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Feb. 8 2010 - 11:28 pm | 970 views | 2 recommendations | 5 comments

Sarah Palin’s Biggest Booster Strikes Again

Once again Matthew Continetti is using his considerable writerly talent to laud Sarah Palin, the Alaska politician who resigned her governorship to focus on cable news appearances and paid speaking gigs. Daniel Larison ably explains why Mr. Continetti’s commentary on the foreign policy elements in her speech are an embarrassment to a man of his intelligence.

I’ll therefore focus my commentary elsewhere, and in doing so, I must admit that he gets this exactly right:

Sarah Palin’s speech to the Tea Party convention in Nashville showcased all of the former Alaska governor’s strengths. She was confident, funny, down-to-earth, at times emotional–and she took a scalpel to the Obama administration and congressional Democrats.

Read that passage carefully, and you’ll see that Mr. Continetti acknowledges, whether slyly or inadvertently, that Ms. Palin’s strengths are limited to confidence, humor, down-to-earthiness, and an ability to attack the opposition party. Conspicuously missing from her list of strengths are intelligence, prudence, foreign policy experience, self-awareness, impressive achievements, patience, perseverance, integrity, intellectual honesty, and rhetorical precision.

Normally intelligent writers refrain from touting politicians who lack these qualities, but not Mr. Continetti, who continues to marshal his considerable talent in Ms. Palin’s service. The second paragraph in his piece is a small example of how far he is willing to go as her sycophant:

The timing of the speech was also significant. Palin used the talk, broadcast live on Fox News Channel and C-SPAN, to respond to the president’s State of the Union address from last week. Palin’s mention that today is Ronald Reagan’s birthday positioned her squarely among his heiresses.

So talented is Mr. Continetti that I almost read right past that without pausing, but wait a minute — can politicians now position themselves as heir or heiress to Ronald Reagan, the political figure most beloved of conservatives, merely by mentioning his birthday? Perhaps Ms. Palin can also give speeches on the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, F.A. Hayek and Winston Churchill, positioning herself as their heiresses too. “The media are playing into Palin’s hands,” Mr. Continetti writes. “They’ve used her celebrity as an excuse to cover her relentlessly even though she holds no office–and yet the attention helps her communicate to her supporters and reach out to audiences who may be giving her a second thought.” It is truly jaw-dropping to see Mr. Continetti of all people slag the media for covering the former governor relentlessly despite the fact that she holds no office.


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  1. collapse expand

    BHO lacks: intelligence, prudence, foreign policy experience, self-awareness, impressive achievements, patience, perseverance, integrity, intellectual honesty, and rhetorical precision. And he got elected

  2. collapse expand

    BHO lacks: intelligence, prudence, foreign policy experience, self-awareness, impressive achievements, patience, perseverance, integrity, intellectual honesty, and rhetorical precision. And he got elected.

  3. collapse expand

    I knew Matt back when he was an undergraduate at Columbia in 2001-2, and have been following his career at the Weekly Standard with some interest. You’d think a chicken hawk like Kristol would have enough “respect” for our troops to hire a sharp, midwestern (“real”) American fellow/gal who’d gained some life experience in the military defending our freedoms abroad — but no, he hired the East Coast Elite Ivy League grad fresh out of the college dorm.

    BTW, I wonder if there was any cognitive dissonance left when Kristol/Continetti heard Palin’s near incomprehensible “spineless, Ivy-league” comment during the O’Reilly interview — probably not).

    Matt started off as a young D. fkn Brooks wannabe. He wrote a book criticizing his own side for succumbing to the temptations of power and influence in the K street project, establishing cred as a young, honest con. who by implication couldn’t be bought (easily).

    Anyway, round election time 2008 his articles and punditry for the Weekly Standard starting taking a different tone One article in particular I remember, in which he took exception to those recalling candidate Giuliani’s authoritarian streak as NYC mayor. According to Matt, Giuliani had a consistent philosophy, what he termed the “legalistic disciplinarian” school, the polestar the Rudy never turned from despite occassional tacks to left and right. It got more hilarious when he tried to deny that Giuliani had a personality problem focused on equating political with personal attacks. “There’s at least one elephant dung smeared Virgin Mary who might take issue with that statement Matt,” I thought

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/content/public/articles/000/000/014/371rhqnv.asp

    I also thought that was funny coming from someone who knew nothing but the disney safe streets of Time Square; who might not have even overcome his Catholic guilt over masturbation until maybe Rudy’s second term.

    I gave up trying to figure our whether or not Matt was being serious after I realized what the purpose of the article was. Maybe if I write something flattering, some sort of reverse jujitsu thing that makes his perceived flaws into virtues — maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a ticket when he gets to the top. And thus began Matt’s refashioning from young principled con. into blow-job journalist, as articles on Mitt Romney and McCain soon followed that each had that “I’m special because I see the diamond in the rough” quality. I suspect it’s a familiar story regardless of ideology.

    And now of course we have his “persecution” of Sarah Palin book. I’m not sure whether there was a formal ritual in the WS office transferring “Palin Prophet” status from Kristol to Matt, but you can be damn sure that in addition to plotting out his future career options, Matt is making The Boss very proud. Kinda like Palin sporting the I love Israel pin the other night. The whole affair is just so craven, and is an object lesson for the perils of puerile punditry.

  4. collapse expand

    I have problems with practically everyone who has entered the spotlight in politics. The information age shines a bright light on human defects. I’m not sure many, if any, will get through hiding any blemishes, and any of us could imagine if the light was on us.

    But, I’m having a difficult time understanding the particular problems with Palin that Conor and others are obsessing over. I mean, if it’s a sport, there’s more fertile ground with Pelosi, who has much more power, or with McCain, who still has power to do much damage, or Reid, or Snowe, or Obama — the list goes on and on. Why the emphasis on Palin?

  5. collapse expand

    The emphasis is on Palin because she heralds such a frightening direction in American politics: the end of the idea that a leader must meet basic competency standards (intelligence, erudition, thoughtfulness, better-than-basic understanding of policy, experience on the national stage, etc.) before being considered a plausible candidate for national office. Alas, the Palin phenomenon shows that one of our major parties is willing to sacrifice baseline competency for an obvious know-nothing who spouts bumper sticker platitudes, blames everything on elites and has a pretty face.

    Palin’s popularity is the triumph of style over substance. This is not a good herald for our republic. That is why she is dangerous.

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    About Me

    Conor Friedersdorf is a writer, a Californian by upbringing, and a nomad at present. Refresh his page often.

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