Conservatives talked a lot about Ronald Reagan this year, but they have to take him more to heart, because his example here is a guide. All this seemed lost last week on Sarah Palin, who called him, on Fox, "an actor." She was defending her form of political celebrity—reality show, "Dancing With the Stars," etc. This is how she did it: "Wasn't Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn't he in 'Bedtime for Bonzo,' Bozo, something? Ronald Reagan was an actor."I wonder if Palin will now right off Noonan, a conservative, as just another member of the liberal media out to get her...
Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I'll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president.
The point is not "He was a great man and you are a nincompoop," though that is true. The point is that Reagan's career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into politics with him. He wasn't in search of a life when he ran for office, and he wasn't in search of fame; he'd already lived a life, he was already well known, he'd accomplished things in the world.
Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can't just bully them, you can't just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade.
Americans don't want, as their representatives, people who seem empty or crazy. They'll vote no on that.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Reagan Speechwriter Peggy Noonan On Sarah Palin
If you've listend to virtually anything Sarah Palin says, there is always some sort of comparison between herself and Ronald Reagan. Palin likes to draw such parallels because in her eyes she is like the former president and her time serving as a mayor of a town the size of a highschool, her inability to win an election for vicepresident or finish her term as governor, and her newest career as conservative celebrity entertainer and "reality" television star equal applicable job experience for the presidency. That is why I found a column by former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal very interesting. Noonan explains the differences between Reagan and Palin - you don't have to agree with the politics of Reagan, but you can definitely see where Palin falls short when she draws her comparisons.