For a number of weeks now, conservative Beltway insiders Kathleen Parker and Peggy Noonan, among others, have narrowed their sights not on the Democratic candidate for president, but the Republican candidate’s running mate. Sarah Palin has brought out something in them that rivals the ‘80s sitcom Full House when it comes to the shudder factor.
Noonan has written several pieces, including one called “Palin’s Failin’,” which bemoans the fact that “the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics.” Because Palin tends to drop her Gs and says “moms and dads” instead of “mothers and fathers,” suddenly our political system — perhaps the nation — is poised for collapse. If that’s all it takes these days, we’re in bigger trouble than I thought.
Parker started her ball rolling with a piece called “The Palin Problem” at the end of September. Since then, nearly all of her weekly columns have touched on Palin in some form or other. Her most recent offering, “Maverick’s Tragic Flaw,” suggests that John McCain didn’t choose Palin for her accomplishments in the executive and energy sectors, temperament, and political promise, but because he was smitten:
As my husband observed early on, McCain the mortal couldn’t mind having an attractive woman all but singing arias to his greatness. Cameras frequently capture McCain beaming like a gold-starred schoolboy while Palin tells crowds that he is “exactly the kind of man I want as commander in chief.” This, notes Draper, “seemed to confer not only valor but virility on a 72-year-old politician who only weeks ago barely registered with the party faithful.”
That’s right: McCain’s testosterone is getting a boost from Palin’s estrogen. Has anyone asked Todd Palin what he thinks about this? Or, being a hick from Alaska, is he just happy that his wife is allowing him to come along for the ride?
Why beautiful, accomplished women like Parker and Noonan would join the MSM pile-on of the beautiful, accomplished woman from Alaska is, on its face, confusing.
But for anyone who knows anything about how DC works, maybe it’s not so confusing after all.
Palin is reviled by Beltway insiders — conservative and liberal alike — because she’s not one of them and has made it clear that she doesn’t want to be. And some conservative insiders, being a minority, may be afraid that if Obama wins they’ll be, according to Charles Krauthammer, “left out in the cold without a single state dinner for the next four years.” Rush Limbaugh agrees, saying, “this is about the social structure of Washington.” So they feel the need to establish their bona fides before it’s too late.
Parker’s receiving accolades from liberal media outlets and even scored a guest slot on The Colbert Report, the show that hip young people — who had never heard of Parker before this — tune into for their, er, news. And one of my sources, who is very well connected, tells me that Noonan was at first rumored to be looking to write a regular column for the New York Times. Why she’d want to work for a paper that is spiraling further down the economic sinkhole, with stocks that are near junk status, is beyond me. But the rumor has escalated beyond the Times and gone straight to the White House: my same source says now the word is that Noonan may be being courted for the job of press secretary for an Obama administration.
Bread meeting butter?
Speaking of the elitist charge, Parker’s dumping on Palin isn’t her first attempt to keep the roiling masses in place. Back in 2005, she wrote a column dripping with contempt for bloggers:
Bloggers persist no matter their contributions or quality, though most would have little to occupy their time were the mainstream media to disappear tomorrow. Some bloggers do their own reporting, but most rely on mainstream reporters to do the heavy lifting. Some bloggers also offer superb commentary, but most babble, buzz, and blurt like caffeinated adolescents competing for the Ritalin generation’s inevitable senior superlative: Most Obsessive-Compulsive.
Even so, they hold the same megaphone as the adults and enjoy perceived credibility owing to membership in the larger world of blog grown-ups. These effete and often clever baby “bloggies” are rich in time and toys, but bereft of adult supervision. Spoiled and undisciplined, they have grabbed the mike and seized the stage, a privilege granted not by years in the trenches, but by virtue of a three-pronged plug and the miracle of WiFi.
True, the blogosphere is filled with sites that run the gamut from thought-provoking commentary to outright rumor mongering and vile accusation. But Parker, who cut her teeth as a traditional columnist in traditional newsrooms, obviously has difficulty in accepting that we the people are more than capable of separating the wheat from the chaff without an editorial staff to hold our hands.
And if we’re looking for contenders for the Most Obsessive-Compulsive award, what about the MSM’s obsession with not only tearing Sarah Palin down but anyone else from the rabble who dares to step out of their assigned spot in society? Joe the Plumber’s life was turned upside down by media snoops who felt it their duty to embarrass him by publishing details about his life that had nothing to do with Barack Obama’s illuminating answer to the question Joe asked. Where is the agonizing about “how to improve its product, police its own members, and better serve its communities,” as Parker describes the MSM, in this instance?
It’s tempting to suggest that Noonan and Parker are envious of a very attractive and younger newcomer to the political scene. That may play a small part. But I truly think the state-school-educated, moose-hunting, Wal-Mart-shopping, folksy woman from Alaska — a place to visit while taking a cruise, but live there? — is an affront to their narrow view of America. Even when she tries to sound like she knows what average people are like, Parker stumbles:
As a self-described spy for Bubba who moves between home in the rural South and inside the Washington Beltway, I get more than an off-the-bus glimpse of the Palin phenomenon. Inside the Beltway, I’ve often felt like Jane Goodall, summoned from the hinterlands to explain the behaviors of the indigenous peoples.
Here’s a hint, Kathleen: describing yourself as Jane Goodall in relation to your southern neighbors’ apes isn’t exactly the best way to win their approval. But you probably aren’t seeking it anyway.
These are the Sneetches with stars, and you and I are among those with “none upon thars.” Palin’s popularity with the commoners means nothing. She’s the one trying to crash their party and they’re going to fight tooth and nail to keep her out.
Will Parker, Noonan, and their like-minded conservative cohorts suddenly change position if McCain wins instead of Obama, as is being breathlessly predicted? Maybe yes, maybe no. But either way, they’ve tipped their hand: supporting a conservative candidate takes a backseat to their own self-interest.
And it has been duly noted.