Can Sarah Upstage Barack?
Let me begin with a paradox. The more Sarah Palin seems unelectable, the more electable she may actually be. The media blitzkrieg launched against Palin may be interpreted not as a sign of her unfitness for office but precisely as a measure of her eligibility. As I’ve written elsewhere, “Palin’s electability can be reckoned as an inverse function of the virulent campaign intent on her delegitimation. ... The greater the fury … she is met with, the greater the likelihood that she poses a genuine threat. One does not raise a mallet to crush an ant.” Conversely, the beatification of Obama by the same leftist media is an infallible indication that they are arguing in partibus infidelium. Indeed, the media is almost always inversely reliable, providing an ironic touchstone for the facts of any matter. Just cross out and write in the opposite and we can be confident of a more accurate approximation to the truth.
Thus we are told that Palin’s “national negatives” are too high for her to be regarded as a viable candidate. But this is to forget that such “negatives” are mainly the result of a coordinated media assault whose effect can be mitigated with time, intelligent pushback and increased exposure on the ground. Presence can counter image and word of mouth can triumph over print. Negatives can be neutralized and even turned into positives. Harry Truman’s whistle-stop tour through the American heartland enabled him to upstage a heavily-favored Tom Dewey in 1948. The cries of “Give ‘em Hell, Harry,” which became his campaign theme, can translate in the present context as “Give ‘em Hell, Sarah,” if she takes her show on the road.
We are also told that Palin has polarized the nation, which is the fiction the media wants us to accept. The truth is that America has been unraveling since the '60s and that Obama, not Palin, has even further divided the nation, so much so that America has come to resemble not a single, unified country but two or more countries in a state of internecine conflict. As the “culture wars” continue to heat up, E pluribus unum might better read Ex uno plures. Metaphorically speaking, the waters are rising, not receding, as President Canute once assured us. There should be no doubt about this. It is Obama, the putative redeemer of his nation and the great healer, who, through both his agenda and his failings, has brought his nation to the very brink.
Indeed, Obama may be regarded as a Harry Potter manqué, a boy magician who would transform Muggledom (America) and save Hogwarts (Washington) but ended up on the verge of ruining both. And even at forty-nine, he remains a boy, petulant, swaggering, craving attention, out of his depth, and fruitlessly waving his magic wand while his geopolitical adversaries snicker behind their hands and do exactly as they like. Even many of his domestic constituents have begun to turn away, his once astronomical ratings down by almost a third. (The recent bump in his poll numbers following his memorial speech in Tucson and the State of the Union address will prove ephemeral.) Obama-Potter should have contemplated the Hogwarts motto before awakening the electorate: “Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus," or “Never tickle a sleeping dragon.”
Consequently, the media are in panic mode and will mobilize their inventory of maledictions to sink the candidacy of the woman they fear in order to buttress the fortunes of the man they adore. Their offensive could not be more, well, offensive. The moral filth of the New York Times and MSNBC, for example, among many other similar outlets in the MSM and the blogosphere, is enough to repel anyone who looks for even a modicum of decency in the conduct of the press. To target Palin for her convictions and selected aspects of her demeanor while giving Obama a Get Out of Jail Free card and airbrushing the Democratic crowd of warts and blotches — for example, the innumerable gaffes of Joe Biden, the imbecilities of Nancy Pelosi, the catatonia of Janet Napolitano, or the zingers of Obama himself—is the epitome of bad faith. Intellectually, the media are quite frankly out to lunch; politically, as is increasingly evident, they function as a fifth column in league with the American left, which is intent on transforming the country into something it was never meant to be. And this is precisely what Palin understands.
She is among a minority of prominent public figures who grasp that America is arguably facing the most relentless and insidious enemy in its recent history. This new enemy is far more inimical to its survival as a coherent and sovereign entity than the Axis powers and the Soviet communists were, since it works from within, is uncompromising in its purposes despite whatever defeats it may suffer, and ironically relies upon the very wealth and power it seeks to destroy, which gives it a decided edge in so ectopic a conflict.
The enemy goes by the name of the Democratic Party of America, cosmetically liberal or “progressivist” in its self-definition but inherently socialist in its subtabular project. It is redistributionist in its economics, transnational in its foreign policy and Islamic in its sympathies. It shares a profound solidarity with an anachronistic trade unionist movement, works diligently against the entrepreneurial sector, pursues an extensive entitlement program at the expense of the country’s future solvency, accumulates unpayable debt, prints imaginary money and is corrosively skeptical of its own armed forces, gradually ceding the geopolitical field to America’s fervid antagonists. It is persistently re-interpreting the bedrock Constitution to weaken its binding force and is guilty of rampant electoral corruption. It sees the nation as a private fiefdom that it intends to control in perpetuity.
The good news is that it may not be too late. One would hope that Conrad Black is wrong when he laments that the popular approval of Obama’s SOTU speech “may indicate that the process of the country’s decline is more advanced even than I had feared.” But post-address fillips are to be expected and reports of America’s imminent demise may be, Twain-fashion, somewhat premature. The omens and presentiments are detectable; yet, given the right candidate, the right party and (should it happen) an awakened electorate prepared to defend its liberties, the situation may yet be retrievable.
As Lee Harris reminds us in his sober and reflective The Next American Civil War: The Populist Revolt Against The Liberal Elite, “the liberty that we enjoy today emerged out of the defiant ‘Don’t tread on us’ attitude of all the ordinary people of the past,” and that it is only by doing so that the “dusk of decadence” can be held back. With the plausible assumption that Obama will ultimately reveal himself as the “throwback kid,” recycling a hoary and bankrupt Marxist archetype regardless of his histrionic attempts at a faux centrism; with the media behaving as Obama’s dutiful caddies and discrediting themselves by the day; with the Tea Party acting as America’s reinvigorated conscience; and if Palin maintains her visibility as simply who she is, America may — just may — experience the shock of memory, recall its former glories, embark upon its painstaking restoration and, at the same time, find itself with its first female president. A long shot? Maybe, maybe not.
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.