Monday, December 14, 2009
Scrolling through my Amazon "associates" reports, I noticed that a lot of people have been buying Sarah Palin's book Going Rogue: An American Life through the Amazon banner on our sidebar. That led me to check the book's rank on Amazon, and it is in nosebleed land: #2 as of this morning. One is forced to wonder whether this relatively favorable review on a New York Times blog drove incremental sales outside of her "base." Or, perhaps more probably, it was her appearance on The Tonight Show, which Legal Insurrection calls "a turning point."
In any case, Sarah Palin is a genuine phenomenon. Precisely what sort and why are the interesting questions.
May I humbly suggest that Sarah Palin looks good (for example, more interesting) compared with so many Republican leaders. Might I also suggest this has more to do with the abysmal state of the Republican party than with the merits of Sarah Palin.
Sorry but you are only a little right - she does look good - but that is such a small part of the reason. Sarah is real, authentic, and the only visible person that the populace sees as willing to tell it like it is, good or bad, and willing to make changes for the good of the country not just the party. Frankly she is a breath of fresh air and an iconic natural born leader.
Palin is a player, no question. Ironically, folks like Katie Couric and David Letterman have helped make this so. Right now, Palin's base has a high correlation to Rush Limbaugh's listeners. That's big, but it's potentially limiting.
Palin shares the challenge of the Republican party. It'll be hard to win the Presidency in 2012 without 40% of Hispanics, 45% of women, 50% of Catholics and/or 55% of independents. Right now, Palin wouldn't reach any of these thresholds.
Romney was on one of the Sunday morning shows yesterday and is obviously staking out the economic recovery angle -- America as a leveraged recap gone bad that needs new management and a smidgen of turnaround equity. Mitt will make it happen ... for a 10% carried interest -- a bargain! ... he usually wants 30%. If we're in really bad shape, Mitt's spiel may work -- but Mitt has severe limitations as a national candidate. If you went to an Ivy League college or are a Mormon you may not see this, but plutocrat Mitt turns off most Americans. Mitt hasn't really proved himself in a hard election or primary yet -- Teddy Kennedy killed him.
Palin isn't dumb, and she can pivot off people who says she is. The closest parallel to Palin is Reagan (with a little Andrew Jackson thrown in) -- but is it the Reagan of the 1960s or the Reagan of 1980? Developing ....
Mad as Hell ....
Palin is a quitter. She left her job in Alaska because she was being hounded and harassed by her political opponents. WTF? Can you imagine her in a debate with Obama? Katie Couric asked her what books she was reading (during the now infamous CBS interview). Palin couldn't come up with anything. She is way over her head. I agree that her present popularity is reflective of the dearth of viable candidates in the Republican party.
"Can you imagine her in a debate with Obama?"
Absolutely! She'd kill him.
Conventional wisdom was that silver-tongued Joe Biden would embarass her. Instead she won.
Obama got by on platitudes during 2008, and MSM let him. There's a reason Obama hasn't been doing open press conferences lately, and shunning direct contact with the press. In a debate today -- or in 2012 -- you could go after Obama with specifics. Palin's just the gal to do it.
Many people thought Reagan was a dunce too -- some of them still do.
Mystery Meat:Palin is a quitter. She left her job in Alaska because she was being hounded and harassed by her political opponents.
She incurred ~$500k in legal fees in the process to defend herself against spurious ethics charges- which she all defended successfully, IIRC.
Moreover, the spurious ethics charges were time wasters.
What would YOU do in that situation? Please enlighten us.
"She incurred ~$500k in legal fees in the process to defend herself against spurious ethics charges- which she all defended successfully, IIRC. Moreover, the spurious ethics charges were time wasters. What would YOU do in that situation? Please enlighten us."
She was the target of an organized Alinsky-style attack by leftists in Alaska who hated her guts. I've read that by law, Alaska must investigate ANY complaint of ethical violations by state office holders regardless of their merit. The same law precludes the subject of the ethical violations charge from using state funds or resources to defend against the charges. Her enemies kept filing ridiculous complaints to keep her time and effort distracted from doing her job. They succeeded. Do you think it gets any easier on the national level? No matter who's in there, someone who hates your guts is going to go after you with hammer and tongs. That's just the way it is. If she can't handle it in a backwater like Alaska, how is she going to handle it in the big leagues? She had a legal defense committee set up which raised 100K the first week after it was started, according to newspaper accounts. Did you send her money to help fights her enemies? Raising 500k should not be so hard for a national political figure with a fired-up following. Quitting once is bad because it makes it easier to quit the second. In her resignation speech, she said she was quitting so she could work "for all Americans" not just Alaskans. She said she polled her family, and they all wanted her to quit. Well, that doesn't fly with me. Nixon quit because he was on the verge of being forced out of office. That was not true in Palin's case. She simply could not take the heat.
What would I do? I don't know. But if I did quit I would not expect to be a viable national candidate.
Palin is indeed a phenomenon. I continue to watch her with interest. I'm not close to signing on for 2012, but there are many things about her I find very appealing.
1. Her authenticity. For me it is not the link to fly-over America values that speaks for her authenticity, it is rather her directness and the appearance of being honest and straightforward. It's something I like in people and don't see often in politicians.
