Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sarah Palin will be missed


As you would expect, I will miss Sarah Palin. She was a fresh face in an increasingly static world. Like many, I dislike, and am deeply troubled, by the cloud she raised in her method of leaving: I had thought better of her. But, like you, I agree that when faced with the (personal) economics of the situation, it's arguable she had no other choice. As for her selection as McCain's VP, she was at least as qualified by experience to be Vice President as Obama was qualified to be President. Of course, you must grant an exception for not having of the Ivy League education and general membership in the intelligentsia.

What did she do well? She made one truly great speech, and several very good ones. As you noted, she appealed to a portion of the electorate that was concerned about McCain.

What did she NOT do well? Easy. It's obvious she doesn't do hostile interviews well.

It is curious to me that someone who performed decently in elected office – mayor, governor – can be considered to be “stupid” or “incompetent”. Instead, the pundits disagreed with her political positions and chose the Slander Route instead (e.g., following the dictates of politics by Personal Destruction). The 'sheeple', to put it simply, followed along. In every other case – say, being questioned for jury duty, asked to defend a scientific paper, or even being asked to comment on the abilities of an American Idol performer – most honest and genuinely humble folks recognize that being a witty and entertaining interviewee is NOT the only determinant of competence or intelligence. There are plenty of smart and otherwise skillful people who frequently say things that sound dumb (you, me, everyone). But – to our great disadvantage – when it comes to politics, we live in the era of the Sound Bite. And if it don't play well there, it don't play at all. Pity.

Let's cut to the chase... THE most important qualifications for President are CHARACTER and JUDGMENT. It's not about the the depth and scope of one's personal knowledge or experience in domestic or foreign policy matters. The President is surrounded by experts to cover those bases. What is critically required is the judgment to choose the right people to fill those advisory positions. And, then, the application of one's character and judgment as a LEADER to decide on the correct course of action given the available information. NO ONE can be an expert on all the matters on which a President must make decisions. IMHO, Sarah Palin had a more clearly defined record of her abilities as a leader – acting as a mayor and governor - than candidate Obama had on his resume. We can assume these things are not as important to the voting public as they once were or the election results might have been quite different.

It's understandable many will disagree with the results of her political judgment; but at least she had a record and was never afraid to point to it and say, “that is what I've done.” You can disagree with her ideology or opinion on various matters; but she was never afraid to say, “this is what I believe.” Disagree with her choice of friends and confidants; but she was never afraid to say, “these are the people I trust.” Refreshing.

As a side-benefit, her resignation should take her out of the cross-hairs as the primary target of the MSM, who seem to be indulging their own neuroses by continuing to harp about her now that's she's gone. Sort of like the joke, “How many country singers does it take to change a light bulb?” Answer: 4 – one to change the bulb and 3 to sing about how much they miss the old one.

Her reasons for leaving the stage – whatever they are - will not be held against her (unless you already loathe her to begin with). Many pundits appear to be furious they won't have Sarah Palin to kick around anymore. This strategy worked quite well (or didn't work, based on your ideology) last time it was tried - Nixon in the early 60's comes to mind. At least now Palin's hands will not be tied behind her back by a public office. I doubt Keith Olbermann will generate any big rating numbers this summer attacking Michael Steele, He's back to his favorite game, “What can we continue to blame Bush for?” Sad. Perhaps he is just returning to a bad habit he enjoys too much to give up.

I see many on the liberal side lamenting, "Is this not the greatest betrayal a public servant ever committed against the people?" Hardly. As you correctly pointed out, there is PLENTY of ammunition for that topic on both sides; and we don't need to go down the list here... But, I can't help but laugh at those who are 'outraged' at Mark Sanford for NOT resigning and then turning around to be enraged at Sarah Palin for doing exactly that. Is there no satisfying them? Palin's detractors, typically resort to the class-warfare tools they accuse others using for their own nefarious purposes: she's lower-class, more country than cool, a Barbie-doll with a gun... You'd think these proponents of 'diversity' would welcome a newcomer onto the scene. I guess such consistency only applies if one demonstrates their ideological 'independence' by marching in lock-step with the coastal Intelligentsia.

