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September 03, 2011

The Fizzle In Drizzle

Promising she was ready to have a "adult conversation" about the specifics of what needed to be done to right America, Palin set a marker for herself:

"It requires deeds not words, it's not enough for politicians to throw around some vague generalities..."

And then went on to speak in... vague generalities. (Note: All quotes were taken directly as she spoke, and might not be completely word-for-word accurate.)

Her five point plan could have been taken from just about any candidates' Standard Stump Speech, and I include Jon Huntsman when I say "any candidate."

Here are some of the detailed, specific non-vague-generalities highlights:

So far it's a "bona fide workin' man's plan" which is all about "empowerment."

"The way forward is no more politics as usual."

"All power not specifically delegated to the Federal government by the Constitution is reserved for the states, or we the people... so let's enforce the 10th amendment."

"We must repeal obamacare."

"Get the government out of the way, let the private sector breathe and expand..."

"No more runaway debt, we must priorize and cut. Cancel unused stimulus funds."

"The reality is we will have entitlement reform, either we do it ourselves or the world capital markets will."

Now, this advocacy for entitlement reform is semi-gutsy, but it is obviously not "detailed." And in fact most candidates talk of "reforming" entitlements. Few are very specific.

"We have the highest federal corporate tax rates in the world, do you know it's higher than China?"

Okay, I do not believe a single candidate does not advocate lowering the corporate tax rate. Including Huntsman.

She wants to cut it down to zero, which is at least a detail, and is at least not a gimme.

To pay for this, she wants to eliminate "loopholes and bailouts and corporate cronyism."

Remember, she's going to give you an "adult conversation," rich in detail, unlike other poltiicians, who speak in "vague generalities."

This speech was said to be two things, and hinted to a third.

First, it was supposed to be a "major announcement." If there was a major announcement here, I missed it entirely.

Second, it was supposed to be a "full-throated defense of the Tea Party." It wasn't. It was platitudes and bromides sprinkled with flattering the crowd.

What would a "full-throated (and "major") defense of the Tea Party" sound like? Well, for one, I'd think it should be persuasive to non-Tea Partiers. For another, I think it would be thoughtful, rather than off-the-cuff standard flatteries. For a third, I think it should be novel or new.

I could imagine a good speech about the Tea Party. I could imagine a speech going all the way back to the Town Halls during and after the Revolutionary War, when citizens were actually engaged in what their government and their country would be. I could imagine a speech detailing the patriotic conscientiousness of making sure that what was won by blood should not be lost by disregard.

And I could imagine such a speech noting that for decades, American citizens had largely abandoned this commitment to engagement with their own political fates, and a Media-Government Elite filled the vacuum, and over time, became less and less connected with the citizens they were supposedly serving.

And I could imagine a speech then noting that this Elite, having gotten cozy deciding the fate of the nation, reacts hysterically and angrily when citizens decide they want to take back their God-given right to decide the course of human events for themselves, viciously attacking Americans who had the audacity to say "We're taking our responsibilities as citizens seriously again, after too long leaving it them to you, those who craved power and assumed it and now cry like stuck animals when we attempt to take back what was always ours."

Maybe you don't think that's good. Maybe that strikes you as pedestrian and done to death.

But if you're going to claim a "full throated defense of the Tea Party," shouldn't there be something beyond the typical praise of the "workin' man" and the standard-issue statements that we're the ones who actually produce wealth?

That stuff is true. But it's unremarkable. Certainly it fails to live up to the advance billing.

Third, what was implied was that Palin would make an announcement about her candidacy. She hinted about this "See you on September 3rd!," a campaign-like commercial promised.

And she never said publicly, "Although I am giving a policy speech, I will not be making any kind of declaration on September 3rd." Such a statement was leaked by "sources close to the governor," but is there something "unconservative" about simply making one's plans known?

So that other people don't waste their time?

Instead, after the encouragement of interest, and the cultivation of speculation about what that "major announcement" might be, it was a very standard-issue and not-particularly-important or novel stump speech.

Some might find this sort of coyness and games-playing "brilliant" or the like. I don't.

Some may claim she "played a trick on the media." Yes, the media. And everyone else too.

David Letterman used to make a point of wasting "network time" on dumb stuff. The in-joke was "Can you believe we are doing a network broadcast and yet we're just showing videos of squirrels?"

I found that funny, for a time. Until I realized he wasn't just wasting the network's time with the squirrel videos; he was wasting my time, too. I stopped considering myself one of the people "inside the joke," laughing at NBC, and started considering myself one of the people being punked with time-wasting exercises.

It also occurred to me that as long as people like me were tuning in for the squirrel videos, the NBC corporate suits were happy. They didn't care if Letterman was wasting the audience's time. They sold commercial space either way.

So who was actually getting his chain yanked there? The media was getting paid, which is all they care about.

Palin got lots of attention for a speech that turned out to be extremely bullet-point and frankly trivial.

I don't consider this an achievement. I just consider it manipulative, and I don't just laugh it off as playing a prank on the stupid media.

A lot of people traveled a very long way and sat out in the rain for something that was suggested just might be The Big Announcement. A lot of people watched on TV.

And what they saw was a no-brainer stump speech.

Who's being pranked here? The media in attendance were all paid to be there. Their travel arrangements were comped. They'll get back their vacation day. And it was either covering this or covering Jon Huntsman.

What about everyone else?

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posted by Ace at 03:27 PM

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