Tag Archives: Sarah Palin


Readers of this blog frequently send me articles I am unlikely to have seen; often, those are from their local papers (where such papers still exist). I keep the ones I find interesting in a file, and from time to time, I review them.  Often, the saved articles no longer seem relevant, but sometimes, the opinions expressed and predictions made are even more meaningful than when I first saw them.

That was the case with “Early Warning Signs,” an essay from the Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times. Published in March of 2021, the essay began

You’ve likely grown numb to daily outrages by the Republican Party of Donald Trump. You’ve given up hope that at some magical moment, when some line is crossed, masses of educated, intelligent people who identify as Republicans will gently slap their foreheads and say enough is enough.

Enough of the lies about stolen elections, the denial of facts and the rejection of expertise. Enough with a party that has morphed from being about personal responsibility and limited government to one primarily about grievance.

The author then looked back, to see whether incidents” that seemed innocuous at the time” might actually have been “harbingers of catastrophic dysfunction.” He identified three: the vast number of threats to the life of then-candidate Obama that required Secret Service protection much earlier than had been the case with previous Presidential candidates; John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate; and the rise of  Rush Limbaugh and “hate radio.”

The volume of threats against Obama–then a little-known Senator–was very clearly prompted by the racism and racial grievance that has become far more visible since his Presidency.

Here in 2021, one can see the direct line from there to a party whose white supremacist faction carries Confederate flags, including inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Is it any wonder that after eight years of fury about a Black man being president that those boiling with racial hatred would come to worship a racist like Trump?

The choice of Palin–and especially the GOP base’s response to that choice– was the moment when it “became OK for a politician to just exalt in ignorance.” The author quoted Obama’s recent book:

“What became abundantly clear as soon as Sarah Palin stepped into the spotlight was that on just about every subject relevant to governing the country she had absolutely no idea what the hell she was talking about,” he wrote.

“I noticed from the start that her incoherence didn’t seem to matter to the vast majority of Republicans; in fact, anytime she crumbled under questioning by a journalist, they seemed to view it as proof of a liberal conspiracy.”

Like they did with Ronald Reagan years earlier, Republicans said the self-described “hockey mom” had “good instincts” and would grow into the job, Obama wrote. “It was, of course, a sign of things to come, a larger, darker reality in which partisan affiliation and political expedience would threaten to blot out everything.”

As the essayist noted, it’s a straight line from Palin to Trump and to Marjorie Taylor Greene and her ilk.

With his choice of a third omen, the writer echoed my frequent lament about the sea-change in America’s media environment, a change foreshadowed by  the emergence of Rush Limbaugh. As he noted, Limbaugh  sounded “Trumpian 25 years before Trump became president.”

Limbaugh introduced a formula for ratings success that many others would ape: giving voice to the cultural grievances of older, uneducated White guys. After the creation of Fox News–which was specifically and very consciously aimed at the anger of that same demographic–it became acceptable to openly express, and defend, ignorance, racism, homophobia and misogyny.

And so here we are.

There may have been other signs, other omens we missed, but it’s hard to argue with the three chosen by this writer. That, of course, leads me to wonder what omens we are currently missing.

The overturning of Roe is clearly one of those–but will it trigger a return of respect for women’s autonomy, or a march toward Gilead?

The revelations of the January 6th Committee could prompt a return to serious, democratic governance–or fail to halt the next coup effort by proponents of the Big Lie.

The astonishing overreach of the Supreme Court’s hobbling of the EPA  (not to mention the ability of all executive branch agencies to issue regulations) could generate  environmental energy–or be a harbinger of planetary doom.

That’s the problem with omens–you can’t tell where they’re pointing until after the fact.


Is It All Palin’s Fault?

My brother-in-law, a life-long and pretty conservative Republican, recently commented that Trump’s primary victory reminded him of an old saying. Paraphrasing, it went something like this: the man who knows, and knows he knows, can be trusted; the man who doesn’t know, and knows he doesn’t know, can be trusted; but the man who doesn’t know and doesn’t know he doesn’t know is dangerous, and cannot be trusted.

