17 October 2008

Candidates Dropping Their "G's"

From Peggy Noonan's latest column:
More than ever on the campaign trail, the candidates are dropping their G's. Hardworkin' families are strainin' and tryin'a get ahead. It's not only Sarah Palin but Mr. McCain, too, occasionally Mr. Obama, and, of course, George W. Bush when he darts out like the bird in a cuckoo clock to tell us we are in crisis. All of the candidates say "mom and dad": "our moms and dads who are struggling." This is Mr. Bush's former communications adviser Karen Hughes's contribution to our democratic life, that you cannot speak like an adult in politics now, that's too austere and detached, snobby. No one can say mothers and fathers, it's all now the faux down-home, patronizing—and infantilizing—moms and dads. Do politicians ever remember that in a nation obsessed with politics, our children—sorry, our kids—look to political figures for a model as to how adults sound?
But even more important than the descent in grammar, Noonan highlights the discomfort with Sarah Palin:
[W]e 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 I've listened to her, trying to understand if she is Bushian or Reaganite...
Palin, as impressive as she is in some ways, does not give one the sense she really knows what she is about; I've seen her answer questions (during interviews or at the VP debate) that demonstrated her confusion as to any genuine conservative position. Little wonder the old team from PNAC, now coaching Palin on foreign policy, consider her their "blank slate". In any case, Noonan pinpoints the problem with too many in the conservative movement today:
I gather this week from conservative publications that those whose thoughts lead them to criticism in this area are to be shunned, and accused of the lowest motives. In one now-famous case, Christopher Buckley was shooed from the great magazine his father invented. In all this, the conservative intelligentsia are doing what they have done for five years. They bitterly attacked those who came to stand against the Bush administration. This was destructive. If they had stood for conservative principle and the full expression of views, instead of attempting to silence those who opposed mere party, their movement, and the party, would be in a better, and healthier, position.

At any rate, come and get me, copper.
Oh, they will, Ms. Noonan. Expect it.

Elsewhere, Kathleen Parker echoes the same theme:
Like Buckley, I have enjoyed a decent fragging for suggesting that Sarah Palin excuse herself from the Republican ticket.

What gives here?

What does it mean that the right cannot politely entertain dissenting opinions within its ranks?
...

In 1955, when WFB announced his new magazine and explained the reasons for it, he described conservatives as "non-licensed nonconformists":

"Radical conservatives in this country have an interesting time of it, for when they are not being suppressed or mutilated by Liberals, they are being ignored or humiliated by a great many of those of the well-fed Right, whose ignorance and amorality have never been exaggerated for the same reason that one cannot exaggerate infinity."

Fast-forward half a century, and the old is the new.

Radical conservatives are still having an interesting time of it, though these days they are being mutilated by fellow "conservatives." The well-fed Right now cultivates ignorance as a political strategy and humiliates itself when its brightest sons seek sanctuary in the solitude of personal honor.

The truth few wish to utter is that the GOP has abandoned many conservatives, who mostly nurse their angst in private. Those chickens we keep hearing about have indeed come home to roost.
This reminds me of an old article by Austin Bramwell on why he was asked to step down from the Board of Trustees at National Review for daring to criticize the Iraq War.
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