The Spectacle Blog

Conservatives and Palin, Continued

By on 10.2.08 | 7:29PM

Matt Lewis responds, and I'll take on a few of his points.

He writes that, "here is where I think Philip misses it.  His analogy of Bush and Palin is a false one. Unlike my criticisms of Bush, the criticism directed at Palin has had nothing to do with philosophical reasons.  Instead, her unforgivable sin was in merely giving a few unimpressive interviews."

But that was precisely my point. If the criticism directed at Palin isn't philosophical, than how can it have any bearing on whether or not the person doing the criticizing is a true conservative?

Lewis also observes:

It seems to me that there are essentially three groups of people who have specific problems with Palin that has resulted in their resenting her.  They are as follows:

1.  Intellectuals -- I'm quite familiar with great thinkers such as Burke, Kirk, Hayek, Friedman, et al.  But I also have great admiration for men like Rush Limbaugh and Ronald Reagan -- both decidedly anti-elitist conservatives.  My suspicion is that much of the criticism of Palin is actually an elitist tendency to be suspicious of anyone who hasn't spent years working in government or academia. 

... It just strikes me as too much of a coincidence that Palin's greatest defenders have been men like Fred Thompson and Rush Limbaugh, while her loudest detractors have tended to be members of the conservative Intelligentsia.  Could it be that they view outsiders like Palin as merely rubes?

I don't think it's fair to say that Palin's critics "resent" her. Speaking for myself, I actually like Palin and think she's a fine governor of Alaska. However, that is a completely separate matter from whether or not I think she's qualified to take over as President of the United States on a moment's notice. I'm also a bit tired of conservatives dismissing honest criticism as somehow elitist, and I don't think such anti-intellectualism is healthy for the movement.

Lewis brings up Reagan. But if you go back and read Reagan's a 1964 "A Time for Choosing" speech, or, if you prefer something unscripted, his 1967 debate with RFK just a few months into his governorship, it reveals somebody who has a true philosophical understanding of conservatism as well as a person who has thought seriously about world affairs. He may have been anti-elitist, but he certainly wasn't anti-intellectual.

In any event, if Lewis wants to call people who criticize Palin "elitist," that's an entirely different question from whether or not they are truly conservatives.

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