Brooks Falls In The Tank

I have to admit that I was a little shocked at how much the Republican party welcomed Sarah Palin onto the presidential ticket.

I know this may strike some of you as politically naive, especially for someone who prides himself for political astuteness, but bear with me a minute.  When Governor Huckabee was making a serious run at the nomination, the animosity that was aimed at him from the Republican elite was palpable.

Huckabee represented what was wrong with the modern Republican party, and could foreshadow the death of the GOP as we know it.  Why?  Because here was a guy who, as likable as he is, just wasn’t ready.  Still, his stock was rising fast thanks to the fact that he had endeared himself to the socially conservative portion of the Republican coalition.

Huckabee was what happened when a party gets too beholden to a specific wing that refuses to look at the bigger picture.

And one of the first things I noticed were the similarities between Palin and Huckabee.  Both were incredibly charming, had little experience on foreign policy and therefore little trust among the neoconservative wing of the party, had little experience with money management and thus little trust among the fiscal wing of the Republican party, and yet both managed to really excite the socially conservative base.  Few who took an honest look at either realistically would say they had either the experience or the intellectual capacity to handle the multi-faceted job of being president, but they both appealed greatly to this potentially powerful bloc within the party.

Still, Huckabee was treated as a harbinger of death, and Palin was welcomed as a savior… at least at first.  Then you saw conservative commentators fall off the bus one by one, with the latest being David Brooks.  From an interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg:

[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Reviewfor Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he’d rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn’t think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I’m afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.

Reading this has the effect of watching a light bulb turn on right over Brooks’ hair peninsula; you kind of want to gawk at him and say, “You’re just now realizing this?”  I realize I’m probably speaking for myself here, but one of the most frustrating thing of the modern Republican party is how much it celebrates ignorance, how it frowns on intellectual curiosity.

I’m the kind of liberal that believes that conservatism is not itself inherently evil, and we need a little of both sides of the ideological spectrum to govern ourselves effectively, but you don’t get anything remotely like that from a party that cries “elitist” any time someone attempts to use their brain.  More so than George W. Bush does Sarah Palin seem to represent this.

But as I entitled the post, Brooks, doesn’t stop with simply trashing Palin, but goes on to actually sing the praises of Obama, going so far as to imitating Chris Matthews’ embarrassing, “thrill up my leg,” comment.  All of this makes an important point.

As much as conservatives decry the criminal liberal media, their own conservative commentators are integral in developing and spreading messages.  It’s the George Wills, David Brookses, and Kathryn Jean Lopezes that help build narratives and keep them alive, and when these voices for the right fall in the tank for the Democratic candidate, what happens next?

2 Responses to “Brooks Falls In The Tank”

  1. Steve M. says:

    Huckabee deviated from Reaganism/Thatcherism (we need arts education!), which is why he was disdained. He also didn’t bring the hate. Palin brings the hate and talks the government-is-the-problem talk, which is why they liked her. But she’s not moving the poll needle in the GOP’s direction, and that’s the reason — that’s the only reason — they’re shunning her now. If she’d pulled McCain permanently into a 6-point lead, they’d be falling all over themselves to explain why it’s good that she has no qualifications and no brain.

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