Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Transition

In today's American Conservative, Daniel Larison blogs the following (emphasis mine):

There are simply too many similarities between the traits that her admirers praise in Gov. Palin and the traits that they once praised (still praise?) in Mr. Bush, and I don’t see how anyone who looks back on the practical consequences of Mr. Bush’s time in office can look at Gov. Palin and her thin record and not see that by cheering her on so enthusiastically they are repeating the same blunder they made before. The claim that Gov. Palin’s character shows that she will be a good leader and would, if the occasion demanded, be capable of serving successfully as President seems to depend heavily on an assumption that Mr. Bush has also been a successful President, which at this point must appear even to his previous supporters to be an indefensible proposition.

All of the clues that Mr. Bush was the incurious, uninformed governor with few accomplishments to his name are presented before us yet again, and once more we are treated to strained apologetics on behalf of anti-intellectualism, down-home folksiness and the candidate’s way of life as superior or at least sufficient qualifications. We are seeing a repeat of Mr. Bush’s mangled syntax, trite talking point-laden statements and numerous blunders in interviews and public remarks, and we have been seeing the same aversion to talking to the press to avoid making more blunders, so how is it unreasonable or unfair to conclude from what little we have heard from Palin that she will prove to be an equally underwhelming leader once in office?

Short answer: It's not.

The same people who failed to recognize any of the 1000 signs that Bush would be a disaster, who voted for him twice, somehow now believe, without the slightest sense of irony, that they have correctly judged McPalin as worthy to lead (using the same measuring stick they used with Bush, no doubt). Um, yeah... sorry if I don't trust their opinion. These are the same people who chose Bush over Gore because they'd rather have a beer with him; the same people who chose Bush over Kerry because Kerry was easy to mock.

It used to be that you could at least respect conservative principles (whether you agreed with them or not). In fact, for years conservative principles were steadfast and constant while liberals flailed around, pathetically courting this special interest group or that, contorting themselves into some unrecognizable form, sounding like a bunch of whiny little bitches. Now the roles have reversed themselves completely.

Remember when conservatives used to detest and deride identity politics? Now apparently they only detest it when it's the identity of someone other than themselves.

Conservatism has become a vanity symbol; a shallow cesspool where the folksy folks can stand around and gaze lovingly at their own reflection. Conservatives now reject outright the same concepts of meritocracy they used to embrace; the world they want to live in is one where they never have to feel inferior for being lesser informed, lesser educated, lesser accomplished. Mediocrity is encouraged because it validates their position in life. They accuse people of being elite like they used to accuse people of being communist. And perhaps saddest of all, if you have the temerity to question or challenge them then you've automatically cast yourself against them.

Poor Larison... it must be a painful transition. He has good company in conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, though, who found out the hard way what happens when you go against The Herd:
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a traitor and an idiot. Also, my mother should have aborted me and left me in a Dumpster, but since she didn't, I should "off" myself.

Those are just a few nuggets randomly selected from thousands of e-mails written in response to my column suggesting that Sarah Palin is out of her league and should step down.

Who says public discourse hasn't deteriorated?

The fierce reaction to my column has been both bracing and enlightening. After 20 years of column writing, I'm familiar with angry mail. But the past few days have produced responses of a different order. Not just angry, but vicious and threatening. Some of my usual readers feel betrayed because I previously have written favorably of Palin. By changing my mind and saying so, I am viewed as a traitor to the Republican Party—not a "true" conservative.
Conservatism is dead. Long live conservatism.


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