The Daily Caller stepped in it today. In a fairly innocuous piece about Sarah Palin's TLC reality show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," they reported on a story already in the news, here and here, about the state tax subsidies the show's producers received for filming in Alaska. From today's DC:
...in a political age where it’s controversial in many circles to defend public funding of National Public Radio, critics panned Palin for supporting a measure that forced taxpayers to foot the bill for a private media project after many statements from the former governor in support of a government that only plays a limited role in the economy.
“I’d bet, like many politicians, Palin’s views on the proper role of government becomes more flexible as it comes closer to her own interests,” wrote the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney on Tuesday.
Jim Geraghty of National Review said that the reality show’s subsidy was “ridiculous” and that the policy was “problematic for a crusader for small government to end up collecting a seven-figure paycheck from an endeavor that received a seven-figure subsidy,” while Peter Suderman of the libertarian Reason Magazine cracked: “In 2008, Sarah Palin, then the Governor of Alaska, signed a special tax credit for filmmakers into law. … Who’s benefiting from that tax subsidy now? … none other than Sarah Palin.”
Palin, as she often does, responded ably to those criticisms on Facebook. From the last big paragraph:
“It’s...a false accusation to suggest that signing this bipartisan bill somehow goes against my position on the proper role of government,” she said. “I’ve said many times that government can play an appropriate role in incentivizing business, creating infrastructure, and leveling the playing field to foster competition so the market picks winners and losers, instead of bureaucrats burdening businesses and picking winners and losers.”
This actually seems like pretty small potatoes -- it's the kind of gotcha piece that every politician eventually faces.
What's striking, though, are the comments below the Daily Caller piece. Many of them display the kind of tripwire defensiveness I've noticed a lot in die-hard Palin fans. And Palin's Facebook response is also a little over-the-top. There's a lot in it about "burying" her response -- in reality, it's there, unburied -- and a weird shot at Tucker Carlson --
"As I noted in my statement (which was curiously buried by The Daily Caller – whose editor-in-chief was recently called on the carpet for publicly using a degrading term to describe women. C’mon Daily Caller, we can’t afford you slipping up like this. America is counting on more professionalism than that."
Okay, full disclosure: I like Sarah Palin. I like her especially because of the way she totally unhinges the Left. I don't think she'd make a good president, though. And I'm unwilling to accept, as some Palin fans demand, that this is some kind of slur. There are literally hundreds of people and politicians whose temperaments and judgement and values I like -- Roger Ailes, my dad, Peter Robinson, Ursula Hennessy, George Will, just to name a few. I'd even throw in most of the Ricochet membership.
That doesn't mean I think any of them should be president.
The notion that because she's been on the receiving end of a lot of nasty press -- and she has -- that that somehow exonerates her from any criticism, even the small-bore penny-ante stuff about state tax subsidies for film production, is just way, way, way too hypersensitive. It doesn't do her any good, either. It makes her look small and prickly. It makes her look Nixonian. Not Reaganesque.
Sarah Palin needs to take a deep breath. The DC piece was a fair piece of gotcha, and her response -- when she finally got to it, after lots of drama and stemwinding and self-pitying justification -- is a perfectly fair, perfectly persuasive answer. She should have left it at that. She'd seem a lot taller and more -- dare I say it -- presidential if she had. I mean, seriously: as president, would she be spending all of that time and energy pushing back against every single small-potatoes piece? This is what makes some of us think: Senator Palin, great; President Palin, not so much.
And the knee-jerk paranoid defensiveness of her fans doesn't do them any credit, either. They don't seem like supporters. They seem like disciples. They need to chill.