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Saturday, August 30, 2008

A plea for patience with sour, conventional conservative pundits who are still getting their minds around the Palin pick

I've gotten more than a few emails urging me to take up the cudgels against David Frum or Charles Krauthammer or other conservative pundits who've expressed anything from serious reservations to outright alarm at the Palin nomination. One, whom I won't mention by name here, said that if the Palin nomination excites the GOP base, we ought to "get a new base."

That's smug and unattractive and out-of-touch, of course. I love to argue, and some of these sour-pusses have opened themselves to potentially devastating counter-snark. But I'm trying to suppress that instinct.

Sarah Palin is indeed an unconventional choice, and a risky one. Her own words at the announcement rally acknowledged that, when she said that a ship in harbor is safe, but staying in the harbor is not what a ship is built for.

Presumably those pundits approved of Bob Dole's 1996 campaign. Well, maybe they faulted him for his "risky" selection of Jack Kemp as his running-mate, although Kemp certainly performed as well as Dole did — which is to say, nobly and consistently in an obviously uninspired and electorally foredoomed cause. McCain shares more than a few traits with Dole ("old" and "often grumpy" and "war hero" among them). But he's obviously concluded that he's not going to stand there motionless as he watches a called third strike. And I applaud McCain for that.

The opening splash of the Palin announcement has been all I'd hoped it might be, and I thought she was terrific at the rally. And something that just thrilled me, that hit me at a very emotional level, was at the very end of her prepared remarks, when she turned to face McCain again and shake his hand. You couldn't hear her over the music and the roar of the crowd. But you could very distinctly see her lips say to John McCain the words, "Thank you, sir!"

Oh, my! A national candidate who doesn't just profess humility, but actually still possesses it, and who displays unselfconscious respect for the older generation of which McCain is a part! What a fine, fine thing, that "sir" — as she thanked McCain for giving her this chance, for taking a risk on her. And you could see in her face the determination to do her very best not to let him down.

Oh, that's good stuff. That's so American. That's "Put me in Coach, and get me the ball!" Notwithstanding her stress fracture in her foot, when the other team fouls her, she'll sink the free-throws to score the game's final points to clinch the state championship. And yeah, that's what actually happened to Sarah Palin in her senior year of high school.

So now, she has to perform, figuratively and literally. She will not shrink from the challenge. The glare will be harsh, the microscope will be cranked down, and some of the interlocutors will not be acting in good faith. But most of the American public will be watching in good faith, and many of them will find her easy to identify with.

Let Sarah Palin win over the Charles Krauthammers and the David Frums. Let her win over the skeptics of all stripes and colors. Let us, who are already her admirers, avoid alienating those skeptics in the meantime. I do not expect a pitch-perfect, error-free performance from her on every day between now and the election. But I believe that the basic qualities that have brought her conspicuous success in Alaska will bring her success on a national stage too, not overnight, but over time. To finish horribly mixing my metaphors: This isn't her first rodeo, it's just her biggest.

In the meantime, abide by her, and with the skeptics. They're not bad people, they're just unconvinced. Let Sarah convince them.

Posted by Beldar at 08:33 PM in 2008 Election, McCain, Palin, Politics (2008) | Permalink


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(1) Patrick made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 8:50:01 PM | Permalink

But, she doesn't have 30 years in the Senate!

If a measure of someone's readiness is how long they've been sipping martinis with fatcat lobbyists, I'll say this representative republic has outlived it's lifespan and bid you a good night.

(2) arb made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 9:42:27 PM | Permalink

"But, she doesn't have 30 years in the Senate!"

Thank God.

To McCain, we should all say, "Thank you, sir."

We'll wait, we'll see...

(3) Jamie Irons made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 9:44:26 PM | Permalink


Your posts on Sarah Palin have been superb.

You are more patient than I am (and it is probably to your credit) with these conservative doubters. I am especially surprised that Krauthammer -- whom I geatly esteem, and who is, like me, a highly perceptive psychiatrist ;-) -- is not picking up on the power of this woman.

