Defending Sarah Palin

Last week, Joe Scarborough, a former Republican politician turned MSNBC pundit, called for Republicans to “man up” and take on Sarah Palin. Putting aside that it’s always amusing when talking heads adopt tough-guy talk, I read Joe’s article and wondered where he’d been.

After all, the list of Republicans who’d recently attacked Sarah Palin included the following: Karl Rove, Barbara Bush, and Peggy Noonan, along with a hit piece in the Weekly Standard and continued sniping from McCain insider Nicolle Wallace. When you throw in the jihad waged against her by former McCain advisers and other prominent conservatives’ longstanding utter contempt, I honestly can’t think of a Republican more regularly attacked by fellow Republicans than Sarah Palin.

In fact, I’d say there’s no politician in America (and certainly no non-President in my lifetime) more vilified than Alaska’s former governor. From venomous feminists who say she’s not a woman, to those who question whether her youngest son is even her child, to musical acts who actually simulate her murder onstage, there’s little doubt that much of America is in the grip of pure hatred.

As for me, she’s not my favorite Republican, but every insult, every crass attack, and every condescending smirk binds me closer to her.

Why? Is it just reflexive defense, the kind of immediate protective instinct I feel when fellow pro-life conservatives are attacked? Or is it the intangible affinity I felt for her family the instant I heard that her son was soon deploying to the very same Iraqi Province to which I’d deployed?

No, it’s something more. After hearing the attacks for more than two full years, I’ve decided that defending Sarah Palin benefits American democracy in at least two substantial ways.

First, when you defend Sarah Palin you declare that malice will not win, and that you will not allow conservatives to be washed away by an ocean of bile. There’s simply no doubt that mockery and derision are tools of the Left -- especially the radical Left. From Jon Stewart’s amusing vitriol to the pure snark and rage of a man like Andrew Sullivan, we see again and again a desire to silence conservatives, especially religious conservatives, through the sheer force of stigma. When Sarah Palin lives her life unapologetically and boldly in the face of such hate, she declares that malice will not win.

Second, she stands as a living challenge to the primacy of our credentialed elite. Their condescension is palpable, and I’ve had many conservative friends use distaste for Sarah Palin as a virtual litmus test of serious thought. After all, they say, everyone knows that she’s ignorant. Everyone knows that she’s foolish.

The fact of the matter is that Americans are rightly fed up with our credentialed elite. After all, it wasn’t Sarah Palin who brought us the September 2008 financial crash. It wasn’t Sarah Palin who gave us trillion dollar deficits, and it wasn’t Sarah Palin who led us to the kind of persistent unemployment and low-growth life that characterizes the weaker economies in Western Europe.

It was the credentialed elite, a rather smug group of individuals who -- to paraphrase Joe Scarborough’s insult of Sarah Palin -- do not know what they do not know. I’ve been there, seen that. I walked into Harvard Law School as a young student in awe of my classmates and professors. I left realizing there were vast, yawning gaps in their life experience and education -- yet these were the people who would lead us.

12/6/2010 5:00:00 AM
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    About David French
    David French is a lawyer, writer, soldier, and veteran of the Iraq war. He is Senior Counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice. Follow him on Facebook.