Green Room

How Do You Solve This Problem Without Sarah?

posted at 4:46 pm on November 18, 2009 by

Newsweek advertised its cover story on the release of Sarah Palin’s “Going Rogue” by asking, “How do you solve a problem like Sarah?” This headline was informed by the same journalistic standards that led the Washington Post to publish a book review by someone who admits she didn’t read the book – and then prompted MSNBC to invite this person on the air as an expert on the book she didn’t read. Newsweek apparently couldn’t be bothered to watch “The Sound of Music” all the way through, because Maria is the hero of the piece. The nuns singing “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” are singing about suppressing the very spirit that will help Maria save her family from totalitarian oppression. Considering Palin’s indestructible good cheer, if she runs for office again, I wouldn’t be surprised if she used “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” as a campaign song… and thanked Newsweek for the suggestion.

The media has treated Palin’s book like the mirrored scroll from “Kung Fu Panda”: every reviewer sees themselves reflected in its pages. Imagine a mainstream news magazine trying to portray any liberal woman as a lightweight, by using a photo of her in running shorts to tease its review of her major new book. Running a book review by someone who admits to skipping the last third of the book is not an insult to Sarah Palin, who was not writing for an audience of lazy media hacks. It’s an insult to the audience… including liberal readers of the Washington Post with the intellectual clarity to desire an understanding of those who eagerly devoured every single page. Palin is a phenomenon, and honest liberals would be well-advised to read her work and understand her appeal, just as conservatives should read “Dreams From My Father” to understand the mind of Bill Ayers.

The careless, sloppy disdain of the Left’s reaction to “Going Rogue” is almost as strong an argument for Palin’s politics as anything contained within its pages. The absolute lack of care and competence from the government that ran up a $12 trillion national debt is astonishing. Months of dithering over Afghanistan strategy, with American troops under fire, ends with a painfully unqualified Commander-in-Chief wailing that he wants a new set of options. The politicization of national defense ends in the absurd spectacle of a civilian trial for illegal enemy combatants… subcontracting national security to trial lawyers, and a randomly-selected pool of 12 people who never heard of 9/11.

The lunatic environmentalist movement, which is poised to push the American economy into a full-bore depression with its cap-and-trade bill, is headed by a man who admitted on national television that he thinks the Earth’s core is hotter than the surface of a white dwarf star. The same elite that despises Sarah Palin as an ignorant chillbilly spent the last twenty years telling us this man is a genius.

The national debt is piling up like sales of Palin’s book, and the elite don’t understand how either of them got so huge. Taxpayers are trapped on a Willy Wonka boat, hurtling through psychedelic clouds of uncontrolled spending, while the President sits in the back and mumbles nonsense rhymes about imaginary jobs created in non-existent Congressional districts. The people lining up to buy Palin’s book are not the authors of this careless, carnivorous government… but they are expected to pay for it. The assertion that someone who connects with them, and understands their beliefs, is unwelcome on the national stage is just the latest variation of “Shut up and pay your taxes.” No one should accept that attitude from a government as incompetent as the journalists who fawn over it.

The argument over whether Sarah Palin is “qualified” for the presidency is the opposite of the question conservatives should be asking. What we need to know is whether any other aspiring candidate has the essential qualifications Palin brings to the table.

The tax-and-spend engine of collectivist government is locked into overdrive, and it’s going to blow very soon – perhaps within the term of Barack Obama’s successor, if dramatic steps are not taken. There’s very little point in supporting a presidential candidate who won’t take those dramatic steps, and that means we need someone who can connect with ordinary people, including moderates and independents, and persuade them to lend their support. Pandering to the uncommitted is tantamount to taking the bridge of a sinking ship, but refusing to touch the wheel. The challenges ahead require not just a victory, but a mandate, and you can’t get a mandate by trying to appear inoffensive to moderates, in the hope they’ll reluctantly bring up the rear of your campaign once you’re already winning.

Most voters are not ideologues. They don’t follow politics obsessively, and they probably haven’t given much thought to a coherent philosophy of government… but they respond to one when they see it. It takes provocative energy to reach them through the media filter, and convince them to spare a little time from their busy lives to entertain reasoned arguments. Attempts to persuade them without inspiring them are like winning cases presented in dry whispers before an empty courtroom. A platform of small discounts on our $12 trillion government will not make enough of a difference to be worth the effort. There was never a good time for Democrat Lite politicians, but they have become a mistake we can no longer afford.

It’s an ironic twist of democracy that small, passionate groups cannot get Presidents elected, without appeals to the broader electorate… but they can lock in outrageous spending programs, by savagely resisting attempts to cancel or reform them. The single-minded energy that repels voters is irresistible to politicians. The focused appetite of those on the receiving end of government billions will always be more influential than the diffuse annoyance of taxpayers… unless a reformist President continues to inspire, and persuade, after assuming the office. Maintaining that kind of connection with the voters requires conviction, courage, confidence, and boundless good cheer. It’s a job for someone who can take a beating, and never lose faith in the American people… long after a sizable chunk of them have put that faith to the test.

I hope many candidates step forward with these qualifications, especially since Sarah Palin hasn’t declared any intention to run for office again. Even if she does, it would be best to have a spirited competition between worthy nominees. Neither Republicans, nor the republic, have been well-served by “inevitable” candidates. Taming a berserk government will be a matter of politics, as much as policy, requiring both intelligent plans and the spirit to implement them. Some of the qualifications we should be looking for are difficult to quantify as bullet points on a resume. Those people standing in the freezing cold, happily awaiting the signature of an author who ignores every attempt to pronounce her dead, on a book the entire media establishment told them to ignore, might have an idea where to find what we need.

The question before conservatives is not whether Sarah Palin can win. The question is: at this desperate hour, what’s the point of winning without someone like her?

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