Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Brooks Makes Funny About Palin


As you may recall, David Brooks doesn't make factual errors - he makes jokes. And today's column has some real side-splitters about Sarah Palin:
McCain was meeting a woman who risked her career taking on the corrupt Republican establishment in her own state, who twice defeated the oil companies, who made mortal enemies of the two people McCain has always held up as the carriers of the pork-barrel disease: Young and Stevens.
The reality? When she needed him politically, Stevens endorsed Palin for governor. And now?
They came together this summer for a joint press conference on energy initiatives. Both support drilling in ANWR, and Stevens has lent tacit support for Palin's effort to build and pay for a natural gas pipeline through Alaska.

And Stevens went out of his way to compliment Palin this summer in interviews, saying she was on the right track as governor, praising her plans to handle the state's energy crisis and telling Alaskans she'd make a good vice presidential pick for McCain.

"People come up and ask me what is she like and how is she doing," he said. "I've been asked that, and I've told them I think she would be a good vice president."
With enemies like that, who needs friends?
And she has experienced more of typical American life than either McCain or his opponent.
Because "the rest of us" are former beauty pageant contestants who love nothin' better than a steamin' bowl of moose stew?

Off the printed page, Brooks offers even more rip-roaring fun:
She's evangelical, but she's pretty progressive on gay and lesbian issues.
We know she opposes gay marriage and domestic partnership benefits for gays, but unless we're to assume that Brooks views those positions as progressive... what's he talking about? (Perhaps its that "she's not out to judge anyone and has good friends who are gay", whatever that means.)
She's for drilling in ANWR, but she talks about global warming quite a lot."
Well, that may be true... but what is she saying?

Leaving his "jokes" aside, Brooks shares this concern about John McCain:
My worry about Palin is that she shares McCain’s primary weakness — that she has a tendency to substitute a moral philosophy for a political philosophy.

* * *

McCain is certainly capable of practicing the politics of compromise and coalition-building. He engineered a complex immigration bill with Ted Kennedy and global warming legislation with Joe Lieberman. But if you are going to lead a vast administration as president, it really helps to have a clearly defined governing philosophy, a conscious sense of what government should and shouldn’t do, a set of communicable priorities.

* * *

On top of [the problems in the Republican Party], he will have his own freewheeling qualities: a restless, thrill-seeking personality, a tendency to personalize issues, a tendency to lead life as a string of virtuous crusades.

He really needs someone to impose a policy structure on his moral intuitions.
But take a step back for a moment. If Palin's lack of a sound political philosophy should disqualify her from being Vice President, how can Brooks possibly be endorsing McCain for the top job? Also, what are we supposed to make of this:
There simply aren’t enough Republican experts left to staff an administration, so he will have to throw together a hodgepodge with independents and Democrats.
Does Brooks mean that, their having held the executive branch for 20 of the past 28 years, he sees the Republicans as having proved that there's hardly a competent manager among them? That they've run through the entire roster of potential managers, with one after another proving inept and incompetent? I would love to hear more.

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