Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist with whom I absolutely never agree, wrote the following this past weekend. I (gasp!) agreeâ€”and think it’s pretty brilliant …
We have seen Mrs. Palin on the national stage for seven weeks now, and there is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office. She is a person of great ambition, but the question remains: What is the purpose of the ambition? She wants to rise, but what for? For seven weeks Iâ€™ve listened to her, trying to understand if she is Bushian or Reaganiteâ€”a spender, to speak briefly, whose political decisions seem untethered to a political philosophy, and whose foreign policy is shaped by a certain emotionalism, or a conservative whose principles are rooted in philosophy, and whose foreign policy leans more toward what might be called romantic realism, and that is speak truth, know America, be America, move diplomatically, respect public opinion, and move within an awareness and appreciation of reality.
But itâ€™s unclear whether she is Bushian or Reaganite. She doesnâ€™t think aloud. She just . . . says things.
Her supporters accuse her critics of snobbery: Maybe sheâ€™s not a big â€œeggheadâ€ but she has brilliant instincts and inner toughness. But what instincts? â€œIâ€™m Joe Six-Packâ€? She does not speak seriously but attempts to excite sensationâ€”â€œpalling around with terrorists.â€ If the Ayers case is a serious issue, treat it seriously. She is not as thoughtful or persuasive as Joe the Plumber, who in an extended cable interview Thursday made a better case for the Republican ticket than the Republican ticket has made. In the past two weeks she has spent her time throwing out tinny lines to crowds she doesnâ€™t, really, understand. This is not a leader, this is a follower, and she follows what she imagines is the base, which is in fact a vast and broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot, actually, imagine. She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite. She doesnâ€™t seem to understand the implications of her own thoughts.
No news conferences? Interviews now only with friendly journalists? You canâ€™t be president or vice president and govern in that style, as a sequestered figure. This has been Mr. Bushâ€™s style the past few years, and see where it got us. You must address America in its entirety, not as a sliver or a series of slivers but as a full and whole entity, a great nation trying to hold together. When you donâ€™t, when you play only to your little piece, you contribute to its fracturing.
In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. Itâ€™s no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain, against his judgment and idealism.
By the way, watch this until the end. Pretty damn funny.