I’m not going to link to Sarah Palin’s Washington Post op-ed on why unrestricted pollution should be allowed to destroy the planet. Let’s just observe that the Post’s habit of publishing this kind of material is part of the reason why, adverse consequences for a number of writers I like, I wouldn’t shed a tear if the Washington Post Company were to choose to shutter it’s money-losing newspaper and focus on its core competency in the field of standardized test preparation. After all, why does Sarah Palin have an op-ed on climate legislation in the Washington Post? Does she have scientific expertise? Economic expertise? Knowledge of the state of international climate negotiations?
Perhaps during her brief time in the public spotlight she developed a reputation for an unusually solid grasp of complicated policy details? Or is the idea that she’s known for being honest? A good-faith participant in public policy debates?
Well, no. And the fact of the matter is that the Palin op-ed actually fits very comfortably alongside the established norms of Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and Robert Samuelson—words on paper that are neither paid advertisements nor serious efforts to improve people’s understanding of the world.