Sarah for President?

Source: Pajamas Media

There is probably no one more qualified for the White House than Sarah Palin. But is she electable?

Sarah Palin continues to galvanize the imagination of both her ardent supporters and her hectoring adversaries. It is easy to understand her appeal to those who have rallied behind her and her possible candidacy for the office of president of the United States. She has a lot going for her: charm, personableness, natural smarts, moral probity, executive competence, independence of character, and a passionate love of country. These are undeniable advantages, or should be in any sane political environment.

At the same time, she steps up to the plate with two strikes against her — or, in an alternative baseball universe, with three, four, or five strikes already logged in the umpire’s clicker. PDS (Palin Derangement Syndrome) flourishes on the liberal-left, to the extent that a correspondent to suggests “we get rid of Palin” by having her electrocuted like one of Michael Vick’s dogs. According to the media scuttlebutt and her innumerable liberal detractors, she is poorly educated, brings no foreign policy experience to the job, shoots her own dinner, comes across as politically unnuanced, and, perhaps the most cutting strike against her, lacks gravitas. These negatives are obviously serious disadvantages for anyone contemplating a run for the presidency, but are they valid criticisms? Is she really “out” before she even takes a swing? Let’s consider each of these knocks against her in turn.

To begin with, Palin is by no means poorly educated; she merely did not graduate with a degree from an Ivy League institution, which by any reasonable account in today’s academic milieu should stand decidedly in her favor. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Berkeley and other so-called elite universities charge prohibitive tuition fees while, for the most part, delivering second-rate curricular fare. They represent the kiss of intellectual death — unless, of course, one wishes to enter the service of the State Department or practice trial or immigration law. Palin did well to avoid these bastions of mainly liberal-left political correctness.

As for the absence of foreign policy experience, David Jenkins reminds us in an article for PJM that, with the exception of the elder Bush (who, incidentally, was no presidential cynosure), “it is not common for presidents to enter office with foreign policy experience.” In this respect, Palin is no different from the vast majority of her predecessors and certainly not from the present incumbent. What is needed in this domain is precisely what Palin would bring to the highest office in the land: insight and principle. As Jenkins writes, “she knows that America must be strong in order to be safe, and…that we must develop our own resources and end our dependence on foreign oil.” Palin also knows that an American president does not bow and apologize to foreign despots and does not alienate loyal and tested allies, but comports himself or herself with dignity and courage.

Nor is there anything wrong with shooting one’s own dinner, especially when one considers that liberal urbanites are perfectly OK with having other people shoot their dinner for them. Unless they are dedicated vegans, their hypocrisy is indigestible, and even vegans would surely vote for a meat-eating Democrat. Being handy with a shotgun and knowing how to skin a caribou is plainly not the real issue here. The implication is that Palin is some sort of primitive rustic rather than a credentialed cosmopolite. But the truth is that frowning on Palin’s wilderness skills is nothing but class snobbery on the part of those who would be utterly lost were they stripped of the “civilized” amenities they thoughtlessly take for granted. It is their mincing pretentiousness and fashionable outrage, not Palin’s honest hardiness, that is deplorable.

Further, Palin is by no means politically unnuanced. Quite the contrary, she is as politically savvy as they come, whether on the domestic or international front. Her speeches during the recent congressional elections were not only unteleprompted barnburners in the best populist tradition, but revealed a meticulous command of the domestic issues currently bedeviling the nation as well as a finely nuanced understanding of America’s pancreatic failures in international diplomacy. She displays a far more realistic perspective on the Middle East and has far more accurately taken the measure of America’s geopolitical competitors, particularly Russia and China, than anyone in the Democratic administration.

Palin does not believe in tax and spend, in fiat printing, in redistributive economics, in ObamaCare, in the AGW nonsense that is only an opaque wealth transfer scheme, in making purses out of sows’ ears (aka pork and earmarks), in pressing reset buttons, in blaming Israel for the Palestinians, or in a degrading and unproductive “outreach” to the Islamic umma. These are policies she would reverse, as indeed would anyone with a nuanced understanding of the economic and political worlds. There is little doubt that Palin would be a strong, resolute, and effective president should she ever accede to the White House. Unlike Obama, she would not try to square the Oval.

Finally, if Palin lacks gravitas, then so do many others on the current political scene. Barack Obama, for example, not only lacks gravitas, he exhibits the moral and intellectual substance of a will o’ the wisp. This is not to take anything away from his golf game, but in political life he is always badly in need of a mulligan. Joe Biden is a figure straight out of vaudeville who can be dependably counted on to drop the cane he is trying to twirl — though, it must be admitted, he would look great in a straw boater. Hillary Clinton is, frankly, a wizened party hack and, like her husband, an adroit shape-shifter: one cannot trust a word she utters. No gravitas to be found amidst this crew.

