A Sarah Palin who stepped down for the sake of her family and her media-swarmed state deserves sympathy even from the millions of Americans who despise her. A Sarah Palin who resigned in the delusional belief that it would give her a better shot at the presidency in 2012 warrants no such kindness.Over the last few months I have been enjoying the columns of Ross Douthat, the New York Times' new resident conservative: to give a recent selection, here he is offering a critical take on the US Supreme Court, and on using the Constitution to regulate abortion; giving a sane synopsis of where things stand for America in Iraq; and asserting that the basis of affirmative action (if any) will have to shift from race to class.
Either way, though, her 10 months on the national stage have been a dispiriting period for American democracy.
If Palin were exactly what her critics believe she is — the distillation of every right-wing pathology, from anti-intellectualism to apocalyptic Christianity — then she wouldn’t be a terribly interesting figure. But this caricature has always missed the point of the Alaska governor’s appeal ...
Meanwhile the established conservative at the Times, David Brooks — really, as a friend of mine remarked in a nice distinction, the resident Republican — found it in himself to call for Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation two months ago ... a sign of how unsupportable the Republican party line has become over the last year. (The fact that he went off-message and criticised the McCain-Palin ticket during, rather than after last year's election, was an early indicator that the game was up.) This week, less than ten of the GOP senators found it in themselves to agree.
In other off-topic news, Barbara Ehrenreich points out that people who were already poor have been hit by the downturn, even if they're not making the news;
a UN official talks about what's right with Japan;
a reporter presents a good-news story on orphanages in Tanzania;
and Matt Bai writes on Obama's sense of humour.