As President Obama fumbled badly at the UN and G-8 last week, Sarah Palin began redefining herself as presidential timber.
When seasoned chess watchers see a game in progress, they can often pinpoint a critical moment when the players go from maneuvering for position, to a fast end-game of kill or be killed. In the shadow battle between Obama and Ahmadinejad I believe we just saw the transition to the end game at the United Nations. Obama skeptics (as opposed to his media butt-kissers) came to pretty much the same judgment: His UN performance was "sophomoric." Obama looked like dead meat talking to all the vultures who roost and caw on the craggy peaks of world politics. Sarkozy openly ridiculed him, and Obama didn't even notice. His nose got in the way. In the US battle with Ahmadinejad, the most dangerous maniac in the world, we can now see the likely winner. Obama has foolishly put himself into a position of unprecedented weakness, where he can no longer stop Ahmadinejad's systematic march to nuclear weapons. For the first time in history, nukes will be in the hands of a fanatical Armageddon regime that is determined to use them. In such a contest it is will power that matters. When asked what a Muslim should want most in this world, Ahmadinejad is reported to have said, "To kill or be killed." That leaves Barack H. Obama back in Hawaii showing off his aloha to all the girls on Waikiki beach. The Israelis can be as aggressive as the mullahs when their survival is at stake, as Netanyahu made clear at the UN. It is only the Americans and Europeans who cannot cope with reality at this critical juncture in history. They are just dithering, and Obama is now the Ditherer-in-Chief.
In his strategic challenge to the world's lone superpower Ahmadinejad is now set to checkmate the United States, and I do not see how Obama can escape the trap that is even now opening up for his feet. He will either be defeated in 2012, as the American people panic at our helplessness in the face of a suicidal nuclear enemy, or as an outside chance, he may be rescued by some unforeseeable miracle; perhaps the Israelis will decapitate the Tehran regime, perhaps Moussavi will overthrow the mullahcracy, or perhaps Obama will flip from his submissive Jimmy Carter Crouch to a ferocious Ronald Reagan posture; anything is possible, but those options look less and less likely. If war comes, it will be Israel or the mullahs who will make the first move. The United States has resigned as the lone superpower, and can only react to events as they spin out of our control.
That is why I believe that Sarah Palin just gave her first presidential address in Hong Kong, just as Obama gave his first big speech in 2004, four years before he beat Hillary Clinton. Political odds-makers must have noticed that Obama's speech in 2004 made him a strong favorite to win in 2008 -- in spite of his amazing lack of readiness for the presidency, which we can now see playing out in every stumbling move he makes. Given another eight years of seasoning Obama might have made a skilled presidential player, but he won election prematurely, as he himself told the press two years ago. He simply was not ready. He was right about that, but he could not stop himself from seizing the big moment.
So we are seeing a president who is way over his head. Obama has great political talent, but not nearly as great as his overweening pride. So he keeps over-reaching, and there is a good chance that we will see him hit the first massive brick wall in his health-care power-grab in the coming weeks. The Democrats may pass a symbolic medical package to save face for Obama --- but then watch American seniors turn out in the tens of millions next year to throw the bums out of the House and part of the Senate. Seniors see their Medicare being stolen from them and they are not going to forget that by election time 2010.
Obama seems to be incapable of controlling his own egomania, and that means further humiliations in the years ahead. Remember that Bill Clinton looked unbeatable in 1992 and was impeached by a Republican House in 1998. No president since Richard Nixon has been brought lower than Clinton was ten years ago. Today we may be seeing Obama at the very peak of his ballistic orbit, and just beginning to curve down.
But you can't beat a strong candidate with a weak one, and the GOP notoriously nominates some real duds. Palin has scared the Left into mass hysteria because of her star quality on the campaign trail with a visibly creaking John McCain. Sarah Palin is our only charismatic leader at this profoundly dangerous time. That is why her actions are so important to the fate of the GOP, and to the future of this country and the world. Her use of Facebook to make public policy statements has been both effective and smart. Palin is using the web just as Reagan used radio and TV, to get around the murderous filter of the media.
