Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I'm going to quote John Redwood's Diary again but this time am only going to quote myself:
I would give at least even chances that Sarah “starting in January we will build nuclear plants” Palin will replace him. Most British people know nothing about her except what the BBC say & they lie in a way the American media would like to if the audience didn’t already know something about her... Palin was a very capable executive, ending Alaska’s budget deficit & anybody reading her Facebook page can see she has a very strong grasp of issues, a deep respect & understanding of American constitutionalism & the ability to handle words in a way any politician would be glad of. I am quite certain that had the policy I quoted been done the US would now be out of recession. Her opposition to the global warming scam also shows her intelligence & indeed courage.I would change my mind on her bible bashing if I actually saw it on her Facebook page but I haven't.
Partly by chance the lightning of history has struck her, as it struck Obama & the American people & all western civilisation should be glad it has struck such an intelligent, capable & honourable person.
British politicians who merely follow our media may find themselves well outside her turning circle when she is elected.
Someone raised the point about her alleged Biblical literalism
...She is a “Bible believing Christian” which, except in the higher reaches of the CofE, is almost a tautology. ...she was raised Catholic & Catholicism & Bible literalism do not go together. My impression is that, like many people who think the church is a good influence on the kids she is more interested in it socially than theologically. I write this as an atheist myself.
In some cases, such as the claim she wanted to ban library books, what she said has been deliberately twisted out of context. Paradoxically this may work to her advantage since it will now be impossible to persuade the religious right not to vote for her.
By "lightning of history" I mean that some people get political opportunities because they just fit the times. Churchill came to power because all the other Tories were tainted by appeasement, Obama won because America was looking for a black or half black leader brought up like a white man, Blair could do the "trust me I'm just plain folks" routine magnificently. In this way Palin hits America's frontier self image as Steve Sailer said:
"What intrigues people about elections aren’t the platform planks. Deep down, political contests are about picking symbolic champions. Just as Barack Obama, recently of the Illinois legislature, has excited tens of millions by his emphasis on his bloodlines, by his implication that national racial reconciliation is “in my DNA,” the overstuffed life story of the caribou huntress and mother of five (and soon to be grandmother at age 44) embodies the oldest boast Americans have made about their homeland: the fecundity of the frontier...
Palin’s husband Todd... Exactly the kind you’d expect: he works as both a North Slope oilfield roughneck and a salmon fisherman. He’s also won the state’s snowmobile championship, the 2,000-mile Tesoro Iron Dog race, four times. He only finished fourth this year because he had to ride the last 400 miles with a broken arm after being thrown 70 feet. Did I mention he’s part Eskimo?
The even more fundamental reason underlying all the fury on one side and amusement on the other is that this brouhaha centers around female fertility...An obsession in politics with breeding is both very old (hereditary monarchy) and very contemporary. The main qualifications of the current president and this year’s Democratic runner-up are that they are, respectively, the scion and consort of ex-presidents. More subtly, Obama launched himself at the 2004 Democratic convention by devoting the first 380 words of his famous speech to detailing the two stocks from which he was crossbred...Palin has horned in on all that subliminal symbolism with her own old-fashioned American brand. She’s had five kids while throwing out the crooks and nepotists. And now she has a 17-year-old pregnant daughter engaged to a strapping 18-year-old hockey player in one of the few places left in America where a young man with a strong back can support a family."
That gives her an advantage in any circumstances. America is extremely lucky that somebody with all that is also principled & competent.
As for how effective she has been since resigning from Alaska, Ted Belman says it perfectly:
"In less than six weeks she has taken over from all the elected Republicans, the role of government watchdog. She has assumed the role of a government in waiting and all Republicans are riding her coat tails.
From a very small perch on Twitter and Facebook, her messages take off and carom and careen throughout America.
As I reported in “Palin is just beginning to fight - and win”, she knocked the legs out from under Obamacare with her “death panel” charge. Obama has yet to recover. She followed this up with another broadside on Obamacare.
Showing impeccable timing, a day before Obama made a last ditch effort to salvage it with yesterday’s big speech, she deliver an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, no less, entitled Obama and the Bureaucratization of Health Care.
Obama found it necessary in his speech to respond to this “dummy” by calling her a liar. Immediately afterwards, Palin fought back with a devastating counter attack on Facebook. To wit.
"He called these concerns “bogus,” “irresponsible,” and “a lie” — so much for civility. After all the name-calling, though, what he did not do is respond to the arguments we’ve made, arguments even some of his own supporters have agreed have merit.""
Also reading her Facebook I am impressed not only with her thoughtfulness & inspiration but also with the nuanced way every word is in place, or if it isn't the gap is deliberate. For example for Constitution day she does a fine patriotic piece about America while not wallowing in patriotism (she describes the Constitution as "one of the greatest founding documents in history" which as a Brit I would consider probably an understatement) is patriotic & shows a deep understanding of what the Constitution is about. But she heads it with the James Madison quote "The Constitution of the United States was created by the people of the United States composing the respective states, who alone had the right” which is upholding the position, which I agree with on economic, freedom & constitutional grounds, that sovereignty lies with the individual states not Washington. That is somebody who understands what she believes in & has a mastery of language.
