Brooks: Palin’s No Good


David Brooks has a very sensible column arguing that the mere fact that Sarah Palin pushes the right conservative resentment buttons doesn’t mean she’s a well-qualified choice to be Vice President. “If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman,” he argues, “but the constructive act of governance is another matter.” On this front, she doesn’t add up as “she has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.” This assumes, of course, that conservatives are interested in constructive governance which, I think, is not an important priority for most of the leading conservatives institutions, or the people who finance them, or the people who finance conservative politicians, or the politicians themselves.

Two complains. One is that since John McCain is the one running for President, it would be nice to hear Brooks’ view of what this says about John McCain.

The second is that in order to establish his conservative bona fides in this column, Brooks resorts to what I think is his least attractive quality as a writer — composing sentences that aren’t true that if I complained to him about he’d probably dismiss as jokes. For example:

Her followers take pride in the way she has aroused fear, hatred and panic in the minds of the liberal elite. The feminists declare that she’s not a real woman because she doesn’t hew to their rigid categories. People who’ve never been in a Wal-Mart think she is parochial because she has never summered in Tuscany.

Needless to say, Brooks doesn’t cite any examples of anyone doing either of these things. Doubtless because there are no examples of anyone saying either of those things. And, yes, yes Brooks was joking. But it’s a pernicious joke. As Brooks well-knows, the politics of cultural resentment are a powerful and real factor in American life. And they’re driven by a (false) sense that, among other things, there are people who’ve never been in a Wal-Mart who are sneering at Sarah Palin as provincial on the grounds that she’s never summered in Tuscany. Stating, contrary to reality, that this is what’s happening in Greater Bethesda needlessly pours fuel on the fire.