Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Own Thoughts, Written by Another

It's rare to open a national publication and see my own thoughts — expanded and better written than I have done them, but still my own thoughts. That's especially true in the political realm. But that has happened this month. Twice — both by the same author, Bill Whittle. He echoed what I have written to friends and in a posting (in preparation) when he wrote that, prior to this month,

all we had was a grim determination to vote against a dangerous, socialized vision of the future. We were portrayed — largely accurately — as old, tired, out-of-touch, out of ideas, out of candidates . . . too white, too male, too square. It doesn’t matter how true or false that caricature was. That was the narrative, and there was enough of it that fit.

And then the earthquake came.

In his second column, he shows the further development of his thoughts (and mine). He notes "the power of the mythmakers in Hollywood, the power of the information peddlers in the media, the corrosive power of America-hating professors on every campus in America". And he continues, using imagery reminiscent of one of his prior essays,
against all that we find an old warrior — a paladin if ever there was one — an old, beat-up warhorse standing up in defense of his city one last time.

And beside him: a wonder.

A common person ... just a regular mom who goes to work, does a difficult job with intelligence and energy and grace and every-day competence and then puts it away to go home and have dinner with the family.

Against all of that stand these two.

No wonder they must be destroyed.

What is there about John McCain and Sarah Palin that produces such hope and enthusiasm on one side, and such fear and rage on the other? That it has is undeniable. The change at the campaign offices has been described as "like a switch being thrown." And there are a lot of folks who never make campaign contributions, who now have. As for the other side, no one can deny the extreme level of the attacks being made against McCain and, especially, Palin. The question is WHY? I've been groping for an answer; I think Whittle found it:
I think the magic of Sarah Palin speaks to a belief that so many of us share ... — the idea that, given nothing but classic American values like hard work, integrity, and tough-minded optimism you can actually do what happens in the movies: become Leader of the Free World, the President of the United States of America.
In other words, Sarah Palin and John McCain exemplify what our people are all about, and have been since our nation was founded.

There's a lot more in Bill Whittle's two columns. Do yourself a favor and go read them both.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Never Forget

The Acceptance Speeches

Yes, I know this is a bit late. Nevertheless, ....

I watched the acceptance speech by Senator Barack Obama from Invesco Field. Nothing I heard was unexpected. (Of course, I'm one of those odd ducks who has been paying attention to the political campaigns for many months.) [Update: Even NPR's Juan Williams said Obama's acceptance speech was flat and lifeless.] I didn't see Senator Joe Biden's acceptance speech, but the press reports tell me it, too, was more of the same.

The next week's acceptance speeches were different. Some of that was because Governor Sarah Palin was a (relatively) unknown quantity, so whatever she said would not be "more of the same". Even so, she did an excellent job. I've seen a number of media analysts saying her speech really didn't/wouldn't "play" outside the hall, and all I can say is they must have been watching someone else. What I saw was well captured by Thomas Lifson:

Sarah Barracuda is turning into Barack Obama's worst nightmare. Her digs at the Democrat candidate were slyly funny, and placed him back in the position of an elitist. She has the potential to be Reagan in a dress. A younger Margaret Thatcher who is also a beautiful woman. No wonder the liberal media is trying to destroy her before they go bankrupt.

And then there's Senator John McCain, not exactly known as a stirring or polished speaker. His speech was more of a "stem-winder" than I remember him giving — ever — and I grew up in Arizona. I felt he did in that speech exactly what he needed to do.

There have been a few things happening since those speeches. Press reports suggest growing crowds and increasing contributions for the McCain-Palin ticket, and reduced crowds and contributions for the Obama-Biden ticket. And then there's Senator Joe Biden's reported reaction to the selection of Governor Sarah Palin for the VP spot on the Republican ticket, that she was only a governor — and of such a small state. (I don't know how he can say Alaska is small — it has the same number of electoral votes as Biden's state of Delaware.) I liked the reaction from New Mexico's Representative Heather Wilson last Saturday:

Memo to Senator Biden: Anchorage has public parks bigger than Delaware.

It's going to be an interesting campaign.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Palin Pick

John McCain selected Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be the Republican candidate for Vice President. Everyone, including the entire press corps, was taken by surprise. That sent enough of them off searching up information about Governor Palin that the Alaska state web servers were crashed.

The Obama campaign responded quickly. Spokesman Bill Burton said “Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency.” We had two reactions when we heard the statement:

  1. The statement sounds like a clear admission that Barack Obama will lose and Sarah Palin will be the Vice President of the United States.
  2. Yes, Wasilla is a town of about 9,000 people. But that's 9,000 Alaskans, that proved to be a rough-and-tumble training ground for hardball politics. Would you like to go up against 9,000 like her?
Further, it seemed this description is more than a bit disingenuous. Especially when it is put in the form that showed up a Jonathan Martin piece in the Politico website: “Palin, 44, is less than two years removed from being mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, has no military or foreign policy experience in a time of grave international threat” This statement is dishonest in several respects.

The two years referred to are the two years she has been serving as governor. Those two years were separated from her time as Wasilla mayor by four years, during which she spearheaded ethics efforts that brought about the the resignation and punishment of her own party chairman. And to reach the governor's chair, she had to unseat the incumbent Republican governor (and former U.S. Senator) and beat a former governor while her own party sought her defeat.

"No military experience"? She is the Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard. That means she commands the forces responsible for a good part of the U.S. missile defense. It means her air forces are involved in intercepting the Russian Bear bombers that have been flying along our coasts the past six months or so. It means her troops have been deployed to Iraq, as a result of which she has been to Iraq at least as many times as Barack Obama (and not as part of a campaign!) and visited wounded soldiers at Landstuhl, Germany. She also commands the Alaska State Defense Force. As an e-mailer told Uncle Jimbo, "She can be entrusted with our national security, because she already is."

"No foreign policy experience"? She's been leading negotiations with the Canadian government and Canadian companies over the natural gas pipeline project. I have no doubt she's also had some fairly regular contact with the government of the other country that borders her state — Russia — including over those Bear bombers.

Of course, we will have to wait and see how she works out as a vice presidential candidate. But for such a newcomer on the national political scene, she sure seems to have a surprisingly strong record in the national security area and as a reformer.