Sarah Palin gave an extraordinarily well-crafted speech in Hong Kong, a real Reagan speech. It almost sounds as if Henry Kissinger is advising her.
"I am a Commonsense Conservative ...
"Two weeks ago, America commemorated the 8th anniversary of the savagery of September 11, 2001. The vicious terrorist attacks of that day made clear that what happened in lands far distant from American shores directly affect our security. We came to learn, if we did not know before, that there were violent fanatics who sought not just to kill innocents, but to end our way of life."
"Their attacks have not been limited to the United States. They attacked targets in Europe, North Africa and throughout the Middle East. Here in Asia, they killed more than 200 in a single attack in Bali. They bombed the Marriott Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Last year in Mumbai, more than 170 were killed in coordinated attacks in the heart of India's financial capital. In this struggle with radical Islamic extremists, no part of the world is safe from those who bomb, maim and kill in the service of their twisted vision."
"This war -- and that is what it is, a war -- is not, as some have said, a clash of civilizations. We are not at war with Islam. This is a war within Islam, where a small minority of violent killers seeks to impose their view on the vast majority of Muslims who want the same things all of us want: economic opportunity, education, and the chance to build a better life for themselves and their families."
"The reality is that al Qaeda and its affiliates have killed scores of innocent Muslim men, women and children. The reality is that Muslims from Algeria, Indonesia, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries are fighting al Qaeda and their allies today. But this will be a long war, and it will require far more than just military power to prevail. Just as we did in the Cold War, we will need to use all the tools at our disposal -- hard and soft power. Economic development, public diplomacy, educational exchanges, and foreign assistance will be just as important as the instruments of military power."
"During the election campaign in the U.S. last year, you might have noticed we had some differences over Iraq. John McCain and I believed in the strength of the surge strategy -- because of its success, Iraq is no longer the central front in the war on terrorism. Afghanistan is. Afghanistan is where the 9/11 attacks were planned and if we are not successful in Afghanistan, al Qaeda will once again find safe haven there."
"As a candidate and in office, President Obama called Afghanistan the "necessary war" and pledged to provide the resources needed to prevail. However, prominent voices in the Democratic Party are opposing the additional U.S. ground forces that are clearly needed. Speaker of the House Pelosi, Defense Subcommittee Chairman Murtha, the Senate Armed Services Committee Chair, and many others, recently expressed doubts about sending additional forces! President Obama will face a decision soon when the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan requests additional forces to implement his new counterinsurgency strategy."
It's well worth reading the whole thing. Palin showed Reagan's classic simplicity and directness, and like the Gipper's best talks, she went straight to the heart of today's political battle. Unlike Mitt Romney, who is extremely sharp but much too stiff and patrician, Palin is an American conservative in the classic mold, a populist in her natural style, but extremely bright, thoughtful, and increasingly sophisticated. Foreign policy speeches should have careful phrasing and nuances, and then hit a few big ones out of the ballpark. This one was a winner.
Palin spoke in Hong Kong, the most cosmopolitan city in China. By addressing China in both a fair and a tough-minded way she is likely to make a favorable impression. I would think that the Chinese and Japanese are more impressed by clarity and honesty than by flattery and evasions. So you can be sure it is being read all over Asia.
Since the election campaign, it seems that Sarah Palin recruited a top-notch team of advisors and political talent. The Hong Kong speech goes straight to her alleged weakness in foreign affairs, and it is a very good first step toward re-making her media image to be more substantive. The truth is that most of our media heads would not recognize foreign policy substance if it hit them right between the eyes. But they know the image of substance, and the Hong Kong speech was good on both appearance and reality. She demonstrated "gravitas" -- in the pop slogan of the early Bush years. We need more of the same, but she has now shown convincingly that she can do it.
Obama is in for real competition in 2012; since world peace and our national well-being are clearly at stake, the more strong conservatives emerge, the better off we will be. Obama is the very worst president for these times. It is important to defeat him in a fair fight. Palin can do it; so can some others, but she is exceptionally talented.