To be sure, those conservatives who trumpet - Family Values!, Family Values!, Family Values! - were also not 100% satisfied with the appearance of such a “non-traditional” woman taking the spotlight. Even Vanity Fair cruelly and rudely observed that Sarah Palin wouldn't have been chosen by McCain if she looked like Susan Boyle. I read an analysis of her somewhere recently to the tune of, “She preferred being called a "pit bull with lipstick," … she was a conservative woman with a sense of humor, who could hang out with the boys and hang tough on "Saturday Night Live," where candidates go for their screen tests. By resigning as governor of Alaska, she forfeited the image of the dark mare racing to the White House, but that was our fantasy, not hers.”

What I'll really miss is the possibility of a debate between Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, probably in 2016. Hillary was more independent and certainly more influential as First Lady than she is stuck in the State Department. The spectacle of the first all-female run for the White House is cast aside (at least for now). Oh, well – it would have been fun to watch.

In any event, it is probably best if we set speculation over Palin's political future aside for awhile. My own SCCB (slightly-cracked-crystal-ball) needs a break, anyway. If she wants to re-enter the ring, there will be plenty of opportunities for her to show strength, political nerve & smarts. Sarah said she got the unanimous vote of her children to leave the office of governor. I guess the Birthday Party is more important than the Republican Party, even though both events are celebrated with balloons. I don't know if Sarah Palin intends to run for president in 2012. If so, I must say her choice to resign as Alaska's governor is a politically unconventional way of doing it. We'll see if it works.

That said, the public reaction to all this is most interesting - pundits have now almost uniformly written her off. But in a new USA Today/Gallup poll, 70% say Palin's resignation has "no effect" on their opinion of her. Of the remainder, 9% say they now see her "more favorably" and 17% "less favorably." In the same poll, 43% (and 72% of Republicans) say they would at least "somewhat likely" vote for her if she runs in 2012. Interesting.

It must really get under the skin of all those political geniuses - journalists, consultants, bloggers, academics (and on both sides, too) - that so many of the Common People refuse to see what is so obvious to them: that Sarah Palin is a blundering, flawed and failed shooting star whose selection by John McCain as his running mate showed nothing except McCain's questionable judgment. Pundits live in the world of the conventional: they assume if you know what happened yesterday, you can predict tomorrow. And, as usual, they are Wrong.

We live in unusual times. To be sure, many are correctly concerned for the future direction of this country. It's MUCH more than the latest economic statistics. It's knowing that what has always driven American society – a desire for and rejoicing of Freedom and Values - are disappearing from the political and social scenes. Taking the 'safe approach' rules. It is becoming obvious to those who have previously given little thought to it, that Genuineness and Conviction are more critical than Resumes and Appearances.

On the surface, it looks like Sarah is simply stepping away from a job in which she is no longer realizing her goals and ideals, and chooses instead to reconnect with her family and self. This is not necessarily political suicide. But she – and we all – can be absolutely certain that doing what everyone says you are supposed to do, especially when it means compromising your values, and letting pundits and experts run your life is the Road to Destruction. If for nothing more than injecting some much-needed audacity into the Ivory Tower of modern politics, she will be missed.

It has been said that Political MOVEMENTS ("philosophies" is too pretentious, and “ideology” is simply inadequate) have the ultimate purpose of TEACHING. Political PARTIES have the purpose of capturing control of government – in other words, WINNING ELECTIONS. Political managers - and in many cases candidates themselves - are chosen/hired to win the election, not to be true representatives of a particular set of philosophical principles. There have been exceptions, to be sure. It must be absurdly tempting to compromise one's principles to preserve a track record. Nice to see that at least a few folks out there are able to resist that temptation.

However, given the overwhelming pervasiveness of liberalism in the public schools, colleges, universities, and the media as a whole, getting across the basic principles of conservatism is difficult, at best. (To say nothing of understanding the basic principles of a realistic appreciation of the way the world Really Works.) I am happy to say that is one of the True Benefits of our own little blog we have here: "You either believe in rational discussion or you don't." It is Good to be reminded of that now and then. We may not accomplish much here – but we try. And with a mostly civil tone.


- Steve

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