Sunday, November 15, 2009

Katie Couric and Sarah Palin: Will Rick Perry go rogue in 2012?

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 11/16/09

We will learn one thing from Sarah Palin’s new book, Going Rogue: She will not be humiliated; she will not be intimidated; she will meet you head on. This should be considered in answering The Hill’s Pundit Blogger Armstrong Williams’ question whether there will be a dark horse Republican candidate in 2012. Conditions are almost perfect for a dark horse because an original, new conservative theme has developed this past year and that theme has a rising spirit attached to it: Former Alaskan governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. She could well be the candidate in 2012. But this is a movement forming and not yet fully formed. When it is fully formed a new champion – a dark horse – may arise.

Katie Couric will get her fair share in Palin’s book. Couric is the major networks’ official greeter. She is a gatekeeper. Her role is archetypal rather than journalistic. When she embarrassed Palin by insinuation and mnemonic slander (“. . . not one of us”) implying that she never read a newspaper, she turned Palin away from the door. She unofficially granted permission from the networks and sent forth the winged monkeys – Tiny Fey, Letterman, etc. – allowing them free fire character assassination.

The interview Couric did with Palin will be considered a milestone of journalistic history. In previous elections we had pack journalism but what happened in 2008 might be called horde journalism. The 2008 election reminded Johns Hopkins professor and frequent Wall Street Journal commentator Fouad Ajami of the “politics of crowds” in places like Argentina and Egypt and Iran, “ . . . of multitudes brought together by their zeal for a Peron or a Nasser or a Khomeini.”

Couric and the networks intentionally set out to subvert a Presidential race by destroying one of the candidates. The networks – and the NYTs and the Washington Post – had already decided by mid July when McCain was 15 points behind Obama where the election would go. The celebrations for the first black president were all prepared and the invitations had already been sent out. Suddenly, with the arrival of Palin, they were dead even. It changed everything.

Palin’s was a dynamic new voice in America, potentially one as vital and relevant as Andrew Jackson’s. Couric should have been fired, instead she was honored and rewarded by Princeton University and she mocked Palin throughout the event in her bright red dress. Possibly no incident in the post-war period showed the full convergence of the networks, the press, academia, undergraduate bloggers by the millions, virtually all of Hollywood and the entertainment industry, converging on one point with Couric leading the charge. And now it is revealed in her new book that Palin’s own Republican apparatus was a coat carrier and appeared to help in the herding of the Obama horde to Mile High Stadium by intentionally subterfuging Palin.

The country needed a break and Barack Obama, bright, young and black, would be the antidote to a few grim years. Now the young President is thin and prematurely graying. At this point it is fair to say he does not appear to know how to be President and America’s health, welfare and possibly freedom are dangerously destabilized. A year on, we are beginning to hear the phrase, how did this happen?

The unprecedented, uniform, institutional contempt by the press for Palin had an empowering effect on the heartland. They – the New York and Washington political industry - hated Sarah Palin because they hated the rest of us who live in the hills and hollows where Johnny Cash wandered it was said. In subtle but pervasive ways this is true.

But in the past year we have watched history rising against this background. It is still not yet formed but in the next year it will begin to find form. By 2012 it will be in coherent shape. What is forming is a concoction of Ron Paul and Austrian economics, the April 15 demonstrations against the bailouts and the deficits and the subsequent town hall demonstrations. These rude awakenings began to find legitimacy in NY 23 when Doug Hoffman gained support as a Conservative Party candidate and when Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota, offered his support. The unapologetically conservative candidate’s win by 17% in the governor’s race in Virginia suggests that substantive change is at hand.

In a word, the times have awakened but they have not yet fully formed. Everything is changing and change requires new people. The newest Gallup numbers show independents leaning to the GOP by 52% to 30%. The traditional Republicans are like the elegant jazz musicians of the 1950s, suddenly faced with the new music of the Sixties. Newt Gingrich will try to present himself as the new guy and so will others, but they are the old jazz musicians. Tim Pawlenty is new, Sarah Palin is and so is Rick Perry and these are perfect conditions for a dark horse.

Palin will be there as she was at the beginning. But Rick Perry, governor of Texas, was also with this movement from the very beginning. He is highest ranked and most respected of the new people advancing the new ideas. He would be the likely dark horse to consolidate and legitimize these issues – bring form to the formless - if this movement is to go forward. While the others are demure and cosmetic, Perry speaks clearly. He recently told a gathering in Texas that Obama was “hell bent” on socialism, raising a startled “oh my!” from the punditry fashionistas. This is what is required at beginnings. But Virginia’s new governor-elect Bob McDonald can now be seen in the wings as well.