(Originally posted 5/11/11, but lost in the Big Blogger Blackout of 2011, brought back to life courtesy of the Restore Honor and Sanity (and missing Legal Insurrection posts) Project)
Zero tolerance is my position on cheap shots at Sarah Palin from the right.
I don’t expect people to like her or support her, but piling on is unforgivable to me because it just feeds the mainstream media, entertainment industry, and left-blogosphere beasts who will turn with a fury on whichever candidate Republicans nominate.
Which brings me to John Podhoretz’s post at Commentary, Palin and the Curse of a Thin Skin, in which Podhoretz compares Palin’s career to the drug addicted self-destruction of former Yankee Darryl Strawberry.
Podhoretz threw that epithet on the pile in reaction to a fairly predictable piece by Joshua Green in The Atlantic. (Green, by the way, was featured in an earlier post by me when he accused Herman Cain of running “mildly racist” commercials when Cain headed Godfather’s Pizza.)
The thrust of Green’s lengthy post was that Palin had only herself to blame for the reaction to her; if only she had been nicer Democrats, the media, and Hollywood would have liked her more. It is a delusional conclusion because it does not address the phenomenon of Palin Derangement Syndrome.
I expect it from Joshua Green, who seeks to drive traffic to The Atlantic now that Palin basher No.1 (Andrew Sullivan) has left for The Daily Beast. Indeed, Green brags at The Atlantic how there were 150,000 hits on his Palin hit piece. Green also uses Podhoretz’s post as confirmation of the Green’s own reasonableness, calling Podhoretz’s use of the Darryl Strawberry analogy “the best political epitaph for Palin.”
In his post Podhoretz links to an earlier piece by Yuval Levin at Commentary (added, to which I linked when it was written) which pretty accurately described the irrational, hateful, deranged reaction to Palin’s nomination:
Palin was assigned every view and position the Left considered unenlightened, and the response to her brought into the light all manner of implicit liberal assumptions about cultural conservatives. We were told that Palin was opposed to contraception, advocated teaching creationism in schools, and was inclined to ban books she disagreed with. She was described as a religious zealot, an anti-abortion extremist, a blind champion of abstinence-only sex education. She was said to have sought to make rape victims pay for their own medical exams, to have Alaska secede from the Union, and to get Pat Buchanan elected President. She was reported to believe that the Iraq war was mandated by God, that the end-times prophesied in the Book of Revelation were nearing and only Alaska would survive, and that global warming was purely a myth. None of this was true.
Her personal life came under withering assault as well. Palin’s capacity to function as a senior elected official while raising five children was repeatedly questioned by liberal pundits who would never dare to express such views about a female candidate whose opinions were more congenial to them. Her teenage daughter’s pregnancy was splattered all over the front pages (garnering three New York Times stories in a single day on September 2). Some bloggers even suggested her youngest child had not issued from her, but from her daughter instead, and that she had participated in a bizarre cover-up. I attended a gathering in Washington at which a prominent columnist wondered aloud how Palin could pursue her career when her religious beliefs denied women the right to work outside the home.
Palin became the embodiment of every dark fantasy the Left had ever held about the views of evangelical Christians and women who do not associate themselves with contemporary feminism, and all concern for clarity and truthfulness was left at the door.
Levin was critical of Palin in the end for many of the same reasons he was critical of McCain, but Levin did not sink to cheap shots.
So back to Podhoretz, here is the summary paragraph (emphasis mine):
In some ways, the story of Palin is a story of temptation. Rather than sticking to her guns and deepening her political credentials and her knowledge base, she embraced her celebrity instead. And in doing so, she didn’t defeat her critics and enemies; she capitulated to them. Listen, it’s her life and her fortune and she is free to do what she wishes with it. And there’s no telling what the future holds for anyone in America. But she had and has more raw political talent than anyone I’ve ever seen, and, alas, as phenoms go, it looks like she is headed for a Darryl Strawberry-like playing career.
Podhoretz’s explanation, much like that of Green, pays only passing attention to the unprecedented and relentless attacks on Palin since the moment she was nominated. Attacks joined in with glee from a broad swath of the media, and most importantly, the entertainment industry which to this day cannot resist mocking Palin.
Rather than a thin skin, Palin showed a mental toughness which few if any politicians could muster in the face of the cultural, political and journalistic forces aligned against her from the get-go.
By using the analogy of the Darryl Strawberry, who truly self destructed from drug addiction, Podhoretz not only uses a bad analogy, he piles on with a cheap shot.
And I have zero tolerance for that.