Commentary and Sarah Palin
A prominent member of the Republican establishment has decided once again to damn Sarah Palin with faint praise.
In a recent column on Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Jonathan Tobin says: “there is little doubt about the reality of another war on women: the one that is being waged by left-wing ideologues against any female Republican who dares to emerge on the national political stage.”
Tobin is a senior online editor at Commentary, so his columns provide a reasonable window into establishment Republican opinion.
Then he goes on:
While I’m no fan of Palin’s, the former Alaska governor was subjected to the sort of attacks that would never have been tried against any man, liberal or conservative. That she did not weather this assault with the sort of grace or the wit that might have undermined the effort to brand her as unready for national office is to her discredit, and her subsequent career has been handicapped by her decision to resign her office as well as a bitter tone that has left her a strong fan base but no electoral future. But there’s no denying that the attacks on her were unfair. Unfortunately, Palin’s marginalization has encouraged the political left to think it can do the same to any other Republican woman, something that New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez is just starting to learn.
Tobin's criticisms are ridiculous. Palin was faced with a well-funded assault designed to use vague ethics laws to attack her repeatedly. As the Progressives know well, mud sticks, so this in itself was seen as useful, and Palin, who was not personally rich, did not have the financial resources to counter a serious campaign.
So rather than play a game rigged against her that she must lose, Palin changed it by resigning. What does Tobin think she should have done? There is no point in putting the question to Progressives, who attack the resignation because they have no interest in truth, but it is fair to demand that the Tobins provide an answer. Should she have gone down in a morass of personal bankruptcy and fraudulent charges so the conservative establishment could wring its collective hands over the nastiness of the left? (Perhaps this is indeed their view; another Commentary writer recently bemoaned the Koch brothers’ willingness to go toe to toe with Harry Reid.)
As for the “bitter” tone, what does that mean? Palin expresses anger and firmness, but why is this “bitter”? If the attacks were unfair, why was it wrong to meet them with anger? And why is it wrong to keep on meeting the distortions of the left with firmness and humor? (That Tobin thinks she lacks wit just means he has not seen her speak.) She does not subscribe to one of Commentary’s themes, which is that we are all reasonable people and that the left will eventually be persuaded by the force of our superior logic, so she understands the importance of determination and élan.
We will see about the electoral future. Palin will do what she does, which is rally the forces of liberty and support good candidates. She will not triangulate or dissemble. The current wisdom of the political class is that this does not result in electoral victories, a conclusion borne out by Obama’s success. But political climates change, and honesty and patriotism may someday come back in style. One would think Commentary, a staunch supporter of Israel, would appreciate Palin’s firmness.
The final bafflement is that Tobin thinks he can kowtow to the left over its treatment of Palin, but stand up to it when the same weapons are leveled against other women. Or leveled against others who try to escape the liberal plantation, such as Justice Clarence Thomas, or Miguel Estrada, denied a judgeship by the Progressives because he is Hispanic. To abase oneself every time the opposition finds a flaw in one’s champions is a prescription for failure.
In the end, Tobin and his ilk reveal themselves as snobs, anxious to impress the chattering class Ivy Leaguers of Washington and the coasts by rejecting this hick from Alaska. This makes them easy prey for any leftie who looks down his nose and says of some Republican woman, “She’s not really one of us, you know.”
So they need to wise up and get in the game. And that game is not beanbag.
James V DeLong has two degrees from Harvard. He agrees that Palin is not one of us chattering-class Ivy Leaguers; she is better than that.