Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sarah Pablum

Sarah Palin is indeed a very strange breed of bird. Nevertheless, you have to hand it to her. These days, she really gives good speech. It took a few years of trial and error, along with some serious coaching. But, the surprising result is Palin Orations are now worthy of consideration. I'm not saying their content deserves contemplation -- only a little bit of attention.

Sister Sarah appeared before the Tea Party Convention on the 99th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birthday. Anyone who believes this was a mere coincidence has no clue how right wing politics is played in our nation. The oral similarities between her and The Gipper are striking. She spoke for about 45 minutes, then took some prepared questions. Her speech was a collage of platitudes, non sequiturs, talking points, catch phrases, key words, rally zingers and applause lines. They were specifically designed to prompt the intended exuberance from her adoring audience.

Her delivery wasn't flawless, yet she pressed on confidently. While Palin may never reach the heights of extemporary excellence, she's a far cry from the deer-in-the-headlights personality who was interviewed by Katie Couric. The thing that is different and disturbing is you can sometimes listen to her and believe she actually has something meaningful to say.

Ronald Reagan was the master of reading a speech from the TelePrompter. His 1984 acceptance address to the Republican National Convention was a hallmark in his political career. That speech was magnificently presented. I was so impressed I stood up in my living room and applauded his effort. Great communicators have the capacity to inspire an audience. However, when I listened to a replay of the speech, I discovered it offered almost nothing of substance.

Sarah Palin is slowly approaching this level of verbal persuasion. She can't match the debating skills of Barak Obama. Yet, there's no telling what strides she may make between now and the 2012 campaign. In short, she's starting to get a little dangerous. It would be a big mistake for the president and the Democrats to dismiss her, even at this early stage.

What is dangerous about puppet politicians like Reagan and Palin is how easily they're manipulated. Can anyone forget the look on Reagan's face when his TelePrompter died in the middle of a speech? He hadn't any idea what to do next. The same thing occurred to Bill Clinton. Bubba simply went on speaking, as if nothing happened. No one was the wiser. Obama is a new and improved version of Clinton. Yet, his reelection isn't secure. In the coming years and a looming contest with Palin, anything could transpire to dampen his chances and boost Republican prospects.

George W. Bush should be thrown on the Reagan/Palin pile, too. The only difference is the combative style he used to fend off the media. Dubya was able to repeat, over and over, the same rehearsed response to any question. It made no difference whether his replies had anything to do with the inquiries. His stall-ball tactics strangled the press into submission. We were subject to eight solid years of silence about what our own government was doing in our name. Whether it's clueless leaders, like Reagan and Palin, or heartless tyrants, like Bush and Nixon, the American people are never well-served by these presidential impostors.

Despite her protests to the contrary, Sarah Palin is being groomed to be the Republican standard bearer in 2012. Her growing populist support from the Tea Party and other conservative groups means the agenda at the next Republican National Convention will again be shoved from the political center to the religious right. Various consultants will be brought in to sugar-coat reactionary policy with Palin's "family values" image. Using unlimited corporate funds, as a result of the Citizen's United Supreme Court decision, the Republicans will try to overwhelm Obama and the Democrats to push Palin into the Oval Office. Everyone should be very concerned because, historically, stranger things have happened.

Palin's handlers almost blew the benefit of her appearance before the Tea Party Convention by subjecting her to a Q and A session. The moderator, Judson Phillips, tossed her mostly puff-ball questions, except for one. He asked her: "We all know what the Obama plan is. What is the Palin plan?" For a brief moment, Sarah had a Katie Couric flashback and a blank look on her face. This time, she smoothly fumbled around until she found a few words for a response. It wasn't a Maggie Thatcher performance, but it wasn't a Phyllis Diller bit, either.

Sarah Palin was often viewed by politicians, pundits and the press as amusing comic relief. Lately, they're not laughing out loud anymore. Sarah will be a candidate for the presidency. Therefore, she should be considered a genuine threat to go all the way to the White House. If a vision of Palin sitting behind the president's desk doesn't send shivers down your spine, may I suggest you drink lots of coffee -- very black. This frightning daymare could be coming soon to every media screen in America. Only you and your vote stand as a bulwark against further deterioration of our sacred democracy. In these troubled times, we can't afford another president who is mentally on a perpetual lunch break.

Franklin L. Johnson