Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan — a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan — analyzed Sarah Palin’s 10 months on the national political stage in a piece published in today’s Wall Street Journal. Noonan hits on exactly why I remain so aghast at John McCain’s cynical decision to nominate her as his running mate, and the blind embrace of her by so many on the far right: Palin’s not a critical thinker. Key quote:
But she was not thoughtful. She was a gifted retail politician who displayed the disadvantages of being born into a point of view (in her case a form of conservatism …) and swallowing it whole: She never learned how the other sides think, or why.
In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn’t say what she read because she didn’t read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn’t thoughtful enough to know she wasn’t thoughtful enough.
Learning how the other side thinks, and why, is the essence of critical thinking. But it’s hard work. It requires intellectual curiosity, discipline, and rigor.
But for Palin to be, as Noonan puts it, unconcerned, nay, proud, of her lack of critical thinking is the final straw for me.
The rest of Noonan’s column fisks all the reasons those who embrace Palin unquestioningly give for doing so. None of them hold up to even the lightest scrutiny.
It’s going to be interesting to see what the GOP does with this half-term governor who couldn’t withstand the pressures of the job, couldn’t put together a coherent thought in situation after situation, told lie after easily provable lie. If she becomes a leader in the party, Republicans face a bleak future indeed.