Why the Washington Post Was Right to Publish Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin‘s column today in the Washington Post calling for President Obama to boycott the Copenhagen summit is pure malarkey. Which is why the Post was absolutely right to print it.

Those who are claiming that the column was factually inaccurate miss the point. Since when has anything that Palin ever said been accurate? It’s like accusing Sarah Silverman of failing to be serious or Hugh Hefner of being promiscuous.

Palin isn’t interested in accuracy, but causing a stir and, above all, positioning herself as a serious candidate for the GOP’s nomination in 2012, which keeps moving to the right, partly in response to Palin and partly because Palin is responding to it. So far, she’s done an excellent job of trying to establish herself as a major voice in the party. Now she needs to tackle policy, and she’s doing it.

Her column epitomizes conservative conspiracy thinking and ventilates her views rather deftly (does anyone think that Palin actually wrote it?). It accuses a cabal of radical scientists of pushing alarmism about global warming. To be sure, Palin, in order to give her views a veneer of sobriety, concedes that warming is actually taking place, just that it can’t be pinned on humans. How come conservatives, who are always stressing individual moral responsibility, suddenly abdicate it when it comes to global warming?

More than anyone, Palin represents the enraged base of conservatism that sees Obama as a traitor, intent on selling out America to the terrorists, globalists, and any other “ists” lurking out there. The column, then, should be a wake-up call for anyone who thinks that Palin and her ilk are going away. It was one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve had in recent years. The thought kept going through my mind: “Imagine if someone with these views actually became president.”

It probably won’t happen. But it could. In allowing Palin to air her wacky views, the Post isn’t doing its readers a disservice. It’s alerting them to what the radical right intends to accomplish if it’s returned to office. The Post shouldn’t be scapegoated for printing Palin’s column, but congratulated for running it.

Jacob Heilbrunn
The Huffington Post

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