Friday, November 5, 2010

Fernandez and Willis on 'the vision thing'

On his Belmont Club blog at Pajamas Media, Richard Fernandez takes a stab at defining the competing visions of the president and the Mama Bear In Chief. He begins with trying to describe who they are:
“He” was going to save America. “He” was going to make the seas fall. “He” was going to make such music, conjure harmonies so overwhelming that even America’s enemies would come, drawn like animals to Pan’s pipe at once bewitched and converted. The whole success of the Obama administration hinged around the power of the Him.

The problem was that the skies did not open and only a very few were drawn to what in the end sounded less like piping than tootling. Jonod ends his entire essay with an insight that seems to come too late for the text. Barack Obama the Messiah is dead and the only way Obama can amount to anything is to try to become a decent, competent president. “He’ll never be Barack Obama again, now that he’s been rejected, and the oils of anointment are off of him. But Barack Obama — President Obama — can still be great, even if he has to sing someone else’s song.”

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, never presented herself as anything much. On the contrary, her chief claim to fame was that she was in some way very ordinary, a fact which horrified Richard Cohen... to no end


Cohen thinks it is all about winning the presidency. Putting a Her in place of the Him. It never occurs to Cohen that Palin might think more in terms of helping her country “win” than in personally occupying the Oval Office. Cohen mocks the idea of serving one’s country. He wrote, “when Chris Wallace asked her about any presidential ambitions, she did not coyly say that she had not given the matter any thought. Instead, she said that if her party needed her, if her country needed her, if the need for her was truly great, then she would... run for president.” Who in Washington’s cynical atmosphere could actually believe that?
Gov. Palin, says Fernandez, has "in abundance" what is lacking in he Community Organizer In Chief:
Palin has the ability to generate leaders other than herself. That quality was in evidence in the recent campaign when she successfully encouraged others, some of whom had never been in public life before, to throw their hats in the ring and run for office. And many of them won. Writing in the National Review, Palin found satisfaction in the achievements of others. That is the key attribute of a real “community organizer,” while the supposed Alinskyite, who is actually nothing like a classic organizer, was struggling with little apparent success to get beyond his “gift”; to get beyond himself.
Quoting Gov. Palin, who wrote, “Anyone with the courage to throw his or her hat in the ring and stand up and be counted always has my respect,” Fernandez observes:
But that would mean rivals. It would mean peers. It might even mean, God forbid, that someone else might be greater than yourself. So you will never hear Barack Obama say anything like this, at least not in earnest. On the contrary, he demonstrated, in the last campaign, a serene willingness to sacrifice every other leader on the altar of the vision — not the modest ambitions, the secret dreams of the common herd, but the unutterable vision vouchsafed to him “through the red soil of Africa.”
The blogger concludes:
The real difference between the two competing visions is what question they answer to. For most Democrats the 2012 elections will be about re-electing Barack Obama. For most members of the Tea Party it will be about taking back America.

And while Palin might be never be the rockstar Obama is, her vision may be greater.
We agree with Sissy Willis that Fernandez' analysis is "perceptive if flawed":
We predict that over time, as the authentic Palin "brand" becomes better known amongst our fellow Americans, her "numbers" will rise. Presidential candidate or kingmaker, time will tell. Cinnamon Stillwell described the "Palin Effect" way back in September of 2008:
What her detractors don't seem to realize is that the process of insulting Palin, they are insulting the majority of the country. If being a self-made success story, a working mother, a church-going member of a small-town community and a believer in moderate to conservative political viewpoints disqualifies Palin, what does that say about mainstream America? The inherent condescension at the heart of the anti-Palin campaign is coming across loud and clear, and it may actually be boosting her popularity.
Fernandez says that Sarah Palin "might never be the rockstar Obama is," which has some truth in it. Obama has had the benefit of the lamestream media acting as his cheerleaders and shielding him from his own doctrinaire upbringing and radical associations. By way of contrast, they have quite gleefully dug for dirt on her, and even when finding none, have gone so far as to propagate lies and distortions in a two-year crusade, not to simply marginalize her, but to destroy her politically.

But things change. Recall Sarah Palin's prescient words from her 2008 RNC acceptance speech:
"But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed … when the roar of the crowd fades away … when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot – what exactly is our opponent’s plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger … take more of your money … give you more orders from Washington … and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world. "
Not only is her vision indeed greater than that of Obama, as Fernandez pointed out, but it has proven to be remarkably accurate.

- JP

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