The Palin Effect

Yesterday, I reviewed what I consider to be the second-tier contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. Those in the top tier deserve a more in-depth look. Today, I focus on Sarah Palin.

There can be little doubt that Palin creates the most excitement overall among the Republican base. A recent poll shows that 79% of Republicans have a positive impression of her, a higher approval number than any of her other competitors for the nomination. Her selection as McCain’s running mate in 2008, and her superb speech at the Republican convention, connected her to many Republican voters in an unprecedented way.

Democrats were frantic at first. What could they do to counter this apparent popularity that threatened to overwhelm the uniqueness of their own presidential candidate? Through a combination of their own machinations, the help of a compliant media, and backbiting within the Republican camp, they crafted a narrative that seemed credible to many voters: Palin was a lightweight, an anti-intellectual outsider from the hinterlands who was out of her depth.

Interestingly, there is an increasing sense two years later that the one we elected to the presidency is the one who is actually out of his depth, but perceptions can be difficult to shake.

Once the campaign ended, Palin found herself inundated by frivolous ethics complaints in her home state, a not-so-concealed attempt to undermine her credibility further. As a result, she resigned from the governorship because she could no longer concentrate on her duties—the bogus charges took most of her time.

The pundits declared her political career over. After all, who could mount a genuine presidential run after only 2 1/2 years as a governor?

Palin has fought back effectively. She began with her autobiography, Going Rogue, which was a runaway bestseller. I read it and spent three days reviewing aspects of it. If you are interested in those posts, go to January 1, 2, and 4 of this year in the calendar on the right sidebar.

Then she set up a Facebook account. Now, normally such accounts are just for keeping in touch with friends and not used for substance. She changed that. Her postings have run the gamut of political commentary and stances on issues. Many have noted that they are substance-heavy quite often. This has been her challenge to critics, to show she is not the lightweight they imagined.

On top of that, she accepted an offer to be a Fox News commentator, so she now appears on the top-rated cable news channel on a regular basis. Again, this allows her a platform to say what she thinks and keep both her name and her face before the voters. Fox even set up a special broadcast booth at her Alaska home, so they can draw upon her commentary while she is there.

In the recent elections, she actively endorsed and campaigned for numerous candidates who matched her criteria for wanting to reverse the Obama agenda. She has been a favorite of the Tea Party movement. A large percentage of the candidates she endorsed won their races, thereby enhancing her image within the party even more.

There are a number of establishment Republicans, though, who are wary of her, just as they are of the Tea Party itself. She’s not one of their number, not part of the “Club.” For me, that’s a plus.

She’s also done something else unique: she’s the star of a new show on The Learning Channel called “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” The first episode aired this past Sunday. I watched it, and was impressed with the production qualities and the ease with which Palin handled herself on camera. She came across as someone comfortable with who she is, and not at all apologetic about her background and the culture in which she was raised. The debut airing broke all records for TLC with 5 million viewers. Apparently, there is an intense interest out there to learn more about her.

As I watched, I was concerned about one thing in particular: does she really have a handle on raising her children? I don’t mean to be judgmental in the wrong sense, but I was struck by how daughters Piper and Willow seemed to ignore her instructions. Willow, in particular, seemed to be in full teenage mode, acting like she was perpetually bored and wanting to do anything but be with her family. Now, is this something put into the script for dramatic effect or is it the reality? A slight warning here: what does it profit a woman if she gains the world and loses her own family? I’ll be interested in seeing if this attitude continues in the remaining episodes.

By the way, I know how difficult it is to raise children, so I’m not offering this as a censure, but merely as an observation.

There was a political cartoon that appeared shortly after Palin’s convention speech in 2008. I’ve reached back into the archives to show it to you:

Is it prophetic? We’ll have to wait to find out.

Time to Get Serious

Some individuals, when they get a taste of power, have a hard time letting go. They develop the mentality that they deserve their position, regardless of how they’ve wielded that power. A case in point:

It’s also difficult to make the rest of the election losers realize their time is up. For instance, we have a congressional session ready to start shortly, with all the old congressmen and senators, many of whom won’t be there in January. Rumors are that they will try to ram through unpopular measures before they leave. Someone needs to remind them of their status:

Meanwhile, President Obama is still selling the same message, but its reception may be quite different two years after he first propounded it:

There certainly are problems that need to be addressed, but I don’t trust the current Congress to address them appropriately. I fear the remedies they will propose:

Of course, the new Congress that arrives in January has to be focused. The “marriage” between establishment Republicans and those heavily influenced by the Tea Party movement could be a little shaky. The establishment types are going to need some prodding:

It’s time to take our problems seriously and tackle them with viable solutions. We can begin by being faithful to the Constitution. The answers will flow from that faithfulness.

