Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

An Object Lesson in Imprudence

Frustration and political passion can be a dangerous combination. It leads otherwise good and spirited people to do and say things that are not only imprudent but, sometimes, even contrary to their own considered judgment. Throw in a smidgen of female jealousy directed against a comely and well-appreciated governor of Alaska . . . and kaboom! You get hysterical columns like this one from Kathleen Parker. This is the kind of thing one writes, talks over with close friends, and then deletes. It is not the kind of thing a pro would publish. Perhaps it is the subject of an email sent to a wiser (or at least less irritated) friend who will instruct one about where she dangles too close to the edge and then, graciously, pull her back a bit. Whatever of truth there is in such a column is now forever obscured by its bile and pettiness ("Miss Alaska?").

Jonah answers it pretty fairly at the Corner. I’d add that the worst thing about this piece is that Parker attempts to take on the role of instructor to the GOP about political prudence! She’s giving counsel on how to approach the argument for the purpose of persuasion!? Great. Now we know who to call whenever we need a ready and grating insult for our friends. Thanks, Kathleen.

Discussions - 23 Comments

"Jonah answers it pretty fairly at the Corner."

I see the irrelevant Corner is planning another cruise. They are begging for money again at America’s Shittiest Website™ and it appears to have caused a bit of an uprising among their target audience of call-center employees, gun collectors, survivalists, and under-medicated paranoid schizophrenics. A number of potential contributors this year have objected strenuously to sending any more of their monthly disability payments to K-Lo, the Pantload, and those other exemplars of erudition over at National Review just to be wasted on cruise ship cocktails and shore-leave tequila bashes.

Support your local entertainment venue and sign up for a chance to go cruisin with Jonah, smoke cigars and pretend you're all serious thinkers.

Kathleen's husband must have let it slip that he found Palin attractive.

Fuller Avery wrote: Support your local entertainment venue and sign up for a chance to go cruisin with Jonah, smoke cigars and pretend you're all serious thinkers.


And where do authentic long-heads like you get together, Fuller? At the Motel 6 in Valdosta, Georgia? Or perhaps you don't convene, but just sit in your separate coops and spit at the common herd.

Clint said: Kathleen's husband must have let it slip that he found Palin attractive.


You may have something there. But perhaps we're seeing signs of a deeper problem. Peggy Noonan, and now Kathleen Parker, have turned remarkably sour in several recent columns. Looks to me like a combination of emotional and intellectual exhaustion. Both Noonan and Parker have done pretty much the same dance for a good many years, and now they're finding that they can't strut any new steps.


I hate to psychologize, but I'm getting a whiff of projection here. Both have chastised conservatives for getting stuck in a rut and failing to freshen up their act. But isn't that precisely what has gone wrong with Noonan's and Parker's writing of late?

Ah, psychologizing the opponent.

Paul Weaver wrote: Ah, psychologizing the opponent.


Psychologizing, yes; I already said that. Opponent, no; that's your misinterpretation.


I suppose the point of your comment, if it has a point, lies buried in the "Ah." Between you and Fuller Avery, we've got some real intellectual firepower here.

Sounds like Fuller just returned from that mind-blowing "Nation" cruise Hayward noted last week. You know . . . the one where the pirates don't need swords to convince you to walk the plank.

Julie, Sarah Palin is beyond merely "comely."

As for Kathleen Parker, ----------- there are few spectacles more squalid than that of a Conservative columnist going off on the Conservative base, all for the purpose of gaining respect and garnering some "love" from the media establishment. How many times have we all been subjected to the tawdry display. Conservatives setting off on the quest for respect from the establishment remind one of those who set off in days gone by, in the search for the great and mythical El Dorado.

Dan, because I think you are right about your first point I think it is entirely possible that Clint is also correct (at least in a metaphorical sense) in his. People want to treat these sort of comments as silly and beyond the realm of serious political discussion but they should take caution before rushing to dismiss this talk--painful though it may be to hear. To dismiss such speculation as mere psychologizing and irrelevant is to fall victim (yet again) to the consequences of ignoring hard and fast truths about human nature and, especially, the differences between male and female nature.

