Wednesday, February 2, 2011

UK: Waiting for anti-Palin conservatives to speak out

The Telegraph

article printed in its entirety

Wanted: US conservatives prepared to 'come out' as opponents of Sarah Palin
By Damian Thompson

As my colleague Janet Daley notes, ConservativeHome USA has declared war on Sarah Palin, rounding up US conservatives who think she’d be a disaster as the next Republican presidential candidate. What I find strange, however, is the way it’s gone about it. In a piece signed by “The Editors”, ConHomeUSA has awarded anti-Palin Republicans the melodramatic title of “Truth Tellers”. And, rather bizarrely, it is recruiting for more:

If you are a Truth Teller, or want to recommend a commentator who is, email us here.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Sarah Palin is basically nuts, as I suggested when she started tossing around the phrase “blood libel” after she was unfairly attacked over the Tucson shootings. If she wins the Republican nomination, and even if she doesn’t but stops her fan base voting for the GOP, then she’ll have landed us with eight years of Obama – a sin crying out to heaven for the vengeance, as the old Catechism puts it.

Still, there’s something about the rounding up of anti-Palin commentators by “The Editors” that reminds me of ritual group denunciation in the Eastern Bloc. Also, I’m really not convinced by this observation:

Because of her popularity, many have been afraid to say openly about her what they whisper in private. But a few brave souls have stepped out and said about Sarah Palin what others think but are unwilling to say.

Actually, I don’t think you have to be brave to attack Sarah Palin, just willing to put up with the snarls of her supporters. And you won’t get many of those if you’re writing in the New York Times, where the brilliant Ross Douthat – one of the few columnists allowed to challenge the paper’s suffocating liberal pomposity – had this to say:

Palin … officially despises the “lamestream” media. But press coverage – good, bad, whatever – is clearly the oxygen she craves. She supposedly hates having her privacy invaded, yet her family keeps showing up on reality TV. She thinks the political class is clueless and out-of-touch, but she can’t resist responding to its every provocation. Her public rhetoric, from “death panels” to “blood libel,” is obviously crafted to maximize coverage and controversy, and generate more heat than light. And her Twitter account reads like a constant plea for the most superficial sort of media attention … To Palin: You were an actual politician once (remember that?), but you’re becoming the kind of caricature that your enemies have always tried to make of you.

As usual, Douthat has hit the nail on the head, though I’d be interested to know whether he actually volunteered to become one of ConHome’s Truth Tellers. Here’s what other TT’s think about Mrs Palin:

Charles Krauthammer: “She is not a serious candidate for the presidency. She had to go home and study and spend a lot of time on issues in which she was not adept [in 2008], and she hasn’t. She has to stop speaking in clichés and platitudes.”

Jonathan Tobin: “Rather than taunting people like Krauthammer, who merely said aloud what so many others are thinking about her unpresidential demeanor, maybe Sarah Palin ought to be waking up to the fact that she is simply unelectable.”

Peggy Noonan: “Americans don’t want, as their representatives, people who seem empty or crazy.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski: “I just do not think she has those leadership qualities, that intellectual policy, that allows for building good and great policies.”

David Frum: “Imagine you’re at the circus. On the ground is a poodle performing a stunt. Above the clown’s head, dangling from a thin wire, is a piano. The piano is teetering, tottering, looking as if at any moment it might slip, crash to earth, and crush the dog. Impossible not to watch, right? And that’s the Palin show, only this time with the party of Lincoln as the little dog, and Sarah Palin as the piano.”

Joe Scarborough: “What man or mouse with a fully functioning human brain and a résumé as thin as Palin’s would flirt with a presidential run? It makes the political biography of Barack Obama look more like Winston Churchill’s.”

Pete Wehner: “Virtually every time Ms Palin speaks out, she reinforces some of the worst impressions or deepest concerns many of us have about her.”

There’s more, but I think you get the picture. Note that this exercise coincides with Dana Milbank’s Washington Post campaign to persuade the press not to mention Sarah Palin at all during February. If that timing was deliberate, then “The Editors” really haven’t thought this one through. (Fortunately, however, Telegraph Blogs has decided to do the opposite and turn February into Sarah Palin Month.)

Anyway, presumably ConHomeUSA will provide us with an update once more TTs email them – or, as I prefer to imagine, bravely whisper their doubts about Mrs Palin from a public phone in a Midwestern shopping mall, glancing around nervously lest they’re overheard by some burger-chomping redneck.

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