The Path We Need to Take Now

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the economy was the big issue in the elections. A related concern was the attempt by the federal government to unleash unlimited power over everyone’s lives—all of which was unconstitutional. The two ought to go together. More people thought about the economy, of course, but I was encouraged by the new discussion on constitutionalism, particularly by those on the Tea Party side of politics. It can be argued that overreaching constitutional authority exacerbated the bad economic situation. What can’t be argued with any degree of honesty is the actual state of the economy. Obama’s ditch analogy has received wide play—but we need to keep one salient fact in mind: sometimes a ditch can be the lesser of two evils.

The high unemployment rate and its imperviousness to federal stimulus techniques has caused great angst amongst the population. There’s really only one area of job creation where the president has succeeded:

Has he learned anything from the electoral drubbing he received? His press conference the day after the elections indicates resistance on his part to take responsibility for the outcome. Yes, he did mouth certain words that may have sounded like he was taking responsibility, but if you listened closely, you never heard anything about his policies being wrongheaded; instead, he framed the problem simply as one of communication of his policies. That line of defense is incredible; he was constantly pushing those policies in speech after speech. Everyone knew what he stood for:

Now he is forced to deal with a Republican majority in the House and a significantly reduced Democrat majority in the Senate. Everyone is talking about finding areas of agreement. Fine, if they exist. However, one must be careful; some compromises could be dangerous:

It’s incumbent upon Republicans to remain principled in their approach to any compromise. Acceptable compromises move policy closer to the ideal, but if principle is sacrificed along the way, such compromises will lead us down a destructive path. We should never cross that bridge.

A House Cleaning

I normally try to keep my posts relatively short, knowing that when you get too long-winded, readers tend to migrate elsewhere. It’s pretty hard, though, to say everything I believe needs to be said in just a few words. Sometimes, pictures help.

In the House, so many incumbent Democrats lost, there’s no way I can comment on even the key races—most of them were key. Their replacements are on a mission to restore constitutionality. As for those who lost, there’s a silver lining for them, too:

Perhaps in the private sector, they will learn a few lessons about real life. Meanwhile, back in the Congress, maybe we’ll try a different direction in policy:

Tuesday was merely the first battle in an interminable war—vigilance can never cease. The job is not done; rather, it begins now, and it must extend beyond the Congress:

Tomorrow, I’ll look more specifically at some of the highlights, from my perspective.

French Fried

Overlooked while focusing on American election news are the riots taking place in France. Like most European nations that have gone the socialist route, France has had to reappraise its ability to provide such extensive government services. Hence a move toward austerity measures that have led to outrage among the socialized masses. What terrible policy has the government proposed? Raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. Wow, how mean-spirited can a government get?

Police have had to crack down on the protesters.

If you don’t get that one, study it for a while.

While Democrats in America accuse Tea Party people and other conservatives of being extreme, they are silent about the extremists at the other end of the spectrum—the French violence emanates from the communists in their midst. We seem to have a hard time recognizing genuine extremism.

Well, I don’t want America to become like Europe, either. Yet we have a segment of our society that loves all things European; they think Americans are backward and unintelligent. You can see them basking in the glow of the sophistication Europe has to offer:

May it never be.

They Deserve to Win

As a counterpoint to yesterday’s post, where I listed the politicians who most deserved to lose this year, today I’ll focus on the positive—those who really deserve to win. Now, that doesn’t mean they all will win, but the nation would be better off if they did.

I’m going to start close to home with Florida’s Senate race. No one, when the race began, expected Marco Rubio to gain any traction. He had been speaker of the Florida House, and many expected him to rise up in the future, but not now, not against sitting governor Charlie Crist.

What I admire most about Rubio is his commitment to principle, which is what led him to challenge Crist in the first place. He knew Crist was not a truly principled conservative, and he wanted Republicans to have a chance to vote for one. It was a hard task he took upon himself, yet he began chipping away at Crist’s lead. The chipping then turned into a full-fledged electoral demolition. A shocked Crist found himself behind the young upstart.

Now Rubio is leading in a three-way race with Crist as a so-called independent, and the Democrat no-hoper Kendrick Meek. National Republicans have diverted funds elsewhere, secure in the belief that Rubio will be the next Florida senator. He deserves to win.

Crossing the nation and making a sharp northern turn to Alaska, my next deserving candidate is Joe Miller, who surprised everyone when he won the Republican Senate primary against incumbent senator Lisa Murkowski. Miller is a true constitutionalist. He wants the federal government to be held to its constitutional limitations.

That outlook has apparently scared some sitting Republican senators who are far more comfortable with Murkowski—they refused to remove her from a leadership position when she rejected the voters’ choice and decided to run a write-in campaign to keep her job.

Polls show the two running neck-and-neck, with Miller holding a slight lead. If he were to be turned back now, it would be a stinging defeat for the forces of reform and devotion to limited government. This is a race worth watching for the future of the soul of the Republican Party. Miller should be that future; he deserves to win.

