Virtual Voices

A Palin skeptic takes a second look

Politics

The Obamacare victory has changed the presidential race for 2012. The question for Republicans in choosing a candidate to go up against the sitting president is: Who has the skill, the vision, the mettle, and the integrity to drive this Behemoth back into the churning sea of political evils from whence it came? Obviously, Mitt Romney, who as governor gave Massachusetts a monster with similar features, is beyond consideration. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels may yet rise to the call of his historic duty and serve. Or not.

But some will shout from the back of the room, "Sarah Palin!" And some others of us (who are looking in at the room from the street through the windows) are accustomed to dismissing that notion with a knowing "whatever" of political sagacity. She hasn't the intellectual preparation even at the most basic level of popular reading and general knowledge, as the Katie Couric interview during the campaign demonstrated. Aside from that, she has clearly abandoned political ambition in favor of the lucrative world of infotainment. Once a political figure signs on as a news analyst (to say nothing of reality shows), he or she has chosen the one-way political off-ramp. Mike Huckabee has made this choice. Talk show hosts do not become presidents.

But anything can happen in politics. No less than the sage of neo-conservatism, Norman Podhoretz (who was interviewed by Marvin Olasky in the current WORLD), has jolted this Palin skeptic into a second look at her potential suitability as a candidate "for such as time as this." In a Wall Street Journal article, "In Defense of Sarah Palin," Podhoretz concedes from the start that Sarah Palin is "no Ronald Reagan," and he is not necessarily suggesting that she would make a great president. Nonetheless, she has qualities that are and have been dangerously missing in Democratic presidents over the last 35 years:

"Take, for example, foreign policy. True, she seems to know very little about international affairs, but expertise in this area is no guarantee of wise leadership. After all, her rival for the vice presidency, who in some sense knows a great deal, was wrong on almost every major issue that arose in the 30 years he spent in the Senate.

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"What she does know-and in this respect, she does resemble Reagan-is that the United States has been a force for good in the world, which is more than Barack Obama, whose IQ is no doubt higher than hers, has yet to learn. Jimmy Carter also has a high IQ, which did not prevent him from becoming one of the worst presidents in American history, and so does Bill Clinton, which did not prevent him from befouling the presidential nest."

While expertise in international affairs doesn't guarantee wise leadership, I'm far from convinced there can be wise leadership without at least many years of adult attention to the ups and downs of national and international political life, whether directly or by reading great accounts of it.

Podhortez's point, however, emphasizes the indispensable value of a moral and political orientation that's consistent with our form of government, supports our political tradition, and recognizes the harsh realities of dealing with nations that reject our politics and basic moral outlook. She has that. And while ill-read, she is not ill-bred. Though her native intelligence may not be Bill Clinton's, she's clearly a fast learner and was plenty sharp enough to master Alaska politics and the oil companies up there.

In other words, if what the country needs to pull us out of our free fall into European social democracy is someone with a solid center in classical republican principles as well as the skill, vision, mettle, and integrity to pull it off politically, Sarah Palin may be the one to do it.

I'm not convinced, but I'm listening.

D.C. Innes
D.C. Innes

D.C. is associate professor of politics at The King's College in New York City and co-author of Left, Right, and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Russell Media). Follow D.C. on Twitter @DCInnes1.

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