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Now It All Makes Sense

Governor Palin’s every comment was scrutinized by the media and judged against what Jefferson or Lincoln might have said. ~Fred Thompson [1]

Yes, if not for the unfair Jefferson/Lincoln standard they imposed on her, she would be doing just fine.  Now we know why Palin has been doing so badly in those interviews–the standards we are using to judge her are just too high!  I don’t know how these sorts of arguments persuade anyone.  Perhaps they are not supposed to persuade, and are simply designed to fire up devoted followers.  That in a nutshell might describe the fatal flaw of Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign, except that his rhetoric always suffered from the serious flaw that it never fired anyone up.  What’s strangest about this sort of defense is that it presupposes a) the audience is really gullible and b) that Palin’s inability to handle mild, fair questioning on policy can only be explained by the media’s rigorous standards that set her up to fail.  At the Thursday night debate, this denial of reality or embarrassing apologetic will run head-on into a lopsided defeat.  Perhaps the purpose of commentary like this is to prepare the devotees for the inevitable humiliation.  They can then, like the [2]Ma’min [2], reinterpret the abject failure of their idol as a cunning, mystical path to the salvation of the world.  Could we please stop all this?

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7 Comments To "Now It All Makes Sense"

#1 Comment By DaveA On September 30, 2008 @ 6:20 pm

“all of ’em…any of ’em…I have a vast variety…”

— Sarah Palin, asked to name a newspaper of magazine she reads.

Yes. Please. Make. It. Stop.

#2 Comment By nathancontramundi On September 30, 2008 @ 6:39 pm

Jefferson or Lincoln?

Have I simply a complete ignorance of American history, or is this akin to saying, “As long as either apples or oranges would have said it, it’s okay.”?

I recognize that Jefferson supported the French Revolution, but he was, in many ways, as you, Daniel, have expressed, quite conservative; Lincoln (and maybe I’ve simply been brainwashed by certain elements of the paleo movement), on the other hand, was something more of a Jacobin who owed more to Hamilton than to Jefferson (notwithstanding, say, the expansionism of the Louisiana Purchase).

Does Thompson know what he’s talking about, or do I not know what I’m talking about?

#3 Comment By bayesian On September 30, 2008 @ 9:00 pm


I think Thompson was speaking more of rhetorical skills rather than substance. I don’t believe even his worst paleo detractors deny Lincoln gift for oratory, though I’m happy to be corrected on that.

Still, AFAICT speaking ill of Lincoln is still pretty much sotto voce among mainstream conservatives or whatever you want to call a/the grouping that includes Thompson.

#4 Comment By Pacific moderate On September 30, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

The sad thing is that the verdict wouldn’t be much different if Palin’s every comment was judged against what George W. Bush might have said.

#5 Comment By Daniel Larison On September 30, 2008 @ 11:22 pm

I doubt Thompson is likely to voice criticisms of Lincoln, whether or not he dislikes anything about him. National-level Republicans from the South sometimes go out of their way to say that they belong to the Party of Lincoln and to stress that they think this is a good thing to let you know that they not unreconstructed. That said, I think he was citing the two of them because they are regarded very highly for political thought or oratory respectively. Their political views aren’t the issue, but I agree that the two men certainly held very different views of government. Thompson may well know that, but that wasn’t his point. The idea here is that Palin is supposedly being held against the highest conceivable standards, which is not true.

#6 Comment By rawshark On October 1, 2008 @ 9:08 am

‘I recognize that Jefferson supported the French Revolution, but he was, in many ways, as you, Daniel, have expressed, quite conservative’

Whatsat? Jefferson conservative? The guy who wrote all men are created equal? Orwell would love to be alive in America right now.

#7 Comment By nathancontramundi On October 1, 2008 @ 5:26 pm


Re: Jefferson the conservative, see Daniel’s exceptional post here: