A Funeral Oration

Today is a day of national mourning. Not for everyone, mind you, but for a select group. The mainstream media are putting on their black arm bands as they grieve over the death of one of their dearest, most intimate beliefs: that Sarah Palin is nothing more than an empty-headed, incompetent, tundra-loving Barbie doll whose very presence on the planet is an insult to the intellectual and political elite who have a sort of divine right to rule over the rubes in flyover country.

You see, the media pushed and pushed for the release of all Palin e-mails pertaining to her governorship of Alaska, relishing the opportunity to expose her once and for all as the embodiment of all that is backward about America. Once they got their wish last Friday, they even sent out an appeal to all right-thinking citizens to help them wade through the 24,000 pages in their attempt to put her influence to rest forever.

But something went wrong.

All reports, no matter which news organization one chooses for getting the latest information, are indicating that Palin does not fit their stereotype. Those eagerly sought e-mails are revealing a governor who was intelligent, focused, hardworking, and concerned about integrity in government. How awful! How can any self-respecting mainstream media outlet cover its tracks now? How are they going to maintain any credibility at all after this unforeseen calamity?

Well, they could begin questioning why there are no records for Barack Obama’s years in the Illinois state senate. Or they could start wondering why he has never allowed anyone to see his college records or any of the papers he wrote as a university student. I’m sure there’s a treasure trove awaiting them out there, if they have the desire to be investigative journalists once more. In fact, I’m expecting an announcement any day now that they are going to pursue all those unanswered questions about our commander-in-chief because, you know, their primary aim is to get at the truth in all matters of public interest. Surely they will now redirect their attention to the One who was going to heal the planet and stop the rise of the oceans.

Right.

There was a very interesting caller to the Rush Limbaugh program the other day. The man identified himself as a liberal political science professor in Missouri; I believe he was legitimate. This professor said he couldn’t believe how fortunate liberals were in that Republicans were trashing the one potential candidate on their side who could pull it all together for them and beat Obama. He was referring to Palin. He said liberals fear her more than anyone else the Republicans might put forward as their candidate. That’s why they are so anxious to portray her as brainless and frivolous. It was an enlightening interchange.

Pundits like to point to the polls and to Palin’s high unfavorability numbers. They try to make the case that she is unelectable. I had been thinking that myself—there’s just too much negative publicity to overcome. But the more I ponder it, the more I believe that liberal professor might be correct. For one thing, why should any decisions be based on opinion polls this far out from an election? Public opinion is the most changeable feature in modern politics, primarily since so few of the electorate have any principles upon which they base their opinions. If Palin can come across as knowledgeable on the issues while maintaining the “everywoman” quality that drew people to her in the first place, there’s no reason why she can’t beat a failed president who presides over the worst economy since the Great Depression, and whose policies have been the primary reason for this prolonged recession.

She may not run, of course. The important pundits [self-proclaimed] have declared she won’t. That, by itself, is probably a reason she will run, if only to tweak them. If she does run, I’m not saying I’m committed to her candidacy; there are others with valid claims on the nomination as well. Yet I refuse to accept the phony argument that she cannot win. The future is open; anything can happen.

Primaries, Palin, & the Press

The presidential primaries are not until next year, but the contestants are lining up for the race already. On the Democrat side, there is no contest, although there should be. The last time a sitting Democrat president was seriously challenged for the nomination of his own party was in 1980 when Ted Kennedy tried to wrest it from Jimmy Carter. Kennedy failed miserably. Anyone who tries again this year will face the same fate, regardless how discredited President Obama may be in the public’s eye.

The real race is on the Republican side, and we haven’t yet seen the final list of those who will be part of it. Some in the media have concluded that Republicans cannot field a quality slate of contenders because Obama is unbeatable. The mantra of “invevitable reelection” was designed well before this date. The fawning portion of the media [which appears to be the majority] declared his 2008 victory well ahead of the actual election; they are doing the same now. This is no surprise; they share his radical agenda.

There are actually so many Republicans wanting to battle Obama and his policies that it’s almost breathtaking. Just because Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels, and Donald Trump have opted out doesn’t mean there is a dearth of real challengers. It seems as if everyone and his brother and sister think they have a shot.

The mainstream media has anointed Mitt Romney as the “frontrunner,” a title that is laughable at this time. I remember quite clearly they did the same for Rudy Guiliani in 2008. Anyone remember him winning the nomination? In fact, anyone remember him winning any caucus or primary? It’s absurd to anoint anyone right now. Besides, Romney has plenty of negatives, not the least of which is Romneycare:

He says he will overturn Obamacare. Why? He provided the model for it and refuses to acknowledge its liabilities. He’s not the Republican savior.

The real fun this week has been the Palin bus tour of America’s historic sites. The media are beside themselves trying to figure out if this is her unconventional way of declaring her candidacy. They are upset with her for not providing itineraries ahead of time; they don’t know for sure where she will be. In Gettysburg, she even slipped out of the hotel and went to the battlefield without them knowing, while they stayed glued to her bus.

They’re getting rather upset. This isn’t fair. She isn’t playing by the rules. And she seems to be enjoying every minute of their angst.

As grossly unfair as they have been to her ever since she was picked to be McCain’s running mate, why should they expect to be treated with any special respect? What are they—entitled? Palin has her own timetable and plans; she has no obligation to share them with a disreputable press.

Is she running? I have no idea. But whether she is or not, I will savor these moments just for the pure joy of seeing the media frothing at the mouth.

The Media Drumbeat

Have you caught the new media mantra? It goes something like this: “What a weak field of presidential aspirants on the Republican side. There’s no one of real stature there.” The goal of some, I believe, is to repeat this endlessly until the majority believes it. After all, if something is uttered often enough, it must be true, right?

Well, that field includes a former governor of Minnesota who managed a Democrat-majority state for two terms and still maintains his conservative credentials. It also has a sitting congressman, a former senator, another former governor, and a business CEO. A congresswoman who not only raised her own family but also opened her home for twenty-three foster children is poised to enter the race as well.

Now, I don’t agree with all of those candidates on everything, and there are a couple I could never see myself voting for, but that doesn’t mean it’s a weak field. Do you want to consider weak credentials for the presidency? How about the following example?

Consider a man who, while a state senator, earned a reputation as “Senator Present” for avoiding votes on many controversial issues—who served as a U.S. Senator for two years, virtually in absentia because he almost immediately began running for president—who commented that he had visited all 57 states [does anyone recall the media ridiculing him for that? Sarah Palin never said she could see Russia from her front porch, yet she is still ridiculed for that bogus statement made by a comedian]—who told supporters that the problem with some Americans is that they are bitter clingers to their guns and their religion, and they don’t like anybody different than them—who clearly told a man that it was best for the government to redistribute his income to help others—who sat in a church for twenty years listening to a wacko “pastor” speak out against America and Israel and white people generally—a man who had absolutely no executive experience and never ran anything—

Do I really need to continue?

Yet somehow this man became president, while a true reform governor like Palin has been ripped apart for things she never said and events she never caused [remember the Tucson shootings?].

This past week, he said Israel should return to its pre-1967 borders. I know he tried to backtrack afterwards, but if you listen carefully even to his later words, the onus is on Israel, in his mind, to make concessions—even to terrorist organizations like Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu took this president to task the day after his infamous statement. Some commentators were horrified that a foreign head of state would dare to “lecture” the U.S. president. If you watch what Netanyahu said, you will see that he carried himself with diplomatic civility while delivering a much-needed message.

The tragedy is that this president is so ideologically bound to the other side that he won’t really learn anything from the lesson.

So, as you hear the media drumbeat that will attempt to trivialize Obama’s competition, keep in mind these media people have their own agenda. They are “in the tank,” so to speak, for his reelection. Don’t allow the “newspeak” to sway you. Listen to what those competitors for his job are really saying and make up your own mind as to their worthiness. In my opinion, any of them would be an improvement over what we now have.

Reagan Symposium

Yesterday was Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday celebration. Yes, he wasn’t here to participate in the remembrance, but I believe he was watching.

A major event took place at his presidential library and both Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney spoke at the Young America’s Foundation [YAF] building in Santa Barbara. The YAF owns the Reagan Ranch.

 I couldn’t be at either of those events, but I did attend a fine Reagan Symposium at Regent University in Virginia Beach. This is an annual event that attracts the best Reagan/conservative scholars in America.

The most well-known speakers, due to television exposure, were Michael Barone and Bill Kristol. Stephen Hayward, who has authored two massive volumes on the age of Reagan, was there, as was George Nash, arguably “the” historian of modern American conservatism. His seminal book, The Conserative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945, is one of the texts in my Ronald Reagan and Modern American Conservatism course. I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak with him.

The theme of the symposium was a discussion of the concept of American exceptionalism. In what ways might America be considered exceptional? How does one define that term? What was Reagan’s understanding of the uniqueness of America and what it has offered the world? It was an excellent sharing of viewpoints—glad I could be part of it.

Ronald Reagan’s reputation has only grown over time, as even those who didn’t like him have to admit, however grudgingly, that he had a well-informed worldview and a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve as president.

Happy birthday, President Reagan.

Doing My Thinking for Me

As I sit here to write this blog entry today, I’m particularly tired. It was a good week at the university in the sense that I got to teach a lot, but that’s the reason why I’m so tired. I guess I don’t have quite the same stamina as earlier in my life. Could age have something to do with that? Surely not.

