Kathleen Parker: Bonfire of the vulgarities
WASHINGTON — At first it seemed too weirdly awful to be true, but there she was: Sarah Palin standing next to Donald Trump last Tuesday and endorsing him for president.
Like previously conjoined twins who had shared a brain before Dr. Ben Carson separated them, these two anti-everything, post-lamestream media instigators presented themselves as political doppelgangers, a he/she, yin-yang, sis-boom-bah political marriage of the carnival barker and the bearded lady.
Step right up! Get your tickets! Bring the whole family! Bring your anger, bring your spleen, don’t let logic intervene!
The challenge for those of us in the observation business is to illuminate what’s plainly obvious without offending those who prefer not to see. But there’s no winning once passions are engaged and hating the messenger is a time-honored tradition. Even though it was, in fact, obvious in 2008 that Palin was out of her league, as I pointed out in a column, her fans wouldn’t hear of it. About 20,000 of them took time out of their busy schedules to send me an email expressing their displeasure (I’ve kept them all for nursing home share time). The whole episode was instructive in multiple ways, but most important, it foretold a dumbing down of the GOP that eight years later may prove irreversible.
Into a blizzard of irony gallops National Review with a “symposium” of opinions from noted conservative writers saying what must be said: Trump is terrible for conservatism (because he isn’t a conservative) and that populist demagoguery and vulgarity have no place in the party. You don’t say!
The irony, which is so delicious I may skip the chocolate sauce and forego the cherry, is that this same publication dropped my syndicated column not long after it ran my Palin column. Hoopla and all that. And now suddenly, the editors, one of whom all but telepathically dated Palin, are blind to the former governor’s charms, opposing her choice for president in the strongest terms.
One wonders only what took them so long to say what has been plainly obvious for months.
It must be difficult for some of these writers to go out on a limb like this and recognize in Trump what they were unable to see in Palin in 2008. Trump, to his credit, has managed to clarify matters for them.
Although Palin is a latecomer to this particular circus and thus not a likely factor in NR’s symposium edition, she does add fresh flair to Trump’s “I’m so great” monologues. Resplendent in a jacket shimmering with what appeared to be dangling spikes or nails, Palin reminded people of Trump’s “being the only one who’s been willing, he’s got the guts to wear the issues that need to be spoken about and debate on his sleeve.”
Grudgingly, I rather like the image of tiny characters debating on Trump’s sleeve. Forsooth, a duel?
Palin was equally descriptive as she established common cause with her audience, identifying all as “right wingin’, bitter clingin’, proud clingers of our guns, our god, and our religions, and our Constitution.”
Her erstwhile siren call was mostly siren, her formerly hopey-changey, winky-blinky charm turned cranky-wanky and shrill. “You ready for a commander in chief … who will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS ass?” she shrieked.
On the current administration’s foreign policy, she said, “We apologize, and then, we bend over and say, ‘Thank you, enemy.'”
Well, there is a certain leitmotif there that one could take pains to admire. Meanwhile, it looks as though Republicans may get what they deserve — a bombastic, bellicose, self-aggrandizing, mean-streaked, golf-cheating, bullying narcissist without plans or policies beyond his own, no doubt fickle, fantasies.
Once Republicans forced the party to take the governor of Alaska seriously as a vice presidential candidate, they opened a populist door that they’ll not easily shut. But the GOP really owes its thanks for current circumstances to John McCain, who, you’ll recall, spent a little over an hour with an otherwise unvetted candidate, and over coffee under a sycamore tree, decided to make her second-in-command should he win the election.
And now we have Trump, who has Palin, who has cemented the anti-intellectual, anti-“elitist” fervor of the Republican base. William F. Buckley’s conservatism seems headed for the door and National Review deserves plenty of blame. There is, alas, no one left to stand athwart history and yell, stop!