Sarah stumbles

Palin is admirable and wonderful in many ways. I look forward to big contributions from her as a conservative force on the national scene over the next 30 years. But her abrupt exit as Alaska governor fails the backbone test. Whether as a family move or a political gambit, it was poorly prepared and poorly presented. The seriousness, steadiness, toughness, and clarity we expect from national leaders were not evident. Gov. Palin seems suddenly cavalier toward the trust she undertook with her state in 2006 and with the nation in 2008. For the time being, in my book, she's much less a potential president. But 2012 and 2016 are a long time away. Backbone Americans will watch with keen interest to see where Sarah goes from here.

Meanwhile in the Empire State

Democrats, especially those in the media, are salivating at the prospect of having Caroline Kennedy take over Hillary Clinton's New York Senate seat. Just mere weeks ago, we heard so much discussion about Sarah Palin. She did not have enough experience to hold such a high office. Never mind that Barack Obama has far less relevant experience to hold even a higher office, Sarah Palin was maligned and abused by the media and Democrat politicians.

Now, Ms. Kennedy is being favored to move into a high profile political position with no direct experience in the field. She has raised money for schools and she has a law degree. Those are both great accomplishments.

Here we go again.

Celebritizing of politics isn't good

Before leaving for a brief sojourn through South America, I noticed something troubling on the news. On one channel, hordes of photographers followed Britney Spears around snapping shots of her every move while she was out and about somewhere in LA or New York. Bored with the usual pop drivel, I flipped to Fox News and there was a very similar scene of flashing bulbs and a legion of paparazzi.

But Fox News was not covering Britney Spears, they were covering Alaska's Governor, Sarah Palin. The scenes were almost identical, both women were being swarmed by countless reporters--every move being photographed.

This type of celebritization of political identities is not just a problem for Palin though. Our soon-to-be President Barack Obama is widely treated like a celebrity and was even criticized about it by the McCain camp in a very successful campaign advertisement. At moments, Obama's campaign (and McCain's for that matter) seemed to craft Hollywood-esque scenarios to capture the attention of the audience...the voters.

When elections become nothing more than popularity contests and public persona is more important than policies and principles, democracy suffers.

Why Palin drives the media nuts

Wikipedia defines psychological projection as "a defense mechanism in which one attributes one's own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts or emotions to others. Projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted subconscious impulses/desires without letting the conscious mind recognize them. The theory was developed by Sigmund Freud and further refined by his daughter Anna Freud, and for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as 'Freudian Projection.'" Bill Clinton liked to rail against "the politics of personal destruction." His party's leaders regularly point fingers at the opposition claiming they're "mean." Clinton was a master of exactly what he complained about and the others are right behind.

Take a close look at that definition of "projection" up there and ask yourself whether it doesn't fit today's liberals like a hand in a well-fitted kid glove. Consider, for example, their reaction to nomination of Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin's candidacy for vice president.

Politically aware Lefties had to know from the get-go that Palin would be an awesome force descending on their plans to dominate. Their reaction has been just what one with many years' experience watching liberal leaders would expect: a thermonuclear effort at personal destruction. Destruction of the governor and, not incidentally, her family.

Leave aside the ugly little e-mails allegedly from an individual Alaskan here or there that have gone "viral" on the Internet. Among the prices we pay for having the Internet is the ease with which an authoritative name, or invented credentials, can be fraudulently attached to any message. The more titillating the better. Plus, given the number of backsides Palin has had to kick en route to her 80% approval rating, it shouldn't be hard to find a local critic eager to retaliate - whether or not hiding behind a nom de plume.

Think about the mainstream media (MSM), which appear to collectively adore Sen. Barack Obama and generally display a distinct Leftist bias (think The New York Times and MSNBC). Two subjects come to mind: "gotchas" and experience. Consider the play on Obama's gaffes versus Palin's. He's the guy who skated away from a claim of having campaigned in 57 states and wasn't through all of them yet. Imagine the continuing din if Palin seemed confused over how many states are comprised by our country. That's just for starters.

Experience? "Everyone knows" Palin isn't qualified. Too young. Governs too small a state and for too short a time. Blah, blah, blah. Fair enough, Big Boys of the MSM, but what about Obama?

Let's see. Both are close to the same age. Obama wants the Oval Office. He has a bit of legislative experience remarkable only for its radical Left positions and, as part of the traditionally corrupt crowd that controls politics and patronage in Cook County (Chicago), his claim to be a reformer is difficult to believe. (See, for example, "Soldier for Stroger" by David Freddoso here.)

Palin has an 80% approval rating in governing a real state, and she won that governorship by challenging and defeating a tainted incumbent - a good ol' boy - of her own party. Following her election, she continued to take on political and business interests (e.g., oil companies) that are traditionally connected by liberals to her own party.

What about potential disqualifications?

For 16 years, Obama and his wife worshipped with a profane, ultra-racist, America-hating preacher man named Jeremiah Wright. Obama finally "threw Wright under the bus" after a nationally televised appeal to tolerate the intolerable failed to get Obama past his Wright wrong. That made everything for the Left and the MSM right once again.

Another important Obama distinction the MSM doesn't talk about is his long friendship with Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers. Not just friendship, but they worked together in advancing Leftist causes in the Chicago area. Obama's first political campaign began with a party in the home of Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn, both former fugitives from justice from their Weatherman terrorist days who avoided prison on the technicality of prosecutorial misconduct. Great pals for Obama, the former lecturer on constitutional law!

