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What's the Problem with Palin?

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, there's a story at Politico today. I'm gonna have to turn to some of you for some help. I thought I had this figured out, but it's gone beyond my ability to explain this, and that is this incessant, inexplicable, growing hatred of Sarah Palin by people on our side. The Politico story here: "'She's Becoming Al Sharpton, Alaska Edition.'" This is by Jonathan Martin and John Harris. "Sarah Palin has played the sexism card, accusing critics of chauvinism against a strong woman. She has played the class card, dismissing the Bush family as 'blue bloods' and complaining that she is the target of snobbery by people who dislike her simply because she is 'not so hoity-toity.'

"Most famously, she has played the victim card -- never more vividly than when she invoked the loaded phrase 'blood libel' against liberals and media commentators in the wake of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. Palin's flamboyant rhetoric always has thrilled supporters, but lately it is coming at a new cost: a backlash, not from liberals but from some of the country's most influential conservative commentators and intellectuals. Palin's politics of grievance and group identity, according to these critics, is a betrayal of conservative principles. For decades, it was a standard line of the right that liberals cynically promoted victimhood to achieve their goals and that they practiced the politics of identity -- race, sex and class -- over ideas.

"Among those taking aim at Palin in recent interviews with Politico are George F. Will, the elder statesman of conservative columnists; Peter Wehner, a top strategist in George W. Bush's White House, and Heather Mac Donald, a leading voice with the right-leaning Manhattan Institute. Matt Labash, a longtime writer for the Weekly Standard, said that because of Palin's frequent appeals to victimhood and group grievance, 'She's becoming Al Sharpton, Alaska edition.' Conservative intellectuals, while having scant ability to drive large blocs of votes on their own, traditionally have played an outsize role in the early stages of Republican nominating contests.

"Their approval has lent credence to politicians from Ronald Reagan onward hoping to portray themselves as faithful adherents to an idea-driven conservative movement. This year, the conservative intelligentsia doesn't just tend to dislike Palin -- many fear that her rise would represent the triumph of an intellectually empty brand of populism and the death of ideas as an engine of the right. 'This is a problem for the movement,' said Will about what Palin represents. 'For conservatism, because it is a creedal movement, this is a disease to which it is susceptible.' The line of modern conservatism that can be traced back to National Review founder William F. Buckley would be broken by Palin, Will said.

"'There's no Reagan without Goldwater, no Goldwater without National Review and no National Review without Buckley -- and the contrast between [Buckley] and Ms. Palin is obvious.' Asked if the GOP would remain the party of ideas if Palin captures the nomination, Will said: 'The answer is emphatically no.' Columnist Charles Krauthammer, without talking about Palin specifically, noted that 'there's healthy and unhealthy populism,' and there is concern about the rise of the latter. 'When populism becomes purely anti-intellectual, it can become unhealthy and destructive,' said Krauthammer." Pete "Wehner," who's a good friend of mine, "now a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, cited the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan's famous 1980 declaration that the GOP had become 'a party of ideas.' ...

"'Conservatives are very proud of that,' Wehner said. 'But she seems at best disinterested in ideas or least lacks the ability to articulate any philosophical justification for them. She relies instead on shallow talking points.' Does Palin care about what conservative commentators say about her? So far, the answer would appear to be no. ... Palin defenders say she has good reason to be dismissive of elite critics -- she has outpaced their low expectations at every turn." You know what I think? I'm trying to figure this all out. I can understand the left despising this woman. That would make perfect sense.

But this rising vitriol from the "conservative intellectual" bench is mystifying to me. (sigh) I don't get this comparison to Al Sharpton. I don't know where that comes from. That's Matt Labash at the Weekly Standard. I don't know where that comes from. What does Sharpton do? Would somebody point out one similarity between Al Sharpton and Sarah Palin? Where is the Tawana Brawley in Sarah Palin's life? Where is that incident? Where are all the megaphone-lead rallies and protests? Where are those things? Where is the complement to the National Action Network and its annual convention in whatever else?

Where is this? Where are the lawsuits that Sharpton files against people? Well, they claim that she's playing her cards. Where is her tax cheating, for example? Who is Sarah Palin shaking down? I mean, if we're gonna start making these comparisons... (interruption) What was it you just shouted at me, H.R.? Well, that's why they say she's portraying herself as a victim because she's firing back. They are saying that she should just shut up. In the aftermath of being blamed for this Arizona thing, she should have just shut up. The fact that she responded and reacted to it means that she's feeling sorry for herself and is portraying herself as a victim -- and that's something that the left does: Portray themselves as victims.

