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The Beating Heart Of The Palin Cult

Ed Kilgore is managing editor of The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a frequent contributor to a variety of political journals.  

After sampling the vast buffet of commentary on the Palin resignation, I'd single out this offering from Kellyanne Conway in a National Review "symposium" on the event:

It may confound old men and spinsters in the media that a mother of five would want to stop the madness and protect her brood from the relentless and vicious attacks by people who literally don't know anyone like her, but, at some level, Governor Palin should be taken at her word: She's had enough.

The advent of the blogosphere means there is not a single unexpressed thought left in America. And one would be challenged to find someone more singularly excoriated by people whose opinions, issued from poison keyboards, matter so little (except perhaps to their cats).

Unpack those three sentences, and you can discover the beating heart of the Cult of Palin, and of much pseudo-populist conservative thinking these days. "Old men and spinsters" who "literally don't know anyone like her?" Has Kellyanne done a focus group to nail down that data point? The slam at bloggers is more conventional, but this whole brief litany of hate boils down to a claim that Palin has somehow been persecuted to the point of self-destruction by isolated and irrelevant people. Aside from wrapping Palin in a cloak of immunity from anything unpleasant that happens to her ("ethics complaints" after all are by definition "frivolous" to the Palin Cultists, just like those tort claims that force the poor private health insurers to boost premiums), such talk exposes a peculiar sensitivity to criticism and mockery that's hard to square with the perpetual claim that conservatives represent the "real America." 

--Ed Kilgore