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Sarah Palin-Why the Left & the Press Hate Her - 5 Articles




What Sarah Palin Could Learn From Margaret Thatcher

The Bush Doctrine -- Charlie Gibson's Gaffe

Palin and the Left's Comprehension Gap

The Press: Mad As Hell, and Not Going to Take It Any More

Obama's Altitude Sickness


What Sarah Palin Could Learn From Margaret Thatcher


By BARBARA AMIEL
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122057410046101771.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries
Posted September 5, 2008

The glummest face Wednesday night might have been, if only we could have seen it, that of Hillary Clinton.

Imagine watching Sarah Palin, the gun-toting, lifelong member of the NRA, the PTA mom with teased hair and hips half the size of Hillary's, who went ... omigod ... to the University of Idaho and studied journalism. Mrs. Palin with her five kids and one of them still virtually suckling age, going wham through that cement ceiling put there exclusively for good-looking right-wing/populist conservative females by not-so-good-looking left-wing ones (Gloria Steinem excepting). There, pending some terrible goof or revelation, stood the woman most likely to get into the Oval Office as its official occupant rather than as an intern.

Imagine Hillary's fury. The gnashing of teeth after all the years of sacrifice and hard work-a life of it-and then the endless nuisance of stylists, makeovers and fittings for Oscar de la Renta gowns for Vogue covers. And surely that gimmicky holding of the baby papoose style by Todd Palin after his wife's acceptance speech is sacrosanct left-wing territory! If only Chelsea had been younger of course, Bill could have done it and then, well, who knows what might have been forgiven him?

American feminists have always had a tough sell to make. To the rest of the world, no females on earth have ever had it as easy as middle-class American women. Cosseted, surrounded by labor-saving devices, easily available contraception and supermarkets groaning with food, their complaints have always seemed to have no relationship to reality.

Education was there for the taking. Marriages were not arranged. Going against social mores had no serious consequences. Postwar American women (excluding those mired in poverty or the odious restrictions of race) have always had the choice of what they wanted to be. They simply didn't decide to exercise it until it became more fashionable to get out of the home than to run it.

Sarah Palin has put the flim-flam nature of America feminism sharply into focus, revealing the not-so-secret hypocrisy of its code and, whatever her future, this alone is an accomplishment. As she emerged into the nation's consciousness, a shudder went through the feminist left-a political movement not restricted to females. She is a mother refusing to stay at home (good) who had made a success out in the workplace (excellent) whose marriage nevertheless is a rip-roaring success and whose views are unspeakable-those of a red-blooded, right-wing principled pragmatist.

The metaphorical hair stood up on the back of every licensed member of the feminist movement who could immediately see she was a monster out of a nightmare landscape by Hieronymus Bosch. Pro-life. Pro-oil exploration in Alaska, home of the nation's polar bears for heaven's sake. Smaller government. Lower taxes. And that family of hers: Next to the Clintons with their dysfunctional marriage, her fertility and sexually robust life could only emphasize the shriveled nature of the one-child family of the former Queen Bee of political female accomplishment.

Mrs. Palin's emergence caused a spasm in American feminism. Caste and class have always been ammunition in the very Eastern seaboard women's movement, and now they were (so to speak) loading for bear. Sally Quinn felt a mother of five had no business being vice president. Andrea Mitchell remarked that "only the uneducated" would vote for Mrs. Palin. "Choose a woman but this woman?" wrote Baltimore Sun columnist Susan Reimer, accusing Sen. McCain of using a Down's syndrome child as qualification for the VP spot.

The hypocrisy was breathtaking. Only nanoseconds before the choice of Mrs. Palin as VP put her a geriatric heartbeat away from the presidency, a woman's right to have a career and children was a shibboleth of feminism. One always knew that women with views that opposed those of official feminism were to be treated as nonwomen. To see it now out in the open was the real shocker.

The fact that this mom had been governor of a state was dismissed because it was a "small state," as was the city of which she had been mayor. Her acceptance speech, which knowledgeable left-wing critics feared would be effective, was dismissed before being delivered. She would be reading from a teleprompter. The speech would be good, no doubt, but written for her.

Had she been a man with similar political views, the left's opposition would have been strong but less personally vicious: It would have focused neither on a daughter's pregnancy, nor on the candidate's inability to be a good parent if the job was landed. In its panic, the left was indicating that to be a female running for office these days is no hindrance but an advantage, and admitting that there is indeed a difference between mothers and fathers that cannot necessarily be resolved by having daddy doing the diaper run.