The Donald, of course, doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. If anyone had any doubts, his suggestion that he would “negotiate” the nation’s debt with creditors, and “do a deal” in which they would take less than they’re owed, should put those doubts to rest. (Among the multiple things he clearly “doesn’t know” that he “doesn’t know” are the importance of America’s creditworthiness to global fiscal stability, and the inconvenient fact that the majority of the nation’s creditors are its own citizens–including, importantly, those depending on Social Security.)

In the wake of the Indiana primary and Trump’s emergence as the GOP nominee-apparent,  the internet has been inundated with “analysis” and theories about how this happened, who’s to blame, and of course, “what the hell happens now.”

So far, one of my favorite (albeit dubious) theories lays the blame with Sarah Palin–or more accurately, with John McCain, who elevated the Wasilla Wacko to national prominence.

In this view, the damage Palin wreaked was in getting Republicans to lower their standards for what a vice-president or a president ought to be. Suddenly, what one writer called a “meaningful and valuable norm” no longer controlled public opinion.  Palin was embarrassingly unqualified for the job, but she was endorsed by McCain and establishment Republicans–and the result was that the bar was lowered so far that for a number of Republican voters, Donald Trump was no longer unthinkable.

I’m sure there are as many theories as there are pundits. Americans who are appalled at the prospect of electing someone so manifestly unprepared and unsuited for the Presidency are trying to make sense of it all (and in most cases, looking for someone–anyone–to blame).

There’s lots of blame to go around, of course. But while we are trying to make sense of the crazy situation in which we find ourselves, we’d better spend the time between now and November doing whatever it takes to ensure that voters understand the difference between voting for the winner of American Idol and the person who will be occupying the Oval Office.

We may or may not be enthusiastic about our other choices–but there are degrees of unthinkable, distasteful and very, very dangerous.



Historic Dyslexia

Republicans these days seem to be having an awful lot of trouble with timelines.

Example #1: David Barton–Michele Bachmann’s very favorite constitutional “expert,” recently argued that the nation’s Founders “had already had the creationism-evolution debate.” Now I knew the Founders were brilliant men; what I didn’t know is that they had debated the theory of evolution a full century before Darwin published “Origin of Species” in 1859. Imagine that!

Example #2: Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty recently delivered a speech advocating huge tax cuts, insisting that “we know” tax cuts lead to economic growth. Unfortunately, in one of those danged timeframe inversions, the periods of economic growth he cited came after tax increases. The weakest economic performance followed Bush’s tax cuts. (Well, that was inconvenient…)

Example #3: In yet another display of her “intellectual” skills, Sarah Palin–speaking after visiting Boston’s historic sites–insisted that Paul Revere rode to warn the British, and to uphold Americans’ right to bear arms. (She also said he rang bells and fired shots….news to numerous American historians.) It is difficult to understand how Revere’s ride could have been to protect the right to gun ownership, since  that right was secured by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1791. Revere’s ride–and the date it occurred–was immortalized by Longfellow. .

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

Sarah obviouly doesn’t remember that “famous” day and year, either.

Civic literacy, anyone?

What Part of “Everyone” Doesn’t Sarah Palin Understand?

According to the Huffington Post, Sarah Palin weighed in on the Wisconsin protests in a Friday night posting on her Facebook page. In the posting addressed to “union brothers and sisters” (cough, cough), Palin says Wisconsin taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to pay for benefits “that are not sustainable.” She says “real solidarity means everyone being willing to sacrifice.”

In Palin-speak, apparently, “everyone” means middle-class public servants. It clearly doesn’t mean those Americans in the richest 2%–the ones whose tax breaks Palin and her Tea Party buddies are so anxious to protect.

The Yiddish word for this is “chutzpah.” (Look it up.)