American Right Wing Crashed-and-Burned Watch: Watching Sarah Palin
Republicans: The Party for People Who Don't Like Black People

New York Times Crashed-and-Burned Watch (Noah Milman on Ross Douthat Department)

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? Noah Milman:

Re-Entering the Palin-Drome: As someone who was quite enthusiastic about Sarah Palin for about 30 seconds, and then walked a long way back towards disliking her intensely.... I feel a certain obligation to make three points....

Point #1: There is an assumption running through Ross’ column that Palin, had she not been thrust into the arena too early and too quickly, might have developed into the kind of right-populist leader that the GOP really needs. That was, in fact, what I thought when I first heard of her (from Reihan, as it happens) some while before her sudden stardom: this looks like someone really promising, and... [McCain] needs to take a big risk because the safe choices aren’t going to do it, and she looks really promising. But it’s not what I think now, because I’ve seen how she actually performed. Ross is perfectly willing to say that she performed poorly. He doesn’t seem to be very willing to say that her performance reflects things about her fundamental character. Why?...

Point #2: The column, and Ross’ writing about Palin generally, treats her not so much as an actual person so much as a symbol, a personification of a certain type of person. There’s an expression for that: identity politics.... I’m surprised by the degree to which movement conservative politics in this country have become entirely the politics of identity, and the Palin phenomenon is the best evidence thereof. I think Ross should be against this trend....

Point #3: Ross is critical of the idea of meritocracy.... I’m interested, though, in how Sarah Palin represented a meaningful response to that idea. Meritocracy, in practice, means the selection of the “best and the brightest” for positions of power and authority, primarily by means of testing and scholastic hoop-jumping... “Mandarins.”... [T]here are alternative roads to power and authority... work[ing] your way up slowly through an organization... nepotism... "Talents”... who distinguished themselves by achievement in an entrepreneurial fashion.... Sarah Palin would, presumably, be one of this last group. But what, exactly, is her achievement, beyond her one election to the Alaska governorship?... [W]hat exactly is the great counter-meritocratic message that Palin purportedly embodies, and that Ross wants to salvage (presumably for some future candidate) from the wreckage of her brief career on the political stage?

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