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Idiocracy in the Beltway: David Broder's Mad Crush on Sarah Palin

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David Broder, Washington Post columnist and "dean" of the Beltway press corps, may or may not be a moron but certainly writes and says more than his share of moronic things. I realize that he's been there a long time and that some think he's deserving of respect for his longevity, and that some even buy into his idiotic faith in bipartisanship, which really means Republican-friendly centrism, and that some of his admiring peers think he stands above the partisan fray, which allows them to think ever so highly of themselves, but Broder continues to prove that he doesn't have a clue, and that he is so enamored of himself and his supposed above-the-frayness that he has lost contact, if he ever had it, with what is going on both within the Beltway and without.

Take, for example, his latest piece, a love letter to Sarah Palin in the wake of her speech to the teabaggers in Nashville last weekend:

The snows that obliterated Washington in the past week interfered with many scheduled meetings, but they did not prevent the delivery of one important political message: Take Sarah Palin seriously.

Her lengthy Saturday night keynote address to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville and her debut on the Sunday morning talk show circuit with Fox News' Chris Wallace showed off a public figure at the top of her game -- a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself, even with notes on her palm.

This was not the first time that Palin has impressed me...

Blessed with an enthusiastic audience of conservative activists, Palin used the Tea Party gathering and coverage on the cable networks to display the full repertoire she possesses, touching on national security, economics, fiscal and social policy, and every other area where she could draw a contrast with Barack Obama and point up what Republicans see as vulnerabilities in Washington.

It's hard to believe he's serious, but it goes on:

This is a pitch-perfect recital of the populist message that has worked in campaigns past. There are times when the American people are looking for something more: for an Eisenhower, who liberated Europe; an FDR or a Kennedy or a Bush, all unashamed aristocrats; or an Obama, with eloquence and brains.

But in the present mood of the country, Palin is by all odds a threat to the more uptight Republican aspirants such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty -- and potentially, to Obama as well...

Those who want to stop her will need more ammunition than deriding her habit of writing on her hand. The lady is good.

Where to begin? Or... why bother?

Palin is good at what? Reciting the most simplistic of right-wing Republican talking points? Being all folksy and supposedly charming by ridiculing anything and everything smacking of intelligent thought? I'll let Steve Benen step in:

Broder's column, much like Palin's speeches, is devoid of all substance. He didn't, and couldn't, point to a single idea, proposal, or achievement the right-wing Alaskan has presented that has even an inkling of value. On the contrary, Broder seems to suggest that Palin deserves accolades precisely because she has no real interest in ideas, proposals, or achievements. She's at the "top of her game," the columnist argues, not because Palin has any idea what she's talking about, but because she can "sell herself."

What Broder neglects to mention is that this deliberately know-nothing approach to politics during challenging times is a recipe for an idiocracy. To maintain American preeminence in the 21st century, the country must resist the urge to celebrate stupidity, whether Broder is "impressed" by it or not.

Idiocracy... that's the right word for David Broder's media establishment, and for Sarah Palin's GOP, not to mention for the whole Tea Party "movement."

There's nothing "pitch-perfect" about Sarah Palin. Conservatives love her, and lust after her, not because she's a woman of genuine substance or a genuine political leader -- she's no Margaret Thatcher, I wrote at The Guardian last year -- but because she winks at them and doesn't look or sound like Rush Limbaugh or any of the other spokesmen for the extremism of their movement. She's the pretty, telegenic frontwoman for a movement that isn't pretty at all but rather is full of anger, bitterness, and resentment, fear, bigotry, and bile. In that role, she's just an empty vessel for all the venom they can feed her. She may yuk it up with the teabaggers and the Fox News clan, but that doesn't make her a lovable and beloved political figure, and it doesn't mean she can make extremist right-wing politics any more palatable to Americans.

What's funny, though, is that Broder is just plain wrong about Palin being representative of "the present mood of the country." As Creature reported earlier today, 70 percent of Americans don't think she's qualified to be president. A further look at the numbers reveals just what a marginal figure she is:

The Post reports just 45% of conservatives consider Palin qualified to move into the Oval Office. Last November, 66% of conservatives said she was qualified.

Only 37 percent of Republicans have a "strongly favorable" view of Palin. Among all Americans, her overall favorable/unfavorable split is 37/55, the lowest it's been since ABC and the Post added her to national polls in Sept. 2008, when John McCain made Palin his running mate on the GOP ticket.

"Although Palin is a tea party favorite," the Post reports, "her potential as a presidential hopeful takes a severe hit in the survey."

In other words, Palin isn't even terribly popular with her own party. She's just popular with the right-wing fringe. To be sure, that fringe is taking over her party and becoming more and more its mainstream, and so she remains a major player in the GOP -- I'm not denying that -- but it is ridiculous to think that her appeal is so broad as to make her the incarnation of the Zeitgeist, the true populist alternative to elitists like Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Obama.

And what's also ridiculous is to think that David Broder actually knows what he's talking about.

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)