In Des Moines this past weekend, Sarah Palin gave a speech, and at long last the vultures began to circle. “A tragedy,” declared Joe Scarborough, on Morning Joe; “bizarro,” ajudged the London Times’ Toby Harnden; “an interminable ramble,” said Iowa professor Sam Clovis. These, alas were among the kinder adjectives.
In the Washington Examiner, Byron York treated those who missed the address to a brutal dissection. First, he recorded, Palin subjected the crowd to an “extended stream-of-consciousness complaint about media coverage of her decision to run in a half-marathon race in Storm Lake, Iowa.” Next, she offered up some self-righteous “grumbling about coverage of a recent photo of her with a supporter” and a litany of “objections about the social media ruckus over a picture of her six-year-old son Trig.” And, finally, she embarked upon a “free-association ramble on Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the energy industry, her daughter Bristol, Margaret Thatcher, middle-class economics . . . women in politics, and much more.” All in all, York proposed, this did her no favors at all. Rather, the “long, rambling, and at times barely coherent speech, left some wondering what role she should play in Republican politics as the 2016 race begins.”
This, I think, is a good question, and one to which I have a modest answer: How about . . . none? Instead, Palin should leave the field to those who are in possession of genuine political aspirations, and she should refrain from treating the Republican party as if it were a little more than a convenient vehicle for her private ambition. In the meantime, conservatives who are finally cottoning on to the ruse should recognize that this Iowa sojourn was not an aberration or a blip, but the foreordained culmination of a slow and unseemly descent into farce that began almost immediately after Barack Obama was elected in 2008. So Sarah Palin has become Amy Winehouse? Of course she has. How else exactly was this going to end?
“It would be hard to say,” York observed drily, “that Palin’s 35-minute talk had a theme.” But, one might ask, “Do they ever?” For a long while now, Palin has not so much contributed arguments and ideas as she has thrown together a one-woman variety show for a band of traveling fans. One part free verse, one part Dada-laden ressentiment, and one part primal scream therapy, Palin’s appearances seem to be designed less to advance the ball for the Right and more to ensure that her name remains in the news, that her business opportunities are not entirely foreclosed, and that her hand remains strong enough to justify her role as kingmaker without portfolio. Ultimately, she isn’t really trying to change politics; she’s trying to be politics — the system and its complexities be damned. Want to find a figure to which Palin can be reasonably compared? It’s not Ronald Reagan. It’s Donald Trump.
—Charles C.W. Cooke. How deluded does one have to be in order to disagree with any of this?