All the shrapnel has so far been counterproductive. The mudslinging tabloid journalism-is Mrs. Palin the mother or grandmother of her Down's baby?-only raised her profile to a point where viewers who would never dream of watching a Republican vice-presidential acceptance speech tuned in.

Watching the frenzied reaction was déjà vu from my years as a political columnist in Margaret Thatcher's Britain. Modern history's titan of female political life suffered a similar hatred, fuelled to a large extent by her gender. Mrs. Thatcher overcame it magnificently, but in the end, the fact was that she was female and not one of "them"-a member of the old boys' club of the Tory establishment-played a significant role in bringing her down.

She was bound to be disliked vehemently by the left once she began to reveal her agenda of deregulation, sensible industrial relations, and tax reduction. Still among most of her enemies this had to do more with her ideas than her ovaries at the beginning. It was the aristocracy of her own Conservative Party that could not bear the notion of being led by "that woman." "Until she became leader," says Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph and authorized biographer of Mrs. Thatcher, "it was assumed she could not be it because of her sex."

Mrs. Thatcher was originally given the education portfolio by Prime Minister Edward Heath, though she wanted to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, the equivalent of the U.S. Treasury Secretary. Education was considered a woman's job, and regarded as far less important than it would be today. In the education portfolio she was excluded from higher counsels and out of the way. When she challenged Heath for the party leadership in February 1974, at age 49, she turned the tables and used her gender to appeal to the gallantry of disaffected Tory backbenchers. "She's a very brave girl," they would say.

Mrs. Thatcher, a good-looking woman, used her sexual attractiveness to its legitimate hilt. She was known to flirt both with caucus members and the opposition, her face tilted girlishly in conversation. She succeeded politically with those leaders with whom she could flirt-including Ronald Reagan, Francois Mitterrand and most unlikely of all, Mikhail Gorbachev. Her stylish, hint-of-Dr. Zhivago wardrobe for a 1987 visit to the Soviet Union became something of a national obsession.

Such attractiveness had the opposite effect on the Tory grandees. Books have been written on what it was that nurtured their contempt. After all, they were in the same political party, and their fortunes rested on her popularity.

No doubt part of the animosity arose from her origins as the daughter of a Grantham grocer, a woman whose home address was a street number rather than an estate with simply the house name. Lord Ian Gilmour of Craigmillar dismissed Mrs. Thatcher as "a Daily Telegraph woman"-code language for some ghastly suburban creature wearing a tasteless flowered hat. Winston Churchill's son-in-law, Christopher Soames, a man of much genuine intelligence, allegedly called her "Heath with tits"-an inaccurate and inelegant description, but one that captured exquisitely the contempt his class had for her. Both Gilmour and Soames were fired by Mrs. Thatcher in the housecleaning that took place during the late '70s and early '80s. But the core of High Tories remained active in the party waiting to bring her down.

The British feminist movement at that time was of little import. "I owe nothing to women's lib," Mrs. Thatcher remarked, thus assuring herself of a permanent place in their pantheon of evil. During her years in power, Mrs. Thatcher could and did use the rhetoric of home economics in a way a prudent male politician no longer dared do. Metaphors of kitchen and gender abounded in her speeches: "it is the cock that crows," she would say, "but the hen that lays the eggs."

Mrs. Thatcher would have recognized the guns aimed at Sarah Palin as the weapons of the left with feminist trigger-pullers. She also would have known that Mrs. Palin has less to fear from East-Coast intellectual snobs in egalitarian America than she had to fear from her own Tory base in class-prejudiced Britain. She would have told her to stand her ground and do her homework. Read your briefs, choose advisers with care, and, as she once said to me, my arm in her grip and her eyes fixed firmly on mine, "Just be yourself, don't ever give in and they can't harm you."

It wasn't quite true, of course. She did read her briefs, did stand her ground, and in the end they pulled her down, those grandees. But she made history. If a grocer's daughter can do it, a self-described hockey mom cannot be dismissed.

Ms. Amiel is a columnist for Macleans', the Canadian weekly newsmagazine, and a former senior political columnist for the Sunday Times of London.


