Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sarah Palin versus Barack Obama: Two American Originals

Rex Murphy lives up to his reputation of being someone who refuses to let the herd tell him what to think. He always has an interesting and contrarian perspective that is free of cant and politically correct mush. Here is his take on the Sarah Palin.
"There are two great political speakers in the America today. Sarah Palin is the other one. Barack Obama's speaking skills are his signature talent. He's a platform performer, a speechmaker in the great tradition, a kind of teleprompter Cicero. The campaign to become President owed more to Mr. Obama's oratorical mastery than to any other element. His speech on race in America, necessitated by revelations of the ugly thoughts and sentiments of his hometown preacher, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was the most important event of his campaign. If it had failed, his candidacy would have been doomed. Under pressure – the great test of the real speechmaker – he delivered.

The other great speech of the U.S. campaign season was Sarah Palin's on receiving the vice-presidential slot on the McCain ticket. This was a speech delivered under even greater pressures than that of Mr. Obama. John McCain's choice of Ms. Palin had been early and widely criticized, and in some quarters ferociously reviled. She had never really been under the national spotlight before. The entire media were focused on her with an intensity almost unseen in the annals of vice-presidential politics. If she'd been just “okay,” or messed up, John McCain's campaign was over. It was the highest of high-stakes gambles.

Did she deliver? She soared. She was the very acme of self-confidence and ease. She mixed a natural charm with a mischievous edge of sarcasm toward her opponents – even daring the unthinkable by pinging The One himself. It was her “first serve” on the national stage and she delivered an ace. The backwoods hick knocked it out of the hall that night – not only did she not sink the McCain campaign, she gave it the only real vitality and spark that gloomy, tight, fussy little campaign had from start to finish.

Her speech, in fact, was the rhetorical equivalent of Mr. Obama's crucial one. They do not as speakers, it is obvious, share the same idiom. Mr. Obama is utterly composed, deliberate down to gesture and word, very conscious that he is a “figure” on a stage. Mr. Obama “bestows” himself on an audience. Ms. Palin has none of that. She will never speak in front of faux Greek columns. She walks on the stage much the same way she'd go into a gas station. But she's shrewd in her choice of themes, has a marvellous feel for her audience, and a confidence that will never be confused with arrogance."

Murphy goes on to explain that all the incredible venom spewed out against Palin actually demonstrates how much liberals fear her.

"Ms. Palin is in the hurricane's eye again with the publication of Going Rogue. The Associated Press assigned no fewer than 11 reporters to “fact check” Ms. Palin's memoir, a concentration of scrutiny AP would never presume to exert over the man who's actually in the White House. Elements of the press mock and scorn her with a fury that is near inexplicable. Rather fewer extol her gifts. But pro or con, the media cannot get enough of her.

A truly dumb and witless person would not have the demure columnist David Brooks hissing dismissively, angrily in fact, on a Sunday morning talk show that Sarah Palin “is a joke.” Poor Mr. Brooks gets intellectual hives just thinking about her. Empty vessels do not inspire such venom and fury. . . . Those who call her a joke are expressing an anxious hope not offering a rational description."

Before Ronald Reagan became president he was attacked and mocked mercilessly by the liberal media. But by the end of his presidency he was regarded as one of the greatest presidents of the century. He was polarizing before he became a symbol of unity. And he had the same ability that Sarah Palin has to "connect" with the average American, which gave him the power to go "over the heads" of the media.

I think the fear and loathing (and desperation to bring her down) on the part of the liberal establishment arises from this same quality. They sense that she has the ability to disrupt business as usual and speak directly to the grass roots in such a way as to disrupt the script written by big government, big business and the media elite who do their bidding. So she is dangerous; which is to say that she is dangerous in every way that any populist is dangerous, except more so, because of her ability to speak over the heads of the media. Populist movements can be controlled, manipulated, distorted and hidden in plain view. But a leader and speaker who can personally embody populism is a different matter.

I think the Republican Party establishment is as afraid of her as is the Democratic Party. There is no telling what she will do. Support conservative candidates of both parties? Form a third party? Take over the Republican Party? Who knows? She is not a conventional politican who owes her importance to the Washington chattering class or the party bosses. Look at the simpering senators now being systmatically bought by Harry Reid to support his health care takeover with its stealth abortion expansion provisions (100 million was the price for the senator from Lousiana). They owe their souls to the money the Democratic Party establishment will gladly provide them with if only they vote as good little robots no matter what the polls back home say. Sarah Palin's popularity and power wasn't given by Washington and it can't be taken away by Washington, nor by Hollywood, nor by Wall Street.

No wonder she reduces the party hacks to whining, whimpering, slobbering attack dogs. Regardless of what happens to Sarah Palin, it's actually nice to see them sweat it out.


Kim said...

I typically appreciate your outspoken and contrarian posts, and share many of your conservative views - but on this one I think David Brooks hit the nail on the head. I had high hopes for Palin, but I have yet to see much evidence of substance. She is a good speaker, and has her own unique form of rhetoric, but where is the truly conservative vision for America that can resist both liberal & free-market excess?

Craig Carter said...

Ah, the vision thing! Kim, I never said she was a thinker or that she is intellectual enough to formulate a coherent conservative vision. That is indeed the problem. She is what she is.

I don't hold her up as the Moses of the conservative movemnent; I'm merely saying that she is a true problem for the establishment. If only she could become a disciple of William F. Buckley Jr. or James Burnham and use her populist talents to advance a coherent conservative agenda.

But I'm not even sure advancing a coherent conservative political agenda is consistent with being the kind of populist she is. But I do know that the moderate, conservative eggheads do not inspire fear in the hearts of liberal activists.