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Tilting at Windmills

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February 11, 2010

BRODER PUTS ON LEATHER JACKET, DONS SKIS, EYES SHARK.... David Broder urges readers today to "take Sarah Palin seriously."

That, in and of itself, need not be a ridiculous statement. After all, such advice does not necessarily denote merit. An influential political observer in 1949 may have written, "Take Joe McCarthy seriously," not because he was right, but because he was dangerous.

Indeed, Time's Joe Klein has a piece this week that describes the former half-term Alaska governor as "someone to be taken absolutely seriously." Of course, Klein also described Palin's policy prescriptions as "extremely dangerous," her public remarks as veering into "duplicity," and her vision as offering "despair and stasis."

In this sense, "take Sarah Palin seriously" can be a warning, as in, "take Sarah Palin seriously" because she represents the very worst American politics has to offer -- a celebration of ignorance, futility, and mendacity.

Is that what David Broder means? Alas, no. The so-called "dean" of the D.C. political media establishment is actually "impressed" with the clownish Fox News personality.

Her lengthy Saturday night keynote address to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville and her debut on the Sunday morning talk show circuit with Fox News' Chris Wallace showed off a public figure at the top of her game -- a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself, even with notes on her palm. [...]

Blessed with an enthusiastic audience of conservative activists, Palin used the Tea Party gathering and coverage on the cable networks to display the full repertoire she possesses, touching on national security, economics, fiscal and social policy, and every other area where she could draw a contrast with Barack Obama and point up what Republicans see as vulnerabilities in Washington. [...]

The lady is good.

Good at what?

Broder's column, much like Palin's speeches, is devoid of all substance. He didn't, and couldn't, point to a single idea, proposal, or achievement the right-wing Alaskan has presented that has even an inkling of value. On the contrary, Broder seems to suggest that Palin deserves accolades precisely because she has no real interest in ideas, proposals, or achievements. She's at the "top of her game," the columnist argues, not because Palin has any idea what she's talking about, but because she can "sell herself."

What Broder neglects to mention is that this deliberately know-nothing approach to politics during challenging times is a recipe for an idiocracy. To maintain American preeminence in the 21st century, the country must resist the urge to celebrate stupidity, whether Broder is "impressed" by it or not.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (62)

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Comments

I'm still disturbed and concerned by Chuck Todd's comments that there are different rules for covering Sarah Palin. Oh really? What are they and why are they different?

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on February 11, 2010 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

this political commentary stuff is serious bidnizz,right dean?

here, have some metamucil with that oatmeal, you goddam freak.

Posted by: neill on February 11, 2010 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

David Broder is fucking retarded.

Posted by: Bob on February 11, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

Oh please, can we just send her back to Alaska, never to be heard of again!

Posted by: Astonished on February 11, 2010 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

Never overestimate the intelligence of the American electorate.

Posted by: Cycledoc on February 11, 2010 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

Alzheimer's?

Posted by: PhilMc on February 11, 2010 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

When talking of Palin or her groupies, the word "politics" and "religion" are equivalent. They speak of both with a serious lack of intelligence - and impunity. It is the only discernible sign of consistency.

Posted by: Chopin on February 11, 2010 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

Whats really scary is that the right wing yahoos will be nodding thier heads in agreement , pretending that Broder is some manner of authority on things political. He is a self serving idealogue who ought to be on Fox news where he belongs.

Posted by: John R on February 11, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Don't you know that opinions devoid of actual factual content are facts to wingnuts? When reading blogs, one sees "here's a link" with a snipet posted and sometimes highlights in big bold fonts for effect. Wet, lather, rinse, repeat and before you know it, that's the facts or conspiracy or both.

Posted by: Dave on February 11, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry folks, but this is a gimmee:

Shorter Broder: "Sarah Palin. fap fap fap"

Posted by: RusS on February 11, 2010 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Palin might be selling but no one's buying. Her numbers continue to go from bad to terrible. 70% don't thinks she's qualified to be President. But Broder sees starbursts! She winks for him and him alone!

