(In honor of Sarah Palin’s decision to come out of political retirement and run for Congress in Alaska, here’s a flashback column from June 2011 that celebrates her uniquely American spirit and her uncommon wisdom.)
By FRANK MIELE
A lot of people wonder why I like Sarah Palin so much.
No, she isn’t polished. No, she isn’t sophisticated. In fact, she can best be summed up with an anagram of her last name: Palin is Plain. Plain-spoken. Plain dealing. Plain and simple.
Does that mean she is not smart? Hardly. Does it mean she is not competent? Hardly. Does it mean she is dangerous? Only if you think complicated lies are better for the country than the plain truth. Because what Palin and a lot of other conservative women bring to the table is a passion for honesty, simplicity and righteousness.
That’s not something you learn in college. It’s something bred into the bone. As Alexis de Tocqueville observed more than 150 years ago, in a simpler era, “The Americans … have not required to extract their philosophical method from books; they have found it in themselves.”
Thus, Palin, unlike many other modern politicians, does not need to be told what she believes. She does not need to put her finger in the air to see which way the wind blows. Nor does she revise her right and wrong to adjust to the latest fashion. She is who she is — take it or leave it. Yeah, she comes with a lot of baggage, too — she is a patriot who is grounded in American values and has an abiding love of our country. In other words, she is not politically correct. That’s fine with me. As long as she knows that America is the last best hope for liberty, then I trust her to be on the right side of preserving our freedom.
About the worst anyone has been able to say about Sarah Palin is that she resigned from the governorship of Alaska. This is presumably a bad thing because we have been deprived of enjoying the prurient pleasure of watching Democrats in Alaska spend taxpayer money endlessly investigating trumped-up allegations of wrong-doing against Palin. But let’s face it, Palin is not the first public official to resign in order to pursue a higher goal.
Often, for governors or senators, that goal is to run for president. That may even be Palin’s goal. We don’t know. But clearly, if she had remained in office, she would have been bogged down in petty politics aimed almost entirely at diminishing her national image so that she would be crippled as a presidential candidate. Anyone who can’t understand that is simply not paying attention to the way the national media and their left-wing allies operate.
By thinking outside the box, Palin avoided a long, drawn-out political battle that would have done neither her nor Alaska any good. It’s probably not what she wanted for herself or for Alaska, but as the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu recommended in “The Art of War,” “According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.” She did so, and lived to see another day.
She also managed to infuriate the people who hate her so much, which is part of her simple charm. She always seems to be able to outthink and outflank the self-appointed intellectual elites who sneer at her countrified grammar, her down-home dialect and her womanly wiles. The very next line in Sun Tzu’s famous manual of military strategy may explain much of Palin’s mastery of the political battlefield:
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
Case in point… the magical mystery “One Nation” bus tour that Palin embarked on last week to the consternation of the major media, the establishment Republican Party, and the pygmies currently running for the GOP presidential nomination. They were angry that they did not KNOW she was going to do a bus tour. They were angry they did not know WHY she was doing a bus tour. They were angry they did not know HOW she had outwitted them. They were just plain angry.
This is also straight out of the Sun Tzu playbook. As a strategist, Palin knows that her only chance of taking the high country of the White House is to use the strength of her enemies against them. And she has done that masterfully the past week.
“If your enemy is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.”
Have the media and establishment ever looked more arrogant and irritated than last week when Sarah visited the Lincoln Memorial, Gettysburg, the Liberty Bell, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Bunker Hill and other patriotic sites? How dare she! At every step of the way (or should I say “every turn of the bus”?) Palin has done what SHE wanted, and not what the press or the GOP establishment wanted her to do.
She is the very model of Tocqueville’s idealized portrait of the American woman, who even while a young girl, “already thinks for herself, speaks with freedom, and acts on her own impulse… The vices and dangers of society are early revealed to her; as she sees them clearly, she views them without illusions, and braves them without fear; for she is full of reliance on her own strength, and her reliance seems to be shared by all who are about her.”
Well, all except those who hate her, or mistake her twang for stupidity. She is not stupid. Whether she has read “The Art of War,” or just understands its principles intuitively, doesn’t matter. Either she is a cunning genius or she has a stunning natural talent for being right. The “One Nation” bus tour proves it. Certainly Sun Tzu would be proud of her for marching into the Northeast, where she is supposed to have no popular support, and taking it by storm.
“Attack [your opponent] where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected,” said the Chinese general.
Palin’s sudden assault on the political scene after months of dormancy — her near-instant acceleration from zero to 60 in a globe-warming bus and two SUVs — has left the conventional wisdom of the pols and pundits in tattered disarray. They have tried to counterassault, but just made themselves sound whiny and afraid as they seized on Palin’s exhaust fumes from their caravan behind the bus and tried desperately to weave them into a blanket of serious charges.
We’ve heard the media complain about virtually every aspect of the bus tour, even ridiculously claiming that Palin was putting reporters’ lives at jeopardy because they didn’t know where she was going, so they might do something stupid to try to keep up with her.
We’ve heard liberals who would loudly support anyone’s right to burn the U.S. flag as a matter of principle roundly criticize Palin because she had dared to show a stylized representation of the flag on the side of the bus and thus broke the “law.” (She didn’t.)
We’ve heard politicians grumble that she had rained on Mitt Romney’s parade by visiting Massachusetts while he was announcing his hopeless quest for the presidency in neighboring New Hampshire. (Poor Mitt!)
We’ve heard her denounced because she plainly ISN’T running for president, but just wants to make money. And we’ve heard her denounced just as vociferously because she plainly IS running for president, and refuses to say so! We’ve even heard her and Donald Trump blasted for eating pizza with a knife and fork. Dastardly knaves!
In other words, we’ve heard all kinds of whining about how Palin won’t play by the rules, darn her. All of which — taken together — means that she is just plain smarter than the average bear — mama grizzly or otherwise. She eats what she wants… when she wants… the way she wants. So let the tourists with the cameras and reporter’s notebooks beware. You are on the menu.
(Originally published in the Daily Inter Lake, Kalispell, Montana, on June 5, 2011. Reprinted in Volume 2 of “Why We Needed Trump”)