Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Alien vs. Mama Grizzly

The problem with President Obama, writes Dorothy Rabinowitz, is that he's not really our president. He's a kind of "representative at large" to the world community.

[Obama is] wanting in certain qualities citizens have until now taken for granted in their presidents. Namely, a tone and presence that said: This is the Americans' leader, a man of them, for them, the nation's voice and champion.

Well, nobody can say that about Sarah Palin. In fact, the hit on her is that she is too demotic and folksy. In fact a lot of people complain that she has only a vague hold on the all-important "issues."

We'll see about that. Anything that plays into the eternal liberal narrative that conservatives are stupid sets off my bullshit alarm.

The fact is that Palin is living up to the title of her book. She really is a rogue player, and she's not afraid to get out there and take risks when she endorses candidates and keeps herself in the public eye.

And that points to another difference between her and President Obama. It's pretty obvious by now that President Obama is slow on his feet. We saw that in the campaign, but it was explained away as a magnificent coolness under fire.

The question that the average pundit is now beginning to ask, as the BP oil spill continues, is whether that celebrated coolness is not in fact just a fear of making decisions, an inability to think on his feet and act fast in an emergency.

We know, from the commentary on the passenger jet that made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, that in an emergency people revert to their training. That's why they train pilots and airline cabin staff for emergencies.

Palin seems to thrive on emergencies and risk. Many national politicians have built support by endorsing and supporting candidates. They usually do in quietly, behind the scenes. But Palin's very public candidate endorsements and support have created controversy--e.g. her support of GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina. Robert Costa:

For Palin, policy ideas and values are important. So, smartly, is winning — especially when it comes to electing her hand-picked crop of Palinistas. “No matter your gender or politics, you have to hand it to her: Palin is fearless,” says Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to Pres. George W. Bush.

Who is President Obama, really? And who is Sarah Palin, really? There's lots of partisan narrative out there, crude attempts to define the other party's candidate as a lightweight, or as out of touch. And really, with a public figure, you can never separate the reality from the image.

What's the reality? The only thing a voter can do is pay attention. And watch the way the politician makes her moves.

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