Yesterday, the most-viewed column at the Wall Street Journal was exactly what you’d expect — “In Defense of Sarah Palin,” with a snide subtitle to boot:
She understands that the U.S. has been a force for good in the world—which is more than can be said of our president.
Right. Because rejecting invasion as a force for good is tantamount to rejecting America as a force for good.
Podhoretz doesn’t muster much of an argument — it’s confined to these operative paragraphs:
[T]he derogatory things they say about Sarah Palin are uncannily similar to what many of their forebears once said about Ronald Reagan. [. . . .]
[T]he same species of class bias that Mrs. Palin provokes in her enemies and her admirers is at work among the conservative intellectuals who are so embarrassed by her. When William F. Buckley Jr., then the editor of National Review, famously quipped that he would rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the combined faculties of Harvard and MIT, most conservative intellectuals responded with a gleeful amen. But put to the test by the advent of Sarah Palin, along with the populist upsurge represented by the Tea Party movement, they have demonstrated that they never really meant it.
We’re not to exclude her because she’s dumb (which he concedes); we’re to hold her up as a model of democratic virtue. Because she’s dumb.
I’m going to break with precedent and make a stunning admission: to the extent that Bill Buckley, quoted above, argues that picking a politician because he’s smart is just as foolish as picking a politician because he’s dumb, he’s probably right. The electorate’s calculus ought to be more complex than to simply gravitate to the stronger mind — although it does make for a good tie-breaker. Similarly, though, the conservative tendency to embrace anti-elitist narratives has long since outgrown its usefulness as either a justified backlash, or an attempt to find a proxy for common sense — especially when, as in Palin’s case, the underlying value itself is nowhere indicated (seriously, to pick one example among thousands, where’s the down-home country sense in demanding that your child be born in Alaska, when making the trek means he may not be born at all?).
Thankfully, there’s every indication that Podhoretz is the last of a dying breed. Palin’s supporters decrease as fast as, and perhaps in direct proportion with, the number of moderates left in the Republican Party. Over attempts to salvage her reputation, the right continues to bleed anyone with a degree of intellectual credibility. At least it’ll make for a fun primary.