Better political columnists, please

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Politico's Roger Simon, suggesting Sarah Palin is the victim of some sort of double-standard:

But you can see why some in the media were shocked and dismayed. Imagine abandoning your office! Imagine quitting and deserting the voters who elected you!

Though this is what Bob Dole did in 1996, didn't he? Dole resigned his Senate seat to run for president. I remember it. I was standing right there when he did it. And I don't recall anybody accusing him of being a quitter.

Well, I do. But even if I didn't, it wouldn't take long to find that example: it's the second result you get when you search Yahoo for "Dole quitter."

Besides, the comparison is insane. Dole quit the Senate so he could devote his full attention to the last few months of a presidential campaign in which he had already wrapped up the Republican nomination. Sarah Palin quit Alaska's governorship to ... to do what? The Republican nomination won't even be decided for three years. She hasn't said what she's doing next.

So the two situations are pretty much nothing alike. And people did call Dole a quitter. Other than that, Roger Simon's suggestion that the situations are the same and that nobody called Dole a quitter is spot-on.

More Simon:

Doesn't she know that the highest form of political communication today is to exactly regurgitate a speech written for you by a speechwriter who has crafted, vetted and polled every phrase, line and word?

But listen to Palin. Listen to how "rambling" and "disjointed" she is. Once upon a time in American politics, this was known as being "plain-spoken," but that time has gone. An entire industry of political consultants has grown up to make sure politicians are never plain-spoken.

Oh, come on. Nobody is criticizing Palin because her quitting speech didn't soar like Mario Cuomo's 1984 Democratic convention speech. They're criticizing her because her speech didn't make any sense. She wasn't "plain-spoken," she was nonsensical. She mixed metaphors. She denounced the "quitter's way out" while quitting. She claimed to have explained why she was quitting after having done nothing of the kind. Her speech was marked by circular logic, an aggressive hostility to the English language, and a stilted delivery that suggested she was struggling to remember the proper order of a series of disjointed phrases -- except that it turns out that was the way she wrote the speech.

If Palin had been "plain-spoken," people would have known what she was saying -- why she was quitting, what she was doing next. That's an essential element of being plain-spoken.

The Politico
Roger Simon
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