Can Sarah Upstage Barack?

Palin is acutely aware that America must hew to the Constitution (often imperfectly understood or wilfully mauled by “progressivists”) and return to its founding principles, a stand reminiscent of those trenchant words uttered by Chilean national poet Nicanor Parra, when he wrote in a poem called “The Situation Is Getting Delicate”:

The old folks were right:

We have to go back and cook with wood again.

These words have nothing to do with a Luddite and reactionary political reversion, but stress the obligation to abide by tested custom, established law and original intent. This does not mean that a nation need remain static, trapped in the past, or mesmerized by a faded ideal, but that it maintain a constitutional structure able to absorb and domesticate change. One doesn’t, so to speak, cook with arborite. Reckless experiments in the social, economic and political realms lead inevitably to civil dislocation and unnecessary suffering. The situation is indeed getting delicate, which is why the United States must heed the message that Palin and her like-minded colleagues articulate.

Arguably, there is no other candidate in either party at present who can approach her public engagingness, her undoubted patriotism, her authenticity, her experience as a house-cleaning state governor (however curtailed), and her unwillingness to compromise with the truth. This is not to say that Palin doesn’t have a learning curve to climb, but she seems eminently capable of the task. And this is not to say that there are no fine Republican candidates in the offing. I think particularly of Herman Cain, the self-described “dark horse,” Allen West, John Thune and possibly Michele Bachmann, all pretty impressive people. (MSNBC’s resident blowhard Chris Matthews is now going after Bachmann — another good sign.) But there is no one as of this moment who brings the entire package to the table as does Palin. “There are millions of Americans,” Harris writes, “who are delighted to follow Sarah Palin’s footsteps in going rogue, perhaps right into the White House.”

Further, the Internet — if it survives the Democratic silencing gambit known as Net Neutrality — has opened up a new world of communication in which verifiable data can be disseminated to multitudes. The Tea Party, despite the aspersions and falsehoods with which it has been laser-painted, shows every sign of flourishing. And, perhaps the most crucial element in the equation, the body blows that America will likely suffer in the international arena over the next two years, as a result of Obama’s weak-kneed and inept foreign policy and his catering to determined foes, would further reinforce Palin’s electoral appeal as the formidable protagonist the president is not. A Mama Grizzly is rather more intimidating than a walking bobblehead.

Obama, like Palin, remains the person he is — which is about the only thing he has in common with her. He will not change. From everything we know about him, it’s safe to conclude that the stamp of his formative beliefs and his orientation toward political affairs is indelible. As Financial Post editor Terence Corcoran sees it post-SOTU, “After weeks of hype about how Mr. Obama was moving away from the radical left that scared voters and on to a more nuanced pro-business and less interventionist path, the Presidential rocket jolted back to its old trajectory.” Or, if not “jolted,” it is certainly lurching back to its pre-ordained flight plan.

Unlike Palin, however, Obama has an aptitude for the protean. He is very good at double-talk, shape-shifting and playing possum — though not good enough, as I’ve intimated, to prevent his hard-left education from abrasively emerging somewhere along the route to 2012, probably around the very next bend. Nonetheless, as Stanley Zir and Susan North warn, the electorate will need to remain vigilant against the quackery of the carnival barker they have elected as president. “The Obama con is always on,” they write. “He knows how to cover the tracks of his failed policies and push his Marxist agenda forward. ... The  question is how to derail the Obama Con Express before it departs towards the 2012 presidential elections.” The only way to defeat a con artist is to remain constantly alert, to stay three or four steps ahead of the scam. Besides, generally speaking a con can persist for only so long before the mark eventually begins to catch on.

Once America’s unsustainable debt starts to wreak havoc — the “terrible deluge” that Matt Patterson writes “will suddenly surge to the surface and sweep all before it" — the political landscape will have to change. Two more years of Obama is perhaps all any Republican candidate may need to improve his or her prospects of election and burnish the conservative logo to something like a 2010 congressional luster, despite the PR wizardry of David Axelrod, a swelling Democratic war chest, the machinations of godfather George Soros, the cant and diddling of the press, and Obama’s guileful virtuosity.

Of course, critical questions linger. Would the Republicans rise to the challenge and nominate a candidate resolutely opposed to the “business as usual” paradigm or would they continue playing by the same old rules? There is often the temptation to renege on commitment in the service of “calculation” when urgent decisions need to be made. And, no less importantly, will the reverses and misadventures that are bound to occur happen pre- or post-2012? For if these setbacks come to pass sooner rather than later, it’s anyone’s game, maybe even Sarah Palin’s.