Category ►►► Palinology
March 7, 2010
Palin and Reagan: Together Again for the First Time
Paul Mirengoff of Power Line, who seems as conflicted as can be about the aspects and auspices of Sarah Louise Palin, ponders them deeply in a recent post, Would Reagan vote for Sarah Palin? (Answer: Yes.)
Paul quotes from Steve Hayward writing in the Washington Post (I supply the missing link here); Hayward is the chap who answered Yes to the question above... then added what Paul calls a "cautionary note":
But while the parallels between them are evident, it is far from clear that Palin appreciates Reagan's discipline and substantive grand strategy. In many of her speeches and media appearances she tends to ramble on, with none of the crispness and rhetorical force of Reagan's formulas. With the partial exception of energy, she has yet to identify a set of signature issues that can carry her particular stamp, as Reagan did in the late 1970s with his relentless attacks on detente and his championing of supply-side economics.
I rise only to note a peculiar point in defense of a lady: Sarah Palin is only... well, as a gentleman, I won't bandy a woman's age; but note that when our fortieth president was the age she is now, Ronald Reagan himself had "yet to identify a "grand strategy" or "set of signature issues that can carry [his] particular stamp."
All that we knew about Reagan's politics in 1957 was that he had been a New Deal Democrat when New-Deal Democrat Franklin Roosevelt was in power; an anti-Communist Truman-Democrat when Truman was in power; and an Eisenhower Republican when (you guessed it) Dwight D. Eisenhower ran for president.
He did not identify his "signature issues," as Hayward put it, until he was well into his 60s; heck, he didn't even deliver his electrifying introduction for Barry Goldwater until he was 53, significantly older than the Thrillah from Wasilla.
In '57, Reagan had just begun his stint hosting General Electric Theater. The job required him to travel the country giving speeches; that very activity induced Reagan to develop his own peculiar and wonderful political philosophy. (Note that he was still a private citizen at this time; he would not enter actual elective politics, as opposed to being elected union boss, until 1966, when he was 55 years old.)
Thus have I given the gracious lady my advice to tour the "lower 48" and speak, speak, speak -- and listen, listen, listen: Great wisdom can be found among the uncommon common American. (Advice sent but probably never delivered; Big Lizards is notoriously less reliable even than the Post Office -- though significantly cheaper.) If Palin follows the Reagan model, this is her time to introduce herself to America on her own terms, not as the perhaps ill-considered shadow of John S. McCain.
The VP run was premature, but I suspect Sarah Palin was as surprised by the invitation as were the rest of us. Kudos to McC for thinking outside the box; but there is a reason why nobody is outré all the time: "The box" is actually defined by what usually works!
And now is the moment for Sarah Palin to decide what she thinks "works" in America and why, what doesn't and why not, and to answer the most important question: How do we get there from here? She is not yet tardy, but she'd better hit the ground speaking.
By the way, I am pleased once again to be a harbinger of trends to come. Hayward had this to say about the Tea Parties:
Reagan typically described conservatism in populist terms rather than formal ones. In his "Time for Choosing" speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater during the 1964 presidential campaign, he sounded almost exactly like Glenn Beck does today. "This is the issue of this election," Reagan warned: "Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that an intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves."
This populist undercurrent is why I am certain that Reagan would have been an enthusiastic supporter of the tea party movement. While the tea partiers confuse the media and annoy the establishments of both political parties, Reagan would have seen them as reviving the embers of what he called the "prairie fire" of populist resistance against centralized big government -- resistance that helped touch off the tax revolt of the 1970s. That movement was often dismissed as a tantrum, but when The Washington Post called California's 1978 antitax Proposition 13 "a skirmish," Reagan replied that if so, then the Chicago fire was a backyard barbecue.
Now compare it to this point made by an obscure blogger and minor crank:
A popular front is an extremely broad-based coalition of political forces that normally oppose each other. In rare moments, the stars align, and so do the groups; what results is a mass movement that can wash away the status quo like a burst dam. The movement doesn't have to include all or even a majority of the citizenry; but it is large enough to push aside any countervailing coalition -- which means whatever the front wants, it gets....
The Tea Party front is the worst nightmare of the hard-core Left -- a patriotic, small-government, capitalist popular front. While Tea Partiers are not specifically Republican, leftists realize that GOP leaders (Sarah Palin) and candidates (Scott Brown) are far better positioned to appeal to Tea Partiers than are Democrats: All Republicans must do is match their words with deeds; but Democrats would have to (a) repudiate everything they have said and voted for in the past four decades, then (b) convince Tea Partiers that this time they're sincere!
