November 18, 2009

Rod Dreher gives "a conservative read" to Sarah Palin's book. On NPR.

And he's not too kind.
The rap on Palin is that she's too shallow and inexperienced for the presidency — a conclusion that early Palin supporters like me came to during the 2008 campaign.
Like you? Oh, well then... I imagine that's why NPR picked you to do the "conservative read."
Alas, for conservatives in search of a champion, there's nothing in Going Rogue to challenge that conclusion. It's like this: Palin spends seven pages dishing about her appearance on Saturday Night Live, but just over one page discussing her national security views....

... Palin's economic program amounts to nothing more than tax-cutting, deregulating, and the endless repetition of shopworn GOP talking points.
This is the Republican Party's great populist hope?
Sarah Palin is selling a personality, not a platform. That's not dumb. She's doing the best she can with what she has to work with. She quotes her father's line upon her resignation this summer as Alaska's governor: "Sarah's not retreating, she's reloading." On evidence of this book, Sarah Palin is charging toward 2012 shooting blanks.
When reviewing a book, you should ask whether the book achieves what it set out to do. Dreher posits some goal other than the one Palin chose and slams her for not meeting it. She chose to write a personal memoir: What life feels like for Sarah Palin. So it's her "Dreams From My Father." The book Dreher aches for would be her "Audacity of Hope." Presumably, she is — her people are — working on that second book, and it will be fully fleshed out with exactly the conservative policy details that Sarah Palin needs for a presidential run.

Dreher admits that her choice to "sell[] a personality, not a platform" is "not dumb." But he leaps to the conclusion that her personality is "what [all?] she has to work with." That's not necessarily the case, and even if it is, with the infusion of great policy advisors, we will never know that she didn't come "loaded" with policy details.

You can't "charge" toward 2012. It's 3 years away, and it will take 3 years to get here. There's no great need to load up on much policy. What did Obama have in 2005? She is creating and extending her aura. She's following the Obama template. "Shooting blanks" — thanks for the gun imagery, but what the hell was Obama "shooting"?

53 comments:

ricpic said...

Dreher's a hippy conservative. Nuff said.

miller said...

I'm shocked that a dyed-in-the-wool conservative like Dreher would say such a thing! Next we'll see dyed-in-the-wool rock-ribbed conservative David Brooks opining on Palin.

I mean, SHOCKING.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Never heard of him.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Althouse said: "When reviewing a book, you should ask whether the book achieves what it set out to do."

I completely agree with you, here, but I think that you (and a lot of us) have been guilty of doing the same thing in a lot of cases involving Ms. Palin. Much of the criticism has been that she is not "doing (whatever)" in a way that will lead her to the 2012 presidency.

I'm a big Palin fan, and I hope that she does become president some day, but I'm really hoping that she doesn't run at all in 2012. She's a young woman; she has a lot of time to get there, and what she's doing right now is REALLY impressive; it's not something that we've ever seen before. Maybe (hopefully) her goals are not to improve her chances for now, but to build up attention on certain issues (i.e. "death panals") and help people see things in a different light.

What I'm saying is, until she says she's running, don't judge what she does based on the assumption that that is her goal.

John said...

"... Palin's economic program amounts to nothing more than tax-cutting, deregulating, and the endless repetition of shopworn GOP talking points."

It is called small government conservative. If only Republicans would embrace big government sollutions things would be great. The main problem with the country right now is that taxes and regulation are out of control. I would say cutting taxs and regulation is more than "shop worn GOP ideas" they are the fucking truth you miserable idiot.

Dreher is nothing but a know nothing idiot who is hired for the sole purpose of making conservatives look bad. I really hate that motherfucker.

traditionalguy said...

He is pulling a David Frum to give a rational cover to all the jealous women and misogynist men that cannot stomach Sarah's success. How very rational sounding, that is until one asks what the Professor has asked. Sure Sarah has a learning curve ahead of her. And she learned all about Oil and Gas drilling and piplines that ARE important long before Dreher had a spec of knowledge about that subject. KNOWLEDGE is a wonderful thing, and most fools have lots of it. Good character, like a George washington, is the foundation stone on which all good usage of Knowledge is built. I know that!!!

Beth said...

If the problem with Obama is that he's an empty suit, memoir and audicity and all, why would anyone want another run of that, in Palin?

