Skip to comments.Dissing Palin: Shades of Reagan
Posted on 12/16/2008 11:21:44 AM PST by lewisglad
Dissing Palin By Dr. Paul Kengor FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This weekend, John McCain was less than committal about supporting his running mate, Sarah Palin, should she seek the presidency in 2012. His words were interpreted as a slam against Palin, but it's nothing compared to the intra-party warfare some have launched against her.
The trashing of Sarah Palin continues. Some of the shots have been downright ugly, such as the Retarded Republican Babies for Sarah Palin t-shirts. Equally notable, however, is the odd one-two punch of liberal journalists and moderate Republican leakers pounding Palin as a right-wing extremist and dummy. This tandem is responsible for some of the phony smears, including ridiculous claims that Palin doesnt know Africa is a continent, or that she refused to appear with pro-choicers like Senator John Sununu (Sununu is pro-life).
These smears place Sarah Palin in good company. My mind races back to what Ronald Reagan endured: the same kind of leaks, by the same kind of moderate Republicans, to the same kind of liberal journalists, and with the same kind of allegations. Reagan, too, was portrayed as a Midwest dolt, a conservative zealot, a rube from a backwoods college in fly-over country.
After recently reading a remarkably unfair Newsweek hit on Sarah Palin, I thought of a piece in Time magazine in December 1986, titled How Reagan Stays Out of Touch, by reporter Richard Stengela product of a leak by one of the pragmatists in the Reagan White House. Stengel wrote this on the dawdling old fool in the Oval Office:
[Reagans] briefing with his senior staff, which mainly concerns his daily schedule, lasts only about 30 minutes, and Reagan usually remains quiet, except for his trademark bantering. It is followed by a briefing from his National Security Council staff that is usually even shorter. When National Security Council staffers prepare Reagan for a full-fledged meeting of the NSC, the president typically does not ask any questions about the topic at hand; instead he inquires, What do I have to say? .
Reagans reading is not heavy Old friends and cronies have access to a special private White House post office box number and they can send him clippings that they think might strike his fancy. That box number is the source of many of Reagans familiar factoids, snippets clipped from obscure publications.
Reagan is not notably curious. His aides say he rarely calls them with a question and that he knows in only a vague way what they actually do. He does not sit down with his advisers to hammer out policy decisions. He is happiest when his aides form a consensus, something they try awfully hard to do .
[Reagan] can work only if he is supported by a competent and active staff. During his first term, Chief of Staff James Baker protected Reagan from his woollier notions and helped put many of his ideals into practice.
The article added that when a suffering, heroic James Baker tried to save the Reagan administration by reshuffling the Cabinet, the typically detached Reagan look[ed] on like a bemused bystander. The president was confused.
This story was a leak by a moderate Republican, a Reagan aide, trying to impress liberal journalists by embarrassing his president.
Conservatives nostalgic for Reagan have forgotten the problem their favorite president faced with leaks. Judge Bill Clark was brought into the White House in January 1982 in part to try to stem what Reagan called a virtual hemorrhage of leaks, which had become a problem of major proportions, particularly in foreign and defense policy.
It got so bad that Clark today confirms that he and Reagan actually considered employing a polygraph for White House staff. In response, the leakers were furious, and began leaking stories about the nefarious effort by Reagan and Clark to halt the leaks. The Washington Post and New York Times ran almost comical stories on the alleged fascistic attempts to halt the leaking, stories which themselves were the products of the very same leakers. It was nuts!
Not surprisingly, the leakers also sought to take out Clark, to which they devoted unrelenting attention until Clark resigned in late 1983. Like Sarah Palin, and like Reagan, Bill Clark was a committed across-the-board conservative, socially, economically, religiouslya pariah to the moderates.
Once the Reagan presidency finished in 1989, these Republican leakers followed George H. W. Bush into his administration, where they extended the same treatment to Vice President Dan Quayle, another principled conservative, who they disliked from the outset of the presidential campaign.
