Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Palin's Progress

Guess who else gave a front-and-center speech recently? Former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin!
While she and Sen. John McCain couldn't get elected to the first and second highest offices in the country last fall, Palin remains governor of Alaska. It was in that capacity that she spoke on Jan. 22 -- two days after the man she and McCain lost to in November, Barack Obama, delivered his inaugural address as our nation's 44th president.
I don't think Palin received nearly as much press coverage giving her State of the State address as Obama did on the National Mall. But in the midst of some tasteless remarks to The Hill, conservative pundit Ann Coulter predicts Palin will stay a force in the Republican Party, and so do I. So what can we glean from Palin's speech?
  • Vivid imagery. Palin bookends her plan for Alaska with stirring symbols of her state. "Today, when challenges may seem as high as Mt. McKinley, and change as constant as the mighty Yukon flows, and political events send shockwaves through our foundation like the ’64 quake – what do Alaskans do?" she asks. "We climb Denali, we forge the river, we rebuild a stronger foundation on higher ground." And for those who liked her pit-bull-with-lipstick remarks at the Republican National Convention, she now compares herself to a grizzly bear and Alaskans to musk oxen. "Just like our musk ox, they circle up to protect their future when they are challenged," she says. "We’ve got to do the same."
  • Experience. On the campaign trail, Palin drew criticism for her lack of experience, as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Joe Biden, brought a 30-year Senate career to his ticket. And indeed, Palin has only held office as governor since Dec. 2006. Yet her speech showed that she has experience on the state, national, and even international levels. "We’re building viable personal use and commercial fisheries in some of the most controversial and complex fisheries in the world, dealing with half a dozen foreign countries, including Japan, Russia and Canada," she trumpeted. Why couldn't she have told that to Katie Couric instead of saying she could see Russia from her backyard?
  • Props to evangelicals. Those of us who know our Bible will recognize the following allusion. "Unfortunately," Prophet Palin says, "some focus only on potential obstacles when they discuss projects like the gasline: the giants in the land preventing us from gathering fruit. But as I recall, we’ve already slain a few giants." Sounds like Palin knows her Book of Numbers. In Chapter 13, Moses, prompted by the LORD, sends 12 spies into the Promised Land with orders to "bring of the fruit of the land." Instead, many of these spies report that Canaan contains "the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight." If Palin can connect a gasline to Scripture, think of what she can do with national issues!
So, does this speech -- and her timely establishment of a political action committee, SarahPAC -- represent another step toward Palin's own Promised Land in Washington, DC? We'll see. But it looks like she's making this journey thoughtfully. Moses never made it to Canaan ... but then again, he never thought of setting up a PAC on the way there.

1 comment:

Rob Rubin said...

Hi Rich,

Nice analysis. I think Sarah Palin's posturing now maybe wasted. She could be a viable future candidate so why doesn't she make things happen for her state of Alaska in this economy and report back to us in 18 months. Don't need her metaphors and stumping right now.