Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Going Rogue with Sarah Palin

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 9/30/09

Years ago Dennis Hopper directed a movie about a Hollywood crew who went to the Amazon jungle to shoot an action film. After they left, a tribal chief had a movie camera fashioned out of vines and pretended to be directing movies. It came to mind during the recent G-20 meeting of global leaders in Pittsburg. Last year historian Niall Ferguson made the credible claim that there is no G-20. There is only a G-2, America and China or Chimerica, or possibly only a G-1, China.

This new phase of post-global, self-serving pseudo events and organizations, like Bill Clinton’s puerile Global Initiative or The (obsequious) Elders, carries all of the convincing authenticity of a Cindy Crawford infomercial. But in the reelection of Angela Merkel as Prime Minister, Germany has stepped away from the pack and opened a portal with fresh and new potential.

What gives significance to Merkel’s victory is that her centralist party in the previous election governed in coalition with the left. She won this time in a coalition with a party to the right with libertarian features. It marks a significant change in Germany and potentially in the west and in the world. It indicates that Germany and others in Europe will no longer necessarily look to Washington for initiative as they find their own way out of the economic recession. America’s post-war leadership arc – a product of military victory in Germany and Japan - may be over. And it suggests that the most central nation of Europe may have finally cast off the shadow of cultural and political nihilism which has plagued Europe and Russia since the Decembrists movement of 1825.

That Other Mother has not yet left New York however, as evidenced by the lead in the New York Times’ news item which sees the German vote not as the victory first for Merkel, but as a failure for socialism: “A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of Socialism’s slow collapse.” As the philosopher Kenneth Burke used to point out, the perspective is ingrained in the nuance, tone and texture of the press’s language.

The Times: Even in the midst of one of the greatest challenges to capitalism in 75 years, involving a breakdown of the financial system due to “irrational exuberance,” greed and the weakness of regulatory systems, European Socialist parties and their left-wing cousins have not found a compelling response, let alone taken advantage of the right’s failures.

Those who look back to Europe including Obama’s economists, Obama’s publicists, academics and press, Obama’s friends and key advisors and Obama, are being left behind.

This different is here in the United States as well as the libertarian initiative first took root here. The numbers may be less important than the quality of the crowd; a difference between fashionable and righteous pique and ferocity. The one at the end of things, the other at the beginning. The sanitized, suburbanized, rich-girl Marxism and innocent indignation of the vast antiauthoritarian horde, like that institutionalized by Life Magazine when it reported on Hillary Clinton’s valedictorian speech at Wellesley years ago, which set the paradigm for the next 40 years. Compared to the University of Michigan students who rose to their feet chanting “End the Fed! End the Fed!” at a recent Ron Paul speech. Or that in the American heartland going rogue with Sarah Palin. Who’s afraid of Hillary Clinton?