There is something about Palin's good looks, I'll submit, that is particularly grating to women--especially to women on a par with Palin but of an age just beyond her's. That's why they were so gleeful to imagine that they had permission (via the Gibson and Couric interviews) to say, "Well, yeah . . . but she's dumb!" That's always the trump card of the insecure woman against her prettier rival. (It's also a very ineffective trump card--the equivalent of stamping one's foot--but I digress . . .)

I'm not saying that Palin ought to have been beyond criticism for her poor performance and even for some inconsistencies in her views or actions. But every thinking human being knows that it was over-the-top--that it was well beyond deserved. Any rational person who is not blinded by partisan liberalism knows that there was something vengeful in it. This coming from the left was well to be expected--they had partisanship (and bigotry) added to their jealousy. But I think it was also predictable coming from the right. It's a bit amusing to watch some conservative men scratching their heads at this development in our politics. It's like they've never met a woman until now. I agree that the development is is lamentable and that it is an irritating complication when one is trying to do politics. But it is a reality that has to be taken into account moving forward in our politics when women promise to play a more prominent part. Perhaps that is one reason (among others) that women have not played a more prominent part in politics until recent times.

Let me be clear: I do not despair of the more prominent part women promise to play in politics. Indeed, I think it may be quite interesting and could be a very good thing--particularly given the wider variety of female types that now promise to become more involved. It will add much (both good and bad) to the on-going conversation about America. I just hope that as women take on more of these roles, men do not turn a blind eye to these little games (or worse, bow to them). You guys have your counterparts, to be sure. But you needn't fear that most of us are not on to your more precious tricksters. We only need to think back to Mr. Clinton. Sometimes, however, I worry about you men.

Prudence dictates that the next time you find a conservative female politician to be "hot" . . . whether she be of the librarian or another variety . . . you had keep the conversation private and close your gaping jaws. It turns out that there are quite a number of us women (and, truly, I'm sorry about this) who lack a sense of humor in these matters. Lacking a sense of humor about these things, however, really means lacking a sense of security. And if you wanted to, you all could really do something about that . . . at least on a small scale.

She is attacking Christianity. What about the Liberal Religion? It is taught it schools and presented as absolute truth while suffering from the same problems. Darwinistic atheism or whatever, expects people to believe that life sprang from primordial soup, which was never duplicated or validated. Life has a better chance of forming in a two day old bowl of tomato soup. Science is full of holes that require leeps of faith just as 'extreme' as burning bushes ect. Speaking of this in the academy lands one in hot water like like saying the earth revolves around the sun in the middle ages. This is nothing new, totalitarian regimes promote atheism in some form or another so it should not surprise anyone that religion is being drug down again. I'm surprised this tactic stil has any shock value. As for Palin, call her Dan Quale part two and move on. The media killed her credibility already rather waranted or not. I wonder if SNL would be subject to the fairness doctrine? Even if it was making fun of Obama would probaly be called racism.

Well, so much I guess for the "pretty woman who writes."

You certainly did a heckuva job in analyzing (or was it just smearing) Parker's character, judgment, personality, psyche, etc., but what about the substance of what she wrote, regarding religion and your Republican party? I hardly think it was fair to characterize it as "hysterical." She is obviously concerned with the future of the GOP.

I liked her before she went pro-Arab. I guess that's why Craig has a thing for her now. I bet he wants to see her in her burka.

Craig Scanlon says: You certainly did a heckuva job in analyzing (or was it just smearing) Parker's character, judgment, personality, psyche, etc. ...


And Parker did a heckuva job classifying all religious conservatives as the "lowest brow" of Republicans. If that isn't smearing an entire class of people, it'll do until she can think up a real smear.

As I said, Craig--and you (as ever) clearly missed--whatever there was of truth in Ms. Parker's article was obscured by the insertion of bile and pettiness. It would not be prudent (to say nothing of intelligent) to take such an ignominious thing as the starting point of a serious conversation about the future of the GOP.

Sarah Palin was Miss Alaska wasn't she?

