Paul  Kengor

Let me explain it this way. Let me tell you the story of the two psychiatrists—the old psychiatrist and the young psychiatrist—who had a practice together. They’d come into their office every day just bubbling with enthusiasm, always happy, upbeat, smiling, and chipper. Then they’d go into their separate suites and have patients come in and lie on the couch all day and talk about the woes in their lives. At 6:00 p.m. they’d come out and the young psychiatrist would be devastated, wiped out by the day, with a stomachache, and just miserable. The old psychiatrist would be just as chipper and smiling and upbeat as he was when he went in that morning. This went on for a number of months.

Finally one day they came out at 6:00 p.m., the young psychiatrist devastated as usual, and the old psychiatrist just as happy and smiling as he was when went in. The young psychiatrist stopped him and said, “I don’t understand it. We do the same thing every day, and I leave wiped out by hearing patients all day, and you come out after patients have been streaming in and out of your office just as upbeat as ever. How do you do it?” The old psychiatrist paused a minute and said, “I never listen.”

Critics on the left would have uncharitably seized upon Reagan’s explanation as evidence of their demeaning assertion that he did not pay attention during White House meetings. Reagan, of course, did not intend the story that way, and would be unfazed by their insulting interpretation—which is precisely the point.

The parable contains a secret to Reagan’s content: When he was dubbed a warmonger and an idiot, blamed for everything from homelessness to AIDS, when it was asserted that he was engaging in an arms build-up not to draw the Soviets to the negotiating table but to launch nuclear war, when protestors staged “die-ins” dressed as mock coffins outside the White House, Reagan simply ignored them. When they screamed, he never listened.

Such accusations drove other men crazy. One president driven over the edge by the left’s rage was Richard Nixon. “Others may hate you,” said Nixon in his White House farewell, “but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.” Nixon let the hate of his enemies consume him, and then they won.

I sense that Sarah Palin understands these things.

Her virtues are destined to bring out the vices in her opponents. She loves, and they envy how she loves. She chooses life, and they assail her choice.

Her temperance and fortitude tempts their pride. Her faith, hope, and charity, inspires their disbelief, despair, and disdain. Her happiness fuels their anger.

Often, maintaining sanity and surviving means simply ignoring the haters. That’s where Ronald Reagan was before he stepped foot in the White House. And that’s a good place for a conservative Republican like Sarah Palin.