Green Room

For the Sarahphobics… Who the Heck Else?

posted at 8:36 pm on September 23, 2009 by

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.

New York Times:

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 Big Lizards

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Well-done – except for the Senate part. Palin in the Senate would be a shirt on a dog. What makes you think she IS going to run for the seat – something that could cost her a lot if she has to do a knock-down drag-out with Murkowski?

CK MacLeod on September 23, 2009 at 10:50 PM

She didn’t “let” anybody define her. Republican elites walked away from her, because she’s not like them. They’ll do so again.

That gives the extreme haters all the cover they like to drive up her negatives, which they will. They hate her deeply, because she didn’t kill Trig, and they would have. They can glory in their “hysterical”, “head-exploding”, “vomiting” rage – all self-descriptions by respectable critics – because they don’t risk their respectability, because she doesn’t have the establishment allies she needs to impose social costs for that sort of hate.

Unopposed demonization works fine, politically. It worked on George W. Bush. It’ll keep working in Sarah Palin.

It’s unjust. But it will be very hard for her to achieve anything in the face of a party elite that would rather accommodate themselves to a progressive agenda than let a hick from the sticks win.

I do not believe Sarah Palin is going to be President.

I think the writing was on the wall, at latest, when McCain staffers continued to back-stab her after his defeat, and he did nothing to stop it or punish them. By blowing off that disloyalty, he damned himself in the eyes of some people, including me. But he also showed how far party elites will go to undercut Palin, and one of the consequences. Anyone on her staff who leaks or in other ways exhibits disloyalty will get cover. They’ll be able to move on to good jobs with other members of the establishment, because yes they’ll have betrayed a Republican but not one of us.

I don’t know how conservatives can get a good candidate in 2012. I don’t see one.

David Blue on September 23, 2009 at 11:45 PM

In 2008, it was get drunk or do whatever you have to do, and vote for John McCain. I think in 2012, it’ll be get drunk or do whatever you have to do, and vote for Mitt Romney. I think that’s as good as it gets.

David Blue on September 23, 2009 at 11:49 PM

David Blue:

Republican elites walked away from her, because she’s not like them. They’ll do so again.

A lot of folks aren’t old enough to remember this, and some who are didn’t notice at the time; but you know who else was trashed, absolutely smashmouth spit upon, by the Republican elites?

You’re way ahead of me: Ronald Wilson Reagan. Even members of Reagan’s own cabinet constantly whined and kvetched to the press (I’m thinking particularly of Secretary of the Treasury, then Chief of Staff Donald Regan and Secretary of State George Schultz).

The “country-club conservatives” had desperately wanted George H.W. Bush to be the nominee in 1980… and they were scared to death of Reagan. Many thought he was a total nutjob. Imagine, thinking that the Soviet Union was tottering and could be knocked over with a single solid push! Reagan was a fool, an actor, a hick from the sticks: He grew up in rural Illinois and attended Eureka College; Regan — from Cambridge, MA, graduate of Harvard, former Merrill Lynch’s chairman and CEO — and Schultz — NYC, Princeton, PhD from MIT — were very unimpressed.

Honest to Betsy, DB, it’s no particular drawback to be hated by the despised Republican (and Democratic) establishments; those are the very people that everyone loves to hate. The Democratic establishment today comprises Pelosi, Reid, Murtha, Dodd, Frank, Hoyer, and of course Howard “Bicycle Path” Dean.

Reagan ran against the GOP establishment; remember, he almost unseated Gerald Ford for the nomination in 1976, and Ford was the incumbent!

An awful lot of Republicans bet against Reagan in 1979 and 1980, especially when he boycotted the first few multi-candidate debates. An awful lot of them are betting against Palin now, and for the same reason: She’s not one of them. (Of course, they are the ones who messed up so badly they were slaughtered in 2006 and 2008 — weren’t they?)

I will bet that when Palin takes charge of defining herself, she will very quickly reverse those negatives into positives. At that point, the Republican elites had better start swimmin’, or they’ll sink like a stone.


Dafydd ab Hugh on September 24, 2009 at 12:22 AM

Screw the Senate. Keep doing these type of events, make some cash while getting serious policy transcripts out through the web, then when 2010 mid terms roll around, certain worthy House and Senate candidates get to have Sarah Palin draw around 10,000 people to a few of their events and fire up their base like an H-bomb.

Work in the book release and tour, keep the op-eds coming when Obama does something stupid (which should be at least once or twice a month).

By the time 2012 primary time is here, the Republican base will be %80 in her corner. Then what will the party elites do, without the voters? They will have no choice but to follow the people they expect to vote Republican.

Things are moving so much faster now than they did back in the ’70’s, ’80’s or even GWB’s first term.

If Sarah Palin plays her cards just right, she can have this image redefinition process moving much faster than most people seem to be willing to believe right now.

There is a big wave coming, and she knows how to ride it, if that is what she ultimately decides to do.
Maybe she has already decided, who knows.

It sure will be fun watching her do her thing, no matter the path she takes.
I just really enjoy this lady’s presence, she gives me hope that all is not lost.

I know one thing for sure: if Sarah ends up not running in 2012 herself, she will decide who the nominee will be.

THAT has got to be rankling some DC apparatchiks on both sides, and I love it.

Brian1972 on September 24, 2009 at 8:19 AM

Sarah is clearly running for president. This speech in Hong Kong is her first step to assuring people she is solid on foreign policy and conservative principles, as well as appealing to financial conservatives and libertarians.

cubachi on September 24, 2009 at 11:10 AM

A stint in the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” (gag) would be a step backward.

How many Presidents with time in the Senate turned out to be effective executives? The Senate reinforces practices & habits that make for crappy presidencies: micromanagement; indecisiveness; endless talk; reflexive bipartisanship; fondness for pork; and a sclerotic Beltway mindset divorced from reality.

A huge part of Sarah’s appeal comes from being one of us. She’s not soaked in the slime that taints DC denizens. The strength of a person’s common sense is inversely related to the amount of time they spend in Washington. After four years of President Moonbeam, we’re going to need Sarah’s common sense.

She should keep doing what she’s doing.

OhioCoastie on September 24, 2009 at 1:26 PM

Wow what a brilliant plan! Get Sarah off the campaign trail, and allow her to stagnate in the Senate, and all for the whopping prize of taking back one Senate seat… from a Republican. I can’t think of any better way to end Sarah Palin’s political career, can you?

joe_doufu on September 24, 2009 at 1:44 PM

Sarah is at War fighting for America.It is impossible to lead from the Senate. Private citizen then President is how this Nation will return to its’ purpose, a free people!

tim c on September 24, 2009 at 7:02 PM