That Disdain for Palin

Now that the left's McCarthyite attack on Sarah Palin has subsided, she merely has to suffer the disdain of the intellectual elite.  Even James Taranto, admitted high-school dropout, damns her with faint praise.

This is nothing new.  The nostrils of the educated class have always twitched at populist conservative candidates for president.  Voters of a certain age will remember the disdain for Candidate Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan?  Of course Ronald Reagan.  Back in the 1970s, Ronald Reagan was a wild-eyed right-wing conservative who could never be elected president.  So a young conservative like me, already a devotee of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, went to my local precinct caucus in Washington State in early 1980 as a Bush supporter.  Bush was more electable, you see.

At the precinct caucus I discovered something that changed my mind.  In the Bush corner with me was a nice older couple.  But across the room were the unwashed folks in the Reagan corner.  They looked like technicians and construction guys, and they looked like they ought to be Democrats.  And there were a lot of them.  Ah ha, I thought.  Something is afoot in America. So I switched to the Reagan side in that caucus and lived happily ever after.

Here we are in 2011, and nothing has changed.  The popular, populist candidate of the ordinary working stiff is Sarah Palin, and the educated classes just can't get their wine glasses around the idea of a Sarah Palin as president.  Where's the experience, they wonder?  Where's the well-rounded education in political philosophy?  Where's the record as a successful administrator?  Where's the Ivy League degree?

I once used to believe in all that malarkey, and I agree that all those things are important -- in the staff.  The Germans figured this out two hundred years ago when they created the General Staff for their armed forces, complete with staff colleges.  What are our modern policy analysts in their think-tanks but the general staff of the nation's political forces?

The big idea of the general staff concept is to free the leader from the details so he can concentrate on the big picture and win the battle.  In warfare, we have the commander and his chief of staff.  Already at the Battle of Waterloo the Prussian army was led by Blücher, with chief of staff Gneisenau to do all the brainiac stuff.  In politics, we have the candidate up front and his consultant in the back room.

Let us hear what the "creative destruction" guy, Joseph Schumpeter, has to say about candidates and elections in his Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.  "Democracy means only that the people have the opportunity of accepting or refusing the men who are to rule them ... viz., free competition among the would-be leaders for the vote of the electorate." 

The name of the game is winning elections.  This means that electoral politicians are like football players; they are the best they can be at what they do.  They are professionals, experts in winning elections.  Schumpeter quotes an unnamed politician: "exactly as [businessmen] are dealing in oil[,] so I am dealing in votes." 

In 2012, Republicans will be nominating for president a professional politician to win an election.  We cannot worry about administrative skills and legislative tactics and academic pedigrees.  That comes later, in 2013.  For now, what matters is the skills of the professional politician: framing issues, sensing the mood of the people, moving the center, and telling the people what they want to hear, and doing it again and again.

We already know that Sarah Palin is No.1 when it comes to framing issues.  Back in 2009, the summer of the "death panels," old warhorse Pat Buchanan neighed his appreciation of her skills when he wrote, "Of Sarah Palin it may be said, the lady knows how to frame an issue."  No wonder.  Palin has been a professional politician since 1992.

Here's another little nugget.  In her first book, Going Rogue, Palin called herself a "common-sense conservative" and repeated the notion every second sentence as she traveled around the nation on her book tour.  Last fall, as she promoted her second book, the leopard had changed its spots -- just a little.  Now Palin was a "common-sense constitutional conservative."  Who wouldn't prefer that to an ideological rule-by-czar liberal?

It just so happens that Palin has a particular connection with the white working class, a large demographic that is up for grabs in 2012.

In the winter of 2011, President Obama is clearly tacking to the middle; he would be a fool not to.  Already, his polls are improving.  It will take the best politician, the best in America, to spoil his wind.

If there's a better conservative politician around than Sarah Palin, we'd better know his name by the summer of 2012.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us.  At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.
Now that the left's McCarthyite attack on Sarah Palin has subsided, she merely has to suffer the disdain of the intellectual elite.  Even James Taranto, admitted high-school dropout, damns her with faint praise.

This is nothing new.  The nostrils of the educated class have always twitched at populist conservative candidates for president.  Voters of a certain age will remember the disdain for Candidate Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan?  Of course Ronald Reagan.  Back in the 1970s, Ronald Reagan was a wild-eyed right-wing conservative who could never be elected president.  So a young conservative like me, already a devotee of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, went to my local precinct caucus in Washington State in early 1980 as a Bush supporter.  Bush was more electable, you see.

At the precinct caucus I discovered something that changed my mind.  In the Bush corner with me was a nice older couple.  But across the room were the unwashed folks in the Reagan corner.  They looked like technicians and construction guys, and they looked like they ought to be Democrats.  And there were a lot of them.  Ah ha, I thought.  Something is afoot in America. So I switched to the Reagan side in that caucus and lived happily ever after.

Here we are in 2011, and nothing has changed.  The popular, populist candidate of the ordinary working stiff is Sarah Palin, and the educated classes just can't get their wine glasses around the idea of a Sarah Palin as president.  Where's the experience, they wonder?  Where's the well-rounded education in political philosophy?  Where's the record as a successful administrator?  Where's the Ivy League degree?

I once used to believe in all that malarkey, and I agree that all those things are important -- in the staff.  The Germans figured this out two hundred years ago when they created the General Staff for their armed forces, complete with staff colleges.  What are our modern policy analysts in their think-tanks but the general staff of the nation's political forces?

The big idea of the general staff concept is to free the leader from the details so he can concentrate on the big picture and win the battle.  In warfare, we have the commander and his chief of staff.  Already at the Battle of Waterloo the Prussian army was led by Blücher, with chief of staff Gneisenau to do all the brainiac stuff.  In politics, we have the candidate up front and his consultant in the back room.

Let us hear what the "creative destruction" guy, Joseph Schumpeter, has to say about candidates and elections in his Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.  "Democracy means only that the people have the opportunity of accepting or refusing the men who are to rule them ... viz., free competition among the would-be leaders for the vote of the electorate." 

The name of the game is winning elections.  This means that electoral politicians are like football players; they are the best they can be at what they do.  They are professionals, experts in winning elections.  Schumpeter quotes an unnamed politician: "exactly as [businessmen] are dealing in oil[,] so I am dealing in votes." 

In 2012, Republicans will be nominating for president a professional politician to win an election.  We cannot worry about administrative skills and legislative tactics and academic pedigrees.  That comes later, in 2013.  For now, what matters is the skills of the professional politician: framing issues, sensing the mood of the people, moving the center, and telling the people what they want to hear, and doing it again and again.

We already know that Sarah Palin is No.1 when it comes to framing issues.  Back in 2009, the summer of the "death panels," old warhorse Pat Buchanan neighed his appreciation of her skills when he wrote, "Of Sarah Palin it may be said, the lady knows how to frame an issue."  No wonder.  Palin has been a professional politician since 1992.

Here's another little nugget.  In her first book, Going Rogue, Palin called herself a "common-sense conservative" and repeated the notion every second sentence as she traveled around the nation on her book tour.  Last fall, as she promoted her second book, the leopard had changed its spots -- just a little.  Now Palin was a "common-sense constitutional conservative."  Who wouldn't prefer that to an ideological rule-by-czar liberal?

It just so happens that Palin has a particular connection with the white working class, a large demographic that is up for grabs in 2012.

In the winter of 2011, President Obama is clearly tacking to the middle; he would be a fool not to.  Already, his polls are improving.  It will take the best politician, the best in America, to spoil his wind.

If there's a better conservative politician around than Sarah Palin, we'd better know his name by the summer of 2012.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us.  At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.

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