Also this column was essentially par for course with Kathleen Parker, or at least it is easy for me to read it as blindly as Craig is accused of doing.

Actually the way I read it is more interesting, but I think Kathleen sometimes writes in such a way as to set things up.

Who is the real Palin? First of all regular folks will never know and secondly it doesn't matter because regular folk will form an opinion on the basis of a loose association of ideas. anti-Palin=anti-religion.

What is interesting is how somehow like Palin can emmerge and instantly invigorate a base. How the hell does the base know that it is invigorated...well candidate X stands for Y or has noise makers that do. What is somewhat unreal is how proxied out politicians can become...

How is Paul Weaver doing? Psychologizing the opponent indeed...

You see the way I see the big picture is that folks bother to pay attention of Parker or No Left Turns for that matter just so they can develop a baseline for how that person thinks, so when that person thinks or writes about something they don't know about: bam they know if it is something they are likely to agree with or disagree with.

A perfect opponent is in some ways more influencial than a perfect friend/ally. A perfect friend might persuade you to change your mind about something the likes of which you already have an opinion, but a perfect opponent can persuade you to change your mind about something the likes of which you know nothing. Since the sum of the unknown is always greater than the sum of the known the perfect opponent is a more precious find.

I have thus discovered the corollary to Machiavelli's fear dictum: it is more usefull to know your enemy than to know your friend. Friends persuade and ennemies confirm.

Ironically then what do you presume Mrs. Parker is trying to do by attacking religion and Palin simultaneously?

The flip side of the coin is the endorsement by Camille Paglia co-joined with optimism about abortion rights and feminism.

As for object lessons in Imprudence they are always just as good as object lessons in prudence provided only that you always know which is which. To know which is which having a perfect opponent solves the matter nicely. Few barometers are quite so accurate or perceived to be so by force of habit custom and use as religion/ideology. In an idealized world we would simply adjust all comments by weighing them against our estimate of how far off our scale of values they fall, while friends and allies are typically 5-10 degrees in either direction, the direction or displacement may be too small or of too little import to concern us.

While we don't live in an idealized world I am not sure that something approximate to this does not in fact govern our thinking at least by force of habit.

So psychologizing the opponent is central to human behavior as a political animal.

Michelle said:

"And Parker did a heckuva job classifying all religious conservatives as the
'lowest brow' of Republicans. If that isn't smearing an entire class of people, it'll do until she can think up a real smear."

That's quite incorrect. Read it again. Parker clearly makes the distinction, which is obvious enough to any casual observer of the GOP, between these two subsets within the party: practitioners of "armband religion", which she alternately describes as "the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP" and the "other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship)." I'm not really sure what she means by the term "oogedy-boogedy," but I might guess that it could be connected to Palin's ease around the witch-hunting pastor and folks who speak in tongues. Without addressing if it's a positive thing or not, I'd say that there are clearly a couple of bloggers of the armband variety here at NLT, with the remainder being a bit harder to read.

Julie, you can call it bile or petty if you wish, but I would just say that Parker was blunt and straightforward. Perhaps that's painful for those within the party. Do you think that Parker's playing some saboteur role? I think she's clearly concerned about the party she's called home for however many years, and she has a diagnosis of what ails it.

And no, Palin wasn't Miss Alaska. What I've read says that she was Miss Wasilla but came in 3rd place in the '84 Miss Alaska pageant. Sure, I perhaps it's not a compliment (some might ask "why not?"), but I hardly think that referring to Palin as "Miss Alaska," when she has clearly sought such roles before, is beyond the palin...err...pale.


Mrs. Ponzi seems to retreat to convenient absolutes of human nature when necessary, and calls 'imprudent' any serious intellectual challenge to what is obvious to most people, the utterly bizarre religiosity that has dominated republican politics for years. Only weeks later does she sheepishly speak against the appaling hot-librarian theme heralded on this site. Bush is what got me interested in politics - when he said "Jesus Christ" was his favorite political thinker, with that frat boy grin, I immediately knew he was a dangerous sickening force. This site will stand as a testament to supporting this titanic fool, and to conservatives being arrogant, irrational, and self-deceived during the Bush years. Too in love with the sound of your own voices. Too overcome with self-satisfaction at your cleverest formulations. The timeless assurances of your rightnesses is now to be the object of ridicule for decades to come. Yet Mrs. Ponzi remains the Cereberean guardian of almost meaningless political nonsense ready to be forgotten by history. sic semper tyrannis.

