On Palin, Obama, and Leadership

“This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting and never use the word ‘victory,’ except when he’s talking about his own campaign…[W]hat exactly is our opponent’s plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer…is to make government bigger, and take more of your money, and give you more orders from Washington, and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world. America needs more energy; our opponent is against producing it. Victory in Iraq is finally in sight, and he wants to forfeit. Terrorist states are seeking nuclear weapons without delay; he wants to meet them without preconditions. Al Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights. Government is too big; he wants to grow it. Congress spends too much money; he promises more. Taxes are too high, and he wants to raise them.”

— Sarah Palin, accepting the nomination as John McCain’s running mate at the convention

“Chicks can say stuff.”

— Me, exploring all the reasons Why They Hate Sarah Palin So Much (#11)

“Seventy-one percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday morning believe the former Alaska governor [Sarah Palin] and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee is not qualified to be president…”

CNN political ticker story from October 2009

“Fifty-nine percent of U.S. adults said they don’t think Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and potential 2012 candidate, would be an effective president of the United States.”

60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll

That’s twelve points in ten months. If you’re not favorably impressed by that, you’re not paying attention. Oh yes, I’m serious. Consider what a manifestly more hostile question it is to say “not qualified to serve,” when the qualifications are clearly laid out and Palin demonstrably possesses them. She is, as a matter of personal opinion, properly excluded from further consideration nevertheless? Too many teevee interviews botched? Too many made-up quotes about being able to see Russia from her house — and that’s it? Move along? Stick a fork in her she’s done?

That’s a much stronger statement than “I don’t think she’d be effective once elected.” Now, the much milder statement nets a bare majority, and that’s among Vanity-Fair-reading airheads.

There is a phenomenon taking place here; Palin isn’t going away, to anywhere, anytime soon. She isn’t even heading in that direction. She’s moving toward the limelight.

But Palin is not all of it. The event we see unfolding is a deep and troubling crisis, a disease consuming the republic. She is the medicine.

Dissent is born from the simple reality that government must prove its case to us, NOT vice-versa.

Dolly’s current fave aphorism, stolen from Dante

And that’s your definition of the crisis, right there. Are We, The People to sit in judgment of our elected government, to ponder the question of whether it is worthy of our continued support — or is it the other way around?

The White House’s current occupant was elected because He happens to have black skin. Oh yeah, I went there; I said it. He was nominated as the champion of His political party over that very aspect.

And as long as we’re getting down to brass tacks over things, let’s take a look at why this mattered. It wasn’t because our nation wanted to heal its racial divisions. No, Barack Obama’s skin color is not a medicinal balm to be applied, it is a cudgel to be wielded. That is, now, all too clear. It is a weapon, a means of shutting down the opposition. His party has long been shopping for just such a weapon, arousing nary a care as to the weapon’s nature, size or shape; they’ve cared only that the damn thing works. Remember, from 2004, Sen. John Kerry’s “moral authority”? Al Gore’s preening faux-intellectualism? Bill Clinton’s sloppy sex appeal to faithless, bored housewives and silly, stupid, college-age girls? This is not a political party that is in search of bold, new, effective, helpful ideas. Far from it.

They have been wanting, and want now, to win. That’s all.

For the last twenty years or more, they have been searching for the perfect salesman to pitch bad ideas. They’ve been looking for a guy with a gimmick. A good, powerful gimmick suitable for selling ice cubes to polar bears — something that will cut the whole debate short. Something that will conquer ideas instead of simply examine them. Something that dismisses. The magic elixir of thoughtlessness and undeserved rhetorical victory. Obama’s skin color happens to be the munition that finally netted the desired results and prevailed in an election.

But it only works with getting those bad ideas sold. It isn’t healing the racial divide, not by a damn sight. To the contrary, we have the privilege of watching the situation unfold every day: Our Government wants to do something, here come some concerned citizens advancing perfectly rational arguments as to why it should not be done. And our government’s executive branch, predictable as gravity, comes back with the smackdown.

You must be a racist.

You must be angry.

You’re a xenophobe.

You’re clinging bitterly to your guns and your Bibles.

You have a problem with a black man as president.

You’re one of the Wall Street fat cats that got us into this mess in the first place.

My goodness, you certainly do seem to have a lot of white people in your crowd, don’t you?

This is not uniting us and it has become an exercise in abject absurdity to suppose it is intended to. You…You…You…You You You You You You You. Our so-called “leaders” seem to have absolutely nothing else to say to us, other than — thanks for your support, or else, here’s a bunch of snotty, snooty, snobbish, pretentious, and frankly downright juvenile reasons why their desires should rule the day, and nobody else should have anything to say about any of it.

They seem to be absolutely lacking in any ability to listen. The tragedy is that their inability to listen, is costing everybody else mightily in their ability to get along with each other. More name-calling means more ugliness, less debate, more fighting, less edification, more heat, less light.

So back to the Palin situation. I’m given to understand there’s still a split as to whether Palin would be an effective President? That’s the question, is it?

The relevant inquiry to which this leads, is: How does Palin leadership handle the situation in which it has made a decision, and a vocal critic emerges from the fog of anonymity, critical of it. We already know how the current leaership handles that, and count me among the ones doubtful that our nation can survive much more of it without great injury.

