Thursday, June 23, 2011

"The Undefeated"

Team Sarah sent out a notice that there would be showings of The Undefeated in Manhattan. I promptly reserved two tickets. It was recommended that one should bring a liberal to see the movie. I think I was the only one in the audience who actually brought one, my friend Barb.

I don't know that I can say much about the movie that has not already been said. There has been lots of praise for it, even in its "rough cut" form, which I assume is nothing like the experience of watching it on a big screen in high resolution in a movie theater at the local mall. Even for those of us who have been following Sarah Palin and who admire her intensely will come away impressed with her doggedness and cheerful heart. Stephen Bannon, the director, made some comments before and after the screening, mentioning, among other things, the consistency of the governor's "politics" over the course of two decades of public life. I had already seen that consistency, as mentioned in an earlier posting, when I saw a Charlie Rose interview with her and Janet Napolitano.

Thus, let me say something about what appears to be one liberal's reaction to the movie.

Barb is a pretty open-minded liberal, and she, like many liberals, is enamored by the supposed intelligence of Obama and of his administration. Her first take after the movie was that of most liberals, namely, that Palin has never done anything to demonstrate that she is intelligent: in other words, everything Palin says was written by someone else, and she is (as John Cleese asserts) a parrot. I pointed out one could say the same thing about Barack Obama, reading from his teleprompter.

Like many liberals, she also took umbrage at what she considers the gung-ho patriotism of conservatives, which, in her eyes, expresses contempt for the rest of the world, especially the so-called Third World, a term she finds disparaging. I pointed out that this term was not coined by grassroots conservatives.

Basically, however, Barb, like many liberals, is conservative in her own life. She has built a successful career by being conservative and, as a self-employed person, she despises taxes. She thinks government is out of touch and out of control, and she is not hopeful that it can be changed. She was impressed that Palin took on "the establishment," whether Republican or Democrat, but she doubts anyone can really turn things around, even if Alaska, as Bannon pointed out, shows that a political culture can be changed.

I think the one way to reach "conservative" liberals like Barb is to stress that being pro-American is not to be chauvinist. We want America to succeed, not in order to be "better" than other nations, but out of self-interest. Whatever our errors are as a nation, the U.S. has proved that it is a place to which people have journeyed to realize opportunities unavailable elsewhere. If America is successful, we will continue to be an opportunity society and offer an example for others. Sarah Palin's career in Alaska, as I discerned it from The Undefeated, was successful because she appealed to the pride Alaskans feel for their state and at the same time made that pride a source of economic renewal. Thus, self-interest (as Adam Smith wrote) can also benefit others, if properly understood. The task before conservatives is to get this message across. Our present financial insolvency is directly related to personal insolvency on a nation-wide scale, the attempt by liberals to be all things to all people. Sarah Palin's love of country shows a desire to return us to our roots in personal self-interest, which made us a powerful, rich, and generous nation.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Has anyone noticed ...?

An editorial by William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, carries the title "Don't Block Up the Hall." It concerns the "control freaks in the political establishment," the donor class, the media, and so on, all of whom want "certainty and easy predictability in their politics." In other words, the Republicans should already have crowned their presidential candidate. Kristol, however, feels differently:

"[A] wide-open primary season will likely prove good for the Republican party, good for the conservative cause, and good for the country."

And then comes the pull quote: "Competition is good, after all. Road testing is useful."

Where oh where have we heard this before? The originator of this sentiment is, of course, Sarah Palin. But does Kristol give her credit for saying that competition in the elector process, as in other aspects of life, is good? You got to be kidding.

What strikes me is how much Sarah Palin is framing the Republican political contest. Everything that she has advocated since the Tea Party broke onto the scene has been taken up by the other Republican candidates (Romney perhaps excepted). Recently it was a liberal publication -- the Baltimore Sun -- who, during her One Nation tour, called her "the most mischievous force in American politics." This was said admiringly. The Baltimore Sun understood her. For some reason, however, the Right refuses to give her credit, even though every supposedly conservative candidate is constantly echoing what she has said. When will the Republican establishment, including Kristol, finally notice that she is dominating the "conversation"? Does the establishment think that if it ignores her, she will go away? Ha!

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's not about Sarah

I finally read John Ziegler's piece. What a hit piece. It's hard to know what motivated him, but I suspect that, as with many conservatives, he is freaked out by the vitriol aimed at Sarah and honestly believes it is too intense to allow her to win the presidency. Also factor in a bit of sour grapes or wounded vanity.

I had a more brilliant insight, however. It strikes me that the vitriol is not aimed at Sarah Palin. It is aimed at "we the people." It is aimed at the heartland and its values, which liberalism has been steadily eroding for the past several decades, under the "enlightened" administration of Boomer elites. With the election of Obama, these elites imagined that they had finally overcome the evil arising from the traditional values of the heartland. Suddenly, Sarah Palin appears, and it is evident that those values still reign. The bearer of those values has to be destroyed.

