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Sarah Palin & the Need to Communicate the Gipper’s Vision

As I finished Sarah Palin’s book earlier this morning, I wondered if she were the right person to spearhead a Republican Renaissance in the United States.  She clearly understands why our party has lost its way, but remains a controversial figure, even a divisive one.  The mere mention of her name whips a huge segment of the American left into a frenzy.

But, even if she is not the right person to lead the GOP, Sarah Palin can help carry the Republican message forward; she certainly understands what has been ailing our party in recent years.  Toward the end of her book, she gets at the twin failures which have plagued the GOP, losing sight of our small-government principles and failing to communicate those principles.  To be sure, she recognizes the challenge of articulating them:

It’s easy to promise free medical care and a chicken in every pot.  It’s more difficult to explain how we’re going to pay for it all and to explain why social programs that were supposed to help the poor have ended up hurting them, becoming unsustainable financial liabilities for all of us.  Ronald Reagan was the last president to explain this to us.

Somewhere along the way, those clear principles got lost.  People look at the Republican Party today–the supposedly conservative party—and say, “What happened to the Reagan legacy?”

In short, the issue is not just conservative ideas, but communicating those ideas.  One reason I believe Sarah Palin matters is that she has shown a knack for communicating that vision and connecting with voters that few Republican politicians have shown in recent years.

And the Republican Party, despite it rises in most polls in recent days, still has an image problem.  Many young voters still see ours as the party of backward-looking social conservatives.  A Hollywood friend recently dismissed the GOP as “old-fashioned.” (more…)

Carly Fiorina: big government policies to blame for CA’s collapse

Every now and again, I support a candidate for public office, only to find that the more I study his (or her) record, the more I find he (or she) has a firm grasp on the issues of greatest concern to me.  This is not to say I agree with the candidate on every issue, but, his focus is where mine would be if I were running for office.

So it is today with Carly Fiorina as it was in 1994 with Jim Miller.  Who is Jim Miller, you ask?  Miller was the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in Ronald Reagan’s second term who, in 1994, ran unsuccessfully against Oliver North for the Republican nomination for a United States Senate seat in Virginia.  I initially supported Miller largely because I didn’t think North would make a good candidate in the general and that he would make an even worse Senator.

My instincts (and not just mine) served me well.  In a very Republican year, North was one of the few well-funded Republican challengers who lost his bid for federal office.

In the run-up to the Republican convention in Richmond (where the Senate nomination would be decided), I learned more and more about the Gipper’s former budget director and became increasingly impressed with his command of economic issues and his unflinching support for free markets.

Last night, after reading John Fund’s piece on my gal for the 2010 Senate race in California, I became increasingly enamored with Carly Fiorina, finding in her a similar commitment to free markets.  Surveying the business climate in the Golden State,

Ms. Fiorina is not shy in pointing out what’s to blame. “The high tax, big government, regulatory regime we see in California is the current course and speed for where the nation is headed,” she warns. “California is a great test case, a factual demonstration that those programs don’t work.” She notes that while state spending has significantly outstripped inflation in recent years, every year government services perform more poorly and it becomes harder to open a business. “I very much doubt Hewlett Packard could be founded today as a manufacturing company in California,” she adds soberly.

In short, Carly gets it, not just where California politicians have lost their way, but also where Republicans have lost their bearings.  We need keep a clear eye on our principles, that the solutions to most social and economic problems don’t lie with government, unless we’re looking for ways to reduce government’s intrusion in our lives and pocketbooks. (more…)

San Francisco Brunch Today @ 12:30 PM

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:01 am - November 28, 2009.
Filed under: Post 9-11 America

If you have not already, please let me know if you’d like to attend our brunch today in San Francisco. (Details provided with confirming e-mail).

Athena’s Insight: Why Obama’s Bow Matters

In our media age, if a politician does not recognize the importance of his image, he’s either never going to get the seat to which he aspires or will lose it soon after he does.  John McCain probably lost as many votes last fall from his erratic behavior at the time of the financial crisis as he did for his failure to craft and communicate a coherent message on the economy.   By contrast, Obama’s coolness at the same time may have sealed the deal for many wavering voters, wanting to vote for the party out of power, but having doubts about its 2008 presidential nominee.

By the same token, Peggy Noonan thinks that President Obama’s repeating bowing to the crowned heads of Asia could hurt him more for the image they convey than for the protocol they breach:

In a presidency, a picture or photograph becomes iconic only when it seems to express something people already think. When Gerald Ford was spoofed for being physically clumsy, it took off. The picture of Ford losing his footing and tumbling as he came down the steps of Air Force One became a symbol. There was a reason, and it wasn’t that he was physically clumsy. He was not only coordinated but graceful. He’d been a football star at the University of Michigan and was offered contracts by the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

But the picture took off because it expressed the growing public view that Ford’s policies were bumbling and stumbling. The picture was iconic of a growing political perception.

The Obama bowing pictures are becoming iconic, and they would not be if they weren’t playing off a growing perception. If the pictures had been accompanied by headlines from Asia saying “Tough Talks Yield Big Progress” or “Obama Shows Muscle in China,” the bowing pictures might be understood this way: “He Stoops to Conquer: Canny Obama shows elaborate deference while he subtly, toughly, quietly advances his nation’s interests.”

Instead we’re getting headlines indicating that he didn’t get much, if anything, from his trip to Asia.  It becomes thus an image of his failure to show confidence on the world stage much, much as his coolness in the fall campaign suggested a confidence to handle tough crises without breaking a sweat. (more…)