Among the possible Republican contenders there are (or were) some potentially credible choices, at least from the standpoint of knowledge, experience, and/or presence. Newt Gingrich carries weight and political erudition but unfortunately also carries baggage. The same may be said for Jeb Bush, whose family name still remains a heavy burden he may not be able to shuck. His opposition to Arizona’s immigration law is also a very bad sign. Others like Marco Rubio and Allen West, both highly impressive figures, are too young or new to the field to be presidentially assessed. Chris Christie is a bold and ethical administrator, but is not a particularly persuasive communicator. John Thune is little known and Mitch Daniels is aura-challenged. Mike Huckabee’s banjo is not an electoral plus. Bobby Jindal and Tim Pawlenty are “good people,” but Jindal does not seem ready for higher office and Pawlenty is prone to misjudgment, such as withdrawing from the race for a third term as Minnesota governor that he could have won handily. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour may have disqualified himself from consideration owing to certain insensitive or ambiguous racial comments — at least, journalist and fellow-Southerner Kyle-Anne Shiver appears to think so. John Bolton would make a decent president but an even better secretary of defense. Rick Perry’s secession remark, however flippant, has cost him dearly. Mitt Romney seems to wear a certain gravitas, but the “RomneyCare” fiasco that he imposed as governor of Massachusetts shows his weak and fallible side.

The real problem, however, is that “gravitas” is a vague and unreliable personality construct and, moreover, one that can be readily simulated by a good actor. Al Gore, for instance, managed to project seriousness of purpose for a time, until greed, corruption, and deceit tore away the mask with which he dazzled his public. “Gravitas” functions primarily as a media buzzword that can be applied indiscriminately, either to demean or to inflate its chosen subject. Only in the most proven and ineluctable cases can it be said to be an appropriate descriptor, and these are far and few between. Whether or not Palin is deficient in this regard, what she demonstrably lacks is the approval of a reprobate and partisan press, which is itself cripplingly short of integrity, not to mention gravitas.

But is Palin electable? The next two years will determine whether she will be able to counter the slanderous media campaign against her candidacy and her competence, and so convince enough people that she has the right stuff to lead the country in perhaps its most perilous historical moment since the Civil War. Clearly, she suffers more than her share of antagonists among the megabuck left and their myriad satellites, Ivy League academics, mainstream journalists, public intellectuals, union impresarios and henchmen, and the entitlement-addicted segment of the public. They are terrified of her. She even has the panjandrums in the Republican old guard shaking in their Guccis.

As Victor Volsky writes in American Thinker, “in the eyes of the political/cultural aristocracy, [Palin] is the embodiment of its worst nightmare: the revolt of the masses against their masters.” And she knows that the master class will mobilize its considerable reserves against her. The question is whether, by sheer force of character, will, and charisma, like an American version of Delacroix’s Marianne leading the charge at the electoral barricades, and by pursuing a tireless itinerary, she can prevail against overwhelming odds and bring to the American people authentic change and genuine hope for the future.

David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity, and is currently working on a sequel, Living in the Valley of Shmoon. His new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, has just been released by Mantua Books.

About GShep


  1. Paul Smith says

    Thoughtful and insightful.
    I wonder if her best function might be as lightning rod to the liberal media deflecting attention until the primaries from all other candidates.

  2. Paul, very possible. The problem with this to my mind is that if she draws the fire of the Blue-Blood GOP as well (the “country-clubbers”) then the GOP will go down to electoral defeat against Obama in 2012. Palin, whatever her gifts and faults, embodies the populus of what is left of Christian America.

    The GOP has had to fight this internecine battle over and over again between its populist (“Main Street”) base and the Eastern establishment (“Country Clubbers”/Wall Street). First with Barry Goldwater in 1964 and then again with Reagan in 1980. I’m not sure that it could survive another bruising battle such as this. If Wall Street wins (and they will if they succeed in taking Palin down), then the GOP will go the way of the Whigs.

    • The GOP has had to fight this internecine battle over and over again between its populist (“Main Street”) base and the Eastern establishment (“Country Clubbers”/Wall Street).


      That’s because the populist wing of the GOP is mostly former Democrats who bought into the GOP’s culture war m.o., and/or, culture warriors who co-opted the GOP as a political base. These are primarily neo-conservatives who never fail to support foreign interventions and, basically, any use of the armed forces as a foreign policy tool. So you see the current contingent opposing the administration on virtually every detail except for military spending. This is altogether contrary to the tradition of the GOP as non-interventionist and fiscally conservative. And that’s why you see this battle going on now. The GOP is not nearly as ideologically pure as it used to be. So, basically, it’s more like the Democrat party than ever.