Oh, we don’t need to wonder too much about how a Palin administration would work this. We have it on tape:

Much has been written about her service as Alaska’s twelfth Governor and Wasilla’s Mayor. From all that has managed to find its way to me, it seems it all falls into the theme of the video above. Oh, you’re a hockey mom too. Oh, you’re a teacher. Let’s find something upon which we agree. No, my mind is made up over there, sorry that ship has sailed…but maybe, further on down the line, we’ll work together on something.

That’s what healing looks like, folks.

In a free society, that is a vital ingredient to leadership. In government and outside of it. Our right to petition our Government for redress of grievances, has been officially recognized since the very beginning. You know what that means? That means we should be getting something we’re not getting. “Mister Mayor, Governor, President, I’ve got a beef with you” means — or should mean: Here’s what you did and here’s what I don’t like about it. Please reconsider, or give me your reasons why not…and kindly refrain from all this talk of what I am, how I am, what’s wrong with me, how I need to be picked up and moved someplace else by my betters. With all due respect: Take that part of it, and stick it where the sun don’t shine. I’m sitting in judgment of you, not the other way around.

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.

Thomas Jefferson

See, there is the problem, right there. It is much, much bigger than Barack Obama; He is just a small fish in this pond. The disease which currently consumes our republic, like a hungry fungus between your toes, is a breakdown in this “other wall of separation,” if you will. Jefferson’s principles. Jefferson’s styles. The people in charge right now would like to invest all of the enforcement authority with regard to our immigration laws in the Federal government. And then, for the government to simply walk away from the obligation to enforce. Now, what is that; a principle, or a style? That is one example but there are many more. The economy needs to be stimulated through government programs which provide lucre to people who can’t generate it on their own, as opposed to tax cuts which would lower the risk involved in creating wealth that would benefit the rest of us. We need a nationalized health care plan, doesn’t matter what kind, as long as it’s nationalized. It’s time to turn the page on Iraq. I just think when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody. The people building that Victory Mosque have a right to build it, and they should, or maybe they shouldn’t, you know what I’m going to keep mum on that.

What are these, exactly? Principles? Or are they styles? Perhaps a little of both?

I don’t know, and you can’t tell me because you don’t either. Nobody knows. There is the problem. Obama’s generation, just a handful of years ahead of my own, has been indulged throughout the decades. The baby boomers have been told that because there are so many of them, they must be right. About everything. Their styles are principles. Stand like a rock, baby boomers!

And so our current leaders do; they stand like a rock, on the principle of…not standing for much of anything. If indeed there is one “principle” at work that remains consistent across all the disparate issues, it seems to be this:

The Change SucksIn any conflict, the side that prevails must be the more metrosexual one. The less male, the more effeminate, the less hetero, the more gay, the less white, the more ethnically mixed, the less English, less nationalist. Christians should lose all the time, they have it coming. These guys over here should win all the time, those guys over there should lose so they can find out what it’s like.

Blacks are better than whites, gays beat women, blacks beat gays, or is it the other way around? One atheist is worth three Christians but a Muslim is worth two atheists. Pray in school and go directly to jail, do not pass Go do not collect two hundred dollars.

But really, the rules are just kinda made up as we go along. The effort is distilled down into a comical attempt, which only looks sensible when viewed from within, to stand like a rock on everything and then fail at doing it.

That is our current leadership. And Palin is somehow less than qualified to be a successor to it?

Well, I suppose I have to agree.

Sarah Palin, who disagrees with me on as many issues as anybody else, comes from a bizarre corner of the universe in which disagreements are engaged forcefully but minimally. Hers is a sword that slices through, not because of the vigor with which it is thrust, but because of the fine point to which it has been sharpened. She seeks to win after she has properly defined what exactly the disagreement is. And she doesn’t engage in culture wars until such time as it becomes necessary.

This is not to say she is not a culture warrior. She is that, and a fine one. Many victories lie in her wake. And the culture she represents is mighty and proud, much stronger than President Obama’s because her culture is not afraid to represent itself as what it really is. She’s a hockey mom but she doesn’t nurture some personal agenda to transform the nation into a nation of hockey moms. She runs, but she isn’t going to tirelessly work to bludgeon or coerce us all into a running craze. If you disagree with Palin on Issue A, and on Sunday mornings she likes to go jogging and then attend church while you sit around in your underwear gnawing on butter sticks watching the game — she’ll debate you on Issue A and leave the rest of it alone. It’s called being a grown-up.

And this is what America is all about. You do your thing and I do mine, then we come together to find some agreement on what to do when it is unavoidable. The rest of the time, we have our different tastes and that is quite alright.

Obama was about that too, once. Remember? Learning to live together? Aw yeah, I guess we’re all supposed to “change” before that can happen. It’s made us happy and fulfilled, hasn’t it? Being called a jerk and a bigot every week and every month if we don’t march in lock-step, yeah that’s worked great.

We need a real leader. We need a leader who unifies. We need a leader who says: If we must agree on what to do, and our opinions are irreconcilable, and I’m in charge, then, well, sorry. Later on hopefully we’ll see eye-to-eye on something else.

Obama doesn’t have the maturity to govern this way because He is the champion of an entire movement that lacks this maturity. “Us Good, You Bad” is their constant refrain, unavoidable, every time they run into opposition. Any opposition. About anything. It was a mistake to elect them into any level of power or authority, no matter how modest; their proper place is in a portrait, a display, preserved for the benefit of future generations who can then fully understand what leadership is NOT.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Washington Rebel.

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