¡Viva Sarah Palin!

November 12, 2008

The scariest part of the election of Barack Obama to the presidency is the possibility that our nation’s fling with Sarah Palin may soon be over. Sure, she’s in the midst of a media tour right now, but one can’t help but worry that sooner or later, people may feel that interviewing and investigating her are no longer activities with much journalistic merit. This would make politics a lot less entertaining.

Andrew Sullivan is having none of it. Here is his defense for keeping up the good fight:

This deluded and delusional woman still doesn’t understand what happened to her; still has no self-awareness; and has never been forced to accept her obvious limitations. She cannot keep even the most trivial story straight; she repeats untruths with a ferocity and calm that is reserved only to the clinically unhinged; she has the educational level of a high school drop-out; and regards ignorance as some kind of achievement. It is excruciating to watch her – but more excruciating to watch those who feel obliged to defend her.

Her candidacy, in short, was indefensible. It remains indefensible. Until the mainstream media, the GOP establishment, and the conservative intelligentsia acknowledge the depth of their error, this blog will keep demanding basic accountability.

Although the rest of the post is more worthy of the Patron Saint of Hyperbole (the Despot is looking into the legality of trademarking nicknames for public figures), this summary of Palin and her candidacy strikes me as just about right. And I do think there is merit to dwelling on this beyond the obvious entertainment value. But I don’t get the bit about accountability here. Even if it’s right that, for instance a ,vice-presidential candidate has some sort of tacit obligation to release her medical records (which I doubt- no one on the right seemed too upset by Obama’s equivalent level of disclosure), surely there is no obligation for a former vice-presidential candidate to do so. Now that the election is over, I don’t see how Palin owes us anything in the way of openness. She is accountable only to the people of Alaska now, and if they suddenly have a problem with corrupt lunatics, they have a very odd way of showing it.

She remains, however, a good litmus test (and bludgeon against those who fail it) for conservatives. Simply put: it is so obvious that Palin was an inexcusable pick that anyone who tries to excuse must either be intellectually dishonest or too stupid or crazy to be taken seriously. As I said in my previous post, I think worries about the state of conservatism are incoherent. And plenty of very conservative thinkers pass this test: Sullivan, Hitchens, Buckley, Will, etc. But while conservatism is just fine, a number of formerly serious conservative publications are not. The outdated good reputations of the Wall Street Journal and the National Review in particular have allowed a great number of clowns and hacks to pose as right-wing intellectuals. Focusing on Sarah Palin is a good way to begin correcting this.

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