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Works and Days

What is Wisdom?—Sarah Palin and Her Critics

July 7th, 2009 - 10:53 am

They Say/We Say

The debate over Palin is sort of ossified.

The Left continues to ridicule her accent, family, and middling roots. The Right enjoys such authenticity-but enjoys even more the hysteria it incurs in liberals.

Will it Be Politics or Money?

But lost in all of this is whether she is up to national politics, or simply wishes to capitalize (an Oprah-like talk show?) on her sizable financial potential. On the one hand, Palin is obviously bright. Few could raise a family without capital in Wasilla, and within a decade end up as Governor of a large state-whose protocols hinged on an old-boy network where politicians accommodated oil and mineral interests.

On the other hand, a mother of five, knee-deep in local politics, without money and leisure, is not going to be reading Gibbon for perspective, or spending the afternoon perusing Foreign Affairs. Nor is she going to remember a quip that her Prof at the Kennedy school once offered years ago. Nor is she going to recall clever repartee at a Georgetown dinner party from one grandee to another.

She has natural gifts-stamina, earthy grit, sensitivity to what most Americans go through raising a family on a limited budget, practicality from working with her hands in a natural world. All that is no small beer. Look at Truman’s various experiences in Missouri.

No Way 2012-Maybe 2016, 2020?

But if, a big if, she decides to become a national political figure, Palin should use these next few years (in addition to making some money to support her family) to travel and read widely in the manner that a Reagan did in his wilderness period. She has natural intelligence and is curious. I think most would like to see her do another Couric interview five years from now after she had time to size up DC insiders, meet more politicians, lecture in front of hostile audiences-and just read and reflect. At fifty-five she could become a formidable candidate, given her natural charisma and authentic middle-class persona.

They All Resign-One Way or Another

As far as her resignation, it will be forgotten in two years. Politicians like William Weld, Bob Dole, Fred Thompson, and Bill Bradley have done it (to no real advantage).  John McCain and Barack Obama essentially resigned from the Senate by campaigning nonstop for two years (but while getting paid). In Obama’s case, it is hard to believe whether he was ever really working as a Senator, but instead almost began prepping for the Presidency (after swearing that he would not) as soon as he was elected.

So Why the Hatred?

A Huffington Post satirist offers jokes about her son Trig’s disability, and mental impairment in general.

David Letterman laughs at the notion of her 14-year-old daughter having sex in a dugout with a baseball player.

Andrew Sullivan offered up conspiracy theories about how her daughter, not Palin herself, “really” delivered Trig.

Maureen Dowd declares that “Caribou Barbie is one nutty puppy,” and laughs at the names of her children, some geese-honking in the background during her interview, even the Piper Cub tiny plane near the Palin house.

A Vanity Fair author swears that on his trip to Alaska, people came up to him and, quite independently of one another, proclaimed that Palin was a narcissist. According to Todd Purdum,  mirabile dictu, many have consulted the ol’ handy Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (which we all carry in our backpockets) and, presto, discovered that Palin has a ” pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy’ – and thought it fit her perfectly.”

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