Editors’ Round Table on Sarah Palin: An Innocent Abroad
At Christmas a couple of years ago I was given a daily planner called The Worst Case Scenario Survival Calendar. It gives you advice on how to deal with seriously dire emergencies, like free-falling from 10,000 feet with a parachute that wouldn’t open, facing shark attack far from shore, being bitten by a cobra with no antidote on hand, or evading a roaring grizzly in the wilderness. The advice was tongue-in-cheek serious: based on real-life situations and special forces’ manuals, each daily snippet told you how to improve your chances of survival perhaps a hundredfold—from one-in-ten-thousand, say, to one-in-a-hundred. The booklet was fun: you don’t really believe that you’ll ever be in need of such advice, but you read on nevertheless, tickled with vivid images of horrors that happen to “others.”
The forthcoming general election is a Worst-Case Scenario Survival situation and it is happening to us. November 4 calls for the Guide approach. Let me come to the point and speak plainly.
When we look at this season’s four key names—Obama, McCain, Biden, Palin—we know what three of them signify.
Let us start with Senator Obama, that perpetually self-inventing Kenyan-Hawaiian nobody who came from who-knows-where. He may be an American citizen after all, but his disdain for the still-real and historic America is on full display even when it is wrapped in smilingly patronizing condescention for its majority population. The purpose of his presidency would be to re-educate that population in the spirit of self-loathing – his cult-like following among many white yuppies gives him great hope – and to neutralize the incorrigible segment by whatever means the postmodern theurapeutic state has on offer. Abroad, we’d have the “Concert of Democracies” led by Washington deciding whom to bomb, with Zbigniew Brzezinski pulling the strings. Under Obama, America’s overall odds, at home and abroad, would be no better than those of a Dresden firefighter on February 13, 1945.
Joe Biden is the archetypical Homo Beltveicus. He’d be Pol Pot’s running mate if that served Joe Biden’s quest for power, money, and then some more of the same. He proves that in Washington we have the best Congress and the worst hair pluggers money can buy. An interventionist to boot, Biden enthusiastically supported Clinton's bombing campaign against the Serbs in 1999, which prompted John McCain to declare three weeks into the war, "We need Joe Biden for secretary of state." When Tim Russert asked, "Is that an offer by President McCain?" McCain replied: "Absolutely!" Almost a decade later he is on the same page with McCain on supporting Kosovo’s independence and in his visceral Russophobia, as evidenced by his recent trip to Tbilisi.
In case of a Democratic victory Biden's chances of succeeding Obama would be no better than one-in-fifty, however – not that it would matter much one way or another. Barring a Dallas-like scenario that Hillary Clinton wished him in the primaries’ final days, Obama is good for another quarter-century of CV building and self-reinvention before finally making the Hajj.
John McCain is an unstable ignoramus who has never seen a war he wouldn’t gladly escalate. He is also obtuse, unendearingly eccentric, and morally challenged. (Let us not waste time dwelling on those traits; the evidence is ample and available to the curious.) If elected he would invent new missions and embark on new cakewalks, because he cannot do otherwise and because he’d be surrounded by foreign lobbyists (Scheunemann) and McCain clones (Lieberman) who reflect and support his mindset. He is an authentically dangerous man. His only saving grace, and the reason to vote for him under the Worst Scenario rules, is his age.
Mortality tables used by the life insurance industry and by the Social Security Administration indicate that average life expectancy for a 72-year-old man is at best about 11 years. That figure declines to about one half of that, however, when we factor in two significant variables: (1) four cancer scares, including melanoma (plus a long history of early and middle age smoking); and (2) a choleric personality (as per Hippocrates), which is dangerous when coupled with the pressures of a top office.
The probability of McCain dying before the end of the first term is a little over 20 percent before those variables are factored in, but they jump to somewhere between 33 and 40 percent when they are taken into consideration. Furthermore, the actuarial morbidity tables may significantly increase the odds of Veep Palin becoming President following the onset of an incapacitating condition that would force McCain to resign.
That leaves us with the probability of one-third or better that President Sarah Palin would be sworn in before the expiry of McCain’s first term. What would she do? I don’t know, but I am pretty certain that her foreign policies would not be any worse than those proposed by the three men. The Washingtonian “foreign policy community” would try to manipulate her, of course, but she is a tough nut to crack. Over the past few years she readily confronted an Old Boys' Network and defeated Frank Murkowski, the sitting Republican governor, in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary. Before that she resigned a State sinecure, protesting the "lack of ethics" of fellow Republican members, and went on to destroy the political careers of Randy Ruedrich, GOP State Chairman, and Gregg Renkes, a former Alaska Attorney General.
Mrs. Palin’s alleged weaknesses are her strengths. Being an innocent abroad, in the dangerous world modelled on Hobbes and Darwin, is preferable to having “experience” in the obsessive attempt to tame and conquer that world. The Weekly Standard cabal and their ilk will be hard-pressed to make President Palin obey a bunch of Manhattanite intellectual pseuds, let alone to internalize their foreign policy schemes that are evil, stupid, and harmful to our troops’ safety: unlike any laptop bombardier, she has a son on his way to Iraq. I’d say that it is at least 50-50 President Palin would act as a foreign policy realist who’d refrain from new “missions,” “engagements” and “force projections.” That translates into cca 20 percent chance of America conducting a sane foreign policy, for the first time in decades, some time before 2012.
Most of our daily choices are morally ambiguous. The one based on The Worst Case Scenario Survival Calendar, which I am presenting herewith for our readers’ consideration, is no exception. In a fallen world the alternative is plague-on-all-their-houses quietism that suits the bad guys.