      Sarah Palin is the new Barry a point. Goldwater’s conservatism was policy-based wherein Palin’s is essentially based on resentment and attitude. Her policy credentials are virtually nil. That’s why most voters are not going to trust her as a federal-level politician.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Luke, interesting insights, but somewhat beside the point. So what if most “populist wing of the GOP” are former disaffected Democrats? So was Reagan, arguably the greatest president of the 20th Century. I myself am a disaffected Democrat who was kicked out of the party of Jefferson and Jackson by the neo-Bolshevists and Trotskyites who took over that party in 1968 and have proven themselves to be nothing but a Fifth Column dedicated to undermining American virtue and serving as the handmaiden of the Evil Empire.

        As for being “culture warriors,” again –so what? Is our culture not worth preserving? Or should we bow down to Leviathan state who has to increase his power because ordinary people have lost their virtue? Let us not forget that the GOP began as a moralist party, against both slavery and polygamy (the Mormon issue was also boiling over at that time). Slavery and polygamy were both viewed as two sides of the same coin.

        As for the fiscal conservatism of the traditional GOP, sign me up! I would love to see NATO dissolved, and all our troops brought home from Korea, Okinawa, Europe, etc. But to cashier soldiers in favor of giving welfare to indolents and opening our border to a third-world migration in order to increase the size and scope of the Welfare State, definately count me out.

        As for Palin’s supposed “resentment,” I don’t see it. All who meet her consider her to be a gracious lady of elegant bearing and mien. During her tenure in Alaska politics, her approval rating was in the stratosphere; she was equally popular with Democrats (with whom she worked with) as with Republicans.

        Let us however consider your point. I certainly am resentful of what the elites who run our country have done to it. I remember some 30 years ago when Lady Thatcher was running for PM in England, some panty-waste intellectual called her a reactionary. In the finest Churchillian fashion she retorted, “Well sir, there’s a lot to react against!” Touche. I personally think our country is ripe for a revolution in which the whole Secular/Left ethos has to be held up to ridicule and abuse. The people who have created this morass deserve to be ostracized from polite society and as Samuel Adams said, “let history not remember you as our brothers.”

        As for her policy credentials, she gave a very well-received speech 2 years ago in Hong Kong and her essay against the Federal Reserves recent destructive moves to further destroy our currency will prove to be prescient. Likewise her pronouncement against Obamacare’s “death panels” have proven to be correct.

        • Well, there definitely is a lot that is debatable in late political history. As far as Trotskyites and the like, if they drove you into the Republican party, they beat you to it.

          Who are the neoconservatives? The first generation were ex-liberals, socialists, and Trotskyites, boat-people from the McGovern revolution who rafted over to the GOP at the end of conservatism’s long march to power with Ronald Reagan in 1980. — Pat Buchanan, 2003, The American Conservative

          It remains to be seen whether Sarah Palin is anything more than a very shrewd celebrity. But she certainly is that. I don’t believe she will run in the end. There’s too much money to be made in her current unofficial role.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Luke, I’m an admirer of Pat Buchanan, but he’s over the top here. Ronald Reagan was a proud Liberal Democrat. Surely Pat isn’t accusing people like him of being an “ex-Trotskyite.” Likewise James Burnham, one of the founders of the old National Review was a former Communist, as was Whittaker Chambers (a true hero of the Right).

            Pat needs to stop looking for Jews under every bed and realize that just because someone came from a Leftist background doesn’t mean that he is evil or just a Jewish stooge sent to infiltrate the Right. Were some opportunists? Probably, that happens in every movement. But the only difference between the so-called Neocons and the supposedly pure Paleocons is that the Neocons tend to have a high percentage of Jews in their ranks and support Israel. (BTW, if you wanted to see a truly execrable slice of humanity, look at the Jews who don’t support Israel, they are virulently anti-American as well.) If this is unpalatable to the Paleocons, then they should just be open about it and say that No Jews Need Apply.

            I’m a traditionalist, Orthodox Christian (obviously) of half-foreign parentage. Was a Democrat but not a Bolshevistic America-hater, family-hater, etc. I’m not a hater (although I do bear a particular animus against anti-Americans). To what Party should I go to? Right now I’m active in the Tea Party.

  3. Palin will be the Spruce Goose of American Politics in 2012: Lots of phony imagery; dead in the water.

  4. Peter, that’s assuming that the economy gets better and that Obama climbs out of the Bushian unpopularity he presently holds. Personally, if things continue along this path, I look for a challenger to Obama from within the Democrat Party (Hillary has already laid down some interesting markers).

