Friday, September 04, 2009

Why Sarah Palin Ain't Ronald Reagan

It's amazing to see reporter-types who are so caught-up in conventional wisdom that they actually imagine they're refuting the groupthink while continuing to perpetuate it. Here's a piece from Walter Rodgers, some former CNN reporter, who asks the pertinent question: Can Sarah Palin be more than a political celebrity?

And of course, the answer is a resounding: No. She can't. Even if she inexplicably won the presidency in 2012, it'd be due entirely to her celebrity status, as there never was a real "Palin" beyond the fakey conservative celebrity she pretended to be. And while this guy clearly has his doubts about it too, the fact that he even wrote the piece as he did suggests that he's still stuck in the conventional wisdom about Palin.

He might be flirting around the edges of doubting it, but for him to consider this to be a serious question is enough to undermine his credibility.

Exonerating McCain

And then there's this humdinger:
The McCain campaign scarcely had five days to find their man a running mate. Palin was effectively forced upon a reluctant Senator McCain in a risky campaign move designed to reverse Barack Obama's momentum.
But that wasn't really the case, as McCain clinched the nomination in early March and had over five months to find a VP, and he wasn't forced to announce his pick immediately after Obama's acceptance speech either. Plus, there were far better choices than Palin. That was all just stupid stupid stupid and was yet more proof about how completely unprepared McCain was for the bigtime.

And the fact that McCain originally wanted Lieberman for the job only shows how clueless he was. For as bad a choice as Palin was, forcing "Sore Loserman" on the Republican base would most definitely have sucked the air out of the party. He was a poor choice for Gore in 2000 and would have been a complete joke for McCain. Had he picked Joe, he might as well have just removed his name from the ticket and headed back to his day job.

While Rodgers realizes that selecting Palin was a risky move, nobody forced it upon McCain. He took the risk because he wanted to take the risk. He had five months to pick a VP, not five days, and still blew the call. This all smacks of historical revisionism by people who want to exonerate McCain for his part in creating the Palin monster.

Re-Remembering Reagan

But Rodgers saves his biggest turds for the Gipper:
Republicans now in search of a new messiah might ask themselves if Palin is truly another Ronald Reagan, as more than a few would like to believe. It wasn't movie star glitter that made President Reagan so effective but rather his political genius, which rivaled that of Franklin Roosevelt.

Reagan charmed scores of congressional Democrats into embracing his points of view on dozens of issues. In 1981, I watched big-spending Democrats walk out of the West Wing completely "Reaganized," happily confessing they were converted to his spending reductions and other presidential initiatives.

Setting aside his two terms as governor of California, presiding over what would become the world's seventh-largest economy, Reagan had a biblical talent for making "even his enemies to be at peace with him."
Yes, and we all know how spending went down throughout the 80's as Congressional Dems embraced Reagan's small government mantra and ended up throwing all those welfare queens out on their asses as we balanced the budget and started paying off the debt with our huge surpluses. Oh wait, that was Clinton who did that. While Reagan oversaw huge deficits while government spending ballooned. And this is all just part of the Reagan revisionism, in which Reagan didn't raise taxes many times, or reverse course on key issues like his desire to privatize Social Security.

As I've mentioned before, the reason Reagan remained popular wasn't because he "Reaganized" his opponents, but because he was pragmatic and listened to the polls. After all, the infamous euphemism of Social Security as the "third rail" was coined after Reagan got burned for trying to change it, and he ended up saving a program he had long opposed. As a reminder, Reagan's lowest approval rating came after his second year as president; with a 41% approval, 47% disapproval in January 1983. For as much as he made "peace" with his enemies, it was because he joined them.

The miracle of Reagan isn't that he made peace with his enemies, but that conservatives ever made peace with his betrayal of them. And for as much as Palin isn't the next Ronald Reagan, it's because she's embraced the conservative myth of Reagan, which pretends that Reagan remained a hardcore conservative who forced his critics to bend to his will; rather than vice versa. Unfortunately, dopes like Walter Rodgers only help perpetuate that myth.

No comments: