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David Brooks on Sarah Palin


From Monday’s New York Times, David Brooks (emphasis added):

Experienced leaders can certainly blunder if their minds have rigidified (see: Rumsfeld, Donald), but the records of leaders without long experience and prudence is not good. As George Will pointed out, the founders used the word “experience” 91 times in the Federalist Papers. Democracy is not average people selecting average leaders. It is average people with the wisdom to select the best prepared.

Sarah Palin has many virtues. 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.

Both of the italicized points are important. Note that she indeed took on “a corrupt establishment” to institute a MORE corrupt establishment, with worse governance. Note also that Brooks is laying the groundwork for his inevitable endorsement of McCain – McCain’s experience matters more than Obama’s vision, and Biden and Palin don’t matter as much. You heard it here first.

Either way in the same article, I think Brooks is wrong here:

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.

As a feminist, I think she’s not good for women, not that she’s not a real woman. Gov. Palin is bad for women because she doesn’t show the best of humanity, but the worst – the aforementioned excessive decisiveness, not to mention a sense of entitlement, not to mention the way she condescends to anyone who is critical of her opinions, not to mention the bad policies and lack of compassion. Note also that I’ve been to Wal-mart, but never to Tuscanny. Shame on you, Mr. Brooks, for playing this game. Moreover…

Look at the condescension and snobbery oozing from elite quarters, her backers say. Look at the endless string of vicious, one-sided attacks in the news media. This is what elites produce. This is why regular people need to take control.

The condescension is indeed “oozing”, but from the Republicans, towards those who ask people to sacrifice to make their country stronger. The attacks are anything but one-sided. See my previous post on the matter. The media has let the McCain camp call Palin independent when she is not, and let her make ad homenim attacks on Obama.

Luckily, Mr. Brooks backs off from this attack, if only because of his personal view of the last eight years:

I would have more sympathy for this view if I hadn’t just lived through the last eight years. For if the Bush administration was anything, it was the anti-establishment attitude put into executive practice.

And the problem with this attitude is that, especially in his first term, it made Bush inept at governance. It turns out that governance, the creation and execution of policy, is hard. It requires acquired skills. Most of all, it requires prudence.

What is prudence? It is the ability to grasp the unique pattern of a specific situation. It is the ability to absorb the vast flow of information and still discern the essential current of events — the things that go together and the things that will never go together. It is the ability to engage in complex deliberations and feel which arguments have the most weight.

Which is why I believe Obama is better, even than McCain – he takes on complex issues complexly, thoughtfully. He is of average people and has proved to be among the best of us, with high ideals for people around him and his country.

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Idealink by vijtable is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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