Although he can't completely lay off the Kool-Aid:
In spite of it all, much of the media saw a credible performance. I could quote the hosannas of some of my colleagues, but I spare them the infamy that will surely follow them to their graves. (The debate's moderator, Gwen Ifill, used the occasion to catch up on some sleep.) Many of my colleagues judged Palin simply as a performer and inferred that her performance would go over well in homes with aboveground swimming pools.
A perfect example is the Wall Street Journal, whose (conservative) editorial page has been absolutely fixated on a strict (Scalian) reading of the Constitution. Did it wonder what in the world Palin meant by the authority she found in the Constitution to increase the role of "the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate"? What? Oh, never mind. The Journal chivalrously ignored the matter. Palin is excused from knowing the limits of the office she seeks.In effect, columnists, bloggers, talk-show hosts and digital lamplighters have adopted the ethic of the political consultant: what works, works. It did not matter what Palin said. It only mattered how she said it -- all those doggones, references to her working-class status (net worth in excess of $2 million), promiscuous use of the word "maverick," repeated mentions of "greed and corruption on Wall Street" (Who? Be specific. Give examples. Didn't anyone here go to school?) and, of course, that manic good cheer.
I will end with its conservative columnist of years past -- the estimable William Safire. In 1996, he called Hillary Clinton "a congenital liar." It was a head-snapping characterization that, alas for Clinton, has defined her for the ages and that she stubbornly vindicates from time to time.Yeah, we know about the sniper fire in Bosnia. But if Clinton's said as many whoppers in public since 1992 as Palin's said in her 15 minutes in the spotlight, I'd like to see the evidence. Yet even Cohen's not calling Palin a "congenital liar" - just an underachiever who's been graded on one hell of a curve.
The point I'd like to make is, if Cohen were suddenly to turn into the liberal he thinks he already is, this is as good as it gets. He's still a muddleheaded writer and thinker, as are so many of his colleagues on the WaPo op-ed page - Broder, Will, Samuelson, Applebaum, Gerson (who is also a partisan hack, plain and simple), and of course Hiatt. I'd be embarrassed, really, to have them on my side in a debate of any consequence.
Flipping any of these people to the side of the angels doesn't produce any real gain: it just turns muddleheaded conservatives and center-right people (whether they think of themselves that way or not) into muddleheaded left-of-center people.
They really all simply need to be gone. If they want to share their opinions with the world, they can start their own blogs, and see how long anybody bothers to read them. But their lack of intellectual clarity is frankly more embarrassing to their philosophical allies than it is an intellectual threat to their opponents.