OK, Sarah Palin Might Be Stupid, but Why Is That Bad?

Mar 30, 10 | 7:41 AM   byMichael Wolff
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The neocons have a problem.

The neocon wing of the Republican Party is the egghead wing, the foreign policy wing, the Jewish wing.

So what to do about Sarah Palin, who is, relatively speaking, the antithesis of all of those things?

An answer or, at any rate, a tortured rationalization, or, indeed, calculated strategy was supplied yesterday on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the spiritual home of the neocons, by the neocons’ eldest statesman, Norman Podhoretz.

While neocons are all the things outlined above—they’re kind of a sight gag of the eggheaded, foreign policy-obsessed Jew—they feel bad about it. Their background and interests are hardly the stuff of the conservative heartland with whom they have cast their lot. So the question becomes how do they turn this all around in an effort to love Sarah Palin, with whom they have nothing remotely in common—and improve their own standing in the Republican Party (tarnished after its sponsorship of the Iraq War)?

Podhoretz’s view is simple: Ronald Reagan was stupid, too, and the neocons came to love him. Which is, actually, a bit of admission: I don’t think I’ve ever heard a neocon come clean about Reagan being a bit of a post.

The logic goes like this: Although Podhoretz admits Palin “is no Ronald Reagan,” Reagan himself, Podhoretz further admits, was not Ronald Reagan when they first met. Therefore, Sarah Palin could be Ronald Reagan.

Now what this really is is Podhoretz, joining his cohort Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol (Kristol founded the Standard with Podhoretz’s son, John), doing something of an end run around their graduate degree-type conservative colleagues who, so far, have not wanted to have a lot of truck with Palin. This, too, is a bit of neoconism, trying to be an early supporter of a retrograde Republican—the neocons came on board early for Bush and that got them the Iraq War.

About that little problem of her lack of knowledge about foreign policy: “True,” says Podhoretz, “she seems to know very little about international affairs, but expertise in this area is no guarantee of wise leadership.” As it happens, such expertise is exactly the basis of the Pod’s own career. What he is really saying is that Sarah Palin, like George Bush before her, knows so little that she’ll need the neocons.

He finds among conservatives a class bias when it comes to Palin. Now, there is no more haughty and snobby group of conservatives than the neocons, who, in a sense, get to maintain their haughtiness and status by, curiously, backing the most dim-witted Republican available.

Anyway, the internecine struggle for control of and standing in the Republican Party is now beginning in earnest. Sarah Palin, in this game, is something of a pawn.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.
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