Palin-Bashing Season on the Right

I’ve noted this in passing, but it really does bear a bit of emphasis that all of a sudden it’s become fashionable on the Right to whale away at Sarah Palin for, well, the very things about her liberals have been citing all along. Today someone who was once one of her heartiest defenders, Matt Lewis, turned his back on Palin along with many others:

Has conservative genuflection at the altar of Sarah Palin finally come to a halt?

In case you missed it, her speech in Iowa this week was not well received on the right. The Washington Examiner’s Byron York called it a “long, rambling, and at times barely coherent speech” and National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke said she slipped into self-parody. And there’s more. The Examiner’s Eddie Scarry, for example, contacted several conservative bloggers who were once Palin fans, but have since moved on.

Lewis is definitely in that camp, but is distinguishing himself by admitting Palin critics had a point all along.

Palin was once a reform-minded governor who enjoyed an 88 percent approval rating. But something happened on the way to Des Moines. I suspect the most vicious attacks (especially the “Trig Truther” stuff) radicalized her and embittered her, but I also suspect she also took the easy way out. Instead of going back to Alaska after the 2008 defeat, boning up on the issues, continuing her work as governor, and forging a national political comeback, she cashed in with reality-TV shows and paid speaking gigs.

Lewis makes an even more valid point that I’ve been dwelling on:

Palin has also been harmed by virtue of having created a generation of competitors and replacements. Some of the candidates she endorsed—take Sen. Ted Cruz, for example—are smarter, more relevant versions of her. Why book Palin when you can get Cruz or Paul or Michele Bachmann or… Ben Carson?

Or Mike Huckabee? The answer is you don’t.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.