In Defense of Sarah Palin by Norman PodhoretzSubmitted by bobbyw24 on Mon, 03/29/2010 - 07:06
Nothing annoys certain of my fellow conservative intellectuals more than when I remind them, as on occasion I mischievously do, that the derogatory things they say about Sarah Palin are uncannily similar to what many of their forebears once said about Ronald Reagan.
It's hard to imagine now, but 31 years ago, when I first announced that I was supporting Reagan in his bid for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, I was routinely asked by friends on the right how I could possibly associate myself with this "airhead," this B movie star, who was not only stupid but incompetent. They readily acknowledged that his political views were on the whole close to ours, but the embarrassing primitivism with which he expressed them only served, they said, to undermine their credibility. In any case, his base was so narrow that he had no chance of rescuing us from the disastrous administration of Jimmy Carter.
Now I knew Ronald Reagan, and Sarah Palin is no Ronald Reagan. Then again, the first time I met Reagan all he talked about was the money he had saved the taxpayers as governor of California by changing the size of the folders used for storing the state's files. So nonplussed was I by the delight he showed at this great achievement that I came close to thinking that my friends were right and that I had made a mistake in supporting him. Ultimately, of course, we all wound up regarding him as a great man, but in 1979 none of us would have dreamed that this would be how we would feel only a few years later.
What I am trying to say is not that Sarah Palin would necessarily make a great president but that the criteria by which she is being judged by her conservative critics—never mind the deranged hatred she inspires on the left—tell us next to nothing about the kind of president she would make.
Take, for example, foreign policy. True, she seems to know very little about international affairs, but expertise in this area is no guarantee of wise leadership. After all, her rival for the vice presidency, who in some sense knows a great deal, was wrong on almost every major issue that arose in the 30 years he spent in the Senate.
What she does know—and in this respect, she does resemble Reagan—is that the United States has been a force for good in the world, which is more than Barack Obama, whose IQ is no doubt higher than hers, has yet to learn. Jimmy Carter also has a high IQ, which did not prevent him from becoming one of the worst presidents in American history, and so does Bill Clinton, which did not prevent him from befouling the presidential nest.
Unlike her enemies on the left, the conservative opponents of Mrs. Palin are a little puzzling. After all, except for its greater intensity, the response to her on the left is of a piece with the liberal hatred of Richard Nixon, Reagan and George W. Bush. It was a hatred that had less to do with differences over policy than with the conviction that these men were usurpers who, by mobilizing all the most retrograde elements of American society, had stolen the country from its rightful (liberal) rulers. But to a much greater extent than Nixon, Reagan and George W. Bush, Sarah Palin is in her very being the embodiment of those retrograde forces
and therefore potentially even more dangerous.