A near disaster.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
WASHINGTON (AP) — The first 100 days of the Palin presidency, according to a consensus of media commentators, have proven a near disaster. Perhaps it was Palin’s scant two years’ experience in a major government position that has eroded her gravitas, or maybe it was her flirty reliance on looks and informal chit-chat. In any case, the press has had a field day, and it is hard to see how President Palin can ever recover from the Quayle/potatoe syndrome. Here is a roundup of this week’s pundit mockery.
LET THEM EAT MOOSE
“Ted Stevens may have gotten off,” wrote Bob Herbert in the New York Times, “but he taught our Sarah something first — like using $100-a-pound beef for her state dinners. And what’s this $50 mil for her inauguration gala? Since when do you fly in your favorite pizza-maker from across the country on our dime? Or send the presidential 747 for a spin over the Big Apple for a third-of-a-million-dollar joyride? Does Palin think she’s still in Alaska and has to have everything flown in from the South 48 by jumbo jet?”
Also in the Times, Gail Collins weighed in on the already-tired yokelism of the new commander in chief. “What we’re getting is Wasilla chic. That’s what we’re getting. She arrives in the Oval Office, and first thing sends back Blair’s gift of the Churchill bust as if it’s a once-worn Penney’s outfit. Then she gives the Brits some unwatchable DVDs as a booby prize — as if she idled the old Yukon and ran into Target’s sale aisle. Did Sarah send Bristol into Wal-Mart back in Anchorage for that ‘engraved’ iPod for the queen? And what’s this don’t-bow-to-the-queen stuff, but curtsy for a Saudi sheik? Maybe that explains why she brags to Stephanopoulos about her ‘Muslim faith.’ So far, the best things going for her are Todd’s biceps.”
IT’S THE MATH, STUPID!
“Well,” lectured Paul Krugman, again in the Times, “we were worried that they didn’t teach math at Idaho U., and now we know for sure they don’t. Is it $1.6 trillion, $1.7 trillion, or $2 trillion in red ink this year? Are we supposed to be impressed that she offers ‘fiscal sobriety’ by cutting 0.003 percent of the budget? She gives out money to those who don’t pay taxes and calls it a tax cut. And now Queen Sarah tells us that in four years she’ll ‘halve’ the deficit, as if she hasn’t borrowed another $5 trillion in the meantime. Does she think we’re morons ? How many ‘Drill, baby, drill!’ oil wells can she tap into up there in Alaska to pay for the extra $11 trillion in debt she’s saddling us with?”
WORSE THAN ‘NUCULAR’
ABC’s Katie Couric summed up the general disappointment with the president’s communication skills. “I tried to warn the American people in that interview a few years back what they would get if they voted for her. Let’s face it: She’s a walking embarrassment. I mean just count ’em up: The mayor of Wasilla thinks Austrians speak some lingo called ‘Austrian.’ Then she tries her hand at Spanish and comes up with some concoction, ‘Cinco de Cuatro.’ Next thing she’ll walk into the window of the Oval Office and expect it to open — oops, she’s already done that. No wonder that when her Teleprompter stalls, she shuts her mouth until it catches up. I’m surprised she managed to get sworn in. And did she think that tasteless ‘Special Olympics’ slur was funny? Or making fun of octogenarian Nancy Reagan’s séances? No wonder Wanda Sykes feels at home.”
A “dragon lady in heels” is what President Palin is, according to the NYT’s Frank Rich. “Don’t fall for this pageant nice-girl stuff. Our former beauty queen is a ward hack. Look at her nominations. Can’t Palin find anyone who has paid his taxes — or do they simply ignore that stuff in no-tax Alaska? Does ‘No more lobbyists’ mean ‘More lobbyists than ever’? Her chief performance overseer doesn’t perform too well herself — and, like Daschle, Geithner, and the rest, skips out on her taxes. When Palin brags about fiscal sobriety, it really means record deficits. In Sarahland, not wanting to take over banks and car companies translates into, ‘She already has.’ Highest ethical standards equates to ‘There are none.’ Calling herself the VA president means she’s just told vets to use their own health insurance.”
“Pretty crude, pretty petty,” Sally Quinn sighed in the Washington Post. “No manners at all. Does our new mom in chief think it’s neat to laugh when her court jester at the correspondents’ dinner calls Michael Moore a traitor and a terrorist — and hopes he dies of kidney failure? Is that funny? Ask those on dialysis. Is that what Alaskan hockey moms do — scream out at every talk-show host who hurts their itty-bitty feelings? Limbaugh, Hannity — who will it be next? Poor old Jim Cramer?”
“She’s a Bush clone,” the Times’s Maureen Dowd chimed in. “Bush is out, Palin is in — but we keep getting renditions, military tribunals, wiretaps, e-mail intercepts, Predator drone executions over Pakistan, the same in Iraq, and even more of the same in Afghanistan — all retrofitted with new ‘hope and change’ banalities. I mean, who’s putting Mommy Dearest up to this — Wolfie, Perlie, Cheney?”
TINGLE FOR HUGO?
“There is no foreign policy,” Chris Matthews said on Hardball, his voice dripping with scorn. “She just tours the world and nods, as if her good looks and serial apologies are going to win us a collective tingle abroad. I don’t think Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad care much that she’s got great legs and a nice wink. How many times can Ms. Vapid say, ‘We’re sorry’ and ‘Hit that old reset button’ and expect thugs to make nice?”
RACE, ALL THE TIME
Eugene Robinson worried in the Washington Post about Palin’s emphasis on race. “Look, she gets 95 percent of the working-class white vote. She promises next month to talk to the ‘Christian world’ from Estonia, of all places. Hello? She goes to the Summit of the Americas and immediately puts race on the table — as if we are supposed to separate those with European heritage from those without. Then she tells Al Arabiyya that she hopes to heal the rift with Europe ‘because of my own shared European heritage that seems to resonate in ways I hadn’t imagined throughout the E.U.’ I guess we’re learning that those ‘gaffes’ last year on the campaign trail, like her ‘typical black person’ remark and Todd’s ‘I am finally proud of my country again’ nonsense were not gaffes at all.”
WHERE IS THE PRESS?
Howard Kurtz summed up the press cynicism the best in his Washington Postcolumn. “How long does she think she can keep picking on her right-wing plants in the audience for these softball Q-and-A sessions? I mean, there are only so many pukey ‘What has surprised you the most about this office? What has enchanted you the most about serving in this office?’ questions you can lob.”
©2009 Victor Davis Hanson