What Palin's Detractors Don't Understand

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In anticipation of Sarah Palin's book launch (and the already hectic media frenzy) the former governor's foes are on the attack. Her detractors span the political divide. As rumors swell of a potential 2012 presidential bid, some conservatives worry she'll destroy the GOP, while liberals charge she's bad for feminism. But Melanie Kirkpatrick of the Wall Street Journal is fed up with Palin-haters of all stripes. In her review of Palin's book, she slams critics for failing to see a woman "whose views are more nuanced" than she gets credit for. Kirkpatrick's warm appraisal sticks out notably among the prominent journalists weighing in over the weekend. Below, a survey of Palin's prominent, recent critics followed by Kirkpatrick's defense:

  • "A Joke," says conservative David Brooks, who contemplated her presidential viability on ABC's This Week. In the interview, he alludes to rumors that Palin will host her own talk show: "She's a joke. I mean, I just can't take her seriously. We've got serious problems in the country. Barack Obama's trying to handle war. We've just a had guy elected Virginia governor who's probably the model for the future of the Republican Party... The idea that this potential talk show host is considered seriously for the Republican nomination -- believe me, it'll never happen. Republican primary voters are just not going to elect a talk show host."
  • She's a Populist Phony, writes Christopher Hitchens in Newsweek: "She cynically incites a crowd that she has no real intention of pleasing. If she were ever to get herself to the nation's capital, the teabaggers would be just as much on the outside as they are now, and would simply have been the instruments that helped get her elected. In my own not-all-that-humble opinion, duping the hicks is a degree or two worse than condescending to them."
  • A Serial Liar, writes The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan, who is currently compiling a list of Palin's alleged untruths and inviting her to write on his blog: "Palin is a delusional fantasist, existing in a world of her own imagination, asserting fact after fact that are demonstrably untrue, and unable to adjust to the actual reality after it has been demonstrated beyond any empirical doubt."
  • A New Style of Feminist Her Detractors Will Never Appreciate, writes Melanie Kirkpatrick in The Wall Street Journal: "Mrs. Palin's veep candidacy ignited fury on the left and much skewed reporting in the mainstream media. It is probably too much to hope that a book that begins at the Right to Life booth at the Alaska State Fair will inspire her critics to read on. But if they do, they'll find themselves in the company of a woman whose views are more nuanced than they were portrayed to be during the campaign... Through it all, Mrs. Palin emerges as a new style of feminist: a politician who took on the Ole Boy network and won; a wife with a supportive husband whose career takes second place to hers; and a mother who, unlike working women of an earlier age, isn't shy about showcasing her family responsibilities. She writes with sensitivity and affection about her gay college roommate, and she confesses her anguish when she found out that she was carrying a baby with Down syndrome. That experience, she says, helped her to understand why a woman might be tempted to have an abortion. This is not the prejudiced, dim-witted ideologue of the popular liberal imagination."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.