Posted by: Rob on February 11, 2010 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Broder is right to the extent that Palin is good at being a demagogue and pandering to her base.

Posted by: Jeff on February 11, 2010 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

On the front page of the Washington Post, the same day Broder's column is published, are poll results showing a further DECLINE in public perceptions of Palin. Katherine Graham must be turning over in her grave at the decline of a once great - and brilliantly edited - newspaper.

Posted by: Sheldon on February 11, 2010 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Wasn't Broder suppossed to retire last January? How can we miss him if he won't go away?

Posted by: Bernie on February 11, 2010 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Somebody needs to investigate Broder. Who's paying for this commentary?

Posted by: pol on February 11, 2010 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

71 per cent of Americans, according to the latest poll, think Sarah Palin is unqualified to be president. Sure, she gives a thrill to old white guys like Broder who imagine she's winking just at them, but a lot of the country sees her for what she is: an ignorant opportunist. And here's the thing -- she's either going to be the Republican nominee or, if they come to their senses and refuse to nominate her, the Tea Party spoiler in 2012. She'll split the Republican party if she's not the nominee or drive the vast majority of independents into the arms of Democrats if she is. For us, it's win-win.

Posted by: dalloway on February 11, 2010 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

this deliberately know-nothing approach to politics during challenging times is a recipe for an idiocracy. To maintain American preeminence in the 21st century, the country must resist the urge to celebrate stupidity

Sorry, too late.

Posted by: zeitgeist on February 11, 2010 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

What fucking preeminence? Going from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation in less than a generation?

Posted by: par4 on February 11, 2010 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP experiment in determining how little you can offer in a candidate and still have any prospect of his or her election continues.

It's like lightening a structural member -- you cut away weight, and cut away, and cut away, until it fails, then you add the last little bit back on.

Whether Palin is too light-weight, and you need at least a Bush II, or whether the experiment can go on for one more cycle remains to be seen.

From an engineering standpoint it's actually rather interesting.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 11, 2010 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

One thing with which I agree with Broder: Palin truly is at the top of her game. The card game "war." All luck, no skill, and complaints of unfairness when she loses.

Posted by: slappy magoo on February 11, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Russ:

Absolutely. More people need to understand that Sarah Palin will not have sex with them. Sure, they may say they "know" this, but deep down, it's clear they don't.

It's just like "24" fans. They "know" it's fiction, but they really don't. Not surprisingly, there is a huge overlap between the two.

Posted by: DH Walker on February 11, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

If Broder is the "Dean of the D.C. political media establishment" it follows that our political media is nothing more than an elite idiocracy.

Broder should have been sent off to a retirement home 12 years ago. His view of American politics seems to be locked in the mid 1980s/early 1990s. The more years that have passed since then, the more out to lunch his opinions have become.

Were our political media not an elite idiocracy, Broder would long since have become too much of an embarrassment for the WaPo to endure.

Posted by: JoeW on February 11, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you for this post, Mr. Benen. I had just seen Broder's column, where he failed to mention that there were 600 people at that "convention." We should all send him lists of all the gatherings we've been to with more than 600 people (small-college hockey games come to mind). Broder must be a lech -- that and/or the dementia suggested in an earlier comment.

Posted by: S on February 11, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Go home David Broder, and close the door behind you! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 11, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Davis,

Your analogy makes alot of sense. When I was taking buiness classes in the 1980s (what a waste of time that was), we'd bandy about the concept "value added" as a justification for the profits a company makes. This is "value subtracted", the exact opposite. On a national level, the question is, how much of this country can we dismantle and destroy and still market it as the "United States of America"? It bears little resemblance to the country I knew growing up in the 1960s. I guess that is what happens when a nation becomes another commodity to be bought and sold.

Posted by: broken arrow on February 11, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself,

And that makes her different then a hooker how? Or, to be even less kinds, Glen Beck.

Posted by: martin on February 11, 2010 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

"Those who want to stop her will need more ammunition than deriding her habit of writing on her hand."