Worse, once these moderates failed to reelect Bush, they blamed Quayle for dragging down the ticket. This was a harbinger of the John McCain defeat, where the moderates tried to pin the loss of the moderate McCain on the conservative Palin.
Theres a lesson here for Sarah Palin going forward. The collaborators who ridiculed Dan Quayle, who undermined Bill Clark, failed in one crucial respect: they didnt ruin Ronald Reagan.
Sarah Palin cites Reagan as her political inspiration. She said on the campaign trail that she thinks of Reagan every day. Well, Reagan was a model in handling this kind of criticism. (See, Hating Palin: Words of Wisdom from Reagan.)
Other than the leaks that jeopardized national security, which rightly upset him, Reagan took the insults in stride. When he read anecdotes about how he snoozed through NSC meetings and spent afternoons watching reruns of Bedtime for Bonzoand was generally incapable of functioning without his brilliant moderate Republican handlershe laughed.
Ronald Reagan was secure and at peace, accepting the world, and human nature, for what it is. Sarah Palin needs to do the same.
By the time Reagan was elected President in 1980, he had spent the past decades speaking out on public issues, writing op-eds, articles, doing radio shows, served two full terms as governor, took on an incumbent president in a primary and barely lost, etc., etc.
Senator McCain needs to support Governor Palin fully and without reservation with regard to her future endeavors if he expects to be taken seriously.
The more they scream about Sarah, the more we like her.
“By the time Reagan was elected President in 1980, he had spent the past decades speaking out on public issues, writing op-eds, articles, doing radio shows, served two full terms as governor, took on an incumbent president in a primary and barely lost, etc., etc.”
I might remind you that Palin wasn’t running for president.
Neither was Biden but his running mate still supports him.
John McCain's political career is basically OVER. You don't loose a gimme election to a radical leftist and retain power or influence. Nobody wants to be associated with a blatent loser, espeially politicians. McCain doesn't matter anymore.
In fact, at this point in her career Sarah Palin is much more similar to Obama than to anybody else. She has star power and celebrity, and potential ... and not much more than that.
Let Ms. Palin gain experience and accomplishments as Governor of Alaska, and let her establish herself as a heavyweight in intellect, policy, and politics ... then we can compare her to Reagan. But not before.
To be honest, I think there are a lot of guys out there who mistake their hormonal response to Ms. Palin for something more serious.
That's a non-sequitur. If Obama had lost, I seriously doubt he'd be supporting a Biden '12 candidacy.
McCain is right -- it's waaaay to early to start endorsing candidates. And it is at least 6 years too early to start thinking seriously about a Palin candidacy.
Sarah Palin has already 16 years of executive experience. Obama has zero... and his legislative record is a joke.
Good analysis and post.
‘Senator McCain needs to support Governor Palin fully and without reservation with regard to her future endeavors if he expects to be taken seriously.’
Palin should have nothing to do with McCain. After his tepid response to the attacks on Palin after the election, he’s damaged goods as far as I’m concerned. He had his chance to be taken seriously, and he failed.
Oh, please. I said a lot of great things about Reagan. The best thing I ever said about him is that he was "real". My 20-something daughter loves Palin for the same reason. In a world where "moderates" and RINO's have dragged this once great country into a financial and moral abyss Governor Palin stands above all of it. I don't think she's the next Reagan. I think she's perfectly capable of being 10x better. We are going to need it.
You honestly believe that would work for people on this forum? May I have some of what you're smoking. It must be good.
Sarah is smart, beautiful, an excellent orator, a reformer, wants to take on the good ole boys network, and is willing to do this publicly, knowing how the backlash from them will be. Brave, courageous deed that. Pray that she is protected in her goings and comings daily. 4 years from now ... we need her. One of her greatest strengths is she is a Christian. She is not a long time public servant in Washington that has learned all the techniques of corruption that is at base in every politician of many years. MO
The comparison falls apart on one very basic level — Reagan knew how to communicate with the public. Even his opponents acknowledged that.
I stand by my comment. You can start looking for the signs yourself: they're readily apparent.
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