Palin, Dreher, and the Rise and Fall of the Emoti-Cons

Gintas sends Rod Dreher’s response to Sarah Palin’s interview with Katie Couric and comments on it:

Palin debacle on CBS Evening News

Watch the Couric interview here. Couric’s questions are straightforward and responsible. Palin is mediocre, again, regurgitating talking points mechanically, not thinking. Palin’s just babbling. She makes George W. Bush sound like Cicero.

Remember all the excitement after the convention speech she made? Ah, how quickly the flower fades.

LA replies:

I’ve watched the various clips from the interview. Gov. Palin was at best keeping her head just above water, and at times her head went below the surface, for example, when, instead of downplaying her rather questionable and embarrassing point that being governor of Alaska entails significant foreign policy experience, she underscored it and insisted on it. She’s a complete neophyte in national issues and it’s evident in everything she says. And it confirms what I said in my article, “Why experience matters in a vice presidential nominee,” where I showed that Palin has far less experience in dealing with national issues than any vice presidential nominee since World War II.

At the same time, to call it a debacle is overstated. George W. Bush as candidate and in his first nine months as president was often painfully inarticulate. When he was a candidate there were only two issues he could speak smoothly on: his faith-based initiative and his no child left behind initiative. He could speak smoothly on them because he had gotten the words down and was comfortable, like a salesman who has learned his sales pitch. I’m not saying that Palin’s being at the level of G.W. Bush is a recommendation: it assuredly is not. But it is also not a “debacle.”

Dreher’s calling the interview a debacle in which Palin was “babbling” and in which she made G.W. Bush look like Cicero is typical of the exaggerated reactions, constantly veering from one emotional extreme to another, that Dreher seems to bring to most subjects, including the subject of Palin. As indicated in the first comment in the entry, Dreher was previously very enthusiastic about Palin for VP and has recently been dramatically disillusioned by her. Similarly, Dreher, after calling himself a tough-minded immigration restrictionist, wrote an embarrassingly sentimental editorial for his newspaper (which he subsequently personally endorsed under his own by-line) naming the Illegal Alien as “Texan of the Year”—which was tantamount to saying that all illegal aliens are Americans. Dreher calls himself a “Crunchy-Con.” But given his emotion-based brand of “conservatism,” I think he ought to call himself an Emoti-Con.

Unfortunately Dreher is not alone. Since McCain’s announcement of his choice of Palin for vice president, about half the self-described conservatives in America have turned into Emoti-Cons.

- end of initial entry -

Gintas writes:

Just like you say: emoti-con. If the latest viewing feels good, if it’s comfortable, it’s good. If it feels bad, it’s bad. The initial viewing of Palin was a rush of excitement, and now you just don’t hear anything good anymore. If she is great in a debate, though, the buzz will start again. And that’s what it is: buzz. Like bees that have found a pretty flower.

September 26

Laura W. writes:

I think Dreher was reasonable, not overly emotional, in his comments on the Palin interview.

Palin appears quite close to Bush in this interview in her fundamental limitations. George Bush is a woefully inarticulate man who was unable to publicly reason with his opponents or defend even the good decisions he made. These limitations fueled the hatred of the left and allowed unchallenged lunacies to spread. His inarticulateness was a void, a vast windswept emptiness, at the center of our national life. This interview, in which Palin comes across as quite pleased with her shallow inanities and displays no gravitas at a time of national crisis, shows that Palin falls into the same category. Even if the Republican Party makes wise moves, she will be unable adequately to explain and defend them.

LA replies:

That’s well put. I just felt that Dreher’s phrase “debacle” was going overboard; it was the equivalent of Jonathan Alter’s prediction of a “belly flop.” And in the context of Dreher’s previous admitted great enthusiasm for Palin for vice president, it was a typical example of how he veers from one extreme to another on the basis of emotional reactions. Not only is he not embarrassed by the fact that everything he says is based on emotions, he seems to glory in it.

At the same time, I agree with your substantive criticisms of Gov. Palin’s performance in this interview. The fact (as I’ve argued) that she “got through” the interview and kept her head “above water” (at least most of the time), that she didn’t belly flop, or have a debacle, or drown, does not indicate that she has the intelligence to be an effective national leader. And Bush has been such a terrible leader precisely because he is unable to articulate ideas and engage in the back and forth of ideas. He gloms onto a phrase, a piece of boilerplate, and he sticks to it with great tenacity and assurance and arrogance. That is his substitute for intelligence. Such leadership has been a disaster.

“These limitations fueled the hatred of the left and allowed unchallenged lunacies to spread.”

I agree 100 percent.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 25, 2008 07:58 PM | Send

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