Will the Real Barack Obama….

30Aug08

Have you ever seen the real Barack Obama in action? I don’t mean the candidate Barack Obama, who says he’s going to bring us a new Washington but can point to no actions that would indicated this is going to part of his future. I mean someone who has actually lived the ideal that Barack contemplates – someone who is truly post-partisan.

Before she was running against him, Sarah Palin—the governor of Alaska and now the Republican candidate for Vice-President of the United States—thought it was pretty neat that Barack Obama was edging ahead of John McCain in her usually solidly red state. After all, she said, Obama’s campaign was using the same sort of language that she had in her gubernatorial race. “The theme of our campaign was ‘new energy,’ ” she said recently. “It was no more status quo, no more politics as usual, it was all about change. So then to see that Obama—literally, part of his campaign uses those themes, even, new energy, change, all that, I think, O.K., well, we were a little bit ahead on that.”

Even though she knew she was being considered, on some level, as a possible GOP VP pick, Sarah Palin didn’t mind talking in ways that some might consider disloyal about the presidential race. In other words, unlike Barack, she wasn’t going to alter her stances to curry favor and gain power.

She also noted, “Something’s kind of changing here in Alaska, too, for being such a red state on the Presidential level. Obama’s doing just fine in polls up here, which is kind of wigging people out, because they’re saying, ‘This hasn’t happened for decades that in polls the D’ ”—the Democratic candidate—“ ‘is doing just fine.’ To me, that’s indicative, too. It’s the no-more-status-quo, it’s change.”

Sarah Palin, like John McCain, can say that she’s willing to risk personal political damage to be who she is and believe what she believes – and she can point to specific examples of having done so.

This was two weeks ago, at the statehouse in Juneau. After persistent reports, in July, that Palin was on McCain’s short list of potential running mates, her name had faded back into obscurity. Nobody in Alaska seemed to take her seriously as a national prospect, and she had shrugged the whole thing off on television, telling CNBC’s Larry Kudlow that, before considering the job, she would want to know “what is it, exactly, that the V.P. does every day.”

That sounds like someone who has the conviction to change the way Washington does business.

Now, at the statehouse, she sat, unattended by aides, curled up in a cardigan, and explained that what she had done every day since becoming governor was to stick her thumb in the eye of Alaska’s Republican Party establishment. “The G.O.P. leader of the state—we haven’t spoken since I got elected,” she said.

Barack walked away from his support for federal funding of elections, his promise on FISA, and his unequivocal commitment to withdraw troops on a fixed schedule – once cornerstone principles of his candidacy – because he wants power. That’s doesn’t forshadow a leader who will be an agent of change.

She went on, “I guess if you take the individual issues, two that I believe would be benchmarks showing whether you’re a hard-core Republican conservative or not, would be: I’m a lifetime member of the N.R.A.—but this is Alaska, who isn’t?—and I am pro-life, absolutely.” She continued, “I guess that puts me in a box of being hard-core Republican.” But she said she recognized that “the Democrats also preach individual freedoms and individual rights, capitalism, free market, let-it-do-its-thing-best, let people keep as much of their money that they earn as possible. And when it comes to, like, the Party machine, no one will accuse me of being partisan.”

Jeez. So this is what a real post-partisan candidate talks like. I have to admit, it will take some getting used to.

So the possibility that Obama might win Alaska did not worry Palin: “Turning maybe purple in the state means, to me, it’s more independent, it’s not the obsessive partisanship that gets in the way of doing what’s right for this state, and I think on a national level that’s what we’re gonna see.” And she added, “That’s why McCain is the candidate for the G.O.P.—because he’s been known as the maverick, as the conduit for some change.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, we now know that there are people out there who are actually living Barack’s fantasy. John McCain, who has a long record of taking political hits for doing what he thinks is right without regard for partisan considerations, and Sarah Palin, who doesn’t look at the world through red and blue colored glasses.

…on McCain’s signature issue—the prosecution of the war in Iraq—she did not sound so gung-ho. Her son is a soldier, and she said, “I’m a mom, and my son is going to get deployed in September, and we better have a real clear plan for this war. And it better not have to do with oil and dependence on foreign energy.”

Will the real Barack Obama please stand up? I believe she just did.

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