Sunday, July 5, 2009

Palin v. Pundits

C. Edmund Wright

The accomplished Alaskan governor can gaze into the face of tiny Trig and inherently know that she still has much to learn, even from her little guy. Meanwhile, her less accomplished critics gaze mostly into TV cameras (and mirrors) and have convinced themselves that they already know it all.

Well gosh darn. Who is right?

Palin v. the pundits demonstrates a profound disconnect that explains not only how and why the pundit class remains so incapable of understanding her (and much of America), it is a decent microcosm of the bigger political debate going on in this country.

To the Beltway-Big Apple pundit elites, the idea that anyone would (or could, or should) live a life not centered on the government-Ivy League-media capital corridor is simply an idea that is not on their radar. That Palin did not have such a life, and was not interested in such a life, was by definition a disqualification in their minds. That she was not willing to do anything to curry their favor was simply not forgiveable. The only possible reason was that she must be too stupid to realize that all wisdom worth having is contained within this rather closed circle of geographies, people and philosophies.

After all, what good is being able to hunt and prepare your own food when any decent speed dial will get you the Maitre'D at the Four Seasons? Why learn to run a business and turn a profit when real wisdom is running a deficit and taxing those who turn a profit to make up the difference? I mean, there is widsom and then there is wisdom. There is Washington -- and then there is the real world.

Thus, just as they were last August, the D.C.-focused pundits remain totally incapable of properly analyzing what she is all about. They continue to filter her decision through purely beltway parameters. It is clear that they were not listening to her words.

Beltway pundits view the world through the template that everything in life is a calculated PR stunt with an eye on the next election because politics and government are everything. They also have a template that no one from a state university in Idaho could possibly play in a world dominated by Ivy League insiders.

Well, just for the hell of it, let's examine both templates.

Take Ivy League-educated and connected Jamie Gorelick. Harvard B.A., magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, cu laude. Now this is the resume the pundits have immense respect for.

She managed to make tens of millions of dollars while a Vice President at Fannie Mae. Never mind that she had no background in real estate or mortgages. She was an Ivy Leaguer with connections. Policies enacted by her and Franklin Raines (another Ivy Leaguer with connections and no experience) greatly contributed to the crash of not only Fannie Mae but the entire housing segment. Meanwhile, she and Raines got filthy stinking rich for their efforts.

And after that adventure, Ms. Gorelick moved to the position of Assistant Attorney General under Bill Clinton (not literally). From that perch, another one for which she had no qualifications, she authored the infamous "wall" that kept the CIA and FBI from comparing notes on some young Middle Eastern men who ended up driving jet planes into buidlings on 9-11.

Come to think of it, maybe the pundits are right. No one from the University of Idaho could possibly screw up that much in one lifetime. Score one for the outsiders.

And then there are the brilliant and respected Republicans like Christopher Buckley and Colin Powell. While these two wizards were among many swooning at the elegant and brilliant Obama and chafing at the plain spoken Palin, they failed to notice that the elegant one was a socialist who was mentored by American hating radicals.

Dumb ole hick Governor Palin was never fooled of course. Now Buckley and Powell have chimed in publicly with various degrees of buyer's remorse. Maybe living within sight of the Soviet Union does sharpen ones sensitivty to certain vibes. Point to Palin and the outsiders again.

And let's not forget that brilliant strategists like Dick Morris and Frank Luntz were preaching that Republicans must embrace the moderate platform of the McCains of the party to have any chance of winning. You know, global warming and government nanny state programs for every phase of life and so on.

Uh oh. That backwoods Annie Oakley would talk about limited government and drilling for our own oil whenever she could break free from McCain's handlers. She even had the audacity -- as someone who has actually been to ANWR -- to differ with the beltway elites on what ANWR looked like. What nerve.

Of course we know now that global temperatures have not risen in nearly ten years and Americans do not want to pay a cent more for gas due to climate concerns. And there are surveys indicating that their number one concern is government spending, too. Oh, and now Morris is writing a book a week about Obama the socialist. Score a couple more for the Killa from Wasilla and other assorted Neanderthals.

What Palin has -- along with folks known as the conservative base -- is a lot of common sense. The kind of common sense that is so easy to get while studying at the University of Idaho, hunting moose in sub zero temperatures or managing a little league hockey team.

It seems out of reach for folks who all went to the same pretentious schools K thru Ivy and who spend their entire adult life in the D.C. to Manhattan corridor giving each other jobs for which they are not qualified and worryng incessently about what the press is saying about them.

That is not how Sarah Palin thinks or lives. It is not how the people who made this country great think or live. And folks who are trapped in that mentality are simply not able to figure out someone like Palin or the millions of voters who were energized by her addition to the McCain ticket.

So while it would be folly for me to feign insight into her heart and mind now, not to mention any kind of prediction into the future, I think it is safe to say that her calculations were not those of the pundit class so busily analyzing this resignation.

Maybe it was just some practical common sense. With her star power now, she can surely make more money in a month on the rubber chicken circuit than she makes in a year as governor. A book deal could easily be done also. And she needs the cash, with the politically motivated grievances leaving her a half mil in the red in legal bills.

Such a strategy would open up all kinds of possibilities outside of politics (gasp!) while stabilizing her finances. Meanwhile, the increased exposure and rolodex stuffers she would pick up would always be a plus if she ever does think about office again.

In other words, I think it might be wise to consider this as a "business decision" and not a political one. I would never say political future considerations never entered her mind. But I do not think it is her obsession every waking moment.

Some folks just don't get this kind of thinking. If you can get Tony Rezko to buy the yard of your house, you don't have to think this way. If you inherited the Kennedy liquor zillions, you don't have to think this way. If you married a widow sitting on top of a business fortune of a Republican senator, you don't have to think this way. If you can simply call up some Ivy League connection and get a cushy government job with seven figure bonuses regardless of performance, you don't have to think this way.

The Palins have to think this way. My family has to think this way. Yours probably does too. That's why the the beltway pundits and other Washingtonians will never understand the Palins or most of us.

And the battle is this. Our way of thinking made the country what it is. Their way of thinking will destroy it. The Palin V. Pundit contest is but one battle on a huge stage in a vital war.

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