Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Noonan on Palin

Allah at Hot Air posted a link to Peggy Noonan's mostly positive analysis of Sarah Palin and the McCain campaign earlier this morning. Unfortunately, Noonan was caught later on an open MSNBC mike seemingly contradicting her confidence in the Palin pick. Check out the comments at that second link for lots of predictions of the end of Noonan's career as a right-wing pundit.

I don't really care if Peggy is on the team or not. I can read an intelligent critique of a candidate I support (or praise of a candidate I don't) without getting anxiety attacks. In the final analysis, I will make up my own mind. I just want to know what Noonan really thinks. Whether she was lying in the article she wrote for WSJ or is lying on the open mike to her liberal colleagues, either way it damages her credibility or at least her integrity. But ultimately the story is about Palin, not Noonan.

I happen to think she got the story right in the WSJ. If she doesn't actually believe it, more's the pity, but that doesn't prevent me from touting that way of looking at Palin's candidacy. And much of what she says about the MSM in that article is worth remembering, even if she doesn't actually believe Palin has a chance to win.

If she does think that McCain picked Palin for essentially cynical reasons, that is all the more reason to heed the advice in her final paragraph:

Palin's friends should be less immediately worried about what the Obama campaign will do to her than what the McCain campaign will do. [...] They won't have enough interest in protecting her, advancing her, helping her play to her strengths, helping her kick away from danger. [...] They'll run right over her, not because they're strong but because they're stupid. The McCain campaign better get straight on this. He should step in, knock heads, scare his own people and get Palin the help and high-level staff all but the most seasoned vice presidential candidates require.

This is actually what happened to Dan Quayle. Bush, Sr. was trying to maintain the image of being above partisan squabbling so he never defended Quayle from all the media's attacks. Palin looks like she can take care of herself, but remember: before 1992 Quayle never lost an election and he only lost that because of Bush's broken "no new taxes" promise. He goes into this in his book Standing Firm.

So, whatever we think of Noonan's duplicity, I think we can trust her advice if not her motives. And bear in mind, most of us were not all that thrilled with McCain himself a few weeks ago, so it isn't quite fair to criticize Noonan, a long-standing advocate of conservative thought, for suggesting that his pick might have been cynical. I think it might very well have been, but I'm willing to put up with it if it gets Sarah Palin a foot in the White House door.

UPDATE: I mistakenly identified the other two gentlemen as MSNBC people but reading the text at Politico, I see that one of them is a former McCain adviser. I don't know who Chuck Todd is. So they may not be "liberal colleagues" as I stated in above.

Also, this looks like McCain, at least, is taking Noonan's final paragraph seriously:
"They’re not doing right by our vice president, they’re not doing right by the American people," McCain said

UPDATE: Noonan explains. Allah is not convinced but I think he may be defining "the Narrative" more broadly than Ms. Noonan. I don't think her earlier column was specifically praising the Palin narrative but pointing out the difficulty the Democrats will have in pigeon-holing her. A subtle distinction, perhaps, but I am willing to give Peggy Noonan a pass on this one. She is not always right, but she is generally worth listening to. Also, she doesn't seem to have thought about the Narrative issue until after she wrote that column and her comments on MSNBC were clearly off-the-cuff and more like thinking aloud. Money quote:
To the extent the McCain campaign was thinking in these terms, I don't like that either. I do like Mrs. Palin, because I like the things she espouses. And because, frankly, I met her once and liked her. I suspect, as I say further in here, that her candidacy will be either dramatically successful or a dramatically not; it won't be something in between.

UPDATE: McCain Campaign's response: "Who cares?" Nice.