Wednesday, February 3, 2010, marked a new turn in the obsessive attacks on Sarah Palin: associating her with John Edwards.
In the New York Times Timothy Egan sees them as a pair of ethically similar “grifters” using populism to con the American voter–“playing to outrage while taking care of themselves.” In Egan’s view, both ginned up and profited from fears among a broad segment of the public who increasingly resent the success and power of the elites and feel that “America is passing them by.”
Edwards did this an arrant fashion by tearing the labels off his Armani suits and driving someone else’s clunker to rallies where he preached his blow-dried version of class warfare. Now Palin is doing the same thing, Egan believes, by “charging Tea Partiers $100,000 to stoke their fears.” (Yes, she has promised to plow her take back into “the cause,” but Egan assumes that she is a cynic whose only cause is herself.)
The comparison between the pair is asymmetrical and tendentious. Egan doesn’t consider Edwards’ banality of evil—notably the lying treachery committed against wife and family, and friends and supporters. But while Palin’s failings, notably her “incoherence” and her lack of response to Glenn Beck when he asked about her favorite founding father, are not in any way equivalent to Edwards’ evil, they are more fully explored. It’s clear by the end of his piece that Egan isn’t really comparing the two at all, but using Edwards’ nastiness to make Palin seem sleazy by association.
Andrew Sullivan posted a nuttier but more interesting piece on Palin and Edwards on his blog on thursday titled “My John Edwards Failure.”
He begins by acknowledging that he committed a double standard treating Palin harshly and giving a pass to Edwards. But then he immediately reassures the reader that this doesn’t mean he is “backtracking” on Palin. In fact, says Sullivan,
“All I regret is not being able to expose her for real yet.”
A surprising admission of failure by someone who has spent the last year and a half obsessing on her private parts, producing sick innuendoes about her family, and licking his chops over the dull normal baby daddy, Levi Johnston, and the big revelation he’s supposedly getting ready to deliver. Hasn’t he run her to ground yet? What more could Sullivan have done to her after months of subjecting her to the blog equivalent of waterboarding?
In the rest of his post—about his deficiencies is not getting the Edwards story—he cultivates a weepy tone while making a very big deal out of an inessential disclosure. He ignored the Edwards story, he says, because of his “leeriness of investigating people’s sex lives” (obviously he made an exception in Palin’s case). Then he grandiosely struts his “sensitivity” by saying that he also “felt protective toward Elizabeth” whom he didn’t want to hurt at a time when she was “faced with mortality” and that he grieved over her loss of a child.
The bottom line is that he made a mistake “in making an assumption of a baseline of decency in public officials” and won’t do it again. Of course this assumption never did apply to Palin whom Sullivan has been lighting up—especially on the circumstances of Trig’s birth–during all those months when he was studiously ignoring Edwards.
What we can take away from this jive confession is that Sullivan will feel it his duty to concentrate his fire even more fiercely on Palin now that he has “learned” from his kid glove treatment of Edwards.
As if he needed a justification to continue this loony quest.