The Right Goes Rogue


It's necessary to recall that the nomination of Sarah Palin to be vice-president of the United States was a farce. As the Republican State Senate President of Alaska, Lyda Green, noted on August 30, 2008:

"She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president? Look at what she's done to this state. What would she do to the nation?"

Unlike the reckless McCain campaign, Green knew Palin and was from her hometown. The campaign subsequently proved her right. We discovered that Palin knew nothing even about energy policy and was incapable of keeping her stories straight on any number of matters, large and small. She was a cynical tool of cynical people, marketed entirely as an identity politics candidate to appeal to white conservative red staters. In a party where the number of serious figures actually trying to address policy questions can be counted on one hand, she relied on absurd slogans such as "Drill, baby, drill!" and ugly insinuations about "real America." Her emergence revealed that America is in a period of decadence and unseriousness, even as its decline as an economic and world power accelerated and its moral authority crumbled.

But the cynicism endured. We are asked to believe that she wrote a 400-page autobiography in two months. Although no one ever believed Harper Collins' Jonathan Burnham was actually interested in the content of books, this new contract and its absurd delivery date closes the case. Then we have John Fund this morning hailing the book as a sure-fire best-seller, and praising the rogue strategy against McCain. He is no doubt correct about the sales. But Fund is allegedly a serious figure on the right. His and his newspaper's capitulation to the Palin farce is another sign that just as Burnham believes publishing is simply marketing, so Fund believes politics is about what sells.

He reveals the contours of the next Republican presidential campaign, in which Palin will lead a cohort of Beck and Limbaugh dittoheads on a platform of a holy war in the Middle East, the restitution of torture as a core American value, and tax cuts in the face of massive and mounting debt. Here's what we will face in the future:

Ms. Palin was booked on grueling interviews with hostile reporters while talk-show hosts such as Glenn Beck couldn't even get through to her aides. Mr. Beck tells me he was stunned when he picked up the phone one day just before the election to discover Sarah Palin was on the other end of the line. "She explained that she had been blocked from reaching her audience, so she was now 'going rogue' and booking her own interviews," Mr. Beck told me. "I was thrilled she had burst out of the cage they'd built for her and we were finally talking."

Translation: we couldn't get enough infomercials on Fox, but next time we will. The days of open press conferences will be over as Palin narrow-casts only to the base. At the same time, you see the right urging a coup, while all but beating a drum for the assassination of the president, an event that would tip this country into a near civil war. In this climate, establishment conservatism for the most part is fanning the flames and pouring on the gasoline.

I always thought it would get worse before it gets better. But I never thought it would get this poisonous this soon.

(Full disclosure: Burnham published my last book, The Conservative Soul. I know whereof I speak.)