Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 11, 2008

PALIN AND PEGLER.... In her convention speech last week, Sarah Palin quoted "a writer" who extolled the virtues of small-town America. Palin didn't identify the "writer" for a very good reason -- she was quoting the belligerent right-wing columnist Westbrook Pegler.

It was an interesting source for Palin to use in such a high-profile setting.

It's an odd source because Pegler, who moved further right as his career went on, ended up very, very far out. Frank notes that he talked hopefully of the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt.

He was also known for what Philip Roth described as his "casual distaste for Jews," which had become so evident by the end that he was bounced from the journal of the John Birch Society in 1964 for alleged anti-semitism. According to his obituary, he'd advanced the theory that American Jews of Eastern European descent were "instinctively sympathetic to Communism, however outwardly respectable they appeared."

So, let's see here, the McCain campaign wants to cut off U.S. financial support to Israel, Palin is quoting a notorious anti-Semite at the Republican convention, and Palin's church welcomes the "Jews for Jesus" crowd.

No wonder Ed Koch finds these guys scary.

Steve Benen 10:23 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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He was also known for what Philip Roth described as his "casual distaste for Jews," which had become so evident by the end that he was bounced from the journal of the John Birch Society in 1964 for alleged anti-semitism.

Wow....considering the modern Republican Party has pretty much been taken over by its John Birch Society wing, it's amazing that Palin quoted approvingly someone considered too radical for that crowd.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Florida smelling like Victory?

Posted by: kevin k on September 11, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

To be fair, Palin was just reading her lines. It would appear her speechwriter has some interesting tastes in literature, or maybe he just stumbled across the quote somewhere and liked it.

Posted by: demisod on September 11, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

People move to Alaska for a number of reasons and my guess one of those reasons is to get away for religious reasons, both good and bad. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if Palin was anti Semitic.

AIPers probably are not that religiously tolerant individuals. Yeah, I know she wasn't a card holding member, but her oft-e-mailed hubby was. Right Wingers have been known to own some strong views, that's for sure...

Posted by: stevio on September 11, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

To be fair, Palin was just reading her lines. It would appear her speechwriter has some interesting tastes in literature, or maybe he just stumbled across the quote somewhere and liked it.

But that's the problem -- considering Palin got a warmed-over generic speech, quoting this guy -- who was booted out of the John Birch Society for being too radical! -- was from the McCain campaign writ large, not just this Alaskan extremist.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2008 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

i can see the 527 right now: this message borught to you by Jews for Obama.

eric

orange

Posted by: eric on September 11, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

"To be fair, Palin was just reading her lines. It would appear her speechwriter has some interesting tastes in literature, or maybe he just stumbled across the quote somewhere and liked it."

Well, not so fast. According to Ben Smith at Politico, this quote is from a Pegler book that's relatively hard to find at this point, althout it is still available on Amazon. More interesting, the quote can apparently also be found in Pat Buchanan's book (quoting Pegler).

Given the initial controversy about Palin's supposed backing for McCain, that calls for a little more digging: just where did they find this quote?

Posted by: retr2327 on September 11, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, it must have been so difficult to find someone extolling the virtues of small towns that she had to quote someone too radical for the John Birch Society just to come up with the banal "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity"

Hey, what's that high pitch whistling noise I hear?

Posted by: short fuse on September 11, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

You won't beat Palin by trying to embarrass her for being a right-wing zealot. The stupid voters have already attached themselves to her emotionally, and will not respond to logical argument against her. Obama needs a strong woman to be a face to set up against her. He also need for it to be a white woman that the white female vote can identify with. It is time for him to get a good female press secretary to win back the women he lost on Palin's coronation.

Posted by: candideinnc on September 11, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

"People move to Alaska for a number of reasons and my guess one of those reasons is to get away for religious reasons, both good and bad. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if Palin was anti Semitic."

As a person who lived in Alaska for a couple years, I think that suggesting that Alaskans are more likely anti-Semites than other Americans is a load of horseshit.

What's more, as a Progressive voter, I think making generalizations on such a tenuous basis (geography?) is personally offensive.