This is the line that got me. For god's sake why do we need more ammunition than that. That would get you disqualified from a high school debating competition. The fact that he brushes this off with a smug little wave of his hand is maddening.

Thanks Steve for hammering on the "know-nothing" theme. I think it's the embracing of ignorance that is the most dangerous element of the modern, American conservatism.

Posted by: AndyB on February 11, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

"More important, she has locked herself firmly in the populist embrace that every skillful outsider candidate from George Wallace..."

This absolutely kills me. George Wallace's entire capmpaigning was based on the following: "Promise the moon and hollar ni****." This is similar to Palin with her "real" Americans, except she promises the moon and hollars socialist. The only problem is that there are plenty of Tea Baggers that want to believe and even more religious zealots who also want to believe in her. She will run in 2012 and, sadly, many Americans will vote for her. Broder must go now.

Posted by: Patrick on February 11, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

How does one go about to become the "dean"? Self-appointed? Longest in job position.. age? What?

The media.. oh, just never mind.

Posted by: sduffys on February 11, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Mr Broder, please peruse some of the fine work of PolitiFact.com of the St Petersburg Times, especially, their latest destroying St Sarah's claim on an interview with Judd Berger of FoxNews.com that Obama had only 150 days in the US Senate for experience and that he had voted "Present" 150 times in said US Senate. Of course, she was probably thinking of her time "running the Senate as VP" where she had to count the "Present" votes.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 11, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody heard Daniel Shore on NPR lately? They are giving old people a really bad name.

Posted by: Scott F. on February 11, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Broder's crowing of the "abilities" of St Sarah reminds me of the early days of Johnny Carson, or the later part of Jack Paar, where such "stars" as Zsa Zsa Gabor and Jan Murray would sit around patting each other on their respective backs while oohing and aahing over any new guest as "their dearest friend, a wonderful humanitarian and a Marvelous human being". This was captured ever so well in "All That Jazz" by the character played by Ben Vereen.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 11, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

I hope the Republicans heed his advice and take Palin so seriously that they nominate a person 70% of the electorate feel is unqualified. There will be high fives all around in the WH.

Posted by: bob h on February 11, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Actually I am in agreement with the folks who say bring Sarah on. Her poll numbers suck. Obama wins a second term in a walk if she is the Republican nominee.

I am more worried about 2010. The Democratic establishment has to get off its ass and inspire folks like me to go to the polls if it wants to retain either the house or the senate. The last few weeks Obama shows signs that he gets it. Pelosi and especially Reid don't. The coming election is big. Elected Democrats have to deliver or their base will sit on its hands.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 11, 2010 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

If we're supposed to take Palin so seriously, how come the Washington Post reports that Palin's favorables have plummeted & 71% of Americans think she's unqualified to be President? Broder should read his own paper, & Joke Line, well, he should quit drooling.

The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com

Posted by: Marie Burns on February 11, 2010 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

David Broder circa 2017, year 5 of the Christian Republic of America: "when they came for the gays I said nothing, for I am not gay; when they came for the intellectuals I said nothing, for God knows I am not an intellectual; when they finally came for me I said "hey wait, what about that kissy-facey slobberingly fawning column I wrote about Leader Sarah back in 2010?" but alas there was no-one left who actually reads, so they took me away, the end.

Posted by: katie on February 11, 2010 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

David Broder is fucking retarded. -Bob

No, he's not. He's greedy, willfully dishonest, and an asshole. But he does not have a developmental disorder, and I'm constantly dismayed at the increasingly frequent and offensive use of this word by commenters on liberal and progressive blogs.

As I said just two days ago, I find it funny that when Palin absolves and promotes Limbaugh's inappropriate use of the word that suddenly a cadre of so called liberals think that throwing it out there makes them ironic.

It doesn't. It marks you as an ignorant fool.

Do we take our cues from the likes of Limbaugh? I honestly thought we were better than this.

Posted by: doubtful on February 11, 2010 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Punditry this bad deserves a new name. I nominate Stupiditry.