AJ Lynch said...

The American pendulum swings to and fro. It is now rejecting Obama and his policies and will snatch up a small govt populist whoever that might be. Acorn and groups like it are entering a dark, poorer era.


And Dreher- he is ranked about 998 on everyone's Top 1000 Conservative Pundits!

Bissage said...

Perhaps it might be helpful to note that Mr. Dreher, too, is “doing the best [he] can with what [he] has to work with.”

So it goes.

Adele Mundy said...

You just can't trust a guy named Rod.

Monkeyboy said...

Dreher started a lot of the "crunchy CON" stuff when he was at National Review.

I'm pretty sure I remember him in the Peggy Noonan "Not Our Kind Dear" camp.

mariner said...

I don't read NR much.

People like Dreher are the reason why.

WFB must be -- well, you know.

Ann Althouse said...

"If the problem with Obama is that he's an empty suit, memoir and audicity and all, why would anyone want another run of that, in Palin?"

Why, indeed?

I'm not saying she's good, only that she could win like this. Obama did.

AJ Lynch said...

Speaking of A-Rod. Saw a Yankees fan at the Phillies park who was wearing an A-Rod t-shirt. But the Phils fans had grabbed him and defaced his shirt so it read "Gay Rod".

It was so funny to me iot almost made up for losing that game to the Yanks.

Dark Eden said...

There's a class of Republicans that exist solely to criticize other Republicans and say they need to move left for the good of the party. Every single one seems to be employed as the lone conservative voice in an MSM outfit like the NYT or NPR.

What are the odds.

Shanna said...

It's like this: Palin spends seven pages dishing about her appearance on Saturday Night Live, but just over one page discussing her national security views....

Did he go into this thinking it was a policy book? Because I’ve always assumed it would be a bio/dish on the campaign book. If you want policy, hit facebook : )

mariner said...

Sarah spelled out exactly what her policy preferences are, time and again throughout the book. Too bad Dreher can't read Palin [plain] English, but I suspect her target audience understands her perfectly well.

Perhaps he would have considered Sarah profound if she had written a John Galt speech.

(Nah, probably not.)

Shanna said...

If the problem with Obama is that he's an empty suit, memoir and audicity and all, why would anyone want another run of that, in Palin?

I agree that she is too green right now for the big job, as is Obama (I didn’t think this was such a problem for the VP job). If the presidency is her goal, I would have been happier to see her spend a couple full terms as governor. But perhaps that isn’t her goal? Who knows?

Paddy O. said...

"If the problem with Obama is that he's an empty suit, memoir and audicity and all, why would anyone want another run of that, in Palin?"

Why indeed? Althouse asks.

After the campaign there was an almost complete dismissal of Palin as both a charismatic leader who could inspire the masses, or as a conservative giant able to help the movement.

So, she has two things to prove. One, that she can rally people as well as Obama. People respond to personal narratives. This is an attempt to build a connection with her, to foster support, to gain followers.

To do what Obama did.

We don't want another Obama. So, the other step is to prove that she is not empty. She has used Facebook as a fascinating medium to affect the national debate. Indeed, it's likely she radically affected the health care debate, slowing a momentum long enough for people to catch up with what was being attempted.

She has a lot more to show on this side, as those interviews with Couric totally undermined confidence in her policy side, so she has a lot more do to.

It is three years out. Policy arguments may be outdated, and forgotten by even pundits while mostly ignored by everyone else. Getting back a generally positive vibe is the task now.

AJ Lynch said...

The book sales will make Palin financially set for quite a while. That gives her some career latitude.

Money from his books fixed the Obama family's balance sheet.

Synova said...

Heh.

Sort of like complaining to Althouse that she doesn't post about the right things.

;-)

Patrick said...

'Palin's economic program amounts to nothing more than tax-cutting, deregulating, and the endless repetition of shopworn GOP talking points.'

I can live with an economic program like that. wtf would he prefer, less tax-cutting, re-regulating and the endless repetition of shopworn Dem talking points????

hdhouse said...

Ann wrote: " There's no great need to load up on much policy. What did Obama have in 2005"?


Brains.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

hdhouse said: "What did Obama have in 2005"? Brains."

