Matt Lewis
Over at AmSpecBlog, Philip Klein takes issue with my post today regarding Rush Limbaugh's response to conservatives who have turned on Sarah Palin

In pointing out the error of my ways, Philip argues that blind loyalty to Bush over conservative principle was one of the things that got conservatives in trouble these last several years.  On this, I couldn't agree with him more.  

Clearly, conservatives should have been quicker to question Bush on spending and big-government "compassionate conservatism" -- just to cite a couple examples.  Speaking personally, I can think of at le
ast two major instances where I opposed the White House:  I vigorously opposed Bush's pick of Harriet Miers -- and just last week -- I vigorously opposed the bailout. 

In my estimation, these were both examples of Bush straying from conservative philosophy (my opposition of Miers was not specifically based on her lack of experience, per se, but rather that she was a Bushie loyalist who had not demonstrated her judicial philosophy).  So again, I don't disagree with Philip that writers need to exercise independent judgment.

But here is where I think Philip misses it.  His analogy of Bush and Palin is a false one.  Unlike my criticisms of Bush, the criticism directed at Palin has had nothing to do with philosophical reasons.  Instead, her unforgivable sin was in merely giving a few unimpressive interviews. 

... And what makes me question their motives most is that these folks couldn’t even wait until after tonight's debate to decide whether or not she was prepared to be vice president.  

It seems to me that there are essentially three groups of people who have specific problems with Palin that has resulted in their resenting her.  They are as follows:

1.  Intellectuals -- I'm quite familiar with great thinkers such as Burke, Kirk, Hayek, Friedman, et al.  But I also have great admiration for men like Rush Limbaugh and Ronald Reagan -- both decidedly anti-elitist conservatives.  My suspicion is that much of the criticism of Palin is actually an elitist tendency to be suspicious of anyone who hasn't spent years working in government or academia. 

... It just strikes me as too much of a coincidence that Palin's greatest defenders have been men like Fred Thompson and Rush Limbaugh, while her loudest detractors have tended to be members of the conservative Intelligentsia.  Could it be that they view outsiders like Palin as merely rubes?

2.  So-Called "Conservatives" -- David Brooks might be an intellectual, but he long ago abandoned any claim to being a mainstream conservative.  His criticism of Palin should not surprise anyone.

3.  Opportunists -- Today a producer called me and asked me to be on TV.  The only catch was that I would have to take a position that I really didn't believe in.  I respectfully turned down this opportunity, but I wonder if the next guy they called did the same.  My point is that the easiest way for a conservative to get both respect -- and publicity -- is to attack a fellow conservative.  

In fact, one such conservative website went out of their way to make sure other bloggers knew about one of these anti-Palin posts.  Why would they do this?  A desperate attempt to generate controversy for their new and flailing website, of course.  They were hoping I would link to them.  I did not.

A week ago, I did not know the names of some conservatives who this week stood up against Sarah Palin. 

Today, I know them quite well.  It seems their criticism of a fellow conservative has become quite profitable.

Matt Lewis

Matt Lewis is conservative writer and blogger based in Alexandria, VA.

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