Sarah Palin has consistently said that "it is not about me; it is not about Sarah Palin." The media, however, has framed a narrative that it is about Sarah Palin. Thus, my advice for a Palin for President campaign is as follows: Sarah P. has to overcome the "personalization" inherent in this narrative. I think that the remaining caution toward her among some conservatives (not me!) -- the notion that she lacks "gravitas" -- may stem from the sense that she hasn't been able to rise above the attacks on her.

Recently we conservatives have continued to defend her in the Palin v. the Media scenario. She is the underdog, and we are for her. In doing so, however, we lose sight of the fact that the real aim of the media and the elites is to destroy US and our values.

If Sarah can rise above the way she has been "framed" (quite literally) and take the fight to another level, make clear what the attacks on her are really about, then she will truly be Reaganesque, not only in ideals but also in temperament.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"The Quotable Rogue"

When I set up this blog I did not plan to write anything until Sarah Palin announced she was running for president, aside from some occasional musings. Lately I have wanted to weigh in on the One Nation bus tour and the Email Hunt. Enough said by others on those. Let me be the first to review a new book, namely, Matt Lewis's The Quotable Rogue: The Ideals of Sarah Palin in Her Own Words. I just got my pre-ordered copy this morning and quickly read through it.

Much of what strikes me has already been echoed in the past week or so, even by LSM talking heads after their advance view of The Undefeated, namely, that twenty years ago Sarah Palin had the same position on the issues that she has today. In other words, she has been consistent, and she has always been a "commonsense" conservative. I had already noted that when I saw a clip of a long-ago interview of her and Janet Napolitano with Charlie Rose. Both women had just been elected governor. Sarah Palin did not then seem as confident as she has become; the attention was clearly a bit new for the Alaskan. Napolitano, by contrast, was already a very smooth politician, and in retrospect it is understandable that Obama would think she would make a good member of his administration. One of Charlie Rose's questions concerned health care reform. Napolitano was in favor of big change; Palin agreed that there needed to be reform but insisted we shouldn't invent the wheel.

As Lewis writes in the Introduction, Palin "has articulated thoughtful stands on a number of issues," and these are the substance of his book. Those of us who have followed her for the past few years are familiar with her Facebook and Twitter postings, but he delves back further, into her Alaska political days and the election of 2008, when she burst into the national awareness. At that time, he writes, "she seemed so ordinary. And yet she quickly became a household name, a recognizable face, and a lightning rod for strong reactions." The book's topics follow an alphabetical sequence, from "On Abortion," "On the Real America," "On Living in Alaska," to "On the Tea Party Movement," "On Tina Fey," "On Washington." There is an index, in which was missing, to my surprise, "death panels." For your information, the quote from Palin is on page 95. Herewith some of my favorites:

"The people of America realize that all political power is inherent in the people. And government is to be implemented on behalf of the people and the will that they desire that their government engage in" (9/17/2008)

"Q: Will you support an effort to expand hate-crime laws?
A: No, as I believe all heinous crime is based on hate"
(from 2006 gubernatorial candidate questionnaire)

"The people of Alaska understand that Alaska has so much to contribute in terms of energy sources to the rest of the U.S. ... I think Washington doesn't understand that we are at a real critical crossroads: we are either going to become more and more dependent on foreign sources of energy, or we're going to be able to secure our nation and drill domestically for safe, stable, clean supplies of energy that we have here. We have them in Alaska" (6/28/2008 interview)

"President Bush is right. Across the nation, communities are feeling the pinch of high energy costs. It is absurd that we are borrowing from one foreign country to buy oil from another. It is a threat to our national security and economic well-being. It is well past time for America to develop our own supplies" (Alaska governor's office press release, 4/29/2008)

"Q: Have you ever met a foreign head of state?
A: I have not, and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you"
(interview with Charlie Gibson, 9/11/2008)

"Q: Are we continuing on the proper course in Iraq?
A: In the past five years, there hasn't been a successful terrorist strike on U.S. soil, and that's no accident. ... I support our president. I support our military. But of course I want to see that exit strategy being developed and being revealed to the public."
(Alaska 2006 governor debate, 10/30/2006)

"I have been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. [While supporting our president] I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe" (Alaska Business Monthly, 12/4/2006)

No need to go on. Just a couple of points. I thought I detected somewhat of a hardening of her position after joining McCain's ticket on the Iraq war. She is quoted in UPI on Oct. 2, 2008, saying "We do have a plan for withdrawal. We don't need .. early withdrawal out of Iraq. We cannot afford to lose there ..."
I notice, of late, in the case of Libya and Afghanistan, that she is returning to her earlier position of insistence on an "exit plan." I think she may also have hardened a bit on immigration since the Arizona law and the Obama administration's actions against that state. On Oct. 26, 2008, for instance, in an interview with Univision, she expressed support for "a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants." At the same time, she also thought it impossible round up all the undocumented immigrants and deport them.

I also found it interesting that Jay Newton-Small of Time magazine had already been following Governor Palin in August 2008, before John McCain picked her to run with him. So, some journalists recognized her special quality early on.

All in all a good read and a good complement to the governor's own books.

And, by the way, who has become the more formidable personality since the Charlie Rose interview?