Watching Sarah Palin’s canny performance at CPAC the other day—and particularly the moment she held up that Big Gulp in a Statue of Liberty pose after a provocative double entendre about her “rack”—two words came to mind:

Lenny Bruce.

In a lot of ways, the philosophical parallels are striking.

Like Palin, Bruce enjoyed sticking his finger in the eye of what we called the Establishment, then waiting for the yowls from the stuck. These days, the people who once claimed to be anti-Establishment are its gatekeepers, so the vitriol directed at Palin for being a 1950s ignoramus comes from reactionaries who trip over their own hypocrisy—which is an irony that wouldn’t have been lost on Bruce.

Lenny Bruce loved liberty, abhorred arbitrarily imposed rules and regulations, and wanted just to be left alone to make anyone laugh who chose freely to hear him.  He wasn’t to everyone’s taste, true—no doubt he isn’t to Sarah Palin’s—but that was the whole point.

Seriously, which of the following Bruce quotes wouldn’t roll trippingly (adjusting for certain modesty constraints) off of Sarah Palin’s tongue?

• In the Halls of Justice the only justice is in the halls.

• The liberals can understand everything but people who don’t understand them.

• Communism is like one big phone company.”

• The ‘what should be’ never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no ‘what should be,’ there is only what is.

• If you can’t say ‘F***’ you can’t say, ‘F*** the government.

• Liberals will buy anything a bigot writes. In fact, they really support hate mongers. George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party, is probably a very knowledgeable businessman with no political convictions whatsoever. He gets three bucks a head and works the mass rallies consisting of nothing but angry Jews, shaking their fists and wondering why there are so many Jews there.

There is, though, one huge difference between Sarah Palin and Lenny Bruce: Unlike Bruce, the former governor isn’t going to self destruct.  She’ll survive and prosper, if only to keep driving her critics insane.