The Bush Doctrine -- Charlie Gibson's Gaffe


By Charles Krauthammer
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/
2008/09/charlie_gibsons_gaffe.html

Posted September 13, 2008

"Ms. Palin most visibly stumbled when she was asked by Mr. Gibson if she agreed with the Bush doctrine. Ms. Palin did not seem to know what he was talking about. Mr. Gibson, sounding like an impatient teacher, informed her that it meant the right of `anticipatory self-defense.'" -- New York Times, Sept. 12

WASHINGTON -- Informed her? Rubbish.

The Times got it wrong. And Charlie Gibson got it wrong.

There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration -- and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today.

He asked Palin, "Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?"

She responded, quite sensibly to a question that is ambiguous, "In what respect, Charlie?"

Sensing his "gotcha" moment, Gibson refused to tell her. After making her fish for the answer, he grudgingly explained to the moose-hunting rube that the Bush doctrine "is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense."

Wrong.

I know something about the subject because, as the Wikipedia entry on the Bush doctrine notes, I was the first to use the term. In the cover essay of the June 4, 2001, issue of The Weekly Standard titled, "The Bush Doctrine: ABM, Kyoto, and the New American Unilateralism," I suggested that the Bush administration policies of unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM treaty and rejecting the Kyoto protocol, together with others, amounted to a radical change in foreign policy that should be called the Bush doctrine.

Then came 9/11, and that notion was immediately superseded by the advent of the war on terror. In his address to Congress nine days later, Bush declared: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." This "with us or against us" policy regarding terror -- first deployed against Pakistan when Secretary of State Colin Powell gave President Musharraf that seven-point ultimatum to end support for the Taliban and support our attack on Afghanistan -- became the essence of the Bush Doctrine.

Until Iraq. A year later, when the Iraq War was looming, Bush offered his major justification by enunciating a doctrine of pre-emptive war. This is the one Charlie Gibson thinks is the Bush doctrine.

It's not. It's the third in a series and was superseded by the fourth and current definition of the Bush doctrine, the most sweeping formulation of Bush foreign policy and the one that most distinctively defines it: the idea that the fundamental mission of American foreign policy is to spread democracy throughout the world. It was most dramatically enunciated in Bush's second inaugural address: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."

This declaration of a sweeping, universal American freedom agenda was consciously meant to echo John Kennedy's pledge that the United States "shall pay any price, bear any burden ... to assure the survival and the success of liberty." It draws also from the Truman doctrine of March 1947 and from Wilson's 14 points.

If I were in any public foreign policy debate today, and my adversary were to raise the Bush doctrine, both I and the audience would assume -- unless my interlocutor annotated the reference otherwise -- that he was speaking about Bush's grandly proclaimed (and widely attacked) freedom agenda.

Not the Gibson doctrine of pre-emption.

Not the "with us or against us" no-neutrality-is-permitted policy of the immediate post-9/11 days.

Not the unilateralism that characterized the pre-9/11 first year of the Bush administration.

Presidential doctrines are inherently malleable and difficult to define. The only fixed "doctrines" in American history are the Monroe and the Truman doctrines, which came out of single presidential statements during administrations where there were few conflicting foreign policy crosscurrents.

Such is not the case with the Bush doctrine.

Yes, Palin didn't know what it is. But neither does Gibson. And at least she didn't pretend to know -- while he looked down his nose and over his glasses with weary disdain, "sounding like an impatient teacher," as the Times noted. In doing so, he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes' reaction to the phenom who presumes to play on their stage.


Palin and the Left's Comprehension Gap


By David Smithee
http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/09/
palin_and_the_lefts_comprehens.html

Posted September 11, 2008

"If you know yourself and know your enemy, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."
-Sun Tzu, 490 BC.

"I can't believe I'm losing to this idiot."
-John Kerry, 2004.

It's always been true, but as the Palin mayhem demonstrates more extravagantly then ever, the left and their media allies possess a dangerous, childish ignorance of their conservative opposition. It manifests itself in their snide assessments of her as a white trash anti-woman, and in their hysterical bleating about her pregnant daughter, which was met with the sound of crickets and an indifferent 'So?' by the evangelicals that the news was apparently crafted to outrage. Yet that didn't stop them from trying as they frantically waved around the lifeless non-story, making it dance like a desperate puppeteer putting on a show for an alien species it had no understanding of.

Behind closed doors at MSNBC, there might have been puzzlement as to why nobody had, as yet, tried to stone Bristol Palin. "But that's what they do, isn't it? When they're not threatening gays?" Or take Sally Quinn's recent comments on Palin. She's fuzzy on the matter; but is pretty sure evangelicals are against women having jobs outside the home.

