Someone listened for once

I was impressed by the New York Times column, Some of Sarah Palin’s Ideas Cross the Political Divide by Anand Giriharadas.

After taking some requisite lefty swipes at Palin, Anand tentatively praises her for the substantive part of her speech:

She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

In supporting her first point, about the permanent political class, she attacked both parties’ tendency to talk of spending cuts while spending more and more; to stoke public anxiety about a credit downgrade, but take a vacation anyway; to arrive in Washington of modest means and then somehow ride the gravy train to fabulous wealth. She observed that 7 of the 10 wealthiest counties in the United States happen to be suburbs of the nation’s capital.

Her second point, about money in politics, helped to explain the first. The permanent class stays in power because it positions itself between two deep troughs: the money spent by the government and the money spent by big companies to secure decisions from government that help them make more money.

“Do you want to know why nothing ever really gets done?” she said, referring to politicians. “It’s because there’s nothing in it for them. They’ve got a lot of mouths to feed — a lot of corporate lobbyists and a lot of special interests that are counting on them to keep the good times and the money rolling along.”

It took nearly three years, but someone on the left appears to have finally discovered the main driver of the tea party/libertarian movement (though I’m not certain that Anand realizes that yet).   Anand got past the fallacious name calling and inaccurate characterizations and liked what he heard.

And it’s something that Milton Friedman told us about long ago.  At the 2:40 mark of this video, as a matter of fact, he tells us how special interests get the political power to use government to bend the rules in their favor:

What he says about government regulation:

There are always…two groups of sponsors.  There are the well-meaning sponsors and there are the special interests who use the well-meaning sponsors as front men.  Who, almost always, when you have bad programs, have an unholy coalition with the do-gooders on the one hand and the special interests on the other.

There’s an old saying in poker.  If you don’t know who the patsy is, then you are the patsy.  If Anand keeps poking along at these thoughts, he (or she?) might discover that the well-meaning folks on the left and right, have been played as the patsies for the special interests seeking control over government influence.

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Sarah Palin Sensationalism

She must be a person people love to hate.  When I post about her, the traffic on my site goes up.  My last post about her generated about 10 times more views than any of the other posts in one day.

That makes me curious.  What is it about her that people love to hate?  Further, why do people beat on her so much? 

Consider, for instance, the fact that she wore expensive clothes provided by McCain’s campaign during the campaign.  That’s presented as if there’s a tinge of scandal.  It seems to grate people the wrong way.  Yet, I don’t recall any mention of who provides the other candidates’ campaign clothes or how much those clothes cost.

I do remember a story after Obama took office about the tailor who makes his suits and the designers that make Michelle’s clothes.  The tailor sounded very exclusive and I’m sure his suits aren’t cheap as did the designers for Michelle’s clothes. 

Yet, reporters don’t ask how much Obama’s or Michelle’s clothes costs or who pays.  Rather than a scandalous angle, the clothes story was presented as a human interest story.   

Personally, I could care less about anyone’s clothes, but the fact that there was such dramitcally different treatments in the media about the same story says a lot to me.  It should to you as well.

Don’t celebrities where free clothes?  Why isn’t that a scandal?  Do they need free clothes?  Can’t they afford their own?  Nope, it’s just a scandal when there isn’t much else to scandalize about someone we dislike.   When we can’t find something, we sensationalize.

I’ve heard more about Sarah Palin’s campaign clothes than Obama’s ties to ACORN.

I’ve heard more about the fact the Palin didn’t tell us which magazines and newspapers she regularly reads (do we know which Obama, Biden or McCain read?) than Obama bailing out Wall Street billionaires.

I’ve heard more about Tina Fey’s – as Sarah Palin and often attributed to Palin – comment that she can see Russia from her front porch than Obama following the path set by Bush in his last term rather than bringing the “change” people voted for.

Sarah Palin Lacks Spark

Writing in the Kansas City Star, E. Thomas McClanahan explains what Sarah Palin is missing.  I agree. Writes McClanahan:

What I found ran for a mere 13 pages, written in prose that was utterly dead. She believes in America and our free enterprise system. The market should be allowed to work. Our foreign policy should be peace through strength. Energy independence is critical. We need to get federal spending under control.

OK, agreed. But where’s the insight, the persuasive spark that might make a skeptical reader say, “I hadn’t thought of that”? What I read only reinforced the perceptions Palin created with her disastrous Katie Couric interview and the jarringly disjointed speech she gave this year when resigning as Alaska’s governor.

I wrote this e-mail to McClanahan in response to his column:

Good column today on Sarah Palin.

You articulated it well.  I think conservatives like Palin because we don’t have a Reagan, we desperately want one and nobody except for her seems even remotely interested in taking the charge. I think another reason we like her is that she doesn’t give the Left home field advantage by accepting their premise.  Many others make that mistake and end up looking like sell outs to conservatives.  John McCain and even George W Bush come to mind.  She keeps the conversation on her turf and takes a great deal of abuse for it (something Reagan did as well).

I think your key insight in today’s column was that her conservative-speak doesn’t have a spark.  It’s like she’s reading from something she doesn’t quite understand.  To give it that spark, she needs to take it a step further and explain why free markets work, why foreign policy is peace through strength and why Federal spending needs to be controlled.  She also needs to explain why conservatives want limited government. That’s what Reagan could do in a few short, easy sentences that made perfect sense to moderates.