14 Jun 2011
by Rod Young
It seems the American brand of charismatic leadership and statesmanship has waned over our nearly three centuries. Where’s the Jefferson, Washington, Adams, or Henry? Even technocrat Hamilton was flamboyant while very impolite.
The Roman Republic likewise started with towering likes of Caesar and Augustus and their huge followings, then dwindled over five centuries to a point when hapless Romulus Augustus squandered the last Denarii.
Washington, American Caesar at Yorktown, might have named himself “Emperor George” after sending his namesake King’s armada back home across the Pond.
Aspiring to be neither a Roman nor British-style empire, America was to be unprecedented and unrivaled – the “exceptional” experiment. And so it was, up to now.
Experimentally in 2011 we have Caesar-like Palin full of sound and fury that many say in her case signifies little. Julius was without doubt Papa Grizzly, but with more dimensions.
We have Mitt, the bland, politically correct sorcerer’s apprentice who conjured RomneyCare to bedevil Taxachusetts, and now needs a real sorcerer to extinguish its specter. On the military analogy, Romney’s like a Bradley or even Eisenhower, who without Patton might not have conquered.
So, as history suggests, the ‘right answer’ might prove to be albeit the archaic rather than formulaic: old-fashioned leadership over vying Keynesian and trickle-down theories.
Reagan, never a heady economist but the acknowledged Catalyst in Chief when calling upon entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs to take risks. He spurred not cured the economy. If Palin commands her legions to get going, they just might. She’s right now crisscrossing the Rubicon by bus.
When he crossed that divide, Julius’ popularity was so low he expected to be prosecuted upon entering Rome. He found instead his detractors more often to be his secret admirers. He might advise Sarah, “The die is cast,” go for it, adding that Obama reminds him of Community Organizer Pompey, who outnumbered Caesar’s one legion three-to-one before crying uncle.
If Perception comprises nine-tenths of reality – good or bad – then the indomitable Palin is the vestige of Americana that America probably needs. Quoting Henry, she seems actually to mean, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
And, “How’s that hopey, changey thing workin’ out for ya?’
And, “Drill Baby Drill.”
Palin’s rhetoric, ridiculed by numerable academics but adored by innumerable plain folks, just might prove more stimulating than Obama’s $800 billion gone for naught. She’ll prove the most passionate act to follow since outdebating Biden in 2007. “You betcha!”
The argument that the Republicans will oppose some non-charismatic technocrat against new-age Barack makes little sense. Blandness loses in tough times. Republican liberal Alf Landon lost in a landside in 1936 to FDR who most eloquently promised “happy days …” That Roosevelt failed to deliver for a decade meant zero
The reassuring shit-eating FDR grin was perhaps the key to his political power. Palin’s seems every bit as daunting.