2. The fact that the MSM treats her and her family like trash, worse than any other public figure in my lifetime, and she remains cool, poised, and unfazed by it. Not only does it show strength of character, a virtue in my book, but it shows she is on the same critical side of the MSM that I am. I also think that their attention to her suggests that she is a huge threat to their interests---despite the meme that she is insubstantial. This makes me think she has practical strengths.
3. Her natural political instincts. It is very rare. Even President Obama who was lauded for magnificent speeches, ostensibly a sign of political gifts, has shown that his political skill is nothing special, even lacking. Among the presidents in my lifetime, only Reagan, Clinton and maybe LBJ were masterful politicians in my opinion. And among them LBJ was mainly a master of Congress. Clinton had a full tool kit, and prodigious cognitive skills. But Palin (and Reagan) is what I would call an instinctive genius. She does the right thing in an immediate way, like a prodigy on the piano that just plays because it's impossible to think about what your are going to play without getting distracted from the playing of it. Try it sometime. You may think you are smart until you do.
4. The fact that she has emerged from the political isolation of Alaska to become a national figure on her own. It only adds to her mystique that she could leave political office and become politically more influential. The fact that she could give the debates on health care reform and the global warming direction changing commentary from a Facebook page seems laughable at first---until you realize no one has done it before.
I remain interested in the questions concerning what qualities are necessary in say a POTUS and whether or not she has them. But at this point I find her to be a remarkable American.
"I remain interested in the questions concerning what qualities are necessary in say a POTUS and whether or not she has them."
I'm not sure whether or not she has enough of them. But she undoubtedly has more of them than someone who never led or accomplished anything in their adult life prior to November 2008.
"I remain interested in the questions concerning what qualities are necessary in say a POTUS"
A deep understanding of history, comprehensive knowledge of the US constitution, a good general understanding of science and technology (including statistics), close familiarity with the works of Shakespeare; and common sense.
"A deep understanding of history, comprehensive knowledge of the US constitution, a good general understanding of science and technology (including statistics), close familiarity with the works of Shakespeare; and common sense."
Just for fun, which past presidents had the necessary qualities, as outline above?
Even Jefferson may fall a touch short on a deep understanding of history, but he'd have to be considered top shelf in each category. TR would score reasonably well.
I begin to grasp at straws. I don't know anything about Eisenhower and Shakespeare, but I imagine some was required at West Point. The science and technology requirement is going to bring almost everyone else down.
You're describing a philosopher king. That's what the left thinks it has in Obama.
What we really need is a good leader. Palin has some real talent at this. Obama by comparison is a passive-aggressive manipulator.
Palin's challenge is that she has high negatives with significant demographics. Some of this is unfair and has been MSM-driven. The more exposure she gets on things like Late Night the better. Palin needs to get bigger than Rush Limbaugh's listeners. I can't wait to see her on the Daily Show or Colbert. Jon Stewart would run a much better, more balanced and more informative interview of Palin than Couric or Gibson.
By the time we get to 2012, I expect we'll be in an all-out political war between A) the DC-based political class and those who get checks from the federal government, and B) the rest of us. If so, Palin is a natural choice to play point guard for the rest of us. Even if she doesn't get the 2012 nomination, she'll have a role to play.
Mad As Hell ...
I prefer that a President have as many useful strengths as we can get. But when I look back at Presidents since the beginning of the 20th century, I have a recurring thought that the two most successful leaders were FDR and Reagan---most successful in that they both found a way to achieve their most important goals, and most successful in that they both held sufficient public support to do so.
I'm not an expert on their lives, but my impression is that while both were very smart men, and both were politically astute and canny, neither was an intellectual.
The gift of intellect is an admirable thing for me and I do not have any issues with it or any issues with my own limits in those regards. But I have another recurring thought which is that among the presidents governing since the beginning of the 20th century there were some intellectual giants of the genre (TR, Wilson, Hoover, Nixon and Clinton) and a couple that saw themselves as intellectual giants (Carter, maybe Obama). To me it is interesting that while the brightest had some notable successes, their presidencies do not seem to rise to the level of greatness.
The science and technology requirement is newish. I think a President (or a CEO of a big compasny) could get away with ignorance as recently as 20 years ago, but not now. They really have to understand how the modern world works, and how statistics is used in medical research.
The point about Shakespeare is that he wrote the book on human nature, which is what any top executive needs to understand.
I think an intellectual is one who has read all the books, but not understood them. That is why common sense is essential - a very rare quality.
I think Truman had it.
As for Obama, let's reserve judgement until we see if he learns as he goes. He hasn't been hit by anything unexpected yet.
To me, right now, he is too much like Blair.
Here's an idea. Sarah Palin should issue a public challenge to Al Gore to present their opposing views on climate change science.
Climate change science is bunk, 8 ways from Sunday -- I'm convinced of that from what I've seen here and elsewhere. It's not just Climategate. This has gotten no coverage from MSM, not counting Rush and Fox.
Having "creationist" Palin show up Gore on this would have immediate political impact, and longer term implications. I doubt Gore would agree to this obviously, but it'd give Palin a big talking point. If Gore ducks, Palin could do a 15 minute "Inconvenient Truth 2" and put it online.
The Truth is Out There