This popular post was first published on December 1, here.
Joe Scarborough, former Congressman, current TV personality and more or less perpetual blowhard, has a slight piece in yesterday’s Politico in which he exhorts the GOP to man up and confront Sarah Palin.
Lord knows if anyone can show these pantywaists how to grow a pair it’s Morning Joe. This is a man after all flying in the face of danger, defying the well-documented love fest between Palin and the media, and giving her “what-fer” in a snotty, condescending hit piece. Those of us with wives and families can only shake our heads at such courage and count our manhood cheap.
Republicans have a problem. The most-talked-about figure in the GOP is a reality show star who cannot be elected. And yet the same leaders who fret that Sarah Palin could devastate their party in 2012 are too scared to say in public what they all complain about in private.
Enough. It’s time for the GOP to man up.
This is bold new territory for Politico, who haven’t explored the “Palin Bacillus Infects GOP ” theme for … days now and never before from someone who, like Palin, knows what it’s like to resign from public office, albeit for different reasons and a with slightly different body count.
The flashpoints for Scarborough’s wrath are an entirely imagined sleight of Ronald Reagan (in which Peggy Noonan’s lips hardly move at all) and Palin’s completely unrefuted description of the Bush family as “bluebloods”.
When Sean Hannity asked Palin whether being in a reality show diminished her standing to be president, the former half-term governor mocked Reagan’s biography, dismissing him as “an actor.”
It was Chris Wallace actually, transcript here.
Actually Peggy Noonan, whom Scarborough quotes and paraphrases at length, and whose righteous indignation is at least supported by decent sentence structure, puts it somewhat more harshly:
This is how she did it: “Wasn’t Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn’t he in ‘Bedtime for Bonzo,’ Bozo, something? Ronald Reagan was an actor.”
Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I’ll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president.
The point is not “He was a great man and you are a nincompoop,” though that is true.
So … Joe … Peggy… there is an alternative explanation you might want to consider. What if Mrs. Palin is fully aware of Ronald Reagan’s accomplishments, and has in fact rhapsodized on the man and his legacy numerous times, and is in fact employing a device called “irony”? What if she’s suggesting the same kind of braying asses who so woefully underestimated Reagan are underestimating her? No, that doesn’t mean she thinks she’s another Reagan. In fact, what if her sense of perspective and proportion puts the lie to the notion that she would ever “mock” Ronald Reagan?
While Scarborough’s tub thumping defense of Reagan, against no discernible attacker, is merely willfully stupid his righteous indignation on behalf of the Bush family is actively bizarre.
It all started of course with Barbara taking a gratuitous swipe:
Followed in short order by Palin backhanding one over the net with the observation that “bluebloods” like the Bush’s like to pick and choose the winners:
At this point any rational observer would chalk this up to zing/counter-zing with no substantive damage done to either party and move on. Scarborough, on the other hand, loses all semblance of coherent thought and embarks on a lengthy recitation of G.H.W. Bush’s unquestionably heroic and distinguished war record. The point of all of this, if one can be obtained, is Palin – by virtue of not having been shot at by the Japanese – shouldn’t have the effrontery to utter Bush’s name much less criticize him. This is of course staggeringly irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is that the Bush’s, like the Kennedy’s (who also had their share of war heroes) are bluebloods and do have a sense of patrician oversight. If Scarborough wants to argue the truth of that assertion he’s welcome to do so, but he’d best leave Guadalcanal out of it.
And now a point of personal privilege. I work hard every day to assume the best of Americans who engage in public service. But I am offended by Palin’s attempt to build herself up by tearing down great men like Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Small world Joe, I too work hard every day to assume that people who write articles for public consumption at least try to get a story right through application of facts, logic and basic fairness. The conclusions you arrive at can only be the product of cynicism, stupidity or both. Unfortunately I am neither offended nor surprised.