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Palin vs Reagan

Steve Chapman notices the stark difference:

Who needs policy? In her world -- and the world of legions of conservatives who revere her -- the persona is the policy. Palin is beloved because she's (supposedly) just like ordinary people, which (supposedly) gives her a profound understanding of their needs.

That attitude used to be associated with the left, which claimed to speak for the ordinary folks who get shafted by the system.

Logic and evidence about policy, to many liberals, were less important than empathy and good intentions. Now it's conservatives who think we should be guided by our guts, not our brains.

Palin is the embodiment of this approach, never imagining that knowledge and reflection might be of more value than instinct. When Oprah asked if she had felt any doubts about her readiness to be vice president -- which requires the readiness to be president -- Palin replied breezily, "No, no -- I didn't blink. I felt quite confident in my abilities, in my executive experience, knowing that this is an executive administrative job." (The audience tittered.)

Contrast that with Reagan, who after learning of his victory on election night 1980 told his supporters, "There's never been a more humbling moment in my life."

And I, of course, think of Thatcher, whose example helped make me a conservative, and her total grip of policy detail, and her fascination with ideas and history, and her degree in chemistry from Oxford and her training as a lawyer, and years in diligent opposition and government, and her willingness to take on and argue with anyone, and to never quit anything.

And I silently weep that the right has been reduced to this absurd fantasist know-nothing who believes her ignorance is her selling point. It is worse than a descent. It is an abyss.

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