Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sarah Palin's Credibility Is the Latest Casualty of Gingrich's Campaign

I was so disgusted by Sarah Palin's Facebook note pushing the Big Lie that Newt Gingrich is a conservative outsider persecuted by a malevolent Republican "Establishment" that I've been considering taking the time to write a response. Fortunately, Jonathan Tobin at Commentary saved me the trouble by penning a concise explanation of just how badly Palin mangled the truth:
She claimed former Reagan administration officials who noted this week Gingrich was anything but a loyal soldier of the 40th president were engaged in a “Stalin-esque rewriting of history.” This is not merely nonsensical, it is illustrative of the defects in her own character and intellect that have led many of us who once cheered her rise to conclude that she has no business ever putting herself forward for high office again.

While Gingrich supported Reagan and Mitt Romney did not, those who pointed out the former speaker’s often petulant and negative comments about the leader of his movement were merely illuminating a little-known aspect of the truth, not “re-writing” it. For Palin to use that over-the-top rhetoric — in effect comparing someone like Elliott Abrams to a communist monster — is contemptible. For her to go on in the same piece to say Gingrich’s critics were employing “Alinsky tactics at their worst” shows again she understands little about either Saul Alinsky’s writings or history.

While Palin and Gingrich have little in common, the one characteristic they do share is hypocrisy. In her posting, Palin claims Mitt Romney needs to be “vetted” more thoroughly because Democrats will attack him in the fall. Yet she considers any attempt to give the same attention to Gingrich, a man with a freight train’s worth of damaging personal and political baggage that renders him unlikely to win a general election, to be above such concerns.
Go read the whole thing. If you're still on the fence about Palin, consider three more salient points. First, Palin wasn't troubled by Republicans using left-wing tactics when Gingrich and Rick Perry were leveling their class-warfare smears at Bain Capital: she dismissed those as the routine "rough and tumble" of politics and falsely claimed that Perry was merely questioning Mitt Romney's job-creation claims. Second, David Swindle notes that Gingrich says he'd put Palin in his administration, which just might be relevant to her Newt endorsement-in-everything-but-name. Third, if she's so concerned about Republicans using "Alinsky tactics at their worse," then perhaps she should read Phillip Klein's piece on Gingrich's own cribbing from Saul's playbook.

I've written a lot on Sarah Palin's behalf over the years, most of which I still stand by, since she was the victim of many specific false charges that nobody should be subjected to. But in light of her latest attacks on whoever won't fall in line behind Gingrich, it must be conceded that she is first and foremost a populist opportunist, not a principled leader of true grassroots conservatism. Her actions have confirmed the pattern that she began in endorsing Rand Paul in the 2010 Kentucky primary: making decisions based not an a careful reading of candidates' merits, but on a completely superficial assessment of who insists "I'm an outsider!" the hardest. I can't sum it up better than Tobin:
Palin, who seems far more interested in burnishing her image than actually helping her party, manages to keep her name in the news every now and then with statements such as this one. But her problem is the more she talks, the more she reminds us why she has doomed herself to the margins of political discourse.

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