Theodore's World: The Palin Wonder – by Jamie Glazov

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December 20, 2009

The Palin Wonder – by Jamie Glazov

The Palin Wonder – by Jamie Glazov

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

FP: Victor Hanson, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Hanson: Glad to be here again.

FP: Sarah Palin is, clearly, carving out a national presence right now. It’s not just the appeal of her book, but also her outspokenness on the Copenhagen conference and other issues. What do you think she might be up to? And what is she tapping into? What are her possibilities?

Hanson: I think she taps into a current of populist unhappiness in the country with Washington insiders, Big Money, and condescending elites in the media and popular culture. The Wasilla mom of five, married to the snow-mobile champ, is simply the antithesis of all that. She senses the general disgust with an insider class that has nearly bankrupted the country through insane federal spending and equally insane financial speculation. She resonates in this regard mostly through an authentic middle-class upbringing, the real-world living of Alaska, natural intelligence, spunk and drive that sent one from the Wasilla city-council to the governorship of Alaska—and common sense answers like less government, lower taxes, more self-reliance, and national confidence.

Her can-do “let’s develop our own energy and spend no more than we earn” creed has a reassurance in these days. People root for her. The Ivy-Leaguers in government, whether the lawyer Obama or the economist Summers, haven’t exactly wowed the public with their studied brilliance so far.

Palin feels at ease with Middle America, and in a strange way is the antithesis to Barack Obama. Both are young, and charismatic, and appeal to populist constituencies. But whereas Obama came out of a Honolulu prep school and elite Ivy League hot-house, and had to acquire, quite artificially, his street credentials at the foot of Rev. Wright and in the Chicago scratch-back world of Valerie Jarrett and Mayor Daley, Palin was a true product of the working class and took on rather than swam into the status quo political structure.

That fact was sadly lost in 2008, but it is starting to ring true as her popularity rises and Obama’s declines. Remember, though, these are mostly perceptions still, and Palin will have to give long interviews, do debates, lecture, write, and show a public grasp of the issues in the way that earlier charismatic, non-career politicians like Eisenhower and Reagan could—in contrast to flash in the pans like a Wesley Clark. For 2008 and much of 2009 the left and the media successfully caricatured her as a creationist, white-supremacist, Christianist nut, but that demonization is wearing off. Quite simply, the more the public sees her, the more it likes her—and that’s not true of most politicians like a Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid—or Barack Obama.

FP: Can you expand a bit on what is it that the liberal-Left hates so much about Palin?

Hanson: Well, well, let us count the ways:

1) Feminists resent her stance on abortion, not just her pro-life views, but the fact she delivered a challenged child in her 40s and her teen-daughter delivered an out of wedlock boy; for many professional women on the up and up, those decisions are not just absurd but scary.

2) The elite Left was furious over her populist appeal, particularly her charm, good looks, accent, and appearance. In sum, their view was “don’t hoi polloi know, as we do, that this glitzy thing is a moose-hunting mom with an Idaho BA? To a Maureen Dowd or Sally Qunin, a Christian mom, who hunts, lives in Alaska, and is married to Todd is OK—but not OK if she thinks she can come east and run their US.

3) She’s an interloper outside the normal cursus honorum. Almost all our female columnists, many of our politicians, and several of our TV personalities either married into, or were born into, influence and can trace some of their careers to the wealth or influence of powerful husbands, fathers, and mentors. Not Palin—she had no family or marital connections, no money, no powerful fixer, she’s a genuine up-from-the-bootstraps sort of feminist that, oddly, feminists don’t define as feminist.

4) Conservative, attractive women, with traditional marriages and child-raising, for a variety of reasons, earn media scorn;

4) She scares the Left by her star power; few in America can fill stadia like she can—and that worries the powers that be. Populism is supposed to be a leftist phenomenon, but when a conservative resonates with the folks, that raises concern.

5) Finally, her accent, her demeanor, her poorly prepared interviews with Couric and Gibson all cemented for many intellectuals and cultural grandeess, both left and right, the idea that she was hickish. Many tsk-tsked her in snobbish disdain.

FP: What do you think of Palin?

Hanson: I both admire and worry about her. She has exuberance and natural intelligence, coupled with energy and toughness and a certain fearlessness, and doesn’t seem to be a trimmer, but consistently articulates a common-sense position on the issues. On the other hand, she has so many obstacles in a strictly political sense to overcome. She is based thousands of miles away from New York and Washington. She is the mother of 5 and has little money, or powerful friends. The East-Coast Right dislikes her as much as the liberal elite. With young children, the Levi Johnston mess, the resignation from the governorship, the constant traveling to earn an income for her large dependencies, she is burning the candle at both ends. So I admire her pluck, but again worry that her present frenzied pace is unsustainable.

FP: What advice would you give to Palin?

Hanson: After her book tour ends and she has earned some money, I wish she would hunker down somewhere to write, recharge and contemplate things. A month at Hillsdale College, for example, where, in friendly and supportive surroundings, she could debate, talk to faculty, read and write would be wonderful, or in fact a month almost anywhere she could review issues, have her views tested and debated, and do some in depth reading and discussion would be great.