I think Hayward and I are seeing the same structure but describing it in slightly different terms, he from his Reagan scholarship and I from my "forces and fractures" methodology.
Of course, I said it first...
February 9, 2010
Et Tu, Breite?
This is really starting to annoy me... and I'm not even a huge Sarah Palin supporter:
Palin spoke Saturday in Nashville and photographs and video show she had "energy," "tax" and "lift American spirits" on her hand. During one question, she looked down at the palm of her hand for a cue.
In her speech she mocked Obama's use of teleprompters.
Yeah. That's what her speech was about! I thought it was about the president's socialist policies, but I must have misheard.
Even supposing it's true that she mocked Barack H. Obama's use of teleprompters -- she may have, but if so, it was fleeting enough that I don't even remember -- I am nevertheless astonished that even Andrew Breitbart cannot distintinguish between using a note or two, whether on cards or one's hand, and reading word for word from a teleprompter. Worse, he read a speech obviously written by somebody else, which the president had not even troubled to rehearse. (Else somebody would surely have told him how to pronounce the word "corpsman.")
This AP squib, which Breitbart chose to run with the anti-Palin slam intact, as much as says, "What a fool and a hypocrite she is -- she mocks Obama for reading from a teleprompter, yet she herself had to glance at an occasional, one- or two-word note!"
Right, Andy; it's exactly the same thing. What a putz; not Palin, but whichever gnome at the Associated Press wrote this piece... and whichever bright-eyed Breitbart editor passed it along.
September 23, 2009
For the Sarahphobics... Who the Heck Else?
I've argued before that I don't think Sarah Palin should run for the presidency in 2012: It's too soon, she's too young, she's only an egg. Rather, I believe she should -- and I suspect she shall -- run for the United States Senate against RINO incrumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK, 58%) -- in the Republican primary, of course, not as a third-party candidate. This would accomplish a hat-trick of improvements to her future presidential ambitions, assuming she has any:
- It would keep her in the public eye for the next several years;
- It would give her international "cred" that she currently lacks, having been governor of a small state with little involvement in foreign affairs, compared to the governors of California, Texas, New York, and so forth;
- And it would allow her, even empower her, to barnstorm the country and even foreign venues speechifying, honing her message, getting comfortable upon the world stage, and debating opponents in front of large audiences, each of which is a vital skill for the President of the United States -- and of course for a presidential candidate as well.
Such a move would be akin to Reagan's stint as spokesman for General Electric, where he spoke all over the world, working on honing his conservative agenda for America.
But all this talk of career strategy begs the real question: Why do I want her eventually to run for the presidency in the first place? Well, she just gave a speech in what used to be the center for Capitalism in the world -- Hong Kong -- that very clearly illustrates why Sarah Palin is the most vital and exciting conservative leader to come along since... well, since RR.
On a completely unrelated note, who does this remind you of?
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, in what was billed as her first public-speaking engagement outside North America, blamed the world financial crisis on government excesses and called for a new round of deregulation and tax cuts for U.S. businesses.
"We got into this mess because of government interference in the first place," the former Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate said Wednesday at a conference sponsored by investment firm CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. "We're not interested in government fixes, we're interested in freedom," she added.
On the foreign-policy front, she told the room full of bankers and executives of the importance of the global fight against terrorism and of finding ways to engage China as a global power. She said China "rightfully makes a lot of people nervous."
There simply is nobody else on the American political stage who is as clear, as blunt and bold, as realistic, and as morally straightforward as Sarah Louise Palin -- not Mitt Romney, not Mike Huckabee, not Michael Steel, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA, 92%), Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and not even Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, who is rather too compromised by political hucksterism during his time as Chairman of the Republican Party. (Ron Paul is "clear, blunt, and bold," but he fails the "realistic" test.) I very much like each of the above -- I even like Ron Paul, just not in public office -- and hope for them to continue rising up the ranks; but no one today comes closer to the Reaganite vision than Mrs. Palin.
So what else did she say? It appears to be a bit uncertain, in a Heisenbergian sense...
Wall Street Journal:
On health care, Ms. Palin defended her previous criticisms that the health-care overhaul proposed by Democrats would lead to health-care rationing and what she called "death panels." "It's just common sense that government attempts to solve problems like health care problem will just create new problems." She called for "market friendly" health care reform that gives tax breaks to individuals to buy health insurance.
She did not repeat her attack from last month that the Obama administration’s health care proposals would create a “death panel” that would allow federal bureaucrats to decide who is “worthy of health care.”
Yes, they're discussing the same speech -- except not really, as any post-modernist would argue that a speech comprises both transmission and reception, what the speaker says and what the listener hears; so in a very real sense, the Times listener heard a different speech than did the Journal listener, even though Palin's actual words were the same:
- The speech was not open to media, so every reporter had to get all his information from a recording; it's possible the recording for the Times omitted that section of the speech.