Craig, based on your foregoing post, I believe that you find more than a couple of us (and many other things, I'd guess) "hard to read." This is certainly true when the subject is religion, but--really--that's only part of the problem for you. You may find that you get a lot more from reading the posts of people with whom you disagree if you at least make an effort to understand them as they understand themselves. Otherwise, what's the point? Beyond trading jibes, that is? I believe that Parker probably thought she was making a serious point--but she got caught up in her emotion and she wrote a perfectly nasty little article. Why should we discuss the merits of it as if it were a serious thing?

And I'm surprised that a man of your professed "tolerance" can stomach the use of terms like "oogedy-boogedy" when describing the deeply held religious beliefs of others. But I guess your "tolerance" in such cases only extends to those whose religious beliefs include within them a desire to annihilate your fellow citizens. Especially if those fellow citizens are "oogedy-boogedy" types and they are doing their best to keep your freedom to decry them protected.

"Why should we discuss the merits of it as if it were a serious thing?"

Well, even Lucianne's son, in the piece you linked to, said he had "no problem with arguments about how the GOP has become too religious." Which is what Parker wrote about. So it seems that you and he both take issue with her tone, her attitude. But aside from her writing "Miss Alaska" (about a woman who actually vied for the title) and referring to the "lowest brows" little, if anything, is said by you or Lucianne's son about Parker's argument. The argument will have to be addressed, whether Parker brings it up, or David Brooks, or Rush Limbaugh (if he can take a brief time-out in his hatefests for Obama or "Shrillary"). It matters not to me personally if the NLT bloggers address it. I just think that you're being much too dismissive of Parker. As for the "low brows," well, I must say that after I saw a few unedited videos of McCain/Palin supporters at the rallies in Pennsylvania, West Va., and Ohio, it was exceedingly hard to avoid words like that, no matter how charitable I tried to be as I held back my urge to vomit in reaction to some of their hate-filled venom (true "bile" that makes Parker's words come off like candy in comparison).

As for your faux-surprise at the limitations of my (supposedly "professed") "tolerance," I wonder what you are basing this on. Where did you come up with this notion that my tolerance (a term you're wielding like it's a sort of insult, I must note) "only extends to those whose religious beliefs include within them a desire to annihilate your fellow citizens. Especially if those fellow citizens are 'oogedy-boogedy' types and they are doing their best to keep your freedom to decry them protected."???

There is so much wrong in that accusation, it's tough to know where to start. You seem to be operating - in an indirect code of sorts, never being entirely straightforward or clear - from these problematic premises, caricatures (as seen on NewsMax, WorldNetDaily, Limbaugh, NRO, Claremont, etc.) and stereotypes:

- I'm some Bill O'Reilly-ish caricature of a San Francisco "secular type" who is an atheist hater of Christians but who embraces Muslims just on principle. Please.

- That Islam is an intrinsically and uniquely violent religion, wholly and monolithically devoid of any differentiation among its followers. Wrong.

- That I, caricature that I am, have some sort of built-in sympathy and compassion for Muslims, perhaps especially the homicidally fanatical ones, that I don't have for Christians. Wrong.

- That I believe all Christians are like the disturbingly extreme set that happily call for the destruction of the entire Middle East (perhaps minus Israel) or the death of all Arabs, Muslims, etc. Wrong again.

- That I have a special tolerance for Islamic fanatics who wish to kill American Christians. Also wrong.

- That I'm tolerant of terrorism. This doesn't really merit being dignified with a response (and I'm not implying anything else here necessarily has, even if I've gone ahead and done so).

