Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Beltway Conservatives Flummoxed by Palin

It’s interesting (and, I have to admit, a bit entertaining) to see how many in the mainstream conservative media are ignoring Governor Palin.

The Weekly Standard is an exception. It published a long (4,800 word) article by Matthew Continetti on Palin’s resignation with indepth treatment of the major role the poisoned political atmosphere in Alaska played in Palin’s decision.

“Suddenly ‘people were confronted with policy differences with the governor,’ Alaska state senator and Palin ally Gene Therriault told me. ‘The call went out from the national Democratic party to take her down. Some of the Democrats who worked with her previously took their marching orders.’ Gridlock ensued. Bipartisan comity was no more.

“Anybody who had the opportunity to score political points against Palin took a shot. The Alaska judicial council, a body that recommends jurists to the governor, forced the pro-life Palin to appoint a pro-choice judge to the state supreme court. The legislature rejected Palin's choice for state attorney general. The governor and the legislature fought protracted battles over the replacement for Democratic state senator Kim Elton (appointed to the Obama administration) and stimulus money from the federal government. Civility with the legislature became untenable. John Coale, the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic lawyer who set up Palin's political action committee and legal defense fund, told me, ‘Something had to change.’”

But, National Review is flummoxed. So far there has been no official editorial or even an article on Palin’s resignation. There was Rich Lowry’s personal howl of distress (which is in line with the more emotional stance he takes–as when he was personally charmed by Palin’s wink at the VP debates). They also published comments from a mostly positive symposium on Palin’s political future. But, nothing really substantial about either the context or import of Palin’s resignation.

And there hasn’t been a peep out of NR on Palin’s op ed attack on Obama’s cap and trade plan published in the Washington Post. It showed clear thinking with a dash of wit thrown in. Palin pointed out the expected job losses (with $4.2 billion allocated for the unemployed which is actually part of the plan itself) and quoted Obama that energy costs will "necessarily skyrocket". It was masterful. Worthy of NR in its golden period.

Even my sweet baboo columnist Mark Steyn could only salvage the thought that Palin was “cutting bait” by her resignation. (Though it is encouraging that he fairly quickly took down the link to that posting from his SteynOnline site.)

Well, why the tiptoeing around? One can only guess.

Maybe they are following Thumper’s father’s advice. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Maybe because 76% of Republicans (most of their readers) approve of Palin.

Maybe because they’ve seen the nose dive in the careers of people like Peggy Noonan. After Noonan’s strident criticism of Palin in October of 2008, the page views for her Wall Street Journal Declarations column have declined more than 40% (which counts the huge spike in views of the “Palin’s Failin’” column, but not the huge spike in her latest “A Farewell to Harms” column.) And her latest book on political civility did a massive nose dive after Noonan’s own political civility was tested and found wanting in the face of Palin’s popularity.

It’s a tough dilemma for anti-Palin conservative pundits. To speak your mind alienates your readers. A tough pill to swallow is admitting that your readers (who aren’t supposed to be as smart as you) have seen something important and substantial that you have missed.

The wisest course seems to be whistling through the graveyard and pretending Palin’s popularity will fall and the conservative base will come to its senses. Good luck with that.

No comments: