Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich: The Visionary and the Hack

Two weeks after Sarah Palin's unique exit from public office, Newt Gingrich offered up some unsolicited counsel for the former governor in an interview with POLITICO. Apparently, Newt was certain that Palin's reputation needed serious burnishing, and he was all too ready to provide it by offering substantial details on the range and style of speeches that would be most appropriate for Palin to deliver to various audiences in order to sustain a public revival.  Exactly why he felt she needed his help remains a bit of a mystery, except that Gingrich, like Karl Rove, seems absolutely certain that the world is always on edge awaiting his next tactical stroke of genius.

Now that an intense internecine battle is raging over how Republicans should react to Doug Hoffman's Conservative Party bid for New York's 23rd , one thing is certain: it is Newt whose reputation is in shambles, and it is he who should seek political advice from Palin as to how he might regain his lost stature. And this will remain true whether Mr. Hoffman wins or loses.

By unconditionally supporting the Republican machine candidate Dede Scozzafava -- one of the most liberal candidates ever offered by the party in any race -- Newt has forfeited any remnant of respect he might have retained as the standard-bearer of the conservative congressional revolution of 1994.

Scozzafava supports the same extreme political positions (card-check, Obama stimulus) as any adolescent left-wing blogger. She maintains deep alliances with the most radical and odious groups (Acorn, Working Family Party) associated with the Democratic Party. By standing with her, Newt Gingrich has earned that dreaded label he once affixed to Nancy Pelosi. Newt has become a partisan and trivial politician. He has become a common hack.

In contrast, Sarah Palin just compiles conservative esteem. When she railed against the compromised Republican machine in its support of Scozzafava, it felt like a stiff, clean, purifying breeze. In her October 24th Facebook Note announcing her support for Hoffman, Palin argued with deep philosophical references to conservative ideals. Her support and conviction were not products of a focus group.  The note moved many a radio talk show host who read it aloud, from Mark Levin to Tammy Bruce. It was the reasoned stance of a visionary.

Palin evoked Ronald Reagan, mentioned the importance of establishing sharp contrasts with opponents, and stressed the primacy of principle over party. Palin continues to be the antithesis of the trivial politician.  She has that unique ability to convey the highest sense of personal honor without ever projecting any of the usual political pomposity. Perhaps the highest compliment we can pay Palin is that she is always interesting and always surprising.

This is the reason so many political junkies from the right and left have undisclosed part-time jobs as Palin observers. You can never get enough of authenticity. Near the end of her farewell speech, Palin promised that by removing the confining yoke of office she'd be able "to work even harder for you. For what is right. And for truth." 

What she meant by those almost biblical cadences wasn't clear then, but now it is coming into focus. And what is most stunning is that she is attaining her goals not by speaking in front of audiences, but through her writing. We all know how mesmerizing she is on the stump. But none of us had any idea that she was a gifted prose stylist: succinct, witty, and memorable.

But she has chosen Facebook, not YouTube, as her preferred mode of communication, at least for now. And over and over again, she has proven highly effective and influential, whether discussing health care, energy, China policy, defense, or congressional elections.

It's an effectiveness gained through focus, a focus that we can only hope other politicians begin to emulate. Free markets, individual liberty, small government, strong national defense, and low taxes are the constant themes she invokes. Along with those values, she makes constant mention of the two political giants of the 20th century who embodied them, championed them, and communicated them tirelessly: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

While pundit after pundit argues that we should throw Reagan over the side in pursuit of Obama-lite, Palin is bringing us back to the principled, universal roots that Reagan shared with the Founders. While many columnists anguish over immoderate candidates, Palin warns against "blurring the lines" and writes a Facebook birthday tribute to Margaret Thatcher.

A recent Gallup poll shows that in America, conservatives outnumber liberals by two to one. We know from history that conservatives can win landslide elections. But conservatives need to be confident to be resurgent. None of us knows what Sarah Palin has in mind for 2012 and beyond. But if she is the force that helped us regain the confidence of our convictions, then she will have given us a gift beyond repayment.

Claude can be reached at csandroff@gmail.com
Two weeks after Sarah Palin's unique exit from public office, Newt Gingrich offered up some unsolicited counsel for the former governor in an interview with POLITICO. Apparently, Newt was certain that Palin's reputation needed serious burnishing, and he was all too ready to provide it by offering substantial details on the range and style of speeches that would be most appropriate for Palin to deliver to various audiences in order to sustain a public revival.  Exactly why he felt she needed his help remains a bit of a mystery, except that Gingrich, like Karl Rove, seems absolutely certain that the world is always on edge awaiting his next tactical stroke of genius.

Now that an intense internecine battle is raging over how Republicans should react to Doug Hoffman's Conservative Party bid for New York's 23rd , one thing is certain: it is Newt whose reputation is in shambles, and it is he who should seek political advice from Palin as to how he might regain his lost stature. And this will remain true whether Mr. Hoffman wins or loses.

By unconditionally supporting the Republican machine candidate Dede Scozzafava -- one of the most liberal candidates ever offered by the party in any race -- Newt has forfeited any remnant of respect he might have retained as the standard-bearer of the conservative congressional revolution of 1994.

Scozzafava supports the same extreme political positions (card-check, Obama stimulus) as any adolescent left-wing blogger. She maintains deep alliances with the most radical and odious groups (Acorn, Working Family Party) associated with the Democratic Party. By standing with her, Newt Gingrich has earned that dreaded label he once affixed to Nancy Pelosi. Newt has become a partisan and trivial politician. He has become a common hack.

In contrast, Sarah Palin just compiles conservative esteem. When she railed against the compromised Republican machine in its support of Scozzafava, it felt like a stiff, clean, purifying breeze. In her October 24th Facebook Note announcing her support for Hoffman, Palin argued with deep philosophical references to conservative ideals. Her support and conviction were not products of a focus group.  The note moved many a radio talk show host who read it aloud, from Mark Levin to Tammy Bruce. It was the reasoned stance of a visionary.

Palin evoked Ronald Reagan, mentioned the importance of establishing sharp contrasts with opponents, and stressed the primacy of principle over party. Palin continues to be the antithesis of the trivial politician.  She has that unique ability to convey the highest sense of personal honor without ever projecting any of the usual political pomposity. Perhaps the highest compliment we can pay Palin is that she is always interesting and always surprising.

This is the reason so many political junkies from the right and left have undisclosed part-time jobs as Palin observers. You can never get enough of authenticity. Near the end of her farewell speech, Palin promised that by removing the confining yoke of office she'd be able "to work even harder for you. For what is right. And for truth." 

What she meant by those almost biblical cadences wasn't clear then, but now it is coming into focus. And what is most stunning is that she is attaining her goals not by speaking in front of audiences, but through her writing. We all know how mesmerizing she is on the stump. But none of us had any idea that she was a gifted prose stylist: succinct, witty, and memorable.

But she has chosen Facebook, not YouTube, as her preferred mode of communication, at least for now. And over and over again, she has proven highly effective and influential, whether discussing health care, energy, China policy, defense, or congressional elections.

It's an effectiveness gained through focus, a focus that we can only hope other politicians begin to emulate. Free markets, individual liberty, small government, strong national defense, and low taxes are the constant themes she invokes. Along with those values, she makes constant mention of the two political giants of the 20th century who embodied them, championed them, and communicated them tirelessly: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

While pundit after pundit argues that we should throw Reagan over the side in pursuit of Obama-lite, Palin is bringing us back to the principled, universal roots that Reagan shared with the Founders. While many columnists anguish over immoderate candidates, Palin warns against "blurring the lines" and writes a Facebook birthday tribute to Margaret Thatcher.

A recent Gallup poll shows that in America, conservatives outnumber liberals by two to one. We know from history that conservatives can win landslide elections. But conservatives need to be confident to be resurgent. None of us knows what Sarah Palin has in mind for 2012 and beyond. But if she is the force that helped us regain the confidence of our convictions, then she will have given us a gift beyond repayment.

Claude can be reached at csandroff@gmail.com