Monday, September 29, 2008

Sarah Palin in Pants: Wall Street vs. Main Street – Sarah 10, Barack McCain 1

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 9/29/08

There was potentially a change in venue and archetype with Sarah Palin. There was the possibility of the awakening of a holistic inner life as when Victoria was queen – to my grandmother and oldest aunties she was more the mother than their real mothers and every English person felt a part of her family. Another possibility was of a new Jacksonian populism awakening Alaska-style which would have been restorative. A republic should every several generations marry to the coyote or artic wolf to retain its original vitality. But McCain is prone to the work of the Trickster and his mercurial play. That alone might have been his motivation for choosing her. However, now that she is here and every manicured and coiffured squid on CNN and in the northeast press is taking shots at her, it could get interesting.

Palin’s mistake was in letting the poltroons who have been composing her recent public appearances – said to have been sent over from Bush’s office; they worship at the altar of Kali, the Death Mother – put her in pants. She wore a skirt and was free, natural, womanly and instinctive at her VP speech and it sent McCain toward the winners circle for the first time in months. And she came in with enough personal references – Dick Morris, William Kristol, David Brooks – to assume that she had at least entry-level ballast as Alaskan governor.

The interviews with Katie Couric were disastrous – but she also seemed paralyzed by the format, reading talking points from McCain/Bush and injecting them randomly into the discussion. Vastly different from the VP speech. Her debate with Biden will be the defining moment in the campaign and McCain’s last chance for the nomination.

She needs to find herself again and send the handlers back to the Crawford Ranch to coach Bush in cutting brush. My prediction is that if she comes out in pants on Thursday night McCain is finished. If she gets back to herself and ignores the squids they still have a very slight chance.

But win or lose, she will not go away now. And she would be better off without McCain anyway because she has commandeered the will of the people at a time when the people are beginning to feel their will. In a simple twist of fate, nature has conspired to bring her to an issue just minutes after she arrived in the public square. When Henry Paulson rushed into the room he expected the Congress of Peeps to respond as they always do to a tall man with a serious frown. He expected a bipartisan effort to save Wall Street by Thursday. But then they didn’t have it by the weekend. McCain rode in to bond the renegade Southerners with the others, round them up and bring them in. Obama, seeing no other option, reluctantly agreed, furiously waving agenda.

But they are having a problem now with Main Street. 1,100 calls came in to the Virginia Senator Jim Webb’s office over the weekend. Only about 100 of them thought the proposed federal bailout was a good idea. More than 10 to one oppose. It’s like that all over the heartland.

Palin will support the bailout because she is McCain’s running mate and she must. But she doesn’t seem to actually support it. She is just doing what they tell her to do.

When she was asked last week what she thought of the bailout she said, “What I’m hearing all over Main Street . . . everyone opposes it . . . the tax payer pays again.” This was fed to us in an attempt to show how off message she was. See, see . . . we told you . . . she’s out there where the buses don’t run. In fact, she was off the McCain message but was instinctively right there with the people.

It is amazing how bitterness still bleeds through the page regarding Sarah, as country folk have come to call her. Particularly here in the northeast. Barney Frank, for whom conspicuous buffoonery is a strategic part of the political persona, scorns McCain by implying that Palin is too stupid to be part of the Congressional discussion with real men like him. You’d think an experienced representative who is daily compared to a duck by Rush Limbaugh would walk more softly. Lincoln Chafee, former Senator from Rhode Island, whose father once landed in my yard in a helicopter for some unknown reason, calls her a “cocky wacko.” These lace curtain types from industrial New England might be excused for being too long in the valley. But Frank Rich’s long scorn in his Sunday column this week at the New York Times suggesting that “no doubt Bristol Palin’s nuptials had to be suspended immediately . . .” so McCain could ride to the rescue in Congress is pure evil.

Something else is going on here. These people are terrified. They are the High Priests who accompany the Conquistadors and now their sponsors, the Masters of the Universe as author Tom Wolfe calls the investment warriors of Wall Street, are succumbing. And in all of New York and Boston today there is only one point of light, Brett Favre, and he is from Wisconsin or someplace and appears to cut his own hair.

The contempt pouring from the northeast is good for Palin. These people do not like the heartland and the heartland does not like them. But they do like her.

War changes people. Before the Mexican War the people of the heartland and the South in particular, would yield to whatever was decided for them by the white-glove Unitarians in Boston in consultation with the Virginia Episcopalians. After the war they would demand to be heard themselves. We might be there again.

A popular backlash is changing America’s political climate. Inflamed by the financial crisis and bailout, a form of class warfare could haunt business leaders for years to come, says Nina Easton, Washington Bureau Chief of Fortune Magazine.

“A month of historic government interventions shows signs of triggering a political version of climate change - unleashing a new era of class fury that could hurt U.S. companies, business leaders, and wealthy investors for years,” she writes.

If she is right, Obama and McCain will be the most unlucky politicians in the history of Presidential politics, both deemed obsolete within weeks of the election. Because the people are starting to act on their own initiative and they may be finding their own champion in Sarah Palin.