Invoking her own perceived victimhood at the hands of the national media, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin defended GOP Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul yesterday by claiming that MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow attacked him with “prejudiced” “gotcha” questions about his position on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “One thing that we can learn in this lesson that I have learned and Rand Paul is learning now is don’t assume that you can engage in a hypothetical discussion about constitutional impacts with a reporter or a media personality who has an agenda,” said Palin.
But many conservatives don’t appear to be buying Palin’s narrative. On Meet The Press yesterday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that discussion of Paul’s “views about the limit and scope of government” was a “fair topic.” As Huffington Post’s Sam Stein notes, even Rand Paul appears to disagree with Palin, telling WHAS11 that “it really wasn’t the interview so much that was unfair. The interview, I think, was fair.” Watch it:
On Commentary’s blog today, former Bush administration official Peter Wehner criticized Palin’s claim, writing that “the interview was serious and not as Palin portrays it“:
Still, in this particular instance, the interview was serious and not as Palin portrays it. (The interview can be seen here.) The discussion was fairly substantive. It includes excerpts from previous Paul interviews. And it was not focused on a hypothetical; it was about a landmark piece of social legislation about which Paul had expressed serious reservations. It was legitimate to ask Paul the questions Maddow did. And the “gotcha moment” was caused not by Maddow’s questions but by Paul’s answers. It was no more of a “gotcha moment” than it would be to ask a person running for vice president what specific newspapers and magazines she reads and what Supreme Court decisions she disagrees with.
Sarah Palin has undeniable talents — and on many issues, I agree with her. But too often she has become the spokesperson for cultural resentments. Understandably scarred by the 2008 campaign, she is on a quest to clear her name by pounding the media at every turn. They are always to blame — even when, as in the case of Rand Paul, they are not actually to blame. In that respect, and in others, Palin’s style is quite different from, and at times antithetical to, that of Ronald Reagan, who had a charm and winsomeness about him. He made forceful arguments in a winning way. He was blessedly free of rancor and bitterness. Ms. Palin could learn from him, as could we all.
Wehner’s post was linked without disagreement by both the FrumForum and National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru. Wehner’s Commentary colleague, Rick Richman added, “it is important for conservatives to be honest about Rand Paul and not to blame his unacceptable comments on the media that ferreted them out.”