She shoulda just been quiet and let the story ride itself out and let it go away and so forth as it would have. I used to think that a lot of this was just fear-based. (sigh) I've really had a tough time understanding this. To be honest, folks, I've had a tough time. I'm still not sure. I'm wondering if some of this is not rooted in the fear that our "conservative intellectuals" have that our current crop of Republican presidential hopefuls is kind of weak; and that, therefore, she may be the most popular among 'em. But it's like I told you: I love telling this story. A couple friends of mine who had recently met Palin -- I've never met her. I've spoken to her on the phone once when we interviewed her for Limbaugh Letter, the newsletter when she had her book out.

Other than that I'd never talked to her. I've never met her. She did tell a funny story when I did interview her. She said that I met her father out in Palm Springs at one of the first two Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournaments I played in as an amateur that some guy came up and asked me to sign a copy of my book for his daughter. Well, it turned out to be her dad getting the book signed for her and that she has that book in her office or her library in her home in Alaska. That's the extent. I don't know her. I've never spent any time with her.

But these people that I know here had spent an evening with her, and couple days later I met them for dinner -- and, folks, these are rock-ribbed conservatives, huge donors and fundraisers, Reaganites. Their pedigree is unquestionable, and they said to me, "You know, dear, we met Sarah Palin. I think you would agree, dear, she just doesn't have the heft. She's much prettier in person than even on TV -- you can't escape noticing that -- but, I don't know. I think she's just not presidential. Do you think, dear?" And, you know, I recalled what the circumstance was here. This is not a place to start an argument. I didn't care to, didn't want to spend that kind of time there.

I said, "Yeah, you know what? Give me four more years of Obama, instead of Palin."

"W-w-what? What do you mean by that, dear?"

"Well, Sarah Palin is so damn embarrassing, I don't know how I could vote for her. I might not even be able to say I'm a Republican if she gets the nomination!"

"Um, I'm not quite following you, dear."

"Well, she's so embarrassing, I guess if it's Sarah Palin or Obama? Hell, give me Obama!" I finally said, "Look, I don't understand all this. THE PROBLEM IS OBAMA! The Democrat Party is destroying the freaking country -- sorry to yell here -- and we're sitting here sniping over Sarah Palin? I'd vote for Elmer Fudd if the Republicans nominated him, if Obama's the Democrat." So obviously there are elements of this that are personal that I don't understand. Look, I could understand not wanting her to be the nominee, I can understand thinking there's somebody better, but this? There's an all-out assault on her by our guys that puzzles me -- and now this latest to say that she's Al Sharpton? Our version of Al Sharpton in Alaska?

So you guys gotta help me out out there. Somebody's gonna have to explain this to me because it makes no sense. You know, I'm totally immersed in logic and common sense, and some of this doesn't register that way for me. I don't get it. I can think of -- I'm not going to mention any names here -- the Republican field, what is it, nine or ten people that are said to be interested in it. There are four or five of them that can't hold a candle to her, as far as I'm concerned. But these guys don't think there's one. So I'm thinking: What did she do to them? Does she embarrass them? (interruption) Okay. (interruption) If she does embarrass them, what? (interruption) Okay, well, of course the liberals are gonna say she's stupid. That's enough for us to say, "Okay, we don't want her," 'cause the liberals are rejecting her so we've gotta dump her? Okay.

All right. Fine. Fine. Well, anybody else got any ideas, I'm open to 'em.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Okay, I've read the e-mails, and they're pouring in. And many of them from the public e-mail account, ElRushbo@eibnet.com. "You idiot! You're supposed to be the one with the answers. You're asking us why everybody hates Sarah Palin, you idiot. If we know, you should know." Some of them say: "You stupid fool, don't you know it's because they're jealous of her?" That seems to be, by the way, the number one explanation from people answering the question. I haven't had a chance to read 'em all. They're coming in here by the hundreds, every 20 seconds or so, but they're jealous of her or they fear her. Of course all of that's true. But look, I think I get it. I think the simple explanation here is, if you want to be an accredited intellectual, one of the tests is, do you hate Sarah Palin? Do you think she represents a pox? Is she a danger to whatever? If you do, then you will pass the test and you are, therefore, an accredited intellectual.