- It's also possible some informant at the speech simply told the Times that she "didn't defend" the death-panels remark... which may be true, depending on what bizarre reimagining the Times writer, Mark McDonald, asked his source about.
Most likely, McDonald has confabulated a memory of Palin's earlier charge that owes more to the idiot misinterpretation of Sen. Johnny Isaksen (R-GA, 76%) than what Palin actually wrote on her Facebook page: McDonald probably thought she had earlier claimed that the "end of life" counselors would interview patients, then say, "We don't like you -- so we're going to euthanize you!"
Instead, he heard the very reasonable, but nevertheless damning charge that Journal journalists Jonathan Cheng and Alex Frangos heard (which is exactly what she said the first time)... and then McDonald said to himself, Oho, changing her tune, eh?
Back on the domestic front, Palin put the root cause of our economic woes as succinctly as I've ever seen it put... another ability she shares with Reagan -- the pithy summation:
The Fed and the government sent a message to companies that “the bigger that you are, the more problems that you get yourself into, the more likely the government is to bail you out,” Palin said in the closed door speech, according to a tape of the event given to Bloomberg News. “Of course the little guys are left out then. We’re left holding the bag, all the moms and pops all over America.”
Like the 40th president, she comes across like a real person, one of us, while still making clear that she has thought deeply about a number of domestic and foreign-policy issues; and she has core principles that she never compromises, even when she is forced to compromise on policy: The legislative deals she's willing to cut always move us towards the same goals -- greater individual liberty, Capitalism, and a secure national defense.
No other GOP leader combines all these virtues; they're either too willing to bargain away vital national principles (such as John McCain throwing free speech under the bus for campaign finance reform, or Bush being willing to accept racial preferences in law-school admissions); or they beep when they talk and just can't connect with ordinary people (Romney); or they're so wrapped up in social conservatism that they're willing to accept out and out socialism, so long as they can get some abortion restrictions in exchange (Huckabee, Buchanan, O'Reilly); or they worship a cranky libertarianism so extreme, they want us to withdraw all our troops home to Fortress America... which is, in my unhumble opinion, utterly insane (Ron Paul, Babar).
She also has a very good eye for the bottom line on China; unlike George W. Bush, she understands that trade and liberty are not two separate issues that can be discussed independently; Capitalism depends upon rule of law, on individual liberty, and on respect for property rights in order to function. From Bloomberg:
“We simply cannot turn a blind eye to China’s policies and actions that could undermine international peace and security. China has some 1,000 missiles aimed at Taiwan and no serious observer believes that it poses a military threat to Beijing,” she said. “Those same Chinese forces made our friends in Japan and Australia kinda nervous. China provides support for some of the most questionable regimes from Sudan to Burma to Zimbabwe....”
Trade with China will grow, including exports of U.S. high- tech goods, though for that to happen “we need China to improve the rule of law and protect intellectual property,” she said. “In the end, though, our economic relationship will truly thrive when Chinese citizens and foreign corporations can hold the Chinese government accountable when their actions are unjust.”
(I also love her sense of humor; when she was asked by someone at the talk how she "balanced" her career with her family, she answered, “I have a husband. I could have used a wife.”)
There is no question she is a polarizing figure; Breitbart reports that she has the highest negatives of any currently political figure, 55%. But much of that, I am convinced, is because she let the Sarahphobes, Democratic and Republican, define her last year. This speech is her first major attempt to define herself.
And she appears to be angering the right people:
Two US delegates left early, with one saying "it was awful, we couldn't stand it any longer". He declined to be identified....
Several delegates saw the speech as a sign of her ambitions to run as a presidential candidate in 2012 and a useful indication of the potential direction of US politics in the future.
"It was fairly right-wing populist stuff,' one US delegate said....
Another from the United States said: "She frightens me because she strikes a chord with a certain segment of the population and I don't like it."
I bet I can guess the political affiliation of these delegates; the wording of their complaints is a dead giveaway.
Reagan was also a polarizing figure, and there were probably times in his political career when he too would have had very high negatives. But he was nevertheless a commanding presence; and of all the conservative politicians romping about America and the world, Sarah Palin is the only one who has, I think, even a prayer of attaining the stature of a Reagan... if she keeps doing what she is doing and doesn't bury her hegemony in a premature run for the White House.
Let her at least wait until she has the opportunity to give a speech like Reagan gave, introducing Barry Goldwater to the 1964 Republican National Convention. Goldwater lost -- but Reagan himself was the big winner that night.
Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
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