absolutely zero scrutiny and commentary on Barack Obama's resume, especially amongst conservative pundits bashing Palin. Is it because Obama shares their alma mater? [...]

[...] it's willful blindness to suggest that Sarah Palin hasn't been given the short end of the stick in entirely relevant experience comparisons with Obama and in temperament comparisons with Biden. Biden has a longstanding reputation as a less-than-Presidential hothead who's used racially-tinged code language to describe his running mate -- and not a peep from the media and our conservative emissaries to the Times editorial board.

Now can you understand the frustration?

Comparing Obama's, Palin's accomplishments

From the AP. I've stripped out the accomplishments which are neutral with me. Frankly, I think the AP has failed to mention some significant negatives of Obama's career, which is why I deeply distrust Obama even though his positives in this list outnumber and arguably outweigh Palin's.

Obama speaks out against invading Iraq. [mildly positive - I agree with the position, but it doesn't really make him stand out]

In biggest year of his legislative career, Obama passes legislation requiring police to record interrogations in murder cases, collect data on race of drivers they pull over. [strongly positive - looks like he did some real good, going by this description]

Palin investigates conduct of a commission member, who ultimately resigns. She later files ethics complaint against state's Republican attorney general, who also resigns. [strongly positive - this is the sort of stuff that really impresses me about her]

Obama [...] Works with Senate Republicans to limit nuclear proliferation and shed light on wasteful government spending. [mildly positive - I don't think much of mere initiatives without some demonstrable results]

Palin overhauls state ethics laws, pushes to build a natural gas pipeline despite opposition from oil industry. [probably positive - I think on balance she was fighting here against crony capitalism rather than against laissez-faire]

One thing you won't find on this list is, "Palin fails to answer Katie Couric's question about what she reads."

If I did this for McCain's accomplishments I think the balance would be strongly negative.