  5. Having Sarah Palin as the GOP presidential candidate in 2012 is a sure way for the Republicans to forfeit another four years in the White House. Republicans need to nominate a presidential candidate who has an exceptional charisma and political acumen — like Mitt Romney — if they want to regain the White House in 2012.

    • George Michalopulos says

      George, I like Romney immensely. (I’m not so sanguine about RomneyCare.) Unfortunately, there is no enthusiasm evident in the GOP for anybody but Palin. She’s outsized, the others are all a bunch of nobodies (Gingrich excepted). Personally, I agree with Michael Barone, barring a complete collapse in the economy, Obama will win reelection. The Democrat’s ground game is far better than the GOP’s. The Dept of Justice won’t investigate those black thugs that threatened white voters in 2008, when Bush was still president, what makes you think they’re going to do any different in 2012? Bottom line: the Dems will get all the welfare cheats, miscreants, illegal aliens, and convicts that they can to vote.

      I make a prediction here: I think she will sit this one out and watch the floundering that ensues. That way when the country-clubbers take the GOP down to defeat, her hands will be clean.

  6. I’ve never actually heard Palin utter anything but vacuous, empty sound bites and slogans she picked up from books other people have read and told her about. I can’t actually discern what her policies would be on anything to be able to tell whether she’s qualified or not.

    She did quit her job, which leads me to question her sense of commitment. She complains continually about the “hostile” press but refuses to engage them in any open forum where questions can be asked of her. Her own state gets $1.84 in federal spending for every $1 it pays in federal taxes, and I see no evidence of her having attempted to reduce that. In fact, according to The Seattle Times, Governor Palin requested more earmarks per-person for her state than any other governor in the country [including] requests for “$499,900 to assess halibut harvesting; others for lighting village airports in the Alaskan bush, where small planes and gravel runways may be the primary link to the outside world.”

    Wouldn’t Condi Rice make a much more sensible choice? She has foreign policy experience, she’s intelligent and, unlike Sarah, can string an entire sentence together without resorting to silly cheerleading slogans.

    I think many on the Right love Palin because the Left can’t stand her. Well, go ahead and nominate her to run for President. It will be interesting to see what happens when she has to actually publicly debate ideas.

    • George Michalopulos says

      P.S, you are right to an extent on why so many millions of us on the Right love Palin, because the Left can’t stand her (let’s go ahead and add the Country-Clubbers in here is as well.) Though this is a superficial criticism, let’s run with it for the sake of argument:

      I for one would love to see the heads of the Left/Country-Clubbers collectively explode upon her swearing-in. These people are lower and than low –when the Democrat Party refused to throw Michael Moore overboard was the last straw for me. Since then, they’ve done NOTHING to disabuse me of my completely rational hatred for them. For others, older than myself, the betrayal of South Vietnam was another. Or the betrayal of Serbia. Etc. The Country-Clubbers are merely the handmaidens of the Left, ennabling them to go about their program of destroying this nation. They would rather lose elections than be called mean things by the pseudo-intellectual class. Screw ’em, they’re nothing by panty-waists.

  7. George Michalopulos says

    James, you seem to forget that Palin wiped up the floor with Joe Biden in the vice-presidential debate and the speech she gave at the GOP convention was from memory (the teleprompter didn’t work).

    I like Condi, however the fact that she voted for Obama makes me cringe.

    What statements has she made that are “vacuous”?

    As to why she quit, I too was taken aback until I learned the details. She was being bombarded with needless lawsuits; her family was on the edge of bankruptcy. St Paul said that “no soldier serves at his own expense.” That means nobody who volunteers for office should be subject to frivolous lawsuits. If you don’t like their ideas, debate them. In Palin’s case, If she proposes legislation, modify it or throw it out completely. If she vetoes a bill, override it as well. Etc. You see, we have balance of powers in our various governments. They’re there for a reason. For ankle-biters to bring go about bringin in the judiciary via frivolous lawsuits is self-destructive.

    Case in point: remember all the hub-bub about Clarence Thomas and how he was a sexual predator simply because he may or may not have talked about a pubic hair on a Coke can? Remember the tumult about sexual relations in the workplace that that unleashed? Remember all the codes that were put in place in all businesses to fight the normal evolutionary urges of all normal human beings? Remember all that? Who did it come back to bite? Why, the old horndog himself. Bill Clinton was brought down not because he received a blow-job from Monica Lewinsky, but because he perjured himself in a sexual harrassment complaint lodged by Paula Corbin Jones. It was all so unnecessary. But the demons were set in motion by the Left. And they were trivial. Kick in the head, huh?

  8. Robert Mahoney says

    Palin OBAMA will be the Spruce Goose of American Politics in 2012: Lots of phony imagery; dead in the water.

    Fixed it for ya.