Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Conservative writers disagree on qualifications of Palin; story says she tried to help dairy farmers

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin "is the ultimate small-town renegade rising from the frontier to do battle with the corrupt establishment," David Brooks writes in The New York Times. "Her followers take pride in the way she has aroused fear, hatred and panic in the minds of the liberal elite. The feminists declare that she’s not a real woman because she doesn’t hew to their rigid categories. People who’ve never been in a Wal-Mart think she is parochial because she has never summered in Tuscany. Look at the condescension and snobbery oozing from elite quarters, her backers say."

Those views support a serious argument that "regular people need to take control," Brooks says, but he takes issue with the populist streak that drives modern conservastism. "For those in this school, book knowledge is suspect but practical knowledge is respected," he writes. "The city is corrupting and the universities are kindergartens for overeducated fools." And he joins some other conservative commentators, whom he names, in suggesting that the former council member and mayor from a town of fewer than 10,000 is not qualified for national office because she lacks the prudence born of experience.

"Sarah Palin has many virtues," Brooks writes. "If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness. The idea that “the people” will take on and destroy “the establishment” is a utopian fantasy that corrupted the left before it corrupted the right. Surely the response to the current crisis of authority is not to throw away standards of experience and prudence, but to select leaders who have those qualities but not the smug condescension that has so marked the reaction to the Palin nomination in the first place." (Read more)

A different view is expressed in the editorial section of The Wall Street Journal, in Bret Stephens' "Global View" column and by Cathy Young, contributing editor at Reason magazine, who writes about why feminists hate Palin: "There are legitimate questions about Mrs. Palin's qualifications. And yet, like millions of American women -- and men -- I find her can-do feminism infinitely more liberated than the what-can-the-government-do-for-me brand espoused by the sisterhood." (Read more)

In the Journal's news pages this morning is a story by Jim Carlton about how Palin took the side of dairy farmers in their battle to keep open the state-operated, money-losing Matanuska Maid creamery in her home borough. She replaced the state board that ordered the creamery closed, but the new board had to close it again after the losses continued. "The candidate's handling of the matter has been fodder for some critics challenging her credentials as a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative," Carlton writes. "Supporters of Gov. Palin say she was motivated primarily by a desire to save the creamery's 70 jobs and help the handful of local farmers reliant on it. They say she helped keep the small dairy industry from collapsing by giving the farmers time to find new places to sell their products." (Read more)

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