If she wrote a weekly column or did a bi-weekly radio address, in the fashion of Reagan, that too would allow her to both support her family and at the same time master the intricacies of modern national politics. She has so many gunning for her, that she needs to be proactive. Joe Biden did not know that FDR was not President in 1929 or that TV was still experimental—but given his status, the media shucked “Oh, that’s just Joe!” Obama can be clueless about state geography, a 50-state union, or the basics of US history, but that’s because “he’s tired and has so much on his mind.” Wasilla moms has no such margin of error.

The good news is that she is so energetic, naturally talented, and charismatic, that, with a few weeks prep, she could redo the Couric interview and sparkle. What happened in 2008, was that she went from a supportive populace in Alaska to a hostile prime-time lion’s den, without proper appreciation that she was the antithesis of most of the values and lifestyles of those who would write and comment on her—and they were waiting for her in a way I think she did not anticipate. That said, I think we can already see that she is becoming media-savvy and picking her venues carefully.

FP: Victor Hanson, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.

Wild Thing's comment........

Great comments by Victor Davis Hanson. Hanson has superior insight with historic perspective and the ability to express himself very clearly so it is a treat to read his take on Sarah. Not surprised he’s a fan.

....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
VN 66-67

Posted by Wild Thing at December 20, 2009 03:47 AM


I really liked his statement about her not having to latch onto some man to gain her influence or career. Some women, like Hillary, had to hold on to their whoremongering husbands in order to climb the political ladder. She climbed the ladder herself without any help. But now, she has the help of millions of Americans.

Posted by: BobF at December 20, 2009 10:12 AM

The main stream media and all the elites hate her and some of the 'so-called' right leaning media. That's understood and is beatable.

On the right people like Peggy Noonan and George Will demean her for her staunch Conservative principles and values and what she stands for. David Hanson did a fine job but even he handi-capped her with his version of obstacles she must over come. Noonan and Will "Republicans in Name Only" said the same thing in 1976 about Ronald Reagan, he didn't have an Ivy-league pedogree, he was an actor and just didn't fit the Republican mold. Which up til 1980 was for Republican Candidates to lose.

Like Ronald Reagan she can relate to common people who will vote for her because of who she is, honest, law abiding, hard working trying to raise a family. Like alot of American families they had a child after age 40, Her attitude, wasn't well we will just get rid of it, No...her attitude was...' Well there's always room for one more'. This is the American attitude it has happened over and over again, this is not an uncommon in the country.

As far as these Elites go Republican and democrat are like dried beans put them in a jar and shake them up and pick one and they are all the same. Even with all their high powered schooling and knowledge they haven't got one lick of common sense, if it doesn't fit their mold thay don't know what to do with it.

Sarah Palin is real and the people know this and her following is growing by the day because people want their country back as a Republic. She will defy all the odd given by the pundits and Ivy-league Elite naysayers right up to election day and to victory, and then angry white people who voted against obama will be blamed. That will be their only answer.

Thats how I see it.

Posted by: Mark at December 20, 2009 10:32 AM

I agree with Mark on all points.

I also agree with Mr. Hanson when he says that she needs to take some time off after the Book Tour. The suggestion that she align herself with a place such as Hillsdale college, is excellent. She neds to send up some trial baloons, regarding her, thoughts on issues, and engage in the debate in a friendly environment, as he suggests.

She has already established herself as the "Next Reagan", if you prefer, in the minds of Conservatives. Now she needs to hone the skills needed to take on the Elites, the Media, and all other challenges from the Left and the Right.

If she does this right, and I believe she will, she will grow in popularity, among those who at this time are skeptical, and her base of support will expand to numbers that can actually get her elected.

Posted by: Sean at December 20, 2009 11:02 AM

I hope that Sarah Palin can follow in the Reagan mold and that obama follows the Carter legacy. America needs very badly someone like Sarah or Liz Cheney or Lt Col West.

We have had 20 years of Ivy Leaguers and America is in bad shape in numerous aspects including morally and financially.

I agree with VDH that Sarah needs to slow down a bit an spend some time practicing the art of politics in a controlled environment like Hillsdale College. That way she could be ready for the vicious interviews by people like Couric or Charlie Gibson.

Sarah in 2012!

Posted by: TomR at December 20, 2009 12:14 PM

Wait a second. As of today we have 3 incompetents in power, one can't carry on a rational conversation without his mentors spelling it out for him to read from a teleprompter, the other is commuting somewhere on his train from nowhere and when he opens his claptrap he manages to get both feet and the Demcratic ass in there. One is obviously brain dead and spouts the party mantra whenever she speaks.
This is the 'Elite',? This is the Ivy league? This is what people want Sarah Palin to become before she is acceptable to govern the land. What were the credentials of Obama, Biden and Pelosi before they became, president, vice president and speaker of the house respectively? Not a single one had the governing experience of Palin yet they somehow are above reproach, set upon an idolic throne and worshipped as the albeing God. Now we hear the clammor that Palin must conform to those standards. Why should Palin conform to the disturbing mindset of the constituents unless subconsciously we want her to be another RINO? Who has to change before we regain control of the nation or do we simply let the Marx family rule forever?

Posted by: Jack at December 20, 2009 12:26 PM

Thank you, I just pray Sarah stays strong, and I think she will. As long as she calls the shots
and does not let the rinos tell her what to do
she will continue to be awesome like she is.

Posted by: Wild Thing at December 21, 2009 12:00 AM