Oh. What did he do with them after that? Someone should really try to find them.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

"When reviewing a book, you should ask whether the book achieves what it set out to do. Dreher posits some goal other than the one Palin chose and slams her for not meeting it"

Man, sounds like my 5th grade English teacher.

Adele Mundy said...

You just can't trust a guy named Rod.

Many a mother of eight has had similar sentiments.

Patrick said...

'Palin's economic program amounts to nothing more than tax-cutting, deregulating, and the endless repetition of shopworn GOP talking points.'

And this guy (Dreher) calls himself a conservative? Probably the same way Lindsey Graham does.

Yeah, those 'shopworn GOP talking points' like fiscal responsibility (OK, not the last 10 years or so), strong defense, kill the tangos, cut the size of government...

Skookum John said...

"Brains."

Facts assumed but not in evidence. Affirmative action taints the competent and incompetent alike. Until he releases his school transcripts, it is reasonable to presume he is the latter. And don't shoot the messenger.

Flexo said...

Dreher is a nobody who somebody foolishly gave a microphone to a couple of times. Now he thinks he's the center of the universe (which is kind of tough with two more nobodies - Frum and Brooks - crowding the area).

kathleen said...

Rod changed his name. He was originally "Ray". Yes, he CHOSE the name Rod.

J said...

"If the problem with Obama is that he's an empty suit, memoir and audicity and all, why would anyone want another run of that, in Palin?"

Of course, Palin has actually run a government successfully, at a couple of levels. Obama's sole success has been at going to school (as far as we know).

"Brains"

The world is laughing at his superior intelligence. We don't need somebody good at going to school - we need somebody who can figure out what to do with the information they have, and the ability to make a decision without a committee.

Adele Mundy said...

kathleen said...
Rod changed his name. He was originally "Ray". Yes, he CHOSE the name Rod.

That's strange. He seems more like a Dick.

JAL said...

@ Beth If the problem with Obama is that he's an empty suit, memoir and audicity and all, why would anyone want another run of that, in Palin?

Because she's not?

kathleen said...

because if we must have an empty suit, at least let it be a "pro-small-government" empty suit in the White House instead of a "rapaciously big government" empty suit.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Why do I think Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan are rolling over in their graves?

kathleen said...

"Yes, he CHOSE the name Rod."

"That's strange. He seems more like a Dick."

Yes Adele, but I'd argue one manifestly implies the other.

Shanna said...

"Brains."

I’m sorry, but this is the answer for college students with no resume.

hdhouse said...

J said...
"Of course, Palin has actually run a government successfully, at a couple of levels. ... "

Ahh right Mayor Palin. She was the one who quit as govenor wasn't she? the one who resigned? That Sarah?...I read somewhere that some govenor just up and quit middle term...was that this woman? Quit? Just up and walked out? Damn you say....someone quitting an elected job for no reason except she wants ...what? to be President? of what? the USA...the good old stars and bars USA? Sarah the quitter wants to be President? Really now.

Ya'betcha.

hdhouse said...

Shanna said...
"Brains."

Sarah Sings:
"I could while away the hours, conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain.
And my head I'd be scratchin' while my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain.
I'd unravel every riddle for any individ'le,
In trouble or in pain.
Dorothy (chimes in)
With the thoughts you'll be thinkin' you could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain.


ya'betcha!

vbspurs said...

You can't "charge" toward 2012. It's 3 years away, and it will take 3 years to get here. There's no great need to load up on much policy. What did Obama have in 2005? She is creating and extending her aura. She's following the Obama template. "Shooting blanks" — thanks for the gun imagery, but what the hell was Obama "shooting"?

OMG. Just when I was losing hope again about you Professor, regarding this issue.

An excellent paragraph, and a very interesting (I suspect, correct) conclusion.

Cheers,
Victoria

paul a'barge said...

Rod Dreher is a girly man.

Kirk Parker said...

Blogger is missing up again.

I'm sure when Althouse wrote the title to this post, there were several additional levels of scare-quotes around the word "conservative".

Right???

Republican said...

I'm worn out from all the references to Palin's doing something unlike anything we've ever seen before.

For example, lyssa writes:

...what she's doing right now is REALLY impressive; it's not something that we've ever seen before.

What is she doing right now that's impressive?

