Sunday, July 12, 2009

The mindset of the GOP establishment - Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan, of Reagan era fame, represents the core GOP establishment. Her disgust with Sarah Palin is given full vent in a WSJ OpEd, though, as DeLong points out, she's completely oblivious to Palin's resemblance to both Reagan and George W Bush.
A Farewell to Harms - - Peggy Noonan

Sarah Palin's resignation gives Republicans a new opportunity to see her plain—to review the bidding, see her strengths, acknowledge her limits, and let go of her drama...
... She was a gifted retail politician who displayed the disadvantages of being born into a point of view (in her case a form of conservatism; elsewhere and in other circumstances, it could have been a form of liberalism) and swallowing it whole: She never learned how the other sides think, or why.

In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn't say what she read because she didn't read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn't thoughtful enough to know she wasn't thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. "I'm not wired that way," "I'm not a quitter," "I'm standing up for our values." I'm, I'm, I'm.

... The elites made her. It was the elites of the party, the McCain campaign and the conservative media that picked her and pushed her. The base barely knew who she was. It was the elites, from party operatives to public intellectuals, who advanced her and attacked those who said she lacked heft. She is a complete elite confection. She might as well have been a bonbon...
Bonbon Palin. Ok, so the GOP establishment has now declared war on Palin. I wonder if this is a prelude to declaring war on Limbaugh; I suspect it's a warning that he needs to join the Gingrich group as quickly as possible.

So far, so good. We need a respectable opposition party, and the Party of Palin would be a catastrophe. The more interesting bit of the essay, however, is the the conclusion. That's where Noonan outlines the bleak worldview of her cohort ...
... Here are a few examples of what we may face in the next 10 years: a profound and prolonged American crash, with the admission of bankruptcy and the spread of deep social unrest; one or more American cities getting hit with weapons of mass destruction from an unknown source; faint glimmers of actual secessionist movements as Americans for various reasons and in various areas decide the burdens and assumptions of the federal government are no longer attractive or legitimate....

It's interesting to note what the GOP establishment isn't worried about

  • Anything Christian fundamentalists care about including abortion and gay marriage
  • Global climate change
  • Peace and prosperity in China and India
  • Healthcare for all Americans
Instead they're worried about (I'm interpreting Noonan's dog whistles here)
  • Secessionism?! That would imply she's worried about American right wing terrorism, and the intolerable burden of Black President.
  • Bankruptcy?! Do the wingnuts in the GOP really believe that America will default on its debt obligations, or is this something they do to incite the lunatic fringe?
  • WMD: This is the one area where the GOP establishment is not completely out to lunch, but of course they have no useful options to put on the table.
So the GOP establishment wants to run on
  • Culture wars and Dangerous Black Men
  • Defense
Hmm. Why does that sound so familiar?

Update 7/13/09: Frank Rich has a good counterpoint editorial

… In the aftermath of her decision to drop out and cash in, Palin’s standing in the G.O.P. actually rose in the USA Today/Gallup poll. No less than 71 percent of Republicans said they would vote for her for president…

Noonan represents a small slice of today’s wrecked GOP.

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