How do we say goodbye to what we had? The good times that made us laugh outweighed the bad, and we thought we’d see forever. But forever has blown away. Yes, Sarah, it’s been a long and sweet road; as conservative National Review writer Rich Lowry said of your RNC stage debut in 2008: “It was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America.” But after this week’s Freedom Summit speech…we’re so sorry, Sarah. But the starbursts have gone out; and (to quote Kate Hepburn) our love has turned water.
Like all doomed relationships, that between conservative Republicans and Sarah Palin has been a bit strained for some time now. The warning signs were always there — those little red flags unseen through the lens of colorblind love. But Sarah’s speech at the Citizens United Freedom Summit in Iowa was an un-ignorable flare screeching to the heights of “something’s wrong here” that not even the conservative Reality Bubble could block out.
Bill O’Reilly was one of the first conservatives to open friendly fire on Sarah, albeit in a non-specific kind of way. After the Freedom summit, O’Reilly joked that between Sarah, Trump and the rest, the RNC had better makings for a reality show than a presidential campaign.
Sarah responded on Hannity’s show by calling Bill a “quasi-conservative,” saying that she doesn’t read media criticisms because “she’s knows how you people — those people — are.” Which is fair — Sarah is well known for not reading lamestream media criticisms of her. Mostly because they tend to put those things in the newspapers she also doesn’t read. But Hannity himself spared The Sarah an encounter with hard words. Read my lips: You sounded like a moron.
“Did the Teleprompter go down, did you have trouble with the copy, was there any moment in the speech where you had any difficulty because people had been so critical?”
And that was just the beginning.
Sarah’s harshest criticisms have come from her friends and one-time supporters, who have been doing a bit of navel gazing of late. Palin lover Matt Lewis probably sums it up best. Yesterday’s column on the Daily Beast is a paean to heartbreaking lucidity. Titled “You Betcha I Was Wrong About Sarah Palin,” Lewis’ article is flush with the pain of a man who’s suddenly seen the bloom off his rose, and been forced to admit that the love of his life was never the woman he thought her to be:
“It’s time to admit that, whatever their motivation was at the time, the Alaska governor’s critics always had a point…it does feel like we have finally reached a tipping point where criticizing Palin isn’t only acceptable for conservative opinion leaders, it’s now almost expected.”
Of course, like any guy in the midst of such a painful realization, Lewis resorts to the standard cognitive dissonant lines: “I knew something was wrong the whole time,” and “She changed, and it’s not her fault.” He blames “Trig Truthers” for stressing her out, blames liberals for causing her mind to snap…he even blames himself for criticizing those who criticized her, thus contributing to her downfall. Really, it’s his fault for being too supportive of his beautiful lady love.
It’s not your fault, baby. People change. Nobody could have seen this coming. It’s all my fault.
“I still say she was an incredibly talented political force, but she squandered her opportunity for greatness, and instead became a fad. And it’s worth considering that maybe her early critics saw some fundamental character flaw—some harbinger of things to come—that escaped me.”
It’s okay, Matt. We’ve all been there. In love we see what we want to see, not what there is to see. Though, we do have to point out that “harbinger” isn’t exactly the right word here. A “harbinger” is a sign of things to come. We weren’t reading chicken bones, and required no incredible insight into the future — we only observed the things she was actually doing at the time. There were no signs that she would later become and embarrassing fraud. She was already an embarrassing fraud…you just chose not to see it.
Reality “escaped you” because you deliberately let it go.
Again…we’ve all been there.
Charles C. Cooke of the National review blames “the media” for stressing Sarah out too much; but his sentiment ends with the “self-parody” she chose to slip into:
“[This is the] foreordained culmination of a slow and unseemly descent into farce. Having been mercilessly and unjustly pilloried by the media throughout the 2008 campaign, Sarah Palin had a clear choice in its aftermath: She could sober up and prove the buggers wrong, or she could collapse into ignominious pasquinade. Sadly, she chose the latter.”
Harsh words. But not quite pointed enough, in our opinion. At least considering the fact that he assumes she “made a choice,” that she wasn’t a parody of conservatism the entire time, and that conservatives themselves weren’t simply willfully blind to the fact.
But, trust a woman to find the sharpest point in bluntness. At least, about other women. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker was appropriately sympathetic, but made no bones about the nature of Sarah’s popularity among the boys:
“Palin, though no longer viable in a national race, may deserve more sympathy than scorn. Her incoherence, though not new, has worsened, and she shows signs of someone desperate for relevance. As to the Iowa speech, though her teleprompter apparently froze, a technological glitch can’t be blamed for ‘This is to forego a conclusion.’
“It mattered little that [conservatives] didn’t know much about her. Whatever she might lack in intellectual heft, they apparently reckoned, she made up for in “hot-ness.” Even McCain, a veteran of so many political wars and campaigns, was fooled by Palin’s charms…Let’s be honest. Any man of Palin’s comparable deficits, no matter his winning ways, would have been eliminated from consideration within minutes of opening his mouth.”
So, Sarah it seems is officially over. There’s question now about whether she’ll ever be invited back to another serious political event, no matter how “serious” her declarations of running may be. For the most part, conservatives have recognized her “political ambitions” and appearances as promotional tools for her website, books and television shows.
The fact is, conservatives have largely moved on to a younger model — Sarah’s even more looney conservative replacement, Joni Ernst. But despite what prejudices she may have toward the tea Party’s new Younger Woman, we probably haven’t seen the last of Caribou Barbie yet. She, like most conservatives, will probably spend the remainder of her days desperately clinging to the past, reliving her glory days and trying to drag the rest of us back to them.
So, don’t worry, Sarah. We’ll take with us the memories, and they’ll be our sunshine after the rain.