|photo by Jensen Sutta|
Besides tracing the central issue in Reagan's speech, Palin noted his tone. Stark and somber--not like the inspirational, optimistic tone we associate with President Reagan. (see transcript below)
In the years between 1964 and 1980 Ronald Reagan learned that an effective leader inspires as well as educates. Thus, in Palin's words, Reagan asked if the nation had "the courage and the will to not only endure but to arise and succeed and soar." Arise, succeed, soar--none of those words are in Reagan's speech. They express what Sarah Palin knows was central to Reagan's effective leadership of a great nation in time of trouble.
Governor Palin is blessed, earlier in her political life than Reagan, with the ability to talk of serious matters in a light-hearted way. Her optimism brims over in her speeches. She, like Reagan and JFK, is gifted with exceptional ability in using humor.
Palin has serious philosophical content in her speeches--not just standard political palaver. Her summary of Reagan's central theme is masterful.
"[Reagan] wanted to know then if Americans still had the courage and the will to not only endure but to arise and succeed and soar. So he asked us candidly and soberly that day, he asked us whether we still believed in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandoned the American revolution and confessed that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can for ourselves?"Palin's application of it to today's politics is apt, biting and humorous all at once.
"But just days ago in the State of the Union address less than 90 days after that freedom message was sent at the ballot box, and it was an historic election. Yet we were just told, no, the era of big government it’s here to stay, and you’re going to pay for it whether you want to or not.Palin may also have found small, helpful hints from studying Reagan's 1964 speech.
"But they can’t sell it to us with the old sales pitch anymore. So this new version isn’t just the tried and tired liberal nanny state of the Great Society. No, now it’s much worse, and it’s couched in the language of national greatness. Which, I think, to the left that is their version of American exceptionalism. It is an exceptionally big government where bureaucrats declare [laughter, applause] bureaucrats would declare that we shall be great, and innovative and competitive, but not by individual initiative anymore, no, by government decree.
"It’s the same old tax and spend policies, or rather now it’s borrow and spend and then tax the job creators, but we’ll no longer call it government spending for awhile. They called it stimulus, but that didn’t work because clearly it didn’t stimulate anything but a Tea Party. [cheering, applause]
"So now they’ll call it investing. Okay. But you have to ask yourself well if government overspending is investing then bankruptcy would be a sign of economic strength. [laughter] And it just isn’t so. Sure they’ll try though.
"And they have all sorts of half-baked ideas on what to spend, I mean invest, our hard-earned money on for their idea of 'national greatness.' These 'investments' include everything from solar shingles to fast train tracks, but as we struggle to merely service our unsustainable debt, the only thing these investments will get us is a bullet train to bankruptcy. [applause]”
In critiquing liberal suppositions in the 1964 speech, Reagan says:
"Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we're always 'against' things -- we're never 'for' anything.Reagan uses the term "do-gooders" in the first paragraph and the more neutral, but just as descriptive, phrase "liberal friends" in the second. He was describing the same people, but "do-gooders" tends to distract from his point because it carries a slightly pejorative meaning. It is more biting than necessary, whereas "liberal friends" has some of the lightness and optimism that would come to predominate in Reagan's later rhetoric.
"Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."
Interestingly, in a recent interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Palin referred at least five times to the "mainstream media" rather than the "lamestream media".
"Does she want to make the mainstream media irrelevant?"Maybe this is just because Brody asked the question using the phrase "mainsteam media", and does not signal a change on this insignificant matter.
. . .
"Sarah Palin: I think much of the mainstream media is already becoming irrelevant. Because there is not balance in many cases, david, there is not truth coming out of the mainstream media and I know that first hand, I live it everyday. And what would give me great joy is if what would become irrelevant is just the untruthful the misreporting out there. I want the mainstream media, and I’ve said this for a couple of years now, I want to help ‘em. I want. I have a journalism degree, that is what I studied. I understand that this cornerstone of our democracy is a free press, is sound journalism. I want to help them build back their reputation. And allow Americans to be able to trust what it is that they are reporting. We’re so far from being able to trust what so many of the mainstream media personalities, characters, feed the American public that it scares me for our country. What would give me great joy is what would become irrelevant is the misreporting that comes out of the mainstream media."
But, maybe, Sarah Palin is learning from the Gipper about the importance of even the smallest details in leading the American people at a major time of choosing.
Palin points out that Reagan "was mocked and he was ridiculed and criticized and put up with so much. And he was able to handle that criticism though."
Governor Palin has proven that she is able to handle even despicable criticism, and grows every day in her ability to lead the nation when our question too is whether we have "the courage and the will to not only endure but to arise and succeed and soar" because we really do believe "in our capacity for self-government" and have not "abandoned the American revolution and confessed that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can for ourselves".
Transcript of part of Palin's speech:
"[Reagan] saw our nation at a critical turning point. We could choose one direction or the other: socialism or freedom and free markets; collectivism or individualism; in his words we could choose 'the swamp' or 'the stars.'
"Not a typical jovial speech of Reagan’s that he gave that day. Remember we got so used to before and certainly after hearing more of the chipper Gipper. You hear more of his jokes and more of the humor that he was so known for. But not that day.
"Because the vision that he laid out for us; he outlined this vision that was quite stark. It was more somber than normal because that vision that was so stark, it was based on the fact that unlike others Reagan seemed to be able to look out over the horizon and see what unsound policies, policies of big government expansionism and a foreign policy of Soviet appeasement where that would ultimately end. And that was in decline and defeat.
"He wanted to know then if Americans still had the courage and the will to not only endure but to arise and succeed and soar. So he asked us candidly and soberly that day, he asked us whether we still believed in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandoned the American revolution and confessed that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can for ourselves?
"Those were strong words. And the country as a whole wasn’t quite ready to hear them. But his message did catch on slowly. He was mocked and he was ridiculed and criticized and put up with so much. And he was able to handle that criticism though. I talked to some of his former colleagues, his friends, today about how did he handle that criticism that came his way. And you know they said oh, he let that criticism just kind of roll off his back like a duck with water off its back. But not when it came to Nancy. He said, 'Don’t touch my Nancy.' [laughter] Great respect for that. [applause]
"His message did catch on though. In 1964 the conservative movement heard him. In 1966 California listened to him. In 1976, finally, the GOP rank and file listened to him. In 1980 the nation listened to him. And in 1984 the whole world heard him." [applause]