Extraordinary. They truly have no idea what makes us tick, and their willful misunderstanding has rendered them wholly incapable of dealing with the curveball Palin has thrown them. At the moment, it seems they're powerless to stem the rallying effect she's having.

At the root of this curious gulf of ignorance has always been the fact that the left is unable to understand that conservatives keenly understand them and the alleged rationales behind their policies. We know they think government needs an active role in social justice, that civic and free market mechanisms like business, church, and charity are insufficient to deal with poverty, urban decay, and the social pathologies that foster them. They think that in order to foster social progress, the state needs to assume active advocacy roles on a limitless range of issues. They think that the consolidation of wealth and influence embodied in the United States is internationally dangerous, destabilizing, corruptive, and worst, just plain unfair. We understand. We may utterly disagree and denounce it to hell, but we understand.

When conservatives see liberals, they see the proponents of bad, inefficient, and eminently corruptible state and social systems that with eye-watering predictability, corrupt those who administer them and harm their alleged beneficiaries. Often for generations.

But we also know that when liberals look at conservatives, no such courtesy or openness of mind is extended. They don't see considered issues, critical thought, or the faintest possibility of reason. They see white trash men waving bibles at teen brides, while a gaggle of kids groom each other for lice on a cracked linoleum floor. 'Bitter clingers' who mindlessly adhere to second-amendment rights so they can shoot baby possum off a tin fence on slow Friday nights. The other sort of conservative invariably invokes 19th century robber barons, plutocrat industrialists swollen with loot plundered from the proletariat, abating their whipping of Dickensian child labor just long enough to polish a monocle.

For reasons above my pay grade since it seems to be doing them no favors, the Democrats and media cling to and propagate these curiously garish caricatures about conservatives that would be more at home in the works of Bosch than in any recognizable reality. And not just in private; but as par for the course in the national discussion. For example, Sarah Palin doesn't merely have 'flawed policies'. In the space of two weeks, we've discovered she's apparently a power-drunk loon, an anti-semite, a hypocrite, an unfit mother, a religious fanatic, a redneck escapee from the set of Deliverance, a Nazi sympathizer, and an 18th-century secessionist. All she's missing is a mustache to twirl.

The reality that forever eludes our left-wing intelligentisa is simple. The bulk of conservatives are not sleeping on dirt floors. We are simply those who have thought beyond step one, and realized that the state is not, and cannot be, the answer. We realize that all of history up to our current disastrous experiments with statism, economic 'management', and the disastrous social welfare theories of whites that have been perpetrated on minorities, have proven that conservatism offers the optimal arrangement of social conditions under which individuals, families, communities, and nations thrive. Are there sexists and bigots among the conservative community? As surely as there are those on the left who believe mankind deserves wholesale slaughter for angering Gaia, or lunatic professors willing to call slaughtered American civilians 'Little Eichmans'.

Will they ever bridge that gulf, and gain the ability to 'reach across the aisle'? Unlikely, and the ignorance seems all the more entrenched for being entirely self-imposed. Their campaign against Palin will likely consist of the same failed attack strategies that have systematically lowered news coverage on her to the journalistic tenor of Sasquatch sightings. As Sun Tzu might guess, they have every reason to fear the outcome of this particular battle.

Dave Smithee is the pseudonym of a screenwriter and film artist.


The Press: Mad As Hell, and Not Going to Take It Any More


By John Hinderaker
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/09/021484.php
Posted September 11, 2008

Howard Kurtz's column in the Washington Post is surprisingly blunt and surprisingly revealing. The mainstream media, Kurtz says, are mad. Their anger, though, is oddly unidirectional:

The media are getting mad.

Whether it's the latest back-and-forth over attack ads, the silly lipstick flap or the continuing debate over Sarah and sexism, you can just feel the tension level rising several notches.

Maybe it's a sense that this is crunch time, that the election is on the line, that the press is being manipulated (not that there's anything new about that).

There certainly isn't. Barack Obama has been manipulating the press for years. His manipulation didn't make the media mad, though, because reporters were willing accomplices who have been trying to get Obama elected. It's the thought that John McCain could be manipulating them that has the media seeing red:

News outlets are increasingly challenging false or questionable claims by the McCain campaign, whether it's the ad accusing Obama of supporting sex-ed for kindergartners (the Illinois legislation clearly describes "age-appropriate" programs) or Palin's repeated boast that she stopped the Bridge to Nowhere (after she had supported it, and after Congress had effectively killed the specific earmark).

