This morning my new column was published, “Palin Enragement Syndrome.” The response to Palin, when she first came to the attention of the public, was so overwhelming and so extraordinarily negative that it requires explanation, and has to be explained by more than mere political opposition. I begin the column thus:
The fight over Sarah Palin is about a lot more than Sarah Palin. It’s about what America means. It’s about what things are truly good and trustworthy. It’s about the worldview and the values that will guide our government and society.
The gist is this. The Left’s loathing and the Right’s love for Palin (or at least the populist Right) — at least in large part — does not have to do with her past or her policies, but with all that she personifies. She personifies a culture that the Right sees as truly, classically, and morally American — and that the Left sees as unsophisticated, religiously fanatical, and bigoted. She personifies the culture that the populist Right wants to revive, and that the elitist Left wants to leave behind.
Does Sarah Palin represent what America should be? What values should guide us? Or does she represent the old America, unevolved and backward? Some on the Left (and not on the Left) despise Palin for good reasons. But many despise her for what she represents, and because they despise the people who support her. Read the rest of the column for more.
As David French argues, it’s important to stand against the extreme slander that Palin has suffered. But this does not mean that we should support Palin for President. It seems as though the Right is making this distinction. Many conservatives bristle at all the bile poured out on Palin. But they are hesitant to support her for President. I think that’s right. She is still young, and in my opinion she needs more experience in national politics before she’ll be ready for such a role.
Right now, Palin is oscillating between political and media roles. Is she the white conservative Oprah? Or is she the anti-Obama? It seems to me that if she were absolutely convinced that she wanted to run for President, she would be edging toward the Obama side, and taking fewer popular media roles. So I’m hoping that she will not run. One would like to think that a person like Palin would consider not only whether she could win, but whether she is truly ready to be a successful President. (One wonders whether Obama ever wondered this, or was capable of doubting his own readiness and capability.) If she ran, she could wreak a lot of havoc. She would gain a great deal of respect in my mind if she decided not to run, and instead to use her influence to support a more experienced and immaculately qualified conservative candidate.