So Going Rogue and its companion guide to the truth, Going Rouge (available right here on BuzzFlash), are both out. And so is Sarah Palin. She is like the cat that got out of the bag. Since leaving the Alaska governorship, she has been stoking the Palin Fires. In a state in severe economic and environmental difficulty, there was simply no future there, right; and especially Right: might even have to take stimulus money. Definitely no future even if you can see Russia from it, that is on a very clear day standing tippy-toes on its farthest western point, at the Bering Strait (a very long ways from either Anchorage or Wasilla). She has her book and it and she are getting a lot of attention. Palin runs on enemies, not problems or programs to solve them (especially if one problem is premarital sex and the only available solution is abstinence-only education in high school). Her two main enemies are “the media” and “big government.”
As far as “the media” are concerned, there are few politicians that I can recall who spend more time on the media attacking the media than her. Of course after her Couric/Gibson fiascoes, she is much more careful about picking her spots. For the book, she is doing Oprah, Hannity, O’Reilly, Coulter, and, I am sure, tons of other representatives of the Beckoning Savagely Le-vinitating O’RHannibaugh Republican Scream Machine. But then again, they are not the media to which she is referring when she uses the term “the media.” That media is the news media, the present-reality based media, the media that ask questions such as “what do you think of the Bush Doctrine?” (Charles Gibson) and “what have you read lately?” (Katie Couric). Those are the totally unfair, biased, “agenda-based” media. Indeed, one of Palin’s talking points on her book tour is that Katie Couric came to the interview with “an agenda” that clearly reflected her “liberal bias,” dontchaknow.
This is a very important armament for Palin. All the U.S. Right, whether it is to be found among what passes for “mainstream” Republicans these days such as Giuliani, or the Republican Scream Machine, or the Christian Right, attack “the media” on a regular basis and with ever-increasing venom. They do this for several reasons, all related to the fact that they have no real, workable solutions for solving the problems that eight years of Bush-Cheney have created for us, plus others of long-standing, such as health care and climate change.
So they unleash their WMD — Weapons of Mass Distraction — one of the principal ones being to attack the media. They also attack the media because even the fairly timid ones that we have do deal on occasion with serious issues, such as Gibson and Couric, et al, did with Palin. If the GOP leadership were to respond to the substance, they would reveal themselves as the empty vessels they are. How much better, eh, to kill, or at least try to kill the messenger.
But Palin is a special case. Her intellectual, experiential, political-historical vessel is even emptier than that of most of her rivals for the leadership of the Republican Party. So she must attack with a particular venom (but always with that smiley face). That is reflected in what her most ardent defenders these days are doing, also. Listen carefully, and whatever the question is, very often you will hear the first sentence of the very first comment of any one of her defenders/promoters contain the words “the media.” Not only does that response avoid dealing with any substance, but also it very conveniently gets the argument away from policy and onto the question of “media bias.” Oh how convenient. If the message is to your disadvantage, as with Republicans it almost invariably is, isn’t it much better to attempt to kill the messenger than to deal with the message? Giuliani is a past master of this technique. Just watch him. My only question is, is it genetic or an acquired trait among Republicans.
And then we get to the three questions on everyone’s lips: “Is she running for President?” “Could she get the GOP nomination?” “Could she win the Presidency?”
Briefly and unequivocally my answer to all three is “yes.” No, she is not in it just for the book royalty and speaking engagement money. She needs that income to support herself and her family. (Do you know what her husband makes? It ain’t much.) But she is talking very much like a presidential candidate, who very much would like to have the job, at least as she imagines it.
However, her dreams are not the key to figuring out what is going on here. Who has lined up behind her in the past and who is lining up now is. Bill Kristol, who has a lot of very powerful friends, plucked this woman out of nowhere. They have not gone away. They know that in 2012 it is likely that even President Obama will have made some progress in dealing with the major problems, foreign and domestic our nation faces, many of which were laid in his lap such as booby traps by the Georgites. Thus they also know that the only way they are going to win is with a media star, who is just superb at wielding Weapons of Mass Distraction. Guess who? So in addition looking at her body language and her current “small town American” book/media tour (as if the small town America to which she constantly refers represents any more than a tiny sliver of the country anymore), we have to look at whose interests she would be serving. Those are the interests of those folks who put her where she is in the first place (Kristol discovered her whilst on a political seminar cruise in Alaska) and then jammed her down the unwilling throat of John McCain.
