It's a fight between talk radio right and the Washington punditariat. On one side, we have Will, Krauthammer, Frum, Wehner. On the other, we have Rush and now Levin. On his Facebook page, Levin has posted a lengthy defense of Sarah Palin that includes the favorite trick of noting that Ronald Reagan was also widely criticized before he ran for president:
As a Reaganite pre-dating Reagan's 1976 candidacy, the contempt for Palin does, in fact, remind me of the contempt some had for Reagan, especially from the media and Republican establishment, although no comparison is exact.
It's the high-water mark of absurd Reagan nostalgia: the way people criticize you reminds me of how different people criticized him more than 30 years ago. Ergo, you must be worth defending! Even more shoddy than the logic is the absurdity of a self-described foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution eliding the manifold differences between that president and the failed vice-presidential candidate from Alaska. As noted by Jaime at Federalist Paupers, Reagan gave this speech in 1964:
How you react to that speech probably depends on your larger opinion of Reagan, but it should be plain to everyone that 16 years before he ran for president, he was giving speeches many times more substantive and intellectually serious than any speech Palin has ever given. Equally obvious is that he served two successful terms as the governor of the most populous state in the nation, as opposed to a half-term running Alaska.
Jaime also notes that "not once does Levin defend Palin by pointing out her virtues, he simply points out the flaws of her attackers." That isn't a surprise. The man is incapable of insightful constructive commentary. One of the weakest part of his flawed book Liberty and Tyranny is the weak attempt at a positive agenda near the end. But this is an uptick in the conservative civil war over Palin:
1. As I demonstrated last week, remarkably George Will missed the Reagan Revolution not only in 1976 but as late as 1980. In the 1979 Republican Presidential Primary, his first choice was Howard Baker, his second choice was George H. W. Bush, and his third choice was Reagan. Not until days before the 1980 general election did he write on November 3, 1980 that Reagan deserved election. For all his wonderful columns, the Republican electorate better understood the needs of the nation and the excellence of a potential Reagan presidency than Will. It is hard to believe he was so wrong about a matter of such great import, despite Reagan's presence on the national scene for many years.
2. Charles Krauthammer was not only wrong about Reagan, as late as 1980 he was a speech-writer for Vice President Walter Mondale. Krauthammer, like Will, not only missed the significance of the Reagan candidacy, but was putting words in the mouth of a terribly flawed politician from a philosophical perspective. I certainly do not begrudge, but in fact encourage, liberals becoming conservatives or Democrats becoming Republicans. Reagan was a Democrat who famously changed parties. But I do not believe that individuals touted by a left-wing "news" site as two of the leading conservative intellectuals, who stunningly opposed Reagan's candidacy while both were of mature age and mind, are necessarily reliable barometers in this regard. The "non-intellectual" voters knew better.
He goes on to criticize George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Frum, and Wehner. Remember that Levin is one of those conservative movement loyalists who at other times has attacked people for criticizing their fellow conservatives. But apparently Sarah Palin and "non-intellectualism" is a sufficiently important cause to suspend that rule.
Most remarkable about all this is that Levin is defending Palin and comparing her to Reagan shortly after having insisted that Mitch Daniels, a fiscal conservative and successful governor, isn't presidential. Go figure.