Posted by: Danny on February 11, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, the Klein column is very, very good. I know my blog's most popular post ever was Aimai's post on Klein, but he's right sometimes, and this time he's thoroughly on target.

Posted by: Steve M. on February 11, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, I know you love puns. So I'm thinking you may want to stop referring to Palin as "the former half-term Alaska governor" and begin to refer to her as the former half-baked Alaska governor. Just a thought

Posted by: veblen on February 11, 2010 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

David Broder is destroying his own reputation -- and the latest polls show that Americans, by more than two-thirds, know much better than he does. Pundit analyze thyself.

History tells us that it is, however, dangerous when supposedly serious people pander to ignorant extremism. They always do it with the kind of noblesse oblige that defines David Broder's persona. But it can open the door to very dangerous tendencies -- that, in the end, throw these haughty elites aside along with the rest of us. Not to mention throwing effective American democracy aside.

David, this kind of nonsense you are writing is going to outlive you. Might want to give that some thought.

And the rest of us should nominate new people to be "Dean of the Washington press corps" -- or maybe just toss the rotting corps aside.

Posted by: Theda Skocpol on February 11, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

So how much bipartisanship does the so-called "Dean" think we'll get out of a Palin Administration?

Posted by: Gregory on February 11, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

I'm still disturbed and concerned by Chuck Todd's comments that there are different rules for covering Sarah Palin.

The fact that the so-called "liberal media" didn't recognize that Palin's vascillating between avoiding the press and then whining about her treatment by same was an overt attempt to establish different rules for covering Sarah Palin is journalistic malpractice of the first order. No, wait, I'm wrong -- actually abiding by those rules is even worse.

Posted by: Gregory on February 11, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

the problem, from my perspective, is that style is consistently championed over substance. palin "is good" because she is able to promote a stylistic image quite effectively - that of the folksy, down-home, traditional values, Christian, right wing, independent, etc etc etc mom. (read kintz' "between jesus and the market" for a good breakdown of the intersection between right wing christianity and free market ideology).
the fact that she is effective at promoting a stylistic message means, to people like broder, that she is good at politics. it's tragic, since that kind of discourse is the polar opposite of a policy-based discussion in which the real and main point is helping the american people.

Posted by: invisible_hand on February 11, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

The more I think about this idiotic column, the more it pisses me off. Any politician can look "good" in front of a crowd of drooling fanboys or sympathetic media. Obama looked good visiting the GOP on their own turf and knocking down their bullshit talking points -- and without a teleprompter or even notes written on his hand. Let's see Palin try a stunt like that

The Harlem Globetrotters were good at what they did, too, but no one thought they could win the NBA title playing anyone but the Washington Generals.

Yeesh.

Posted by: Gregory on February 11, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

the problem, from my perspective, is that style is consistently championed over substance. palin "is good" because she is able to promote a stylistic image quite effectively - that of the folksy, down-home, traditional values, Christian, right wing, independent, etc etc etc mom. (read kintz' "between jesus and the market" for a good breakdown of the intersection between right wing christianity and free market ideology).
the fact that she is effective at promoting a stylistic message means, to people like broder, that she is good at politics. it's tragic, since that kind of discourse is the polar opposite of a policy-based discussion in which the real and main point is helping the american people.

Posted by: invisible_hand on February 11, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

The most telling paragraph in Broder's article was second from the end, in which he cited the one and only piece of evidence to support his argument (you know, the way your teacher in 7th grade English taught you to do?)

"Palin did not wear well in the last campaign, especially in the suburbs where populism has a limited appeal. But when Wallace asked her about resigning the governorship with 17 months left in her term and whether she let her opponents drive her from office, she said, 'Hell, no.'"

Wow, that sure puts that issue to bed, doesn't it? How can anyone doubt based on that detailed and thoroughly convincing response that "the lady is good?"

Posted by: T-Rex on February 11, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

I think David is in Lust for the hot mama from Baked Alaska.

