Friday, October 17, 2008

Gov. Palin

Earlier this week I highlighted a blog post at the on-line National Review. The NRO writer (Ramesh Ponnuru) was wondering how Sarah Palin could possibly -- possibly -- be thought of as "anti-intellectual." I snarkly derided Mr. Ponnuru as a 'Tone-deaf Republican', figuring Gov. Palin's performances in the interviews were enough to give even the most partisan among us at least an idea why someone would question her interest in knowledge. You know the interviews: the ones in which she was visibly seen to squirm and ignore relatively easy questions. Maybe those interviews don't do service to the true Gov. Palin (I suspect they don't), but they are all we have to go on. And they give you a real picture. A picture that's hard to miss.

But even so, I don't think I quite articulated the most pertinent reason why even the most partisan Republicans should willingly recognize the anti-intellectual nature of Gov. Palin. It should be recognized knowledge that Gov. Palin (and President Bush, for that matter) are anti-intellectuals not because they are know-nothings. In fact, both strike me as clever and even intelligent in certain ways. Rather, the label fits because Gov. Palin markets herself as a know-nothing. She smears Democrats as 'elites' and paints them as disconnected to true Americans. The Republicans paint themselves, in contrast, as people like Joe the Plumber's best friend. Watching Gov. Palin speak and perform at the debate, it is clear that she wants to be seen as exactly the anti-intellectual character the tone-deaf Republicans just can't believe the press is reporting her as. Forget about what she deserves. If anything, she has gotten more or less the coverage she wants.

If I were in charge of the Palin campaign, I would start thinking about the future and learn, learn, learn something about where national politics has been and where it is going. She needs to want a different image. You don't want to come to the show and have your schtick be such a thing of the past that, instead of making you comedic, it makes you the joke.

Otherwise intelligent Republicans should wake up and understand just how much their party has become reliant on marketing itself as anti-intellectual.

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