A demagogue is defined as a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing people's emotions, passions, and prejudices. Which is exactly what George Will did this morning, as Doug Powers observes:
Doug recalls that Will's soft-spoken hysteria reminds him of how the elitists demagogued Ronald Reagan, either as “a doddering old fool” without sufficient mental capacity or as a warmongering Hitler salivating at the prospect of starting a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. But Reagan, as it turned out, negotiated with Gorbochev and signed the INF Treaty, which was the first nuclear arms control agreement to actually reduce nuclear arms, rather than establish ceilings that could not be exceeded.
George Will seems to think American voters are concerned that our nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of… Sarah Palin:
“The threshold question, not usually asked, but it’s in everyone’s mind in a presidential election. ‘Should we give this person nuclear weapons?’ And the answer [in Palin's case], answers itself.”
“You know how chicks are… she’ll probably get upset with a Real Housewives of Atlanta episode and hit ‘the button’…”
And speaking of George Will and Ronald Reagan, Mark Levin has pointed out in defense of Sarah Palin:
George Will missed the Reagan Revolution not only in 1976 but as late as 1980. In the 1979 Republican Presidential Primary, his first choice was Howard Baker, his second choice was George H. W. Bush, and his third choice was Reagan. Not until days before the 1980 general election did he write on November 3, 1980 that Reagan deserved election. For all his wonderful columns, the Republican electorate better understood the needs of the nation and the excellence of a potential Reagan presidency than Will. It is hard to believe he was so wrong about a matter of such great import, despite Reagan's presence on the national scene for many years.Lest you think Levin was just posturing to promote Gov. Palin, he worked in the Reagan White House, served as advisor to several members of Ronald Reagan's cabinet, then as Associate Director of Presidential Personnel and finally as Attorney General Edwin Meese's Chief of Staff.
Dan Riehl has a screen cap of a George Will column in which Mr. Bowtie admits that he preferred the two country club Republicans, one after the other, over Reagan. Dan commented:
If we had taken George Will's advice in 1979 and 1980, there would have been no Reagan Revolution. I don't mean to attack him. But it's a fact.Doug has the likely answer to that question:
I wonder, where is it Will gets his impressions of, say, a Sarah Palin, a Herman Cain, a Michelle Bachmann, or whomever today? Perhaps it's some of the same people and media outlets he was paying attention to in 1979?
George Will is a conservative (usually), but he’s an Ivy League conservative, and as such he might have a tendency to think that anybody who didn’t go to Princeton, Harvard or Yale shouldn’t be trusted with anything more powerful than a Bic lighter.Will's demagoguery of Gov. Palin does indeed sound reminiscent of the attacks on Reagan from the political left back in the day. Victor Davis Hanson recalls:
Did George Will mention a similar concern in 2008 when a community organizer from Chicago was about to be handed the launch codes and subsequently disclose the size of the US nuke arsenal? No, because Obama’s smart — he went to Columbia and all.
Liberals once slurred Reagan on every occasion. They screamed that he was unhinged, a reactionary nut who would take us to nuclear war (remember the last days of Jimmy Carter's 1980 campaign?).So Will, the conservative columnist, has a thing or two in common with his elitist counterparts over on the left. And he has demonstrated beyond any doubt that he is a demagogue. Since Will is a Republican, albeit one with his left foot planted firmly on the country club's grounds, and he frequently disses good conservative Republicans, can we call him a republagogue? Whatever we call him, Dan is right on target with his suggestion that when it comes to choosing presidential candidates, conservatives would be better served by trusting our own instincts than letting elitists like George Will pick our candidates for us.
Related: Whitney Pitcher has more on misogynist Will's "unsubstantiated and disparaging remarks" here.