Posted by: Ben on September 11, 2008 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

The point isn't to embarrass her for being a right-wing zealot. The point is to substantiate and document her right-wing zealotry (to the extent that it factually exists - remember, the book list didn't exist which makes documenting the librarian situation even more important).

No, this won't sway the non-logic voters out there, nothing will. But substantiation and documentation - if it reaches critical mass - will start to sway the voters who started leaning McCain's way on the "Gee, she's kinda neat. I could vote for that gal" impetus.

And I agree wholeheartedly with Ben.

Cheers,

Posted by: Rofe on September 11, 2008 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

I remember reading an account of a civil rights march from Atlanta to Forsyth County, Georgia. (Forsyth County had, at one point, no black citizens due to its casual approach to lynching.) One of the guys who was reminiscing about the march said that it wasn't the men who heckled from the roadside who scared him, but the women.

If Palin's got her head approvingly full of Westbrook Pegler notions, avoid her. She won't do you any good at all.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on September 11, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

I, too, lived in Alaska for a spell. Like many areas of the USA, you have your share of bigots. But to condemn Alaska as a haven for extremists, separatists, bigots and other fringe groups is offensive.

Posted by: Gang Green on September 11, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

These issues should make an effective campaign ad for Obama in FL. Quoting a writer who wished FDR had been assassinated? Yeah, that'll go over swell with the Greatest Generation!

Posted by: Karen on September 11, 2008 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

now that Obama has taken the lid off the 527's, can we get a netroots movement together to take Steve's idea to the media?
run an ad about McCain's support of removing financial aid & support from Israel & highlight this entire issue.
See how many 'ole biddies in FL come around to vote Obama/Biden in response.
I know the jewish vote is important, so let's go after it!

Posted by: vwmeggs on September 11, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Palin's campaign slogan in 1996 was "Wasilla's First Christian Mayor!". The incumbents name was Stein though he's a Lutheran. So the slogan was not only anti-semitic, it was a lie.

Posted by: markg8 on September 11, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

He was so extreme he was bounced from the John Birch Society? Oh man, that's really out there.

What could've caused Palin to drift toward something like that?

Posted by: MarkH on September 11, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

"i can see the 527 right now: this message borught to you by Jews for Obama."

Posted by: eric on September 11, 2008
-----------------

http://www.jewishjournal.com/elections/article/chicago_rabbis_organize_nationwide_rabbis_for_obama_group_300_sign_on_20080/

Posted by: MarkH on September 11, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it must have been so difficult to find someone extolling the virtues of small towns that she had to quote someone too radical for the John Birch Society just to come up with the banal "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity"

Hey, what's that high pitch whistling noise I hear?

Thanks, short fuse, that's exactly what I was going to say.

There are a million and one banal middle-America quotes, all equally unsupported by any rational explanation, all equally pandering to the "small town" crowd. Yet, she chose this one. Why?

1. Why choose a quote which is not well known by an author most of the country does not know?

2. If you are choosing a quote from a little-known author: why choose THIS author over the thousands of other choices?

3. As well-read as Palin obviously is on all aspects of American literature, I still have to wonder: how did she (or the speech-writer) even COME UP with this quote?

This links back to Buchanan, who, you recall, Palin in no way, shape or form ever sympathized with or supported. She just mined his books for quotes coming from anti-semetic wingnuts.

So, we are left with two conclusions:

1. Palin (or her speech-writer) is a closet fan of either Pat Buchanan or Historical American Anti-Semites in general.

2. She included a quote from such an author to let certain folks know she was "with them".

The meta-conclusion, then, is: Sarah Palin is an anti-semite and/or wants desperately to court the anti-semite vote.

Posted by: Tom Dibble on September 11, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Aw, C'mon, are we going to count stuff that happened in the 40's???

Only nutjobs of the 60's are relevant. Like Ayers.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on September 11, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Is there any evidence that Palin's remark was written by Pegler, or even cited by Pegler, except for Thomas Frank's say-so?

I haven't been able to find it.

Pegler, by the way, was quite publicly fired by William Randolf Hearst Junior for criticizing him in a column in his newspapers. Murray Kempton eulogized him for his "working man" courage.

Is there any columnist out there today who would emulate that legacy?

Posted by: Policy on September 14, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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