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Anti-Palin, Pro-Ayers

Kathleen Parker on Sarah Palin:

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League….

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

Kathleen Parker on William Ayers:

“Palling around with terrorists,” as Sarah Palin said of Obama, gets to an underlying xenophobic, anti-Muslim sentiment. Using surrogates who strategically use Obama’s middle name, Hussein, feeds the same dark heart.

This tactic, denied but undeniable, has been effective with target audiences… Colin Powell on Sarah Palin:

And I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She’s a very distinguished woman, and she’s to be admired; but at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don’t believe she’s ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

Colin Powell on William Ayers:

This Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign. But Mr. McCain says that he’s a washed-out terrorist. Well, then, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship [sic] that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted. What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that’s inappropriate.

David Frum on Sarah Palin:

If anything were to happen to a President McCain, the destiny of the free world would be placed in the hands of a woman who until the day before [yesterday] was a small-town mayor.

David Frum on William Ayers:

Anybody who imagines that an election can be won under these circumstances by banging on about William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright is … to put it mildly … severely under-estimating the electoral importance of pocketbook issues….

Those who press this Ayers line of attack are whipping Republicans and conservatives into a fury that is going to be very hard to calm after November. Is it really wise to send conservatives into opposition in a mood of disdain and fury for a man who may well be the next president of the United States, incidentally the first African-American president?

Peggy Noonan on Sarah Palin:

This is not a leader, this is a follower, and she follows what she imagines is the base, which is in fact a vast and broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot, actually, imagine. She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite. She doesn’t seem to understand the implications of her own thoughts.

Peggy Noonan (with Chris Matthews) on William Ayers:

MATTHEWS: Imagine writing a history book, the election turned on who the guy hung around with, 20 some years ago. I tell ya, I always try to look forward, then look backwards. What were the causes of the war? What turned the election? What were the big issues that turned the election, and then look back and say, that’s a basis for judging. A big historic reason. You only get one vote.

NOONAN: But with only 30 days out what does it say that this is the topic? It says something weird…. It’s almost as if history will look back and say look at the point we were at and this is what they were talking about?

I do not accuse any of these people of approving of Ayers’ crimes. Some have denounced them specifically and him personally, and I presume the rest feel similarly. But just as the pacifists in World War II were objectively pro-fascist, anyone arguing that Ayers’ place in society or proximity to Obama is an inappropriate topic of political argument is objectively pro-Ayers. (And also objectively pro-Obama.)

Time was, you could count on Republicans and conservatives to support a pretty typical conservative politician for a slot on the Republican ticket, especially one with Palin’s obvious political skill. Time also was, you could count on Republicans and conservatives to acknowledge that terrorism is a legitimate—and in fact a pretty damn important—political issue. It’s interesting that there is a sudden rash of conservatives and Republicans espousing these two counterintuitive positions simultaneously. I think that there are two related factors at play in this coincidence:

First, the elitism that drives so many to disdain Palin also drives them to protect Ayers. Elitism is the belief that a certain sort of people should be given more respect than other people. Ayers is a son of privilege. He has a doctorate from Columbia. He is a Distinguished Professor. He writes books about his deep thoughts about the important issues of the day, books which have been blurbed by interesting and important people like Barack Obama. He lives in a neighborhood filled with interesting and important people like Barack Obama. (Needless to say, none of these things are true of Palin.) Ayers has been fully integrated into the modern American elite. Therefore, to say that there is something wrong with associating with Ayers is to say that there is something wrong with the modern American elite. This apparently strikes some people as an absurd conclusion.

Second, one of the reasons that the elite is held to be superior to everybody else is that everybody else is motivated by irrationality and “antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” as someone once said. Never mind the lack of evidence for this proposition: to question it is to question the superiority of the elite. It must be asserted, therefore, even without evidence, that whenever people outside the elite hear the word “terrorist,” they become filled with hatred towards swarthy people rather than reminded of their principled opposition to political violence, and of the fact that not everyone shares that opposition. In fact, bringing up any emotionally charged political issue against someone who, incidentally, may well be the first African-American president inherently risks loosing the bigoted rage of the masses. The issue of Ayers’ terrorism is merely a convenient peg upon which to hang these things that must be said (despite the fact that Ayers is clearly white and non-Muslim, and this argument seems to rest on the falsehood that all terrorists are non-white and Muslim).

Whatever the result of the coming election, many of these people will attempt in the coming months and years to take part in a debate about the future of American conservatism and the Republican party. As we consider their contributions to this debate, we should remember their records.

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