I am just not getting it.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Republican- Really? You haven't noticed how every time she makes a statement (on facebook, of all things), people go nuts? You haven't noticed how she has, despite having no political power whatsoever and no steady media outlet, managed to be a major force in every political debate? You haven't noticed that she wrote a book which was a top seller weeks before it was released?

Where have you been?

(On an unrelated note, I realized upon reading R's quote of me that capitalizing "really" is a poor substitute for the italics that I was too lazy to put in. My apologies; I just meant to emphasize "really," not shout it.)

WV: licorici: a licorice martini

Palladian said...

"So, she has two things to prove. One, that she can rally people as well as Obama. People respond to personal narratives. This is an attempt to build a connection with her, to foster support, to gain followers.

To do what Obama did."

What, be black, be vague and have the entirety of the media pulling for her? Hmmm... well, she's got the vague thing down pretty well.

Nomilk said...

Dreher is a weak sister. Despite his strong opposition to SSM, he won't countenance any criticism of his boyfriend, Queen Mary Jane Milky Loads--largely, I think because he enjoys the criticism of Palin, perhaps even buying into the Trig Truther rot at some level.

Republican said...

lyssa, what Ms. Palin is doing, things that are perceived as being 'extraordinary' and unique, are negatives to me.

I'm not really drawn to someone who might become a presidential candidate and wants to Twitter or Facebook her deepest thoughts to me, who sides with a third-party candidate without bothering to verify facts, who really is NOT a major driving force in any kind of political discourse, etc.

Ms. Palin could not even say "no" when the McCain campaign forced her to wear expensive designer clothes and avoid friendly reporters like Hannity and Limbaugh.

I'm not seeing the "rogue" at all.

Jim Treacher said...

Eventually, will we start seeing reviews from people who've actually read the book?

Jim Treacher said...

Ann wrote: " There's no great need to load up on much policy. What did Obama have in 2005"?

Brains.


Spoken like a true zombie.

Ahh right Mayor [sic] Palin. She was the one who quit as govenor [sic] wasn't she? the one who resigned? That Sarah?...I read somewhere that some govenor [sic] just up and quit middle term...was that this woman? Quit? Just up and walked out? Damn you say....someone quitting an elected job for no reason except she wants ...what? to be President? of what? the USA...the good old stars and bars USA? Sarah the quitter wants to be President? Really now.

Thank you for representing your side of the aisle.

Peter S. said...

Ann,

One post up, you call Palin's book "pablum." And while you are not a book reviewer, that statement certainly constitutes a one-word review of Going Rogue.

So, I've got to ask... is that, in your opinion, what Palin intended to produce? In being "pablum," did the book "achieve what it set out to do"? Or do think it was trying to be something else (non-pablum, something substantial) and failing?

Perhaps you gave the book an unintentional rave. Put that blurb on the cover!

hdhouse said...

lyssalovelyredhead said...
"You haven't noticed that she wrote a book which was a top seller weeks before it was released? "

And you are thinking for one second that Sarah "wrote the book"???????

Really now.

love,

Lynn Vincent

miller said...

Well, of course she tried valiantly to hide the fact that she had a co-writer. I mean, those nasty publishers made her mention this right in her introduction.

Like the Clintons' tomes were written by them. We all know people are careful to say "the book written for Hillary" and "the book written for Bill."

Those distinctions are clearly made everywhere.

Thanks, Mr. Obviousman!

hdhouse said...

Oh but Miller....the pop ups in Ms. Palin's pop-up book don't work....

question of the day is if sarah read it

miller said...

Heh.

I post that everyone knows that Clintons' books (by comparison) were (a) not written by them and (b) not acknowledged by the Clintons that they weren't the writers and (c) Palin acknowledged she had a co-writer -- and the response is (d) I agree with you that my point was invalid but (e) look, Squirrels!

Of course, point (d) is made only by omission.

Thanks for confirming my understanding of leftist thinking -- when confronted by fact, change the subject.

Or,

Look, squirrel!

Octogalore said...

Ann, thanks. You nailed it. Dreher's arguing against a straw-objective. Having skimmed Obama's memoir, it was certainly feather-light on policy. I'd also argue that Audacity of Hope was, as well. It was more of a blue-sky goal list, rather than a hardcore policy and feasibility analysis.