Three Things Sarah Palin Needs to Get Ahead Of

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Readers of this blog may recall that in the last presidential election, I brought myself to vote for the Repuglican ticket for the first time in many years, and I did so because of Sarah Palin’s presence on that ticket. She is genuinely and sincerely and believably pro-life, and that, in my mind, is the driving issue of our time. The abortion carnage is our nation’s great defining evil, and it is organically connected to almost all our other evils.

But then Obama the Prophet was swept into office, the first black president of the United States. A number of people were quite pleased with that fact, including people who didn’t support him or vote for him. But the sheen wore off quickly, and the mismanagement of the Bush years was replaced by mismanagement on a larger, grander scale than anyone had dreamed possible. All of a sudden, the first black president didn’t seem all that cool anymore. Who can name the first black mayor of Detroit, and who really cares anymore? Now that we are rapidly becoming a continent-wide Detroit, the milestones we have passed are all covered with debris by the side of the road, we can’t see them anymore.

Since Obama came to office, Sarah Palin has played it smart, for the most part. She has established a donor base that is not dependent on the established Repuglican leadership. She has shown herself adept at making news via the new forms of social networking. She has been shrewd in her endorsements, and has a winning record there. In short, she has done well for herself. All that is acknowledged, and hats off. But here are three things she needs work on.

The first is related to the Palin-derangement syndrome. When people do or say deranged things, her initial response has often been just fine — but she has a tendency to move on and lecture the funny bunnies. But the “have you no decency” response will not work in this game, even if she is right. Especially if she is right. She really needs to learn how to not respond at all to that kind of stuff or, if she must respond, to do so with a one-liner that is smart, funny, and of a nature to keep her critics barking at the moon for the next three weeks. She needs to learn how to deliver a quip and move on immediately, leaving her critics to their existential anguish.

The second thing she needs to be very careful with is her attempted reinvention of feminism. I am second to none in my desire to steer clear of mama grizzlies, but a metaphor is not a movement. And, if it were a movement, it would be a movement that a lot of people (like me) who share Palin’s desire to head the other direction from our current Obamacrash wouldn’t want to have anything to do with. We are not all feminists now. As I argued in our long discussion after Palin was selected by John McCain, conservative Christians ought not to have any problem with an occasional woman leader in the civil realm. It is quite true that every other leader of Israel was not a Deborah, but it is also true (and I think I can say this without fear of contradiction) that Deborah was Deborah. Can we agree that far? So I think the biblical precedents are there, and I think that Christian men would be better served by hunting around for a spine than by critiquing a woman who apparently got one of theirs by mistake. At the same time, you don’t see Deborah telling the women of Israel to rise up to make their voice heard, and for everybody else to watch out for the mama whatever-dangerous-mama-fauna the land of Canaan was then home to.

The third thing to watch out for is the politicians’ disease when it comes to answering questions, and how it affects Palin in particular. As we all know, politicians are trained to talk without saying anything. There is a weird kind of political discourse out there, the chief object of which is to remain gaffe-free. One of the best ways to remain gaffe-free is to say nothing whatever. For some politicos, when their general competence is obvious, this maneuver simply looks like they know what’s what and are refusing to tell us. Sometimes that move looks canny, sometimes deceitful, and sometimes statesmanlike. But when Palin does it, she just looks vapid. It does no good to point out that everybody else does it. The game is not fair; the whole thing is uneven and the system is rigged. Palin has certain advantages of personality and charisma, and she also has corresponding disadvantages — this being one of them. Unless she is saying something substantive that arrests the attention, her voice will be a scritchy and abrasive covering on something that seems hollow. Palin can refuse to talk a lot, but whenever she talks it must be substantive.

So there it is. When her people contact my people, I shall be happy to develop these comments further.



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