Since the Redwood comment she has made her first foreign speech which has had zero coverage here. She made it in Hong Kong, before an audience of capitalists in what is now part of America's biggest & nominally communist competitor. That alone puts conventional politicians well outside her turning circle. It is a 1 1/2 hour speech & I am not going to fisk it but it repays reading & is an overwhelming answer to the media's claim she was unfit for government because she knew nothing about abroad. Because of that speech I would improve the odds on my earlier bet of her becoming President. However I am going to put up a few quotes & then contrast them with Brown's speech yesterday:
"This war – and that is what it is, a war – is not, as some have said, a clash of civilizations. We are not at war with Islam. This is a war within Islam, where a small minority of violent killers seeks to impose their view on the vast majority of Muslims who want the same things all of us want: economic opportunity, education, and the chance to build a better life for themselves and their families. The reality is that al Qaeda and its affiliates have killed scores of innocent Muslim men, women and children...
Asia’s Wise Man, former Singaporean Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew...
We need to go back to fiscal discipline...
You know better than most the enormous change that has taken place in China over the last thirty years. Hundreds of millions of Chinese have been pulled out of poverty as China has undertaken economic reforms that have resulted in unprecedented growth. Even today, China’s economy is projected to grow by some 8%. It is helping to edge the world out of recession...
Many countries HOPE China will pursue a ‘Peaceful Rise’ but NONE will bet their future on it...
See: this is the heart of the issue with China: we engage with the hope Beijing becomes a responsible stakeholder, but we must takes steps in the event it does not. See? We all hope to see a China that is stable, peaceful, prosperous and free. But we must also work with our allies...
just as a century ago the then-preeminent power, Great Britain, worried little about the rise of America to great power status. My point is that the more politically open and just China is, the more Chinese citizens of every ethnicity will settle disputes in courts rather than on the streets. The more open it is, the less we will be concerned about its military build-up and intentions. The more transparent China is, the more likely it is they we will find a true and lasting friendship based on shared values as well as interests...
we welcome China’s responsible rise...
Our economic interdependence drives our relationship with China. I see a future of more trade with China and more American high-tech goods in China. But in order for that to happen, we need China to improve its rule of law and protect our intellectual property. We need to avoid protectionism and China’s flirtation with state-assisted “national champions.” On our part, we should be more open to Chinese investment where our national security interests are not threatened. In the end, though, our economic relationship will truly thrive when Chinese citizens and foreign corporations can hold the Chinese government accountable when their actions are unjust...
In contrast [to the US], China is behaving wisely in negotiating free trade agreements throughout Asia...
When my country again achieves financial stability and economic growth – when we roar back to life as we shall do – it will be thanks in large part to the hard work and common sense of these ordinary Americans who are demanding that government spend less and tax less and allow the private sector to grow and prosper...
We’re not interested in government fixes; we’re interested in freedom! Freedom! Our vision is forward looking..."
I like the bit about Britain since it suggests whoever came up with that (all top politicians have advisers but the real ones make the final decision about what is in their speeches) has a confident understanding of British history. I doubt if she came up with it but only competent people choose competent advisers.
By comparison Brown's speech was simply a series of dubious boasts, cliches & unfundable spending promises (aka bribes) with no hint of original thought. To be fair he was addressing the Labour party. Compare Palin's economic proposal that America set itself to exporting hi-tech to China & importing general goods - which is entirely correct but not populist - with Brown's inane:
"Our new economic model for a strong economy is founded on three guiding principles.
That in future finance must always be the servant of people and industry and not their master.
That our future economy must be a green economy.
And that we must realise all of Britain's talent if we are to lead and succeed."
The 3rd is a cliche, the first simply & destructively unloading his responsibility for the recession on bankers & the second - that our economy can successfully grow by depending on jobs which need endless subsidy - is simply lunatic.
Brown is often treated as an intellectual heavyweight, deeper thinking than anybody else in his cabinet or the other "Blair-lite" party leaders (& to be fair that bit may well be true) while the media say Palin is unsophisticated redneck trailer trash. In fact comparing the 2 it is obvious she is far more intellectual than almost any other prominent western/anglosphere politician.
My sense is that Palin is not ready to run for US presidential office in 2012. But if her book sells well (currently #2 on Amazon) and her popular movement for restricting government size and spending takes off, she may be in position to take advantage of a drop in Obama's popularity.
I also think she may be intending to campaign heavily for radicals (possibly not all Republicans) at the next Congressional elections. This would give her a base & remove Obama's power to pass trillion $ bills.
Of course I may just be projecting my own hopes, a common problem in politics, but the Alaskan resignation is difficult to explain otherwise.