Friday, July 10, 2009

Peggy Noonan on Sarah Palin

From Noonan's Wall Street Journal column today ("A Farewell to Harms"):

Mrs. Palin has now stepped down, but she continues to poll high among some members of the Republican base, some of whom have taken to telling themselves Palin myths.


To wit, "I love her because she's so working-class."


What she is, is a seemingly very nice middle-class girl with ambition, appetite and no sense of personal limits.


"She makes the Republican Party look inclusive." She makes the party look stupid, a party of the easily manipulated.

"She shows our ingenuous interest in all classes." She shows your cynicism.

"Now she can prepare herself for higher office by studying up, reading in, boning up on the issues." Mrs. Palin's supporters have been ordering her to spend the next two years reflecting and pondering. But she is a ponder-free zone. She can memorize the names of the presidents of Pakistan, but she is not going to be able to know how to think about Pakistan. Why do her supporters not see this? Maybe they think "not thoughtful" is a working-class trope!

"The media did her in." Her lack of any appropriate modesty did her in. Actually, it's arguable that membership in the self-esteem generation harmed her. For 30 years the self-esteem movement told the young they're perfect in every way. It's yielding something new in history: an entire generation with no proper sense of inadequacy.

Noonan's mostly on-target here, I think, but it would be interesting to see some introspection from her on why so many in the Republican base might have embraced a candidate who hunts, fishes, lives in a rural area, etc. I'd expect a little more thought on this from a former Reagan speechwriter. The GOP has spent the last few decades mythologizing blue collar Americans in an attempt to woo them, going back at least as far as Reagan's "Morning in America" campaign, and continuing through the second Bush administration. We went from a plaid-shirted Reagan clearing brush on his ranch in California, to a plaid-shirted Bush clearing brush on his ranch in Texas. Noonan, of all people, shouldn't be surprised that when a candidate fits this image as well as Palin does, she will be popular among the base.

Noonan claims that Palin isn't working class because her father was a teacher and her mother was a school secretary, but this seems like splitting hairs. Okay, Palin's father didn't work in a coal mine. But neither was he the commander of the Pacific Fleet (as McCain's father was), or the CEO of an auto company (as Romney's father was), or the President of the United States (as Bush's father was). Palin may have her limitations, but she is savvy enough to run with her blue collar authenticity, such as it is, given how GOP image crafters such as Peggy Noonan have long made a fetish of it.


Roger Federer said...

Palin is incredibly dumb, other than that she seems to be a nice gal.

Stan B said...

No post on Gatti's death yet? Thought you were a Jersey guy and boxing fan???

DaveinHackensack said...

Sorry Stan B,

I just got in and you just broke that news to me. I'll post on it now.