Monday, July 06, 2009

Sarah Palin’s Next Step

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 7/6/09

"I am real surprised. It is real unconventional," William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, told FOX News. "It would make sense to finish the governorship and then run for president in 2012.”

But it is not unprecedented. William Weld, one of the best and most popular Governors in Massachusetts history not long ago did much the same. A year into his second term he launched an unsuccessful bid for John Kerry’s U.S. Senate seat, then, after losing, resigned to pursue a failed bid to be the U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Then he moved to New York to consider running for Governor there.

Kristol didn't count Sarah Palin out for 2012, calling her "crazy like a fox."
"It's a huge gamble -- but some of her gambles have paid off in the past," he said.

"If I had to bet right now, I would bet that we just heard the first opening statement in the 2012 presidential race."

I don’t see that she had any choice. Defend when you are attacked. Any Hockey Mom could tell you that. If you want to understand Sarah Palin don’t look back to McCain, Reagan or any other politician. Look to Gretzky, Brett Hull and Sid the Kid Crosby. Study hockey strategy.

A wide but aging and ailing swath of political and cultural America, mostly urban and educated, has begun experiencing subtle and insidious uncertainty, like rumors of the plague coming to Venice (“Why are they disinfecting the streets of Venice?”) since Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was asked to be VP for John McCain last August. A state of things they perhaps naively and innocently took for granted seems to be dying before their eyes and as in the Kübler-Ross model, when they look back there will have been five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

In this chronology Katie Couric of CBS and Charles Gibson of ABC entered Denial on our behalf in their famous initial interviews in Fall, 2008. David Letterman, Repressed but Fuming Anger (and irony is anger for the timid) in June, 2009. By next Spring, when her book comes out there will be Bargaining and by Fourth of July, 2010, Depression.

Rising into the mid-term elections of 2010 when the dollar has floated downstream like a dead Alaska salmon and the rising BRIC nations have ganged up against us with a new reserve currency, we will start getting to Acceptance.

It was said here two weeks back that Mark Sanford, the governor who cries for Argentina, was a kind of Monkey God for a new movement in America that could now pass on to Rick Perry. Characteristically, Monkey Gods like Sanford disappear – they return to the forest of mischief and ambiguity from which they came after their creative original work is done.

He [Sanford] was the first to speak out in opposition to the bailouts and he stood alone. Shortly after Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, joined him. What he started has converged now with an entirely new approach to government, an approach more akin to Jefferson than Hamilton which is taking hold in 35 states, including Texas, with Perry at the front of the ship. Yesterday, there might have been three people articulating these themes in the 2012 race; Sanford, Perry and Sarah Palin. Now there will likely be two; Perry and Palin.

Scratch the Rick Perry-at-the-front-of-the-ship part. Make that Sarah Palin.

Expect that the conventional religionists who control the orthodoxy of the political process and the airwaves, even those who supported her during the campaign against the slings and arrows of the liberals, will start to kick. Her crowd is electric and like Kennedy, like Reagan, she brings a complete change of paradigm. My hunch is that she will ignore the forms and traditions entirely and seek a new base culture, a new audience and a different path, much as musicians and singers did in the Sixties, to create an entirely new consciousness and a new political culture.

There is a deep, systemic and fundamental split in the general sentiment of this country today. Over there is Obama chatting amiably about coordination of currencies over a light lunch with his new BFFs Sarko and Carla Bruni and maybe some of his Nobel Laureate friends or working in the White House organic vegetable garden with Alice Waters. Over here is Kyle Busch in the last 14 seconds of the Daytona Fourth of July NASCAR race over the weekend, his green car crushed, crumbed, spun and tossed in the air in a heap of wrecks all crashing together and scattered everywhere at well over 100 miles an hour. And he walks away from it.

Obama speaks to the complex and neurasthenic detachment of Henry James’ Bostonians who so loved the slaves but hated the working man. Sarah speaks to Joe the Plumber. Obama, like Hillary Clinton, speaks to the righteous indignation of the sociologist and the guilt of the do-gooder. Sarah, like Victoria, calls to the warrior.