Peggy Noonan takes great issue with Sarah Palin comparing herself to Ronald Reagan (h/t Political Wire). Palin has come under fire for her reality show appearances, with Karl Rove saying it doesn’t contribute to the gravitas of someone with serious presidential ambitions.
“With all due candour, appearing on your own reality show on the Discovery Channel, I am not certain how that fits in the American calculus of ‘that helps me see you in the Oval Office’,” Mr Rove told The Daily Telegraph in an interview.
Palin defended herself from Rove’s words:
“You know, I agree with that,” Palin said, during an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” “that those standards have to be high for someone who would ever want to run for president like, um, wasn’t Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn’t he in Bedtimes for Bonzo, bozo or something? Ronald Reagan was an actor. Now look-it. I’m not in a reality show. I have eight episodes documenting Alaska’s resources, what it is that we can contribute to the rest of U.S. to economically and physically secure our union, and my family comes along for the ride because I am family, family is us, and my family comes along on the ride to document these eight episodes for The Learning Channel. … So Karl is wrong right there in calling it a reality show.”
Noonan, speechwriter and special assistant to Ronald Reagan, weighs in:
Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I’ll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president.
The point is not “He was a great man and you are a nincompoop,” though that is true. The point is that Reagan’s career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into politics with him. He wasn’t in search of a life when he ran for office, and he wasn’t in search of fame; he’d already lived a life, he was already well known, he’d accomplished things in the world.