Sarah Palin knows a little bit about generating attention for herself. The former half-term Alaska governor surely realized, for example, that when she declared she’s “seriously interested” in running for president – of the United States, no less – it’d cause a stir.
And that’s arguably a shame. There’s literally nothing to suggest the right-wing personality is serious about a political campaign, and Palin very likely makes comments like these as a sad little ego exercise.
But more important was Palin’s cringe-worthy speech at Rep. Steve King’s (R) Iowa Freedom Summit, fairly characterized as a “bizarre improvised rant,” in which the Alaska Republican came up with a new condemnation of President Obama.
“An impatient president doesn’t just get to trample our Constitution and ignore Congress just because he doesn’t get exactly what he wants every time he wants it,” Palin said. “It’s like an overgrown little boy who’s just acting kind of spoiled. And moms, we don’t put up with that, do we?”
Republican rhetoric that infantilizes the president is more common than it should be. It’s also creepy.
Palin’s latest word salad was awfully similar, for example, to Rep. Joe Walsh’s (R-Ill.) rhetoric a few years ago about the president being “like a teenage boy.” House Republicans, Walsh added at the time, effectively played the role of Obama’s “parents.”
Rush Limbaugh has referred to Obama as “the little black man-child,” and compared him to “a little boy” that women voters “want to protect.”
More recently, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece last year from a former Bush/Cheney administration official that accused the president and his team of being “self-obsessed teenagers.” (In all, the piece referred to Obama and his team as “teenagers” six times in nine paragraphs.)
As a factual matter, the rhetoric is hard to understand. Love the president or hate him, Obama tends to conduct himself gracefully and with dignity. If we’re comparing the president and Sarah Palin, and we ask ourselves which one brings maturity to the table, it’s not a close call.
But it’s this larger pattern of far-right infantilizing rhetoric that rankles. Republicans held the last two Democratic presidents in contempt, but I don’t recall efforts to characterize Clinton and Carter as being less than an adult.
As for the rest of Palin’s speech in Iowa, watching the whole jaw-dropping video, it’s striking to realize that, just over six years ago, tens of millions of Americans were prepared to put her one heartbeat from the presidency. Some of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) misdeeds are harder to forgive than others.