I seriously have no words to introduce this news story from the New York Times:
Let us begin by confessing that, if Sarah Palin surfaced to say something intelligent and wise and fresh about the present American condition, many of us would fail to hear it.
That is not how we’re primed to see Ms. Palin. A pugnacious Tea Partyer? Sure. A woman of the people? Yup. A Mama Grizzly? You betcha.
But something curious happened when Ms. Palin strode onto the stage last weekend at a Tea Party event in Indianola, Iowa. Along with her familiar and predictable swipes at President Barack Obama and the “far left,” she delivered a devastating indictment of the entire U.S. political establishment — left, right and center — and pointed toward a way of transcending the presently unbridgeable political divide.
A “curious thing”? Really? Sarah Palin has been doing that very thing, almost uninterrupted, for her entire political career. Regardless of what people might think of her chances for political office or her activism, Palin has been an anti-establishment voice from the very beginning.
In 2011, the New York Times thinks this is news. I actually had to triple-check this article to make sure it didn’t fall under the Opinion section. I don’t want to take too many swipes at Anand Giridharadas for finally getting around to noticing this, but if the Gray Lady took three years to suddenly discover that Palin was an anti-establishment populist who takes on both parties, then that really says something about their approach to the news.
Palin took on the Republican Party in Alaska, blowing the whistle on corruption in the GOP in Alaska as a member of the state oil commission. She rode that reputation to the governor’s office, where she fought the oil companies to protect Alaska’s interests in its natural resources. Did they not bother to find out these two basic facts about her political career when the Times and other national media outlets busied themselves reporting on the used tanning bed Palin bought with her own money?
Giridharadas reports on the new discoveries from her Indianola speech:
But when her throat was cleared at last, Ms. Palin had something considerably more substantive to say.
She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).
Palin has been making that point on the national stage for more than two years, since Republicans lost to Barack Obama in 2008. If the Times had bothered to cover her objectively, they wouldn’t have waited until 2011 to notice this. But like most of the national media, they’ve been much more interested in covering Levi Johnston than the Tea Parties.
Something tells me, though, that the Times knew this all along. I’m guessing that their sudden interest in the substantive Palin has less to do with being shocked, shocked to find that she’s anti-establishment than in subtly encouraging her to jump into the GOP race, which they might see as a way to split Republicans and keep Barack Obama in office. That’s flawed, too, but having seen their subtle encouragement of John McCain and their disgusting smears of him as soon as he wrapped up the nomination in 2008, their sudden appreciation for Palin has me just a wee bit suspicious.
Update: One commenter points out that the author calls this a “column,” and not a news story. Fair point, but it’s also in the NYT’s US news section, not its opinion section.