Jamie Irons

(4) The Ancient Mariner made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 10:11:30 PM | Permalink

I have to disagree on one thing: I don't think Sarah Palin is a risky choice. I don't think choosing her risks anything at all, in fact, because I don't think any of the other possible choices would have given John McCain a real shot to begin with. There's a lot to like about Tim Pawlenty, no doubt, but in the end, I think a McCain/Pawlenty ticket would have gone down about as you described Dole/Kemp.

(5) DRJ made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 10:42:07 PM | Permalink

Odds are that when Palin finally wins the doubters over, and I bet she will, they be her biggest admirers.

(6) Jim Treacher made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 11:10:27 PM | Permalink

I'm trying to resist the urge to... what's the word? Oh yes: Hope. I'm trying to resist the urge to hope. But if the past 36 hours are any indication, Palin is a very, very good choice.

(7) slarrow made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 11:30:37 PM | Permalink

Beldar, thanks so much for the great info on Sarah Palin. I will be bad and mention that it was Rick Brookhiser, whom I otherwise greatly respect, who threw out that ridiculous "need a new base" line. In his and the reactions of some of the others you've mentioned, I am getting a bit of an echo of the Harriet Miers vibe: "I don't recognize these as qualifications, therefore they are not qualifications." It doesn't line up with their field of study, and they don't quite recognize the parochialism in their response.

Here's perhaps the unspoken element that may be behind some of this new enthusiasm: we've now got something to fight for on our side. We on the right have been pretty dispirited lately: whether it's pork, poor presidential communication skills, the burden of justifying Iraq against the rantings of the insane, or the nomination of a man who votes conservative but crusades liberal, something keeps happening to reduce our desire to defend our side.

But this Long Bomb (not Hail Mary) by McCain opens up the field. It shows he's looking beyond this election. It shows he's willing to shake up and rebrand his own party (oil, fiscal responsibility, and anti-corruption.) It gives us the chance to show the phoniness of the Democrats: that only liberal women count as women, that the promise of change is more important than the proof of change, that they choose Chicago-style patronage over Palin-style party reform.

Finally, it gives us the chance to attack, not just defend, and I want to attack the other side. I am sick and tired of hearing them lie and lie about what's happened over the past eight years and get away with it. I frankly didn't feel like manning the walls for the party of Mark Foley, Larry Craig, and Don Young. But for a party of Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and a revitalized McCain who's laying booby traps for Obama (celebrity ads and the like)--not only am I willing to fight, I'm looking to enjoy it! This might actually be a fun election!

Let's go long!

(8) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 11:45:06 PM | Permalink

Well, slarrow, since you've called Mr. Brookhiser out by name, I ought now provide a link too. I'll also note that I share your general regard for him, and that he finished his post with: "May I be so wrong that a hundred harpies will pluck my eyeballs," after which Peter Robinson quipped "If my inbox is any indication, don't look up. The harpies are already circling."

(9) PierreLegrand made the following comment | Aug 31, 2008 3:21:22 PM | Permalink

Sorry Beldar but I don't roll the way you want me to. It is ON with Rick Brookhiser. That Jackalope is calling for a new base if the current base is so thrilled with Palin because she is so much like us. Well kiss my ass Rick...but the establishment is part of the problem and I am not willing to only ascribe the problem to the Democrats. Maybe we need a new elite...

Posted on my blog about the irony of using the ideas of Marxists like Brookhiser does in his post

(10) M. Simon made the following comment | Sep 1, 2008 2:00:04 PM | Permalink

I think they should have a new base. I think about five people should do it.

Once we have that covered we can get a new elite.

Power the the People.

Or as we used to say"

STP - Serve The People.

(11) David made the following comment | Sep 7, 2008 1:05:30 PM | Permalink

Palin doesn't need to answer the questions of the liberal MSM press.

She obviously love Jesus and America more than they could ever know.

Leave Sarah alone!

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