Monday, September 29, 2008

Even more on Palin

Via Andrew Sullivan, James Wolcott expresses it better than most:
The political journals buried at the bottom of the boxes, bearing deadlines two weeks old, buzzed with excitement-dismay-apprehension-torrid speculation over the slingshot release of Sarah Palin onto the political stage--Diana the Huntress in a red power suit. Liberal commentators appalled by her heat-lightning celebrity and (neo)conservative commentators eager to form a conga line behind her caboose shared a conviction that she had charisma to burn and was a force to be reckoned with, despite her scanty qualifications. (Stage door Johnnies such as Victor Davis Hanson and Jay Nordlinger even crooned that her relative inexperience only enhanced her unpolished-diamond potentiality to the public, her peppy authenticity.)
But that was before Wolcott left on vacation. Now:
In less than a month Palin has shrunk from a crossfire hurricane into a delicate flower of flame that must be cupped and protected like the candle in the wind that Elton John so movingly eulogized. Instead of liberals advising other liberals on how to contain her, conservatives are urging that those around her take off the wraps and Let Sarah Be Sarah. They blame her poor performance with Katie Couric and her no-show after the presidential debates (while Joe Biden made the rounds) on too many advisers cramming so many facts, soundbites, and comebacks into her head with crash-course briefing sessions that she's become self-conscious, incapable of uttering the simplest sentence or sentiment without a traffic jam spilling out of her mouth.
After some ridicule of the frequently ridiculous Kathryn Jean Lopez ("If she [Palin] had been as comfortable walking into an interview with Katie Couric as she was with Charlie Rose — ready to push back and have a little fun while doing it like she did with some Republicans in Alaska — no one would be worried at all about this week's debate."), Wolcott ties the hopeful new Republican administration to the last:
Going with your instincts, as opposed to, I don't know, thinking things through, is what's gotten this country into such a hole these last eight years. Have the National Review editors learned nothing from their former lionization of George W. Bush? He too was hailed for being real, following his gut, and acting decisively while others temporized. Sure, he may not have known all the little pesky details--that's what policy wonks are for--but he had a sure hand on the reins and God to guide him. Now, our financial system is on the brink and we're supposed to entrust our fate and place our faith in another novice whose interests up until now have been strictly parochial.

A note on Sullivan's view: His takeaway was the last paragraph, in which Wolcott criticizes David Brooks for his appearance on Chris Matthews, in which he seemed to indicate that Palin might rise to "mediocre" after her debate this week with Joe Biden. Sullivan:
Maybe her regular-gal act could work for 90 minutes. But serious people concerned about the fate of this country do not back sub-mediocre candidates for the presidency at a time like this. Shouldn't these people put country first?
I'm not 100% sure that Andrew is criticizing Brooks specifically in the last couple of sentences; assuming he is, I'm not sure where he even begins to believe Brooks is a "serious" person. Having seen a lot of Brooks this campaign, I see him as far more interested in being clever than being insightful, far more concerned with how the race can demonstrate that he, David Brooks, is a really smart guy who really understands the rubes in the electorate. What good points he makes, and there are some, are buried under a wave of smugness and superciliousness that make him, for me, barely watchable or readable.

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