It's sort of like the whole business of shibboleth. If you're an intellectual, you should know what a shibboleth is. It's from the Bible. It's a Hebrew word that very few Hebrews could pronounce correctly. If you could pronounce it correctly, you were an intellectual. It was a test to see if you were an actual member of the tribe. Well, right now Sarah Palin is the intellectuals' favorite shibboleth. If you want to prove you are an intellectual, you have to say Sarah Palin's an idiot. That's as much of an explanation as anything else. I know she threatens the old boys club; she represents and associates with average people whereas these people don't; all those things that we have mentioned and pondered before on the program.

Here's what you need to know. This is what you need to know. And, folks, do not doubt me. Some of you weren't alive in the mid-seventies. Some of you weren't old enough in the mid-seventies to remember. But Ronald Reagan was just as hated by the intellectual class then as Palin is now. Now, I'm not saying that Palin is Reagan. I'm just telling you that Reagan didn't have the pedigree. I have warned you several times on this program that even during Reagan's presidency, many of the conservative intellectuals -- Buckley was an exception -- and many of the Republican liberals just despised the guy, 'cause he embarrassed 'em. His folksiness, his connection to the pro-life community, he embarrassed 'em. His "the bombing starts in five minutes," calling the Soviets the evil empire, I mean the left all hated that, but so did a lot of people in the Republican Party.

Krauthammer used to write speeches for Walter Mondale. Yeah. Howard Baker was his choice in '76 or '80, I forget which. George Will was a late arrival to the Reagan revolution and eventually became a close friend and associate, but he was not -- (interruption) well, I don't want to bring myself into this, H.R. I mean what do I have to gain by saying they were cool to my arrival? Buckley was not. But Buckley was the exception. What's interesting about Buckley is, you know, folks, I'll tell you something. There's something fascinating going on in the conservative intellectual media movement. One of the things that Buckley did -- I think this is a factor, too, in a way -- within this conclave, if you will, the cardinal of conservative colleges loved Buckley because he told the Birchers to go to heck, he threw the Birchers out of the conservative movement thereby sparing the conservative movement any association and accompanying embarrassment. I mean he filleted 'em. He wrote piece after piece. He sent the Birchers packing. Well, there are, I think, elements of the conservative intellectual movement today who are looking to be the next Buckley excommunicating the next Bircher, whoever it might be, movement individual, what have you.

So it could be a little bit of that, even though Palin's not a Bircher by any stretch. She's not a conspiracy kook or theorist. So Buckley remains. Buckley was born wealthy, silver spoon in his mouth, but he was not an enemy of flyover country. He was not disdainful. Buckley, I remember, invited me -- I don't want to make this about me. But that is an apt analogy about Buckley, and there's still a lot of people trying to be Buckley today throughout the literary conservative intelligentsia. But for me to sit here and say that the Washington intellectual elite feels the same way about me that they do Sarah, I have a lot of people who tell me that, but I don't even want to go there because this is not about me. There's not a Politico story about me. This is Palin being our version of Al Sharpton. I just checked, I got an e-mail from a guy in Virginia that said, "Well, wait a minute, the left loves Sharpton. How is this not really a compliment? I never heard the left criticize Sharpton. The left loves him. He's one of their favorite rabble-rousers." All true.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Oh, it always amuses me. On the left, just to kind of combat this notion that they're the smartest people around, these intellectuals, some of the people on the left who despise Sarah Palin loved John Edwards. Now, if there's ever a disconnect, John Edwards, as a human being, is clearly lacking. And yet there were people who thought John Edwards was the beginning and end of everything, just the cat's meow, whatever, who hate Sarah Palin. By the same token, some of these conservative intellectuals were totally smitten with Obama at the outset, remember? Totally smitten with Obama. In the case of David Brooks, it was because of the freaking crease in his pants. He said that. "The crease in his pants made me know he was going to be president." And these are the intellectuals. But to these guys Obama was like them. They were like Obama at the outset. I don't think too many of them want to be perceived as like Obama now, but the outset. But Palin, never. They never see themselves as like Sarah Palin, for obvious reasons, be it the pedigree, the education, all the other things.

END TRANSCRIPT

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