Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why I Miss Sarah Palin

Until yesterday Sarah Palin had been unusually quiet.

The Romney campaign had marginalized her and Fox News had dismissed her as a commentator.

At its Republican National Convention Team Romney put Gov. Chris Christie on the podium in prime time. It did not even invite Sarah Palin to speak.

Christie was no guts and no glory. He bombed. Then, he returned to New Jersey to suck up to Barack Obama. Appetite control is not his strong suit.

Statistical research shows that Mitt Romney lost the election because Palin voters did not show up at the polls. Could it be that they, like their paladin, felt rejected by the party.

Republicans examined the election data and managed to conclude that they needed to sponsor immigration reform. You know, because, as serious presidential contender Jeb Bush says, immigrants are more fertile.

Now, where did anyone get the idea that Republicans are the stupid party?

In effect, the Republican Party has two people who are good communicators. It has two national figures who can find just the right concept to communicate a point of view on an issue.

The first, Gov. Chris Christie has been a washout as a national leader.

Which leaves us with Sarah Palin.

As you know, Palin has a gift. She can go high-concept with the best of them. You recall her remarks about "death panels" and her famous: How’s that hopey-changey stuff working out for you?

Fair enough, President Obama has a gift too. But his does not involve communicating anything of substance. Obama’s speeches hypnotize people so that they ignore his basic emptiness.

After years of carnage, President Obama has allowed himself to get dragged, kicking and screaming into the Syrian Civil War. Bill Clinton said he should do it, so rather than look like he's caving in to public opinion he would rather look like he is bowing to the will of Bill Clinton. It's called leading from behind.

The debate on Obama’s new policy has been appropriately serious.

Most Americans don’t understand why we are getting involved in Syria because most Americans cannot tell the good guys from the bad guys. Or better,they don't think that there are any good guys. Iranian proxies and Hezbollah are fighting against Sunni terrorists and al Qaeda operatives. Don't you want them both to lose?

One would be forgiven for thinking that American self-interest is well served by their mutually assured self-destruction.

The Obama administration has chosen to provide small arms to the rebels. Thinking people find it risible that the “Fast-and-Furious” crowd has not gotten over its yen to arm criminals.

An administration that did not understand the influence that al Qaeda exercised in Benghazi does not seem to understand that arming the rebels means arming al Qaeda.

Andrew Sullivan argued cogently against the new policy:

You can forgive a president once – even though his misguided, counter-productive and destabilizing war in Libya was almost as nuts as this latest foray. But by deciding to arm the Sunni radicals fighting the Shiites in Syria and Lebanon, the president has caved to the usual establishment subjects who still want to run or control the entire world. I don’t buy the small arms qualifier. You know that’s the foot in the door to dragging the United States into the middle of a civil war we do not understand and cannot control. If it has any effect, it will be to draw out the conflict still longer and kill more people. More staggeringly, he is planning to put arms into the hands of forces that are increasingly indistinguishable from hardcore Jihadists and al Qaeda – another brutal betrayal of this country’s interests, and his core campaign promise not to start dumb wars. Yep: he is intending to provide arms to elements close to al Qaeda. This isn’t just unwise; it’s close to insane.

And then, yesterday, at the Freedom and Faith Coalition Conference, Sarah Palin summed it all up in her typically effective high-concept way:

Militarily, where is our commander in chief? We're talking now more new interventions. I say until we know what we're doing, until we have a commander and chief who knows what he's doing, well, let these radical Islamic countries who aren't even respecting basic human rights, where both sides are slaughtering each other as they scream over an arbitrary red line, 'Allah Akbar,' I say until we have someone who knows what they're doing, I say let Allah sort it out.

Right or wrong, no one has said it better.

Like it or not, we do not have a commander in chief who knows what he’s doing. We do not have a foreign policy team that knows what it’s doing either.

Under the Obama foreign policy the Middle East has imploded. The region has become a rolling catastrophe… political chaos, war, terrorism, famine. You name it, the nations of that region have it.

Peter Wehner offers a sobering assessment of the region:

The Syrian civil war is badly destabilizing our most reliable Arab ally, Jordan. Lebanon is increasingly fragile. In Egypt and across North Africa the Muslim Brotherhood has gained power. Since Mr. Obama withdrew American forces in Iraq, sectarian violence has markedly increased there, with the hard-won gains from the Bush administration’s surge being washed away. The war in Afghanistan is going poorly, while relations with the Karzai regime are quite bad, limiting American leverage in that nation (our much-trumped retreat of forces from Afghanistan have of course limited our leverage as well). Turkey is struggling to contain a political crisis that has threatened the nation’s economy and paralyzed the government. There are no prospects for genuine peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Libyan people are weary of two years of militia violence that has kept the country in chaos and stalled reform, with the government weak and unstable. And al Qaeda is ascendant in North Africa.

But, Palin did not merely indict the administration for its foreign policy follies. She also made a mockery of the Sunni and Shia Islamist fighters who are killing each other and everyone else because of a dispute that dates back centuries.

Serious thinkers like Bret Stephens have suggested that sitting it out while the Sunni and Shia terrorists fight it out in Syria is bad policy.

But, Palin did not preclude intervention. She did not preclude diplomatic initiatives, either. She said that given the manifest incompetence of the current administration then she would let Allah to sort it out.

Most Americans, I daresay, would agree with her assessment. At the least, they understand her point. Thus, they can agree or disagree with a clearly stated point of view.

And, whereas President Obama always tends to show the greatest respect for Islam, pronouncing the name of the Prophet Mohammed in reverential tones, Palin dares to make a mockery of the religion and of the deeply held beliefs of the terrorists.

If the whole world sees the Syrian warriors as serious people engaged in a serious fight, these warriors are going to revel in the recognition. They will see themselves as noble warriors fighting for a cause that has put them on the front pages of all the world’s newspapers.

If these same terrorists start thinking that the world sees them as a pathetic bunch of retrograde fools, killing each other for nothing while flinging mindless slogans in the air… then perhaps they will lose some of their will to kill.

If they are not covering themselves in honor and glory, perhaps they will be more motivated to find a diplomatic solution.


Mark said...

Palin can sometimes gabble a little live and unscripted, but in speeches and in writing she's the best communicator in American politics. It helps that she's right; stay out of new conflicts until there's a competent President. I would love to see Palin v Clinton in 2016.

Dennis said...
Interesting take on the things that Palin would not have done as compared to Obama. Even a terse reading denotes that we would have been far better off as a country.

David Foster said...

Sarah Palin is a huge psychological threat to people whose self-esteem is wrapped up in their educational credentials, approved patterns of speech, etc. The fact that she has been able to succeed as well as she has threatens their belief system at its core.

Sam L. said...

David, that was true of W.

As I understand it, the Sunni-Shi'ia dispute is over who should succeed Mohammed as current Boss Prophet--one of his descendants, or some other guy. (Question: Anyone know if there IS a male descendant alive?)

" If these same terrorists start thinking that the world sees them as a pathetic bunch of retrograde fools, killing each other for nothing while flinging mindless slogans in the air… then perhaps they will lose some of their will to kill.

If they are not covering themselves in honor and glory, perhaps they will be more motivated to find a diplomatic solution." Stuart, you hopeless romantic!