But the two examples Kurtz cites are ads that are indisputably true. Obama did support sex education down to kindergarten. Kurtz thinks that's OK, because the sex education for five-year-olds would be "age appropriate." He's entitled to that opinion, but my opinion, and that of most voters, is that any sex education for kindergartners is a terrible idea. In any event, whether you think teaching five-year-olds about sex is a good idea or a bad idea, the ad is true.

Likewise with the ad that says Governor Palin killed the Bridge to Nowhere: it's a simple fact that no one, including the Democratic Party in Alaska, thought to deny until Palin was selected to run for Vice-President. We wrote about it here. As the Anchorage Daily News reported on March 12, 2008:

Palin ruffled feathers when she announced - without giving the delegation advance notice - that the state was killing the Ketchikan bridge to Gravina Island, site of the airport and a few dozen residents.

If Kurtz or other members of the media want to criticize some other aspect of Palin's record they are welcome to do so, but the suggestion that she didn't kill the famous bridge is ridiculous.

That's not to say that there is no false advertising in the air this campaign season. We wrote here that Barack Obama's oft-repeated claim, in a television ad and elsewhere, that he "reach[ed] out to Senator Lugar...to help lock down loose nuclear weapons" is flatly untrue. It was Sam Nunn who "reached out to Senator Lugar" in 1991. Obama's minor amendment to the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Act in 2006 had nothing to do with "locking down loose nuclear weapons;" on the contrary, it specifically excluded them. Obama's amendment has turned out to be a bad idea, too. But these and other falsehoods by Obama aren't what the press is "getting mad" about, and reporters have no intention of reporting on them.

While noting that the media in general are "getting mad," Kurtz himself is mad about the "lipstick on a pig" flap:

The lipstick imbroglio is evidence that the Drudge/Fox/New York Post axis can drive just about any story into mainstream land. Does anyone seriously believe that Barack Obama was calling Sarah Palin a pig?

I'm not sure what Obama had in mind, but I find it odd that in pages of outrage devoted to the supposed excesses of the McCain campaign, Kurtz finds no room to mention the fact that prominent Democrats (not anonymous emailers, who are much worse) have said that Governor Palin is Pontius Pilate and that her primary qualification seems to be that she hasn't had an abortion.

The truth is that Sarah Palin has been the object of the most vicious and concerted smear campaign in modern American history. But that fact doesn't cause the media (or Howard Kurtz) to get mad.

It's not too hard to diagnose why, as Kurtz correctly says, "the media are getting mad." They're getting mad because their candidate is losing. They've spent years building him up and covering for his mistakes and shortcomings, and he is such a stiff that he can't coast across the finish line. I'd be mad too, I guess, but I think I'd have the decency not to take it out on Sarah Palin.

PAUL adds: I'm not getting mad, but I find the nature of this campaign increasingly dismaying. Obama has been lying about McCain all along, from the nonsense about fighting in Iraq for 100 years to the claim (based on a joke) that McCain thinks the middle class extends to people making up to $5,000,000 a year.

Meanwhile, I think Kurtz is correct about the "lipstick" remark. The answer to his question, "does anyone seriously believe that Barack Obama was calling Sarah Palin a pig" may be "yes," but in my opinion it should be "no." And it's off-putting to hear Republican women like former Gov. Swift trying to parlay Obama's phrase (which, unhappily, has become common political jargon recently) into an identity politics "gotcha." This is the kind of thing I expect from Democrats, not Republicans.

To be sure, Obama lacks credibility when he complains about the "gotcha," having been the beneficiary of, and perhaps a party to, a similarly invalid identity politics play against Bill Clinton. Many in the media also lack credibility since, as John points out, their sense of outrage runs in only one direction.

UPDATE: At the Corner, Mark Steyn weighs in:

Howie feels the press is being "manipulated" by the McCain campaign.

Maybe it is. A conventional launch strategy for a little-known vice-presidential nominee might have involved "manipulating" the media into running umpteen front-pagers on Sarah Palin's amazing primary challenge of a sitting governor and getting the sob-sisters to slough off a ton of heartwarming stories about her son shipping out to Iraq.


