Noonan Blasts Palin as a Talented Lightweight, Praised Same Qualities in George W. Bush
There’s some real zingers in Nooners’ latest Palin beatdown — especially the surgical rebuttal of the Kristol/Douthat "the snobby elites and the media hate Palin" spin.
But as always, Nooners indicts herself as well.
She was a gifted retail politician who displayed the disadvantages of being born into a point of view (in her case a form of conservatism; elsewhere and in other circumstances, it could have been a form of liberalism) and swallowing it whole: She never learned how the other sides think, or why.
In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn’t say what she read because she didn’t read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn’t thoughtful enough to know she wasn’t thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. "I’m not wired that way," "I’m not a quitter," "I’m standing up for our values." I’m, I’m, I’m.
Remind you of anyone? "I’m a war president," "I’m the Decider," "I’m the Commander Guy," "I don’t read newspapers." Does anyone think W. is thoughtful or a well-read student of the opposing view? Anyone think he’d have been president if he hadn’t been born a Bush? Nope.
But for Noonan, all those traits were just dandy as she gleefully anointed The Next Reagan.
Mr. Bush speaks of God and George Washington and Reagan, and the elites find it unsophisticated. But for many citizens it will be good to see in leadership one of such simplicity, grounded in such realities, respecting of such wisdom.
Mr. Bush, as we all know, has a tendency to mispronounce words, like a bright and nervous boy trying to show the admissions director that he’s well-read. His syntax is highly individualistic. He’s bouncy and affectionate and funny in a joshy way as opposed to a witty way. But he is, almost transparently, a good man…If he becomes president–when, I believe, he becomes president–he will drive conservatives to distraction with his tendency to think with his heart, and not his brain.
Speeches are the vehicle for philosophy. Interviews are the vehicle of policy. Mr. Kerry does talking points and can’t give an interesting speech. Mr. Bush can’t do talking points and gives speeches full of thought and assertion.
Philosophy takes time. If you connect your answers in an interview to philosophy, or go to philosophy first, you can look as if you’re dodging the question. You can forget the question. You can look a little gaga. But policy doesn’t take time. Policy is a machine gun–bip bip bip. Education policy, bip bip bip. Next.
If I worked for President Bush I’d say spend the next nine months giving speeches, and limit interviews.
Bush is a speechwriter’s dream in that he understands exactly how the White House speech vetting process works. Most presidents don’t, have to learn, and usually master it only after it’s damaged them. But Bush knows how a speech is created because he watched it on and off for 12 years during the administrations of his father and of Ronald Reagan, whom his father served as vice president.
As a personality and in terms of character Bush is, of course, more attractive than Gore—more “normal”, more genuine and authentic and good natured.
Americans do not think Mr. Bush has a persona to dazzle history, they think he is the average American man, but the average American man as they understand the term: straight shooter, hard worker, decent, America-loving, God-loving.
Nooners is, of course, right about Palin. But ever since Reagan and until W. shit the bed, she’s been telling us that that book learnin’ and philosophizin’ and answerin’ policy questions was the stuff of librul weaklings — not the stuff of Great Leaders.
Palin isn’t an anomaly. There’s a reason Republicans love her. She’s the perfect distillation of the Reagan-Bush conservative, the next logical progression, the newest, shiniest model.
Too late to break the mold you’ve so diligently polished over the years, Nooners.