Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Commentator Problem: Byron York and Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin at 2015 Iowa Freedom Summit
The Oregonian has a story on how some conservatives are down on Sarah Palin's possible presidential candidacy because of a recent speech.

Palin is the only Republican who has hit speech home runs since Reagan. Her 2008 acceptance speech set conservatives on fire--as did her stump speeches. She's the only Republican who has drawn the sort of crowds Barack Obama drew. McCain-Palin (59,946,378) got more votes than Romney-Ryan (59,134,475) got in a supposedly much easier election.

Byron York
Usually, one takes Oregonian stories with a grain of salt, but Douglas Perry quotes National Review. Certainly conservative, but after Bill Buckley left it lost its sense of perspective. He also quotes Byron York. That's a much more serious issue for me. Even when I disagree with York, I usually respect his opinion.

So, I clicked on the link to York's column. It seems to be a mishmash of quotes from people who didn't like Palin's speech in Iowa. The column is headed, "As 2016 race begins, GOP faces its Palin problem". I looked in vain for a significant problem. Apparently, the only problem is whether people should invite Palin to candidate forums.
But if there is indeed nothing behind her "seriously interested" talk — and it appears there is not — should she be included in events leading up to the 2016 caucuses? A lot of GOP activists may come to agree with one of those well-connected Iowa Republicans quoted above, who remarked, "The sooner these forums in Iowa focus on those actually running, the better."
Huh? That's a problem? Have these people lived through any pre-primary period before? If there were to be a forum now with only declared candidates, who would be there?

Has Byron York gone stupid?  No, this is a recurring one-off that is part of professional hazards for commentators. Because they write (or talk) a lot they say stupid things now and again.

Now, to the main part of York's column. Some conservatives didn't think Palin's speech was good. Yawn. Some didn't like her salty speech. Probably the same people who think newly elected Senator Joni Ernst was too gross to be a serious candidate.

So what if this isn't Palin's best speech. Who cares? She's had so many great ones. When Mariano Rivera had a bad night pitching, only idiots said it was the beginning of the end for him.

I remember when Reagan lost Iowa in 1980, he was considered over the hill and not sharp enough to run a good primary campaign--let alone a presidential campaign. George Will was for Howard Baker and then George H. W. Bush over Reagan. So much for his ability to see Reagan's greatness. National Review didn't support Reagan even unofficially over the other Republican candidates in the 1980 primary supposedly because even Bill Buckley (!) was concerned about Reagan's age and physical and mental energy.

And President Reagan had real flubs. But, he also hit a lot of home runs both in speeches and in policy. Palin has hit more home run speeches than any one else who spoke at the Iowa event or even all of them combined. Maybe she should be given a little leeway.

One hopes the future comments of Byron York will better reflect the realities of politics in the context of historical perspective.


OregonGuy said...

I think that were the Governor to announce, that she would raise more than $200-million in the first couple of days.

MAX Redline said...

I saw some snarky comments to the effect that her TelePrompter died.

I've seen her talk using notes she penned on the back of her hand.

Everybody has an off-day. But she's better at picking winners than running for office.

T. D. said...

OG, she doesn't have big money, but she has lots of little money (like me).

She had a notebook that she was consulting so snarky comments aside, I think she meant to give the speech shed did. I listened to the speech and thought it was okay. I didn't find it bizarre. John Fund at NR who thought it "meandering and bizarre" used as his sample a paraphrase Palin used from Martin Luther King Jr. “The man can only ride you when your back is bent, so strengthen it so America won’t get taken for a ride.”

Funny how who says it makes it bizarre or great.

It wasn't a barn burner, but I listened the whole way through without being bored--which is unusual for me in a political speech. Though I really like Palin so that played a role in my response.

I think 2008 showed that Palin is really good at getting votes, but I'm not sure anyone could win with not only the mainline press but the conservative and liberal press against them. Conservative leaders busy burning bridges will live to regret it.

I know that no one in the current list of candidates has the speaking and connecting ability that Palin has. They are good people, but not people who inspire passion.

Passion was necessary to win in 2012, and I think it will be necessary to win in 2016. It could be done as Bush did in 2004 by people being passionate for him only because they were passionate against Kerry and thought the future of the country was at stake. But, that's hard to do. The memories of 9/11 played a big role in keeping that passion hot.

My list of conservative commentators/thinkers who seem at all perceptive continues to shrink.

OregonGuy said...

Ask your favourite politician,do you want equality of result, or equality of opportunity.

T. D. said...

OG, that's the burning political question of today, isn't it? It makes clear the major underlying assumptions of the policies they support.