Just a week ago, some of Sarah Palin’s fans were attempting to give the former Alaska governor a little bit of the credit for Newt Gingrich’s second surge and his victory in South Carolina. Bill Kristol said as much in the Weekly Standard’s blog and wondered what would happen if she “really comes out for Newt.” While I think the evidence of a Palin connection to what happened in the Palmetto state seems to be more the product of the imagination of Palinites than anything else, there was no harm in allowing her to jump on the short-lived Gingrich bandwagon. But the quick decline of the candidate she seemed to be favoring appears to have angered the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, and the latest blast from her Wasilla Fortress of Solitude is yet another reminder why many conservatives find it difficult to take her seriously anymore.
In a posting on her Facebook page on Friday, Palin took aim at Gingrich’s critics with the sort of language that says more about her own lack of judgment than anything else. She claimed former Reagan administration officials who noted this week Gingrich was anything but a loyal soldier of the 40th president were engaged in a “Stalin-esque rewriting of history.” This is not merely nonsensical, it is illustrative of the defects in her own character and intellect that have led many of us who once cheered her rise to conclude that she has no business ever putting herself forward for high office again.
While Gingrich supported Reagan and Mitt Romney did not, those who pointed out the former speaker’s often petulant and negative comments about the leader of his movement were merely illuminating a little-known aspect of the truth, not “re-writing” it. For Palin to use that over-the-top rhetoric — in effect comparing someone like Elliott Abrams to a communist monster — is contemptible. For her to go on in the same piece to say Gingrich’s critics were employing “Alinsky tactics at their worst” shows again she understands little about either Saul Alinsky’s writings or history.
While Palin and Gingrich have little in common, the one characteristic they do share is hypocrisy. In her posting, Palin claims Mitt Romney needs to be “vetted” more thoroughly because Democrats will attack him in the fall. Yet she considers any attempt to give the same attention to Gingrich, a man with a freight train’s worth of damaging personal and political baggage that renders him unlikely to win a general election, to be above such concerns. According to Palin, examinations of his inconsistent record and leadership failures are examples of “the politics of personal destruction” and should be abhorred.
Palin complains that Romney supporters have attacked Gingrich from the left. But that is actually the tactic Gingrich has used. Indeed, Palin herself echoed some of those ill-advised barbs at Romney’s business career as she played to the mob. That she does so shamelessly and without even a trace of understanding of what she is doing is all part of the odd political persona she has constructed for herself and which limits her influence and dim chances of personal political advancement in the future.
For Palin, this is all part of a little self-destructive drama she has been acting out for years, since she flopped in 2008 when thrust on the national stage and then abandoned her gubernatorial responsibilities in order to become a celebrity. Gingrich’s attack on the so-called Republican establishment is an obvious ploy, as he is as much if not more of a Washington insider than any of his critics. But Palin really seems to believe the alleged “establishment” not only wants to control the party but also wishes to sabotage it. Incredibly, she even claims Republicans who support Romney and who have been leading the charge in the opinion pages and in Washington against the current administration while she spent the last two years doing nothing in Alaska would never attack Obama the way they attack Gingrich. She fails to understand that those that have pointed out the manifest shortcomings of Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul (whom Palin has gone out of her way to praise), have done so because they believe they have no chance to beat Obama.
Palin, who seems far more interested in burnishing her image than actually helping her party, manages to keep her name in the news every now and then with statements such as this one. But her problem is the more she talks, the more she reminds us why she has doomed herself to the margins of political discourse.