18 January 2012

Sarah Palin's Riddle of Steel

In South Carolina, the land of nullification and secession, there is a civil war within the Republican party -- emphasis on civil so far -- and a war within the war as the anti-Romney candidates battle hopelessly to be the sole alternative. The battle is hopeless because there can't be a sole alternative to Romney as long as Ron Paul remains in the race, unless Paul himself becomes the sole alternative -- an unacceptable option for jingoist Republicans. Into the confusion wades Sarah Palin as if confusion were her natural element. She told Sean Hannity yesterday that, were she a South Carolina Republican, she would vote for Newt Gingrich in Saturday's primary. This was not the same as endorsing Gingrich for the presidential nomination. The former governor made clear that she simply wants someone other than Romney to win the state because "I want this thing to continue." This thing is, in one sense, a refinement of each candidate's arguments, and in another, the ever-hopeful "vetting" of Mitt Romney.

[I]ron sharpens iron, steel sharpens steel. These guys are getting better in their debates, they are getting more concise, they are get more grounded in what their beliefs are and articulating what their ideas are to get the country back on the right track and getting Americans working again. If I had to vote in South Carolina in order to keep this thing going, I would vote for Newt, and I would want it this to continue more debates, more vetting of candidates because we know the mistake made in our country four years ago was having a candidate that was not vetted, to the degree that he should have been so that we knew what his associations and his pals represented and what went into his thinking, the shaping of who our president today is. That vetting did not take place. I want to see that taking place this time because America is on that precipice, it's that important. We need this process to continue.

Reading this excerpt, it takes a while before you realize that Palin is not talking about herself when she talks about four years ago. It's more clear that, when she talks about "more vetting," she isn't talking about more vetting of Gingrich or Santorum. Hers is a desperate hope that somehow, before it's too late, Romney will be exposed, either through some investigative discovery or a gaffe of his own, as unworthy of the GOP nod. Palin denies the inevitability of Romney, whether attributed to his money, his SuperPACs or his supposed moderation. But she does realize that some of the "more conservative candidates" will have to "take one for the team" by stepping aside in favor of the strongest among them. Despite the verdict of the Texas conclave, Palin assumes that Gingrich, not Santorum, should be the last "more conservative" standing.

Palin reassured Hannity that she remained committed to "anyone but Obama" and would support Romney should he be nominated -- but until then "anyone but Romney" is clearly her preference -- though she would face an intriguing dilemma if it came down to Romney vs. Paul. Her great fear is that an "unvetted" Republican candidate could be brought down by an "October or early November surprise." To prevent that, she would appear to want as much of all the candidates' dirty laundry to be aired now. It'd seem that the candidates are doing a pretty good job of that so far, but Palin plainly hopes that the silver bullet from the smoking gun can be found in time to stop Romney before it's too late for the Republican party. Her deeper hope is that the secret weapon, the antidote, call it what you will, actually does exist.  In the end, however, Republican lesser-evilism will probably compel her to hold her nose and vote for Romney. In the American system, a candidate is unacceptable until he becomes your only choice, but that's because you limit your own choices. In a better system Sarah Palin wouldn't have to settle for Mitt Romney -- she might even screw up the courage to run against him -- but fear and nothing else will force her to give him her vote. Her own remarks practically confess that there are more than two directions for the country to go in: Obama's, Romney's and the "more conservative" way. But under the American Bipolarchy she surrenders her prerogative to push for the "right" direction because she assumes that one way will take us off a cliff.

In John Milius's Conan the Barbarian, the villain explains that he had long pondered the "riddle of steel" until he realized that flesh was really more powerful than steel. He demonstrated this by calling one of his followers, perched on a cliff, to join him by leaping off and crashing through a wooden platform into a pit. Sarah Palin can ramble on about steel tempering steel, but in the end she and many like her will jump off that cliff, no matter who wields the sword.


Anonymous said...

So is she insinuating that John McCain wasn't vetted enough? Or is she finally admitting that SHE wasn't vetted properly?

hobbyfan said...

Someone tell Mrs. Palin her 15 minutes were up a long time ago.

Superb Jon said...

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