Posted by: rbe1 on February 11, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Come on readers. I, for one, hope that Sarah is the nominee. How much fun will it be to see her final vote totals? 22% perhaps?

What a disgusting excuse for a major party wannabe.

She brings absolutely NOTHING to the table.

She won't be, of course, the nominee. But I can dream can't I?

Posted by: EdtheUmp on February 11, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin makes the Dean have starbursts in his pants.

Posted by: psychobroad on February 11, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, but my dear David, I miss those little things, like a basic education. A sense of being well read. An understanding of that Providence will NOT provide. A basic grasp of science and economics. The difference between natural phenomena and the effects of human actions. and You know the kinds of stuff normal people know and can discuss.

And, in her speeches I do not see the compassion of a Reagan, the spark of consciousness of an Obama, the intellect of a Buckley.

She is now an entertainer and does that well. When Rush dies, she could be the next Rush or perhaps Pat Bucannon.

So Please David, don't confuse entertainment with anything real. Good speakers are a dime a dozen.

Posted by: Kurt on February 11, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

You know, the Inuit used to maroon their senile old people on ice floes. Are there any ice floes in the Potomac right now?

Posted by: Just Dropping By on February 11, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

You would think that Broder would be talking about the news that Vern Ehlers is not running again. Ehlers holds Jerry Ford's old seat in East Grand Rapids, Broder's home town. He may be tired, or he may not be interested in facing a tea-bagger in the primary, but nothing shows the fall of the responsible GOP and the rise of the howlers better than Broder ignoring his past for the hot new babe in town.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on February 11, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

kc, since you are so convinced that Ms. Palin is more qualified than President Obama, I'm sure you will have no difficulty in explaining to us what you consider those qualifications to be.

Please be specific. What has Ms. Palin accomplished that you consider significant and admirable?

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on February 11, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

No fool like an old fool. Broder is obviously in love.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on February 11, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

If Palin is taken seriously then Broder's words will have to be taken seriously.

Posted by: mljohnston on February 11, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Dean Broder obviously has outlived his sell-by date.

Posted by: sparrow on February 11, 2010 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree; Mr. Broder's remarks were simply taken out of context. He reported that Palin's appearances showcased a "public figure at the top of her game". That's absolutely true - her game is never going to get better, and will likely deteriorate. He suggests she touches on areas where she can "draw a contrast with Barack Obama", and that, too, is true. You couldn't ask for much more of a contrast than the difference between right and wrong, could you?

The more people that take Sarah Palin seriously, the better, provided they are Republican voters. Conservative planners know her candidacy would be doomed to failure, because she's too plainly stupid. Forceful expression of your opinion when it is easily proven wrong, like suggesting Africa is a country, can only carry you so far before even the idiots start to notice what an idiot you are.

America has already had an idiot for president, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone to say that worked out well. Selling stupid is always harder the next time around.

Posted by: Mark on February 11, 2010 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

that broder compares her to george wallace tells you everything you need to know about broder and palin.

why is that the most repulsive of people benefit from the white wash of DC pundits?

Posted by: mencken on February 11, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

though it's completely lost on me, I'm willing to concede that palin has some personal appeal--a good left-of-center friend of mine thinks she's smokin' hot; of course he also thought a barefoot britney spears emerging from a gas station bathroom was one of the most erotic things he'd ever seen, so I suppose white trash sexual fantasies aren't uncommon.

but even (begrudgingly) acknowledging palin's animal magnetism doesn't answer how anyone could argue with face straight that she's a good, qualified, serious candidate for elected office.

there's some bizarro sexual pathology at play here. that it infects revered members of the washington press corp may go a long way toward explaining why the Dean and his ilk are in such panting thrall to republican thugs and strongmen.

Posted by: mencken on February 11, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Quote: "The lady is good.

Good at what?"

She's a good snake oil salesman. And David Broder is apparently buying.

Posted by: Lynn Dee on February 11, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

David Broder is 80 years old. He's just happy for anyone that wakes up the winky.

Posted by: wyoming tall grass on February 11, 2010 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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