THE VOICE OF REASON
News Analyst?

  SARAH PALIN, A NEWS ANALYST?

Gov. Sarah Palin has indubitable star power.  Her attractiveness equals anything in Hollywood. Her informal, down-to-earth style of communication reminds many of Ronald Reagan and serves only to enhance her pulcritude.  She is also a Washington outsider, a fact that many folks enthusiastically regard as an additional asset. They suspect that she was hounded from the Alaskan governorship by obstructionist, left wing zealots. So her decision to resign that office, after running for the vice presidency, is one which her admirers continue to greet with affection and applause.

Fox News has its finger on the popular pulse.  The corporation recently contracted the governor's services as a news analyst.  She has already appeared on O'Reilly's, Hannity's, Susteren's, and Beck's respective shows.  At least one of the hosts questioned her about how she spends her private time.  Hmmmm.  I cannot, offhand, remember anyone asking Andrew Napolitano how he recreates and unwinds, or Dick Morris how he does so.  Fox's obvious retort is that the public is uninterested in what either of these gentleman does after-hours.  True!  Yet even if citizens were intrigued by such information, why would any serious news corporation indulge the interest?  Answer: only for ratings and money.

When Gov. Palin appeared for an interview recently on Mr. Beck's show, the Statue of Liberty was looming large in the background.  Their conversation turned to the founding fathers, and Beck asked who her favorite one was.  The camera did not blink, as the lady's anxiety began to surface.  She responded, in a manner reminiscent of her interview with Katie Couric: "You know, well, all of them, because they came collectively together with…so much diversity in terms of belief but collectively they came together to form this union."  To which Mr. Beck creditably replied, "Bullcrap, who's your favorite?"  She went on to single out George Washington, because "[h]e didn't want to be a king. He returned power to the people. Then he went back to Mount Vernon. He went back to his farm."

It is correct that, when Washington was president, he was not obliged to observe any term limits.  Many suspected that he could and would serve as president for the remainder of his life.  His relinquishment of power shocked people the world-over.  His action was noble.  It became traditional thereafter for American presidents to serve no more than two terms.  Franklin Roosevelt, known to his detractors as "indispensable Frank," changed that.

Let me assert here and now that there was nothing wrong with Gov. Palin's response, except that she made it in a faltering way. Yes, Mr. Beck had already mentioned George Washington in the context of their conversation, but maybe he is truly her favorite founder.  So what?

I still thought the episode was telling.  It was an opportunity for the governor to shine, but she wilted in ordinariness.  Can you imagine how wide people's eyes would have opened had Gov. Palin responded, "You ask an interesting question there, Glenn, and it happens to be one that has captivated me.  I think that George Washington's presence at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia gave the event legitimacy.  Although he was counseled by many, as you know, not to attend the Convention, he courageously did so.  He gave only one substantive speech while in attendance, but his presence there underscored the seriousness and integrity of what was happening.  Yet as great as he was, he was not my favorite founder.  That accolade goes to Charles Pinckney of South Carolina.  He was a most practical and pragmatic politician, of an ilk similar to myself in that respect. He liked to solve problems. It is now coming to light that he contributed very thoughtfully to the Convention, with the result that many of his ideas were incorporated into the final draft of the Constitution.  I have in mind especially Mr. Pinckney's emphasis that the Constitution should be modeled after America herself and that any natural born American citizen could rise from modest beginnings to be president.  Now, that is an inspiring idea!"

If I had heard Gov. Palin give a meaty response like that, I would have stood up and cheered, and probably exclaimed, "Boy, do liberals misunderstand HER!"  But I confess my suspicion that Sarah Palin is dog-paddling in waters a mile over her head.  She is, frankly, close to embarrassing herself.  Fox News, at least for the time being, is crying all the way to the bank.  When the charade is up, I predict that the governor will either be "called" to another venue, probably "to serve her country" or "to spend additional time with her family," or that a network executive will share with her in a perfunctory exchange, "Sorry, Governor, but maybe your immense gifts ought to be utilized elsewhere."

I hope, in the meantime, that Fox News has the prudence not to place Gov. Palin on a panel alongside Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol. The glaring contrast would be blinding.

January 24, 2010