- Your last sentence is especially baffling. How are the "oogedy-boogedy types" "doing [their] best to keep [my] freedom to decry them protected"? Is the implication here pointing to literal Christian soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? My first problem with that premise is that the warfare in those locales is meant to, or is succeeding to, protect any of my freedoms. That can be declared by the right ad nauseum, but it doesn't make it so. Secondly, I question if many of the "oogedy-boogedy types" really wish for me to have the freedom to decry (or, simply, criticize) them or their leader(s) or any aspect of their beliefs. The emphasis is too often on the proclamations of who's dying for the rights rather than anything resembling affirmation or encouragement to actually USE those rights for anything but the most facile, jingoistic grandstanding. So, I wouldn't put much confidence at all in them protecting my freedoms were that really the objective of their fighting. Lastly, let's not forget that, whatever the purpose of the current wars that the U.S. is engaged in, our troops are not Christian troops, they're American troops, and appropriately enough they are, as individuals, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, agnostic, atheist, etc. (but not so many, or any, Amish, interestingly)

For your future reference, Julie, I'm agnostic, and while I respect an individual's right to believe in any sort of unproveable entity, place, deity, etc., I lose my tolerance pretty quickly for religious extremists, of which there are both Muslim and Christian extremists aplenty. I'm also not a fan of the intermingling of God and politics - the more specific it gets, the less I like it. I haven't liked it during the Bush years, and I haven't liked what I've heard from the Obama camp, either. I'm not a fan of fundamentalist atheism, either. I'll leave it at that. Now you needn't operate on faulty assumptions.

Craig Scanlon says: Parker clearly makes the distinction ... between these two subsets within the party: practitioners of "armband religion", which she alternately describes as "the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP" and the "other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship)."


In fact she is far from clear about that distinction. Only a couple of paragraphs later, she aims her criticisms at "religious conservatives." So much for careful distinctions.


Parker is equally out to lunch with this statement: "Meanwhile, it isn't necessary to evict the Creator from the public square, surrender Judeo-Christian values or diminish the value of faith in America."


What planet has she been living on for the past 40 years? Religion has been driven neck and crop from the public square. (Check a few of the landmark Supreme Court decisions in this area.)


Congress opens each day's business with a prayer. Given that school children aren't permitted to do that, what are we to make of Parker's assertion that it isn't "necessary" to diminish the value of faith in America? The value of faith has already been greatly -- and unnecessarily -- diminished by the mindless, politically correct assault on religion.

Let me attempt to summarize. Julie seems to be saying that while Parker may have had legitimate points, the way she wrote them was foolish and undermined her article. I agree. I'm not a fan of Palin for lots of reasons, but when I looked at Parker's article, I thought "b*tch." Having seen Parker do her thing and combining it with her disdain for Palin, it's not hard to imagine Parker is a bit too jealous of her turf.

I'm not going to take the time to plow through these posts, but I'm sure that liberals are whining about conservatives not addressing Parker's "serious" critiques. We'll address them, but it would be nice if a reasoned argument were made first. Parker brings up some serious problems perhaps, she undermines her points with over-the-top personal attacks.

Palin and Parker both seem shallow. Perhaps they deserve each other. Conservatives deserve better arguments.

For future reference, I disagree with the views of secular extremists.

Wow. That is a really bad article by Parker. For one thing the writing is terrible. It is like some anti religous right rant written for the WEST WING that was rejected for being too over-the-top. Nothing helps return civil thoughtful debate to a conversation by calling your opponents oogedy boogedy.

The irony is that Parker's article is nothing but spittle flecked invective. There is no argument about how religous conservatives are responsible for the GOP's current political woes. The hate (and snobbery) comes through but nothing else. There is no alternative policy agenda that might attract the voters lost with the expulsion of religous conservatives. Does Parker want the GOP to become pro choice or pro gay marriage? I'm willing to listen to the policy changes she wants and her explanations of how they will revive Republican fortunes (though I might differ on principled or electoral grounds). But all I got from her article is her demand for the expulsion from politcs of people that are intolerant, fanatical, hateful, and blind to reason. She should be careful what she wishes for.

The mainstream media illuminati made Palin out to be someone incapable of leading, and they're the reason she was dealt a bad hand.

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