As a governor, former mayor and member of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Palin has certifiable qualifications for public executive office, but Obama's the one running for president.

Going into her debate with Obama's veep candidate, Sen. Joe Biden, Palin was thought to have been totally softened up by relentless media criticism and satire. TV news anchors Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric conducted chip-on-the-shoulder interviews with Palin, which were followed up by others in the MSM feigning horror over errors and openly speculating that McCain would call on her to step aside.

Poor Biden. Palin was anything but softened up. Biden has been in the U.S. Senate for 34 years, three-quarters of Palin's life, yet she had him on the defensive for most of the 90 minutes. The outmatched Biden gave it the old college try, twice reminding listeners that his father addressed him as "Champ" and complaining no fewer than four times about some $4 billion tax benefit for Exxon Mobil. In the end, though, one could only agree with Dick Morris and Eileen McGann: "Biden sounded like the warmed-over has-been that he is ... hypnotically boring."

An aside: While Biden was mostly innocuous, I noted this very ominous comment in addressing a moderator's question about climate change, also known as global warming. He said, "I think it is manmade. I think it's clearly manmade. And, look, this probably explains the biggest fundamental difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and Sarah Palin and Joe Biden - Gov. Palin and Joe Biden. If you don't understand what the cause is, it's virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade. That's the cause. That's why the polar icecap is melting."

Biden is right about the need to understand the cause. Unfortunately he quite obviously doesn't, and fixes growing out of his "understanding" will be both ineffective and economically ruinous. For too long Sen. John McCain has been wrong on this, too, but at least he has a running mate in Palin who has her head screwed on right.

The Obama campaign, its surrogates in the MSM, and leftists in the blogosphere have brilliantly displayed for all to see what "politics of personal destruction" means. In fact, we can hope that the raw partisan ugliness of media personalities like MSNBC's Keith Olbermann will create such backlash as actually to improve the quality of political discourse and reporting.

Many will remember with relish Dan Rather's demise, following discovery of fakery at CBS in Rather's reporting on President Bush's military service. I have on my office wall the original of a hilarious cartoon by the Albuquerque Journal's John Trever, titled "The CBS Defense" and depicting law enforcement personnel taking some manacled sap away from a printing press in a room festooned with drying counterfeit bills. The sap is saying, "Sure they're fake, but they're accurate!"

Olbermann makes Rather seem a paragon of objectivity and truthfulness.

The extensive cover story by Stephen Spruiell in the September 15th National Review discusses at length the threat to the very existence of NBC news on account of its subsidiary's Olbermann. Events subsequent, including reassignment of Olbermann and Chris Matthews, may indicate a return toward (distant) impartiality. In any case, reporters all over the country cannot fail to resent the smear of the Olbermann/Matthews betrayal of professionalism. We all have our biases and preferences, but most reporters - just like most of the rest of us - aspire to perform professionally. Few want to look in the mirror in the morning and recognize someone whose journalistic ethics are in the toilet with Keith Olbermann's.

Charlie Gibson, Katie Couric and Gretchen Carlson, please take note.

Biden's dubious 'expertise'

For a supposed foreign policy guru with 35 years of senatorial experience, Joe Biden embarrassed himself in the Vice Presidential debate with a startling number of gaffes, misstatements, errors, and out-and-out falsehoods. Or maybe Joe’s just a proponent of the school of “you can fool all of the people some of the time…”

Biden’s statement that “Pakistani missiles threaten Israel and the Mediterranean basin” was just plain ludicrous. Given that Pakistan IS a nuclear power, and does have missile technology – the potential threat is pretty much limited to their immediate neighbors, India and China. Pakistan does NOT have the reach to threaten the entire wider region – Biden displays a startling ignorance on a critical issue. But don’t take my word for it – look it up yourself.

Likewise, his contention that the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan has stated that the “surge philosophy” would not work in Afghanistan is just flat wrong. General McKiernan (yeah, Palin goofed on the name; but so did Biden) has in fact called for both more troops, and expanded non-military activity (construction, infrastructure expansion, and various economic development and educational programs). Sounds kinda like a surge, eh?

Biden is trying to parse words here, rather than focus on the issue (sound familiar?). Palin got the basic thrust here correct – “The counterinsurgency strategy going into Afghanistan, clearing, holding, rebuilding, the civil society and the infrastructure can work in Afghanistan.”

Here’s McKiernan according to the New York Times:

The top American military commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday that he needs more troops and other aid ''as quickly as possible'' in a counter-insurgency battle that could get worse before it gets better.

Gen. David McKiernan said it's not just a question of troops — but more economic aid and more political aid as well.

''The additional military capabilities that have been asked for are needed as quickly as possible,'' he said.

Continuing on the area of Afghanistan: Joe Biden further characterized the strategy in Afghanistan over the last six years as a strictly military approach, that was doomed to fail. This displays either shocking ignorance or willful mischaracterization of what has actually been happening in Afghanistan.

Having served over there, I can speak from personal experience on this one: the U.S. military has had a broad-based approach in Afghanistan, including constructing infrastructure (roads, mine-clearing), building schools and training teachers, and training the Afghan military from a VERY early date. ( My experience covers the period Sep 02 – Apr 03, during which time ALL of these initiatives and activities were in effect). The first multi-disciplinary Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) were formed and deployed in early 2003; I saw this firsthand.

Joe Biden is either ignorant or lying on this point; neither bodes well for his foreign policy "expertise".