My RealClearPolitics.com column, Tea parties racist? Not so fast, has drawn not one but two responses on Salon.com. The first is from Prof. Christopher Parker, a political scientist at the University of Washington and the lead investigator on the study of the racial attitudes of Tea Party supporters on which my column was largely based. The second is from Salon.com editor Joan Walsh, whose article based on Parker’s findings, “The Tea Partiers’ racial paranoia,” I mentioned and criticized in the column.
When Prof. Parker’s study was first released, it was widely discussed as evidence that the Tea Party movement was driven in large part by racism. The proof was in the numbers: as Salon.com’s David Jarman summed it up, in a “Who are the tea partiers” article that for some reason can no longer be found at its original URL,
Among whites who approve of the Tea Party, only 35 percent said they believe blacks are hard-working, only 45 percent believe blacks are intelligent, and just 41 percent believe that they’re trustworthy.
Salon.com editor Joan Walsh, whose article also seems to have disappeared but is cached here, sarcastically inquired,
And Tea Party supporters don’t like it when anyone notices the racists in their midst?
As I found when I obtained a fuller set of numbers from Prof. Parker (by now, all the data are on the UW website), the actual picture was far more complex. Continue reading
She’s not the savior of conservatives.
And she’s not nearly as much a victim of the “liberal media” as her defenders make her out to be (at least if we’re talking about the mainstream media; there has been some incredible nastiness on left-wing blogs, though at least no one that I know of tried to claim that she left a trail of bodies in her wake). About the mockery of her religion: yes, it was suggested with no real evidence that she believes the dinosaurs lived 5,000 years ago (it’s actually unknown whether she’s a creationist or not; she does support the teaching of both “intelligent design” and evolution in public schools). However, I do think she got off rather easy on her connection to a witch-hunting African pastor (I suspect for two reasons: one, bringing up a wacko pastor connection would have inevitably called up the ghost of Jeremiah Wright; two, it might have seemed somewhat un-PC to make too much fun of a crazy pastor from Africa and his looney medieval beliefs).
Is it possible that in a few years Palin will reinvent herself as a brilliant candidate? Perhaps; F. Scott Fitzgerald notwithstanding, there are second acts in American life. But it would have to be one hell of a second act. And if it is, I’ll gladly eat my words. As I said in the article, and in other venues, I think there is definitely a place and a need for a conservative/libertarian/individualist feminsm that embraces female strength, femininity, family, and small government — and for the kind of female leadership Palin could have provided if she had lived up to her billing.