Sharron Angle, in Nevada, has the unenviable task of knocking off Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Yet she is proving equal to that task. Derided as an extremist by Democrats [and some Republicans], she has had to fight for the right to be heard. Last week, she not only held her own in a debate with Reid, but the consensus seems to be that she won that debate.

Like Miller, Angle is a constitutionalist who is in sync with the Tea Party movement. That by itself is enough to get one labeled an extremist in the mainstream media, but early voting indicates that more Republicans are casting ballots right now than Democrats. Will that trend hold through the actual election day? If righteousness and justice mean anything, Sharron Angle will be the next senator from Nevada. She deserves to win.

My next choice may be a surprise for some readers, particularly if you have fallen for a media hit job. Christine O’Donnell, running for Joe Biden’s old Senate seat in Delaware, has suffered a barrage of ridicule, but most of it has been manufactured. Whenever Bill Maher decides to inject himself into a race, you have to know something is rotten. An old tape of one of O’Donnell’s appearances on his show [which, I understand, actually never even aired], has her talking about a teenage flirtation she had with witchcraft. She makes it clear she never really got into it, but the media jumped on this as a sign that she was unfit for office.

Since when is the media concerned about witchcraft? I didn’t know it bothered liberals that much. I mean, aren’t they the tolerant ones? In fact, Christians have a better grasp of what happened here. Teenagers sometimes experiment and get involved in foolish ventures. Then they grow up. That’s what happened with O’Donnell.

A few days ago, she debated her opponent, Chris Coons. In the course of the debate, the media did it again. They portrayed her as not realizing the First Amendment includes the separation of chuch and state. But if you actually listen to what she said, she was questioning the phrase “separation of church and state” as not being part of the First Amendment. And she’s right. The words “separation,” “church,” and “state” are nowhere to be found in the Amendment. That’s simply the description liberals have used in their attempt to keep religion out of the public sphere. The First Amendment only says there will be no establishment of religion [i.e., no official state church] and that Congress cannot prohibit one’s freedom of religion.

O’Donnell was accurate in what she was saying, but you’d never know that by the press reports. The media is in the tank for her opponent. O’Donnell probably won’t win this seat, but you never can tell, especially if this turns out to be a Republican tidal wave. At the very least, she deserves to win.

I’m returning to Florida now for my final candidate—Republican Rick Scott, who is running for governor. Scott’s upstart primary victory over longtime Republican official Bill McCollum startled many. The race was so intense that there was concern as to whether Scott could mend fences with the state GOP, but the fence-mending seems to be almost complete.

Scott’s Democrat opponent, Alex Sink, is following the same playbook McCollum used in the primary: depict Scott as a crook because the hospital chain he ran was fined by the federal government for Medicare fraud. I’ve done a lot of reading about that incident and have come away convinced Scott was not attempting to defraud anyone. A recent well-researched article from a source outside Scott’s campaign has explained the situation more fully than anything else I’ve read, and in my mind exonerates Scott from all those accusations. For those who are interested, you can find that article here. It is a little long, but it covers the issue comprehensively.

While CEO of Columbia/HCA, Scott created the best hospital chain in America, working closely with doctors and cutting costs. Later, when Obamacare came to the forefront, Scott started an organization called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, which effectively attacked the philosophy behind Obama’s quest for control of American healthcare. As governor, Scott would continue his cost-cutting measures to bring fiscal sanity back to the state and would maintain a principled  position against the healthcare takeover.

Additionally, Scott is an evangelical Christian who helped start a church in Naples, and who sits on the church board. He has worked with organizations such as World Vision. His faith appears to be genuine.

The latest polls keep bouncing around in this race, so it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top. However, with Obama’s popularity at an all-time low in Florida, there is hope that Scott can pull it out. After all, in case you haven’t heard this refrain yet, he deserves to win.

Ordinary Americans Making an Impact

Last night, I spoke at the Winter Haven, Florida, 9-12 Project meeting. There had to be a hundred or more in attendance. My topic was “Progressivism in America: Destroying the Foundations.” One could not ask for a more attentive audience as I detailed how the progressive movement derailed the Constitution and the principles of America’s founding.

I am impressed by the two 9-12 Project organizations with which I have made contact. They are comprised of just ordinary citizens who seek to know more about what has gone wrong with their country. They have an intense interest in constitutionalism and the rule of law. Like their Tea Party counterparts [and there is considerable crossover], they are looking to make a difference in the upcoming elections.

The people I spoke to last night certainly don’t seem to be casual listeners; they are active learners. If they stay focused, their impact can be great.

This meeting was held in a church, and it was obvious that most were motivated by their Christian faith. And that’s the way it should be—our faith should have application to all aspects of our culture. Government is not exempt.

We need to do two thing simultaneously: pray for those who currently hold government positions, and work hard to replace those who subvert the rule of law in our land.