Caught a good bit of Rush's interview with Sarah Palin today over the lunch hour. I thought her performance was decent if a little uneven. She displayed the same down-home folksy Palin charm that we saw on the campaign trail last year. And there's no denying that there's a certain appeal to that. But she was also very vague (perhaps intentionally so) on most of the issues they discussed. She must have used the words "common sense" a dozen times, although exactly what that meant as far as policy solutions go was not clear. Northing in the interview really changed my existing impression of her.
While I'm far from Palin's biggest fan, I am willing to listen to what she has to say (as I did today) and I remain open to the possibility that she has a significant role to play in the conservative movement (did I really just use the "m" word?). However, I am going to judge her on the merits of her words and actions. Just because liberals and the media exhibit open disdain for Palin does not automatically mean that conservatives should embrace her.
That's one of the painful lessons that conservatives (myself included) should have learned after eight years of George W. Bush in the White House. Too often we were willing to give Bush a pass in areas where he deserved criticism for fear of doing anything to aid and abet the left (and the media) in their relentless quest to destroy his presidency. When we witnessed the incessant and often unfair attacks on Bush on almost a daily basis, our reaction was to circle the wagons around him and close ranks.
There's nothing wrong with defending a politician whom you generally agree with when they're under assault, especially when that assault is being mounted by forces that you adamantly oppose. But that defense should not extend to a blanket of support of all the actions that a politician undertakes or policies they espouse.
Again, I think that on too many occasions conservatives fell into that trap with President Bush. And I think that some degree of the conservative backing that Palin enjoys is similarly founded. If the Democrats, feminists, media elites, and Beltway insiders despise her so, then she must deserve our full-fledged support. While that sentiment is understandable, it's one that conservatives should resist this time around. Let Sarah Palin earn our support. And let her earn it for all the right reasons.