Poor David Brooks of The New York Times. He is promoting the likes of an obscure Senator, John Thune, who won his seat running a very dirty campaign against Tom Daschle and who should easily with re-election in 2010, although Brooks promotes him as an “honorable man.” Faceless, such as Gov. Pawlenty of Minnesota and Gov.-elect McDonnell of Virginia. Of course they are all “true conservatives” (which means anti-abortion rights, homophobic, as-unlimited-as-possible gunners, who are deficit hawks on everything except foreign wars and military spending). But they are going to be bowled over by the fabled “GOP base” that has turned on even the pretty far-right Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina for not being far-right enough. Sarah Palin will never be not far-right enough. Thus she has every chance of winning the Republican primaries, especially since her principal rival will be the Christian Reconstructionist from Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. Vice-Presidential slot, Mike?
As for the general election, unless President Obama has made some significant left turns by 2012, there will almost certainly be a serious left-wing third-party candidate in that race and no, I am talking about neither the Green Party nor Ralph Nader. I am talking about a serious, well-funded, well-organized one. If the fascist direction in which the GOP is definitely heading has not become more clear, and if the Democratic Party as a whole still does not recognize it much less organize to combat it, the Party could very well split, just like the Whig Party did in the run-up to the Civil War. (I happen to think that such a split is essential, and I also think that a Second Civil War is very much a possibility. But more on both those issues in this space down the road.) In a three-way race, Palin could win.
Palin is very scary. She is, as I have characterized before, Hitler in heels with a smiley face. The German industrial class did not pick Hitler because he had well thought-out solutions to the problems faced by Weimar Germany nor because he was a good administrator. They picked him because he could mobilize fear and anger. They picked him because he identified enemies that there were not themselves, even though they were the underlying causes of Germany’s problems. They picked him because he was an electrifying speaker who could mesmerize masses of possible even when what he was saying did not make much sense, or worse. They picked him because he was a master of the Big Lie Technique. That is telling a big lie and telling it over and over again, very loudly. Eventually it is accepted either as truth or at least plausible. Something such as death panels.
On that score, however, Palin outdoes Hitler. He knew when he was telling a lie. Palin tells lies with abandon and doesn’t seem to know when she is lying. For example, she has definitively said both that her decision to accept the offer of the Vice-Presidential slot was subject to a family vote and that it was not. She has said both that she knew in advance of her statement dissing the decision of the McCain to abandon Michigan that she knew of it and that she did not. One of each is a lie. Palin seems not to know which is which. Could that make her even more dangerous than Hitler, who was regarded as something of a joke by many on both the Right and the Left in Germany before January 30, 1933, when he took power? Only time will tell. But just think if the Nazis had invented the Bomb first.
Palin’s masses love her and will continue to do so, even if Going Rouge puts the lie to every one of her so-called “policy positions” and Steve Schmidt and his McCain crew identify one lie after another about them in her book. Doesn’t matter folks. Kristol and his gang picked her and are still with her. Mary Matalin and her gang have signed on (possibly looking for a job in her campaign, of course). Even Newt Gingrich, who harbors Presidential ambitions himself but is getting old and makes very opaque speeches, is lining up as well. It does not matter what the polls say now. She has not begun to fight. She will have oodles of corporate money behind her. Just by continuing to attack the media she will get more media attention than all of the other potential GOP candidates put together. And Hitler never got more that 37% of the vote in a free election. Watch out folks. Here comes Sarah, Hitler in heels with a smiley face.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor of 30 books. In addition to being a Columnist for BuzzFlash, Dr. Jonas is also a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine; a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad; a Senior Columnist for The Greanville POST, http://www.cjournal.info/; a Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter, http://lists.psalience.org/mailman/listinfo/ths; a Contributor to The Planetary Movement; and a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century (POAC); http://www.oldamericancentury.org/index.htm.