Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hardly a Rhino

Thick skinned?

She keeps using those words. I do not think they mean what she thinks they mean.

Sarah Palin, of course, who remembers every slight, no matter how small (or at least no matter how small it started -- she generally has never met a slight she couldn't embellish and exaggerate).

Yeah, I know, we all know this stuff, but why not, one more time. After all, she's still some sort of major political figure.

The occasion for it this time is an unusually open but typically self-pitying interview with the BBC. As usual, she is quick to point out how thick-skinned she is...followed by a recitation of grievances, although to be fair she was prompted and, really, egged on by the reporter. The "Africa is a continent" thing. The "censored books when she was mayor" thing. And she's quick to go to the "Trig isn't my son" thing, although no mainstream politician nor anyone in the mainstream press actually says that (yes, Andrew Sullivan has raised issues about Trig's birth repeatedly, and in my view for no good reason -- but he's never actually claimed anything beyond that he thinks there's something odd about her story). The best thing is that the question is really a softball, asking about "criticism about...the ability to get your head around foreign policy." The obvious answer a thick-skinned politician would give begins with saying that she doesn't pay attention to that stuff, and then moves to some boilerplate about Libya, or Egypt, or Afghanistan, or whatever. To Palin, however, it's just a chance to drag out the personal criticisms again.

And you know what? She's wrong, too, about being unusually maligned. Barack Obama is regularly accused of hating the United States and deliberately trying to ruin it, among other things. Palin is accused of stupidity? No more than George W. Bush or Dan Quayle were. John McCain and John Kerry were both war heroes who were accused of cowardice or worse in battle. Bush was accused -- only by a fringe, but still that's a lot of people, some of whom are treated as if they were respectable -- of deliberately allowing the September 11 attacks, or worse. Bill Clinton was a murderer and a drug dealer. Al Gore was a liar. Ronald Reagan was a dunce and a warmonger. Hillary Clinton was...I don't even know how to get into it.

Yes, Sarah Palin has taken a lot of personal attacks, but that's par for the course if you want to be a national politician (or, for that matter, a national celebrity).

Of course, Palin's extraordinary sensitivity to insult could be all an act; one never knows with politicians. But...well, you know...I don't suspect she's hanging out with anyone from whose hat the rays of the sun were reflected in more-than-oriental splendor.

(BBC interview was via Sullivan. Kipling here)


  1. Great reminders of political reality. But you really earn my admiration in this post by referencing not only "The Princess Bride," but ALSO "Just-So Stories."

    Well done, sir.

  2. Thanks! BTW: It probably means something not very good about me, but I absolutely love it when commenters note such things (e.g. last week when someone mentioned the great Johnny Cash recording of "Hidden Shame." I'm sure it doesn't say anything good about me that I'm probably more careful to get these quotations exactly right than I am to get, say, judicial nomination statistics exactly right.

  3. "(yes, Andrew Sullivan has raised issues about Trig's birth repeatedly, and in my view for no good reason -- but he's never actually claimed anything beyond that he thinks there's something odd about her story)"
    Oh come one, EVERY conspiracy theorist says they're 'just asking questions'. I don't think you would give this much leeway to a birther/truther/Rosweller/Oswald-was-a-patsyer/etc. Just because Sullivan is sane 8 or 9 times out of 10 is no reason to cut him slack when he isn't; if anything it means you should be more vigilant because he's open to argument and because he's trusted by reasonable people.

  4. This is sort of like Donald Trump's recent declarations that if he's elected president, he will return respect to America.

    In other words, blowhards like Trump or Palin have a strange habit of taking the absolute last quality most people would attribute to them and simply asserting that they have it. This isn't the first time Palin has done this: the way she constantly harps about how experienced she is at governing is another example.

    When you hear them say these things, you're not sure whether they're delusional, or they're just saying it because they know it makes their opponents sputter.

  5. Anon,

    I've written before about Sullivan (who is a friend of this blog) and Palin: I think he's wrong to obsess about it. But I don't think a fair reading would be that he really thinks she's not Trig's mom, or that he's just hinting that because he doesn't want to really say it.

    But (and I know this wasn't your point) even if you interpret Sullivan that way...he's one blogger, even if he is a big fish in that pond. Compared to birthers, it's not even close: there's no state legislators putting in bills, no running joke or broad hints among Democratic politicians and pundits...I doubt if anyone other than Sullivan who has any audience at all has mentioned it in the last two years other than to bash Sullivan. Compared to "Clinton is a murderer" it's not even close.

  6. What you point out about Sarah Palin is in plain view for everyone to see. It's blatantly obvious to anyone with their eyes open. What baffles me is that this has to actually be pointed out to people.

  7. Palin's negatives were not insurmountable, for a real politician. A little reading, a few well placed interviews and media events, and her potential could have been enhanced.
    Yet, her inability to field criticism in a useful way drags her down, every time.
    Her instincts suck. Resigning from office- she had to, those lawsuits! Her first book and the fantastic wild ride story- how dare anyone question her?!
    My god- the reality TV show- don't you dare mention my family I paraded in front cameras at every opportunity!
    Every statement and reaction seems deliberately designed to piss off the very people she should want to win over- if getting elected again is her goal.
    The latest, comments to the BBC, she brings up stuff that, for a pol, should be considered ancient history. Yet Palin, after declaring she has thick skin, trots it out again.
    Only her hardcore base sees Palin as viable- and even sone of them wonder why their queen is such a complainer.

  8. Note to Andrew and anyone else who thinks Sarah "Babygirl" Palin will run for president: She won't. The work is too hard and the pay is too low. Press conferences and briefing books and staff meetings, oh my!

    And, has anyone noticed that Palin's most high profile GOP detractors (Rove, Frum et al) are either former White House staffers or cabinet officials? (full disclosure, I was a fairly high ranking WH staffer for Bush pere et fils.) No matter what you think of them, these folks know what the job of being POTUS entails and as a result, run screaming from the thought of "President Palin."

    I suspect Palin is actually entering her "fat Elvis" stage. Her base will continue their slavish adoration, the media will continue to report on this oddity but the rest of us will move on to the serious "hit makers."


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