Home National Politics Obama’s Triumph of Unity & Palin’s Failure to Divide

Obama’s Triumph of Unity & Palin’s Failure to Divide

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I missed President Obama’s speech last night due to a prior commitment at the Arlington Committee of 100. I came home & was watching the clip of Obama telling the crowd Rep. Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time when my phone rang. It was my friend Jon, who loves nothing more than his kids & hates nothing more than politicians. His policy preferences are libertarian, but our political conversations typically consist of me trying to convince him that, well, um, not all politicians are completely corrupt.

“That was one of the most amazing speeches I’ve ever seen. I mean, I’ve watched speeches from John F. Kennedy, Churchill … that was amazing,” he began. “It’s like he wasn’t even a politician.”

Moments like last night let Obama be Obama – rising above the politics and the 30-minute news cycle to unite Americans of all walks of life and let anyone (Republican or Democrat) who refuses to set aside politics & join the moment look petty & very, very small.

Looking smallest of all was Sarah Palin, who may have ended her own political career.

Remember how Richard Nixon rescued his political career with his “Checkers” speech? This was the opposite of that.

Palin decided to wait until the day of the memorial service to boldly address the controversy from the isolated, insulated comfort of her living room. Josh Marshall put it best: “Today has been set aside to honor the victims of the Tucson massacre. And Sarah Palin has apparently decided she’s one of them.”

Palin could’ve made a simple statement honoring the victims & putting off the political debates for another day. But that would be antithetical to Palin – she must fight, she must be the victim, she must make it personal & political, and the collateral damage is for someone else to clean up. To ask her to do otherwise would be asking the sun to rise in the west.

I’ve been taking bets with anyone willing that Sarah Palin would be the GOP’s nominee in 2012, because given the choice between someone who’s wrong but reasonable like Mitch Daniels & a paranoid extremist like Palin, today’s GOP chooses the extremist every time.

This morning, I would no longer take that bet. As much as the GOP wallows in extremism, it’s also stone-cold & clear-eyed politically. And every GOP political operative knows that if it’s Obama-Palin in 2012, the Obama campaign would only need one commercial to win: A 30 second spot contrasting Obama’s unifying presidential leadership with Palin sitting alone, railing conspiratorially about blood libel.

I can hear whiny political hacks like Brian Schoeneman shrieking now about how I’m politicizing tragedy. But one of the few days I connected with George W. Bush as a human being was when he was so shaken by the shuttle Columbia disaster that he could barely get out “May God continue to bless America.”

And if you didn’t get choked up when President Obama told Daniel Hernandez, “Daniel, I’m sorry, you may deny it, but we’ve decided. You ARE a hero.” … your soul may have been stolen. You may need to hire Samuel L. Jackson & John Travolta to retrieve it.

  • VA Blogger

    When you refer to “political hacks” like Brian Schoeneman, you’re not exempting yourself from that group, right?

  • What struck me about Palin’s remarks is how they were still about her.  Even with multiple dead, horrible injury, Palin is always the victim.

    And here’s the thing.  Even we take the most extreme position that she had zero, none, nada responsibility for any moment of any time, the point remains that sometimes, if you are a major political figure (especially someone potentially running for the presidency) this will happen to you.  You have moments where you do not have control, where no matter what you do, you will likely be blamed, and even if you have no fault in the matter at all (think of McCain being accused of fathering an African-American child in the SC primary) how you handle that will speak volumes about who you are to the American people.  You have to be prepared to be accused — justly or not — and you have to be able to to handle it.

    And she can’t.  She is who she is, but can’t move beyond that.  She will always be the victim, and she will always be angry that someone is attacking her and will attack in return.

    In fairness, I thought her remarks, for Palin, weren’t too bad.  She’s come a long way in two years, and this may be her at her best.  But what she doesn’t seem to be able to do is rise above herself, and I am hopeful that this has given Republicans a chance to see that no matter how much they may want her to be the person they are looking for, she simply isn’t.

  • On Townhall.com, Debra Saunders called Palin a “middle aged version of Britney Spears” and guarantees that she will never win the GOP nomination.  I’ve believed that for a long time – the Republicans are too smart to nominate someone so ill-prepared to challenge Obama.

    http://townhall.com/columnists

  • VADEM

    think this latest word salad from her has finished her off politically. She crossed the line with the blood libel issue and she is getting hammered.

    I friggin’ love it.

    buh bye Ms. fake Annie Oakley.  

  • Steve Vaughan

    The president gave an excellent, inspiring speech. Those who are using it as a platform from which to attack Palin, missed the point of the speech.

    And Palin was never going to be that much of a threat in 2012. Losing VP candidates aren’t generally first in line for their party’s nominations the  next time around.

    Although looking at the Republican field, it’s kind of hard to determine who is first in line. Romney’s probably a non-starter because of his health care plan when he was governor. Gingrich just seems like old news. Huckabee has problems with the “no taxes ever” wing of the party. Probably it will be one of the boring governors, Pawlenty or some one like him.