November 23, 2008
First they laugh at you, then they ignore you, then they fight you, then you win.
The chattering classes are doing their damnedest to quayle Sarah Palin, and I don't think it will work. Reason: She's not afraid of them.
Do you remember this SNL Weekend Update item from 1980? A campaign picture of Ronald Reagan appeared next to Jane Curtin's head as she announced, "Well, Governor Reagan said more dumb things today." That got a big laugh. Candidate Reagan had been characterized as gaffe-prone by the media, mainly because he said things that politicians just aren't supposed to say. Like referring to "welfare queens" or coining the phrase "government is the problem."
See, those in the Washington-New York media axis know that government is a font of sweetness and light, rather than corruption, waste, and indifference. They only consider a politician tolerable if he affirms their view. It must exasperate them that Republicans can't all be like Lincoln Chafee.
But they couldn't stop the Reagan bulldozer on its way into the White House, nor his landslide re-election four years later. Their chief weapons, ridicule and disregard, glanced off of him. He pushed back and his followers surged along in his wake.
By contrast, the commentariat handily dispensed with vice-presidential candidate Dan Quayle, who shared Reagan's skepticism toward big government. But Quayle entered the stage under the direction of a liberal Republican mentor who believed that if he played nice with the media, they would like him.
Unlike Reagan, however, Quayle never got to prove whether he had any sand. He said all the right skeptical things but didn't—or couldn't—respond when attacked.
After Quayle spluttered when Sen. Bentsen pantsed him on national TV, then misspelled "potato" before schoolkids, even those Republicans who wanted to defend him didn't see why they should. By the time the media got done with their workout, the punching bag hung empty.
Palin's history suggests she's a different breed. As I alluded above, she too entered the ring under a tamer of sorts, one who kept her from calling up the grit with which she uprooted the established players in Alaska. Now that she's on her own again, I expect to see Palin unleashed.
back in august, i outed myself as a reactionary when, as the details of Bristol Palin's pregnancy emerged, I wondered aloud what the harm was as long as boy weds girl? America needs more babies. I would like to think Palin felt the same way, as a woman who seems to value motherhood and didn't appear disappointed that her eldest daughter wouldn't be spending her fertile years competing with men in the workplace.
I'd have stood and applauded to hear her bark back at the media pack, "Why is this an issue? Are you afraid you won't know the joy of grandparenthood until you're 80?"
Cowards only chase prey that runs. That's why someone who stands toe-to-toe with them and swings right back—Margaret Thatcher, say, or Phyllis Schlafly—never gets invited to a fair fight. The opinion-mongers rely on smear-or-ignore tactics to marginalize conservative true believers, preferring to engage those who cannot or will not defend what they say.
In their face, Governor. From the moment you took the national stage, you've had 50 million hot-blooded American women as your Minutemen. That's what will make you an irresistible force in 2012. You're a target not because you're scared, but because they are.
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