But, if you were really savvy, you'd "manipulate" the media into a stampede of lurid drivel deriding her as a Stepford wife and a dominatrix, comparing her to Islamic fundamentalists, Pontius Pilate and porn stars, and dismissing her as a dysfunctional brood mare who can't possibly be the biological mother of the kid she was too dumb to abort. Who knows? It's a long shot, but if you could pull it off, a really cunning media manipulator might succeed in manipulating Howie's buddies into spending the month after Labor Day outbidding each other in some insane Who Wants To Be An Effete Condescending Media Snob? death-match. You'd not only make the press look like bozos, but that in turn might tarnish just a little the fellow these geniuses have chosen to anoint.


Obama's Altitude Sickness


By Charles Krauthammer
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/09/
obamas_fading_celebrity.html

Posted September 12, 2008

The Democrats are in a panic. In a presidential race that is impossible to lose, they are behind. Obama devotees are frantically giving advice. Tom Friedman tells him to "start slamming down some phones." Camille Paglia suggests, "be boring!"

Meanwhile, a posse of Democratic lawyers, mainstream reporters, lefty bloggers and various other Obamaphiles are scouring the vast tundra of Alaska for something, anything, to bring down Sarah Palin: her daughter's pregnancy, her ex-brother-in-law problem, her $60 per diem, and now her religion. (CNN reports -- news flash! -- that she apparently has never spoken in tongues.) Not since Henry II asked if no one would rid him of his turbulent priest, have so many so urgently volunteered for duty.

But Palin is not just a problem for Obama. She is also a symptom of what ails him. Before Palin, Obama was the ultimate celebrity candidate. For no presidential nominee in living memory had the gap between adulation and achievement been so great. Which is why McCain's Paris Hilton ads struck such a nerve. Obama's meteoric rise was based not on issues -- there was not a dime's worth of difference between him and Hillary on issues -- but on narrative, on eloquence, on charisma.

The unease at the Denver convention, the feeling of buyer's remorse, was the Democrats' realization that the arc of Obama's celebrity had peaked -- and had now entered a period of its steepest decline. That Palin could so instantly steal the celebrity spotlight is a reflection of that decline.

It was inevitable. Obama had managed to stay aloft for four full years. But no one can levitate forever.

Five speeches map Obama's trajectory.
  • Obama burst into celebrityhood with his brilliant and moving 2004 Democratic convention speech (#1). It turned an obscure state senator into a national figure and legitimate presidential candidate.
  • His next and highest moment (#2) was the night of his Iowa caucus victory when he gave an equally stirring speech of the highest tones that dazzled a national audience just tuning in.
  • The problem is that Obama began believing in his own magical powers -- the chants, the swoons, the "we are the ones" self-infatuation. Like Ronald Reagan, he was leading a movement, but one entirely driven by personality. Reagan's revolution was rooted in concrete political ideas (supply-side economics, welfare-state deregulation, national strength) that transcended one man. For Obama's movement, the man is the transcendence.
  • Which gave the Obama campaign a cult-like tinge. With every primary and every repetition of the high-flown, self-referential rhetoric, the campaign's insubstantiality became clear. By the time it was repeated yet again on the night of the last primary (#3), the tropes were tired and flat. To top himself, Obama had to reach. Hence his triumphal declaration that history would note that night, his victory, his ascension, as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."
  • Clang. But Obama heard only the cheers of the invited crowd. Not yet seeing how the pseudo-messianism was wearing thin, he did Berlin (#4) and finally jumped the shark. That grandiloquent proclamation of universalist puffery popped the bubble. The grandiosity had become bizarre.
From there it was but a short step to Paris Hilton. Finally, the Obama people understood. Which is why the next data point (#5) is so different. Obama's Denver acceptance speech was deliberately pedestrian, State-of-the-Union-ish, programmatic and only briefly (that lovely coda recalling the March on Washington) lyrical.

The problem, however, was that Obama had announced the Invesco Field setting for the speech during the pre-Berlin flush of hubris. They were stuck with the Greek columns, the circus atmosphere, the rock star fireworks farewell -- as opposed to the warmer, traditional, balloon-filled convention-hall hug-a-thon. The incongruity between text and context was apparent. Obama was trying to make himself ordinary -- and serious -- but could hardly remember how.

One star fades, another is born. The very next morning McCain picks Sarah Palin and a new celebrity is launched. And in the celebrity game, novelty is trump. With her narrative, her persona, her charisma carrying the McCain campaign to places it has never been and by all logic has no right to be, she's pulling an Obama.

But her job is easier. She only has to remain airborne for seven more weeks. Obama maintained altitude for an astonishing four years. In politics, as in all games, however, it's the finish that counts.
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