Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sarah Palin: The more we know . . .

Sarah Palin and Barack Obama have a couple of things in common. They both jumped into the national spotlight when they gave a speech at their party's national convention. Both have less on their resumes than would be ideal.

But after that, there's one powerful difference: the more you hear about Barack Obama, the more there is to like about him. He's got a great education, he has a strong work record that has prepared him a number of different ways for this campaign and for being president, he has great managerial skills and he's a damn good strategist.

The more we hear about Sarah Palin, however, the LESS there is to like. HuffPost rounds up some of the commentators - notably, some conservatives - who are not just disappointed with her, but angry at McCain for betraying their trust in him. Andrew Sullivan is nothing short of furious, and has been documenting her lies on an almost hourly basis.

There are almost too many shortcomings to repeat: she has almost no experience, she lies repeatedly, she's clueless about foreign policy, she's petty and vindictive. Etc., etc. She has inspired the base, but the longer this campaign goes on, the more liberals and moderates are not just upset, but thoroughly angry.

David Brooks sums up the issues very well today. Conservatism, he reminds us, once used to be unabashedly elitist, but has also had a strain of populism. Most important, Brooks reminds us of a very basic truth:

It turns out that governance, the creation and execution of policy, is hard. It requires acquired skills.
No kidding. Guess what, so is rocket science and neurosurgery.

This is why commentators like Brooks are turning on Palin: they have worked long and hard to get to where they are. They are elitists as much as anybody. So when Palin dismisses expertise and experience, she is dismissing them as well as politicians in Washington and the liberal elites of Hollywood.

I've said it before, and I will say it again. The right's enthusiasm for Palin erupted instantly and blossomed very quickly. She became a hero to many people over night. The reaction against her is building more slowly, but it is every bit as powerful.

People like David Brooks and David Ignatius are on the leading edge. By definition, they pay close attention to the details of political campaigns. It will take some time for all of these details to filter into the public consciousness. But the broad outlines of the narrative are being shaped. McCain's friends in the press are his friends no more. And they are read by millions of people.

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