Last week’s column, on the declining popularity of several of talk radio’s most prominent conservative hosts, seems to have ruffled more than few feathers. Even some readers who in the past have agreed with the Monitor virtually down the line took issue this time – but, interestingly enough, not on the subject of talk radio hosts.
No, the umbrage – ranging from polite demurral to vehement disagreement – was directed at a parenthetical comment about Sarah Palin.
“Really,” I had asked, “how many times in a given hour can a listener with an IQ above room temperature abide hearing how Ronald Reagan was a precursor of today’s Tea Party activists (he was nothing of the kind) or how Sarah Palin is Abe Lincoln in heels (she is nothing of the sort)?”
My take on Sarah Palin is similar to what I feel about talk radio. When I hear a snooty liberal trash Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Palin, I immediately get defensive and want to go to war because I’m inherently sympathetic to much of what Limbaugh or Hannity or Palin stand for.
But when I think about it rationally, I have to admit that Limbaugh and Hannity have become boring and predictable and at times a little careless with facts. (And I think Hannity actually had a better show on Fox when Alan Colmes was there as the putative co-host – it gave Hannity a liberal foil to play off of).
Likewise, while it pains me to write this because I appreciate her deep support of Israel and detest the barrage of attacks launched against her by the mainstream media from the moment John McCain introduced her to America as his vice-presidential pick, Sarah Palin is in no way qualified to be president of the United States.
People joke about Barack Obama being disconcertingly dependent on a TelePrompter, but he’s generally able to answer questions and talk off the cuff without making the listener cringe. Sarah Palin has a real problem answering the most basic of questions in even a semi-coherent manner.
Palin’s responses to interviewers make her seem vacuous and totally uninformed – if you disagree, there’s plenty of evidence available to prove you wrong on YouTube, where her stupefying responses to the likes of Charles Gibson and Katie Couric are available in all their gruesome glory.
While some conservative pundits were willing to break ideological ranks in the heat of the 2008 presidential campaign and question Palin’s credentials, it’s only in recent months, with the 2012 presidential contest coming into view, that there has been a really noticeable surge in publicly voiced anti-Palin sentiment on the right.
As the editors of the ConservativeHome website wrote last month, after making note of the various economic and foreign-policy crises facing the country, “[W]e need a strong, serious decisive leader on the Republican ticket in 2012. Let’s face it. Sarah Palin is clearly not that leader. She’s fun. She’s attractive. She’s appealing. She’s down-home. She’s got a populist vibe. She shoots animals. But she’s clearly not presidential timber. Not in times like these.”
Former Republican congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough (“Morning Joe”) asked, “What man or mouse with a fully functioning human brain and a resume as thin as Palin’s would flirt with a presidential run? It makes the political biography of Barack Obama look more like Winston Churchill’s.”
To conservative columnist Mona Charen, Palin “would be terrific as a talk-show host – the new Oprah. But a presidential candidate? Someone to convince critical independent voters that Republicans can govern successfully? Absolutely not.”
Janet Daley, a conservative columnist for the (London) Telegraph, wrote that “The virulent attacks on her from the liberal establishment [in 2008] reminded me uncannily of that mix of misogyny and snobbery which had been thrown at Margaret Thatcher, and if only for that reason, I was inclined to defend her. But enough is enough. She is not another Thatcher – nor is she another Reagan. She does not have the experience and substance of a Romney or the genuine warmth and charm of a Huckabee.”
The last word this week goes to George Will, who said that after 2008, Palin “had to go home and study, had to govern Alaska well. Instead, she quit halfway through her first term and shows up in the audience of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and other distinctly non-presidential venues.”
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org