Palin does not believe in tax and spend, in fiat printing, in redistributive economics, in ObamaCare, in the AGW nonsense that is only an opaque wealth transfer scheme, in making purses out of sows’ ears (aka pork and earmarks), in pressing reset buttons, in blaming Israel for the Palestinians, or in a degrading and unproductive “outreach” to the Islamic umma. These are policies she would reverse, as indeed would anyone with a nuanced understanding of the economic and political worlds. There is little doubt that Palin would be a strong, resolute, and effective president should she ever accede to the White House. Unlike Obama, she would not try to square the Oval.
Finally, if Palin lacks gravitas, then so do many others on the current political scene. Barack Obama, for example, not only lacks gravitas, he exhibits the moral and intellectual substance of a will o’ the wisp. This is not to take anything away from his golf game, but in political life he is always badly in need of a mulligan. Joe Biden is a figure straight out of vaudeville who can be dependably counted on to drop the cane he is trying to twirl — though, it must be admitted, he would look great in a straw boater. Hillary Clinton is, frankly, a wizened party hack and, like her husband, an adroit shape-shifter: one cannot trust a word she utters. No gravitas to be found amidst this crew.
Among the possible Republican contenders there are (or were) some potentially credible choices, at least from the standpoint of knowledge, experience, and/or presence. Newt Gingrich carries weight and political erudition but unfortunately also carries baggage. The same may be said for Jeb Bush, whose family name still remains a heavy burden he may not be able to shuck. His opposition to Arizona’s immigration law is also a very bad sign. Others like Marco Rubio and Allen West, both highly impressive figures, are too young or new to the field to be presidentially assessed. Chris Christie is a bold and ethical administrator, but is not a particularly persuasive communicator. John Thune is little known and Mitch Daniels is aura-challenged. Mike Huckabee’s banjo is not an electoral plus. Bobby Jindal and Tim Pawlenty are “good people,” but Jindal does not seem ready for higher office and Pawlenty is prone to misjudgment, such as withdrawing from the race for a third term as Minnesota governor that he could have won handily. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour may have disqualified himself from consideration owing to certain insensitive or ambiguous racial comments — at least, journalist and fellow-Southerner Kyle-Anne Shiver appears to think so. John Bolton would make a decent president but an even better secretary of defense. Rick Perry’s secession remark, however flippant, has cost him dearly. Mitt Romney seems to wear a certain gravitas, but the “RomneyCare” fiasco that he imposed as governor of Massachusetts shows his weak and fallible side.
The real problem, however, is that “gravitas” is a vague and unreliable personality construct and, moreover, one that can be readily simulated by a good actor. Al Gore, for instance, managed to project seriousness of purpose for a time, until greed, corruption, and deceit tore away the mask with which he dazzled his public. “Gravitas” functions primarily as a media buzzword that can be applied indiscriminately, either to demean or to inflate its chosen subject. Only in the most proven and ineluctable cases can it be said to be an appropriate descriptor, and these are far and few between. Whether or not Palin is deficient in this regard, what she demonstrably lacks is the approval of a reprobate and partisan press, which is itself cripplingly short of integrity, not to mention gravitas.
But is Palin electable? The next two years will determine whether she will be able to counter the slanderous media campaign against her candidacy and her competence, and so convince enough people that she has the right stuff to lead the country in perhaps its most perilous historical moment since the Civil War. Clearly, she suffers more than her share of antagonists among the megabuck left and their myriad satellites, Ivy League academics, mainstream journalists, public intellectuals, union impresarios and henchmen, and the entitlement-addicted segment of the public. They are terrified of her. She even has the panjandrums in the Republican old guard shaking in their Guccis.
As Victor Volsky writes in American Thinker, “in the eyes of the political/cultural aristocracy, [Palin] is the embodiment of its worst nightmare: the revolt of the masses against their masters.” And she knows that the master class will mobilize its considerable reserves against her. The question is whether, by sheer force of character, will, and charisma, like an American version of Delacroix’s Marianne leading the charge at the electoral barricades, and by pursuing a tireless itinerary, she can prevail against overwhelming odds and bring to the American people authentic change and genuine hope for the future.