Anyway, I’ve decided that since my brain is not at peak efficiency right now, I’ll allow some of the cartoons I’ve been storing do my thinking for me. Here are a couple on that whole blame game initiated by the Tucson shooting:

Obamacare is always a wonderful target:

And did you read about the head of General Electric becoming one of Obama’s chief advisors? I’m sure there’s no conflict of interest there:

Finally, just for fun:

I’m grateful for those who can step in and carry the day when I’m not up to it. I promise to do my own thinking again very soon.

The Civility Ploy

Tonight is the State of the Union Address.  I predict that the two words we’ll hear repeatedly are “civility” and “investment.” The latter has to do with more government spending disguised as “investing in our future.” The former is now the new catchword for politics.

I believe in civility. While I do have a sense of humor and like to poke fun at absurdities in our public life, there’s a line that should not be crossed. The problem is this—that line is subjective. For instance, is this cartoon uncivil?

Or is it simply illustrating the rather rabid rhetoric that has emanated from the Left, not just in the past few weeks, but ever since I can remember? Surely you recall all the Bush hatred, publicly stated. How about the pictures of Bush as Hitler? Go back to Ronald Reagan and we learn that he was a warmonger who loved to starve schoolchildren and throw old people out on the streets.

In the House last week, one Democrat representative made the Nazi connection again. Republicans, he said, are like Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister. In what way, you ask? Well, they are lying about healthcare, and that’s the same tactic that Goebbels used. Oh.

One of the positive things about being a historian is that I have studied the political rhetoric found in all periods of American history. What becomes painfully obvious is that the eras of the type of civility urged upon us now have been few. Read the newspapers of the 1790s, for instance, where you see George Washington being called a traitor to his country and accused of trying to set himself as a king. The vituperative language used against Abraham Lincoln is startling, particularly when you consider that a lot of it came from the North, not the South.

The issues I have with the current calls for civility are these: first, the astounding hypocrisy of those who are demanding it; second, the attempt to use that nice-sounding word to undermine genuine debate on the issues. Often, just disagreeing with President Obama makes one a racist or a “hater.” Yet we have to be able to say when we think policies are wrong. How would Patrick Henry fare today?

Kind of weak, isn’t it? I prefer the original.

So, as you watch the State of the Union Address [if you have the stomach for it], watch for those key words, but understand what’s really going on.

An Evil Element

In her interview with Sean Hannity earlier this week, Sarah Palin used a Scriptural reference that no one, to my knowledge, commented on in any of the analyses of the interview. She quoted from 2 Timothy 1:7, which says,

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity [or “fear,” depending on the translation], but of power and love and discipline.

While no one else seemed to pay much attention to it, I noticed it immediately and found it to be an insight into her spirit at this time of intense pressure stemming from an onslaught of false accusations. It indicated to me that she is continually going back to the source of her inner strength—her Christian faith.

Why would Palin be drawn to this particular Scripture? It speaks clearly to her situation, informing her of what her frame of mind ought to be. It comes in the midst of the most demented and vitriolic [yes, I used that word] attacks on a public figure I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. I remember how Reagan was demeaned during his administration. All of us can easily recall what was termed Bush Derangement Syndrome in the past decade. Yet what is happening to Palin at this time is possibly even more severe. As she noted in that interview, she receives death threats all the time, not only leveled at her but also at her children.

Understand this: there is an evil element out there that would actually relish seeing her and her family assassinated.

Who hates her? Why do they hate her? The first question is the easiest to answer: those on the far Left detest her. They are more than rude and crude toward her; they are demonstrably unstable. Where have we heard that characterization recently?

The second question requires more analysis. Here’s what I believe. They hate her for the following reasons, at minimum:

  • She is openly Christian.
  • She redefines their concept of feminism, refusing to be aggrieved and play the victim.
  • She overturns their idea of how a woman should get ahead—she did it without government favors.
  • Her belief in American exceptionalism makes them grind their teeth in rage.
  • She has the audacity to forge ahead without first getting some kind of degree from either Harvard or Yale.
  • She’s just not from the right class of people—how can anyone from the Alaskan frontier not be a backward, uncouth person? Surely she must be stupid.

There are more, I know, but those are the ones that readily come to mind.

Her most vociferous critics on the far Left are found in the blogosphere. They make the most outrageous claims, often exhibiting the very attitudes of which they accuse others:

As Palin noted in the interview, if they didn’t have a double standard, they would have no standards at all.

But they are aided and abetted by the more sophisticated critics in the media. The mainstream media won’t be as bellicose as the deranged segment of the Left, but it will perform a valuable service in keeping the nation’s collective mind pointed in whatever direction it desires:

Are they real journalists at all? Or are they something else?

I believe Palin had to respond to all the accusations. This doesn’t make her unpresidential or petty or defensive. There are times when you have to make your case and hope that enough sensible people will listen, learn, and reject the lies and distortions emanating from the fever swamp.

If all of this ends up destroying Palin’s  reputation, evil will have won a battle, but that’s not the same thing as winning the war.