Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hockey Moms and Capital Markets

"Hockey Moms and Capital Markets" is the title of an article by David P. Goldman, who usually writes under the pseudonym "Spengler." His piece appeared in the Thailand-based online newspaper, The Asia Times. James C., who has contributed so mightily in recent days, sent me excerpts from the Goldman piece, along with comments of his own.

Sarah Palin is one of what's known in Great Britain as the "shire-folk," country people. who live well outside the big cities' suburbs. Consider the following from J. R. R. Tolkien: "This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the Great. Who of all the Wise could have foreseen it?" --Elrond, Lord of the Rings

The fact that Sarah Palin is of the shire-folk -- and not a fellow elitist -- is precisely what scares Obama most -- more perhaps than Iran, more than North Korea, more than Pakistan. He believes he can talk them to death, but that's not possible with Sarah Palin. Obama believes "there is no life outside the Beltway." Sarah believes no such thing. What frightens Obama is that Sarah's goal is to banish him from his beloved Beltway.

Goldman's piece is at:
Here's are some of the more poignant parts:

"What does America have that Asia doesn't have? The answer is, Sarah Palin - not Sarah Palin the vice presidential candidate, but Sarah Palin the "hockey mom" turned small-town mayor and reforming Alaska governor. All the PhDs and MBAs in the world can't make a capital market work, but ordinary people like Sarah Palin can.

Laws depend on the will of the people to enforce them. It is the initiative of ordinary people that makes America's political system the world's most reliable. America is the heir to a long tradition of Anglo-Saxon law that began with jury trial and the Magna Carta and continued through the English Revolution of the 17th century and the American Revolution of the 18th. Ordinary people like Palin are the bearers of this tradition.

Outside of the United States, the young governor of Alaska has become a figure of ridicule - someone who did not own a passport until last year and who quaintly believes that her state's proximity to Russia gives her insights on foreign policy. How, my European friends ask, was it possible for such an an ignorant bumpkin to become a candidate for America's second-highest office? They don't understand America.

Provincial America depends on the initiative of ordinary people to get through the day. America has something like an Education Ministry, but it has little money to dispense.

Americans pay for most of their school costs out of local taxes, and levy those taxes on themselves. In small towns, many public agencies, including fire protection and emergency medical assistance, depend almost entirely on volunteers. People who tax themselves, and give their own time and money for services on which communities depend, are not easily cowed by the federal government or by large corporations.

Palin's career may look like a poor imitation of a Preston Sturges script, but films such as Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) struck a chord with Americans precisely because the character type of the ordinary man or woman who takes on entrenched interests is instantly recognizable in America.

Palin really did take on the American oil companies and turn the scoundrels out of office. Her predecessor, Frank Murkowski, appointed her to the state oil and gas commission in the apparent belief that a small-town mayor and former beauty queen would rubber-stamp corrupt deals between the state and the Big Oil companies.

Shades of Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington: Palin ran against Murkowski and took his job. That does not qualify her to be president, to be sure, but it does show cunning and strength of character. Palin is qualified for high office by temperament if not by education, and is preferable to candidates whose education has made no improvement on their characters.

"One doesn't see demonstrations by wronged peasants in the small towns of America. There never were peasants - American farmers always were entrepreneurs - and the locals avenge injury by taking over their local governments, which have sufficient authority to make a difference. At the capillary level, school boards, the Parent Teachers' Association, self-administered religious organizations and volunteer organizations incubate a political class entirely different from anything to be found in Asia. There are tens of thousands of Sarah Palins lurking in the minor leagues of American politics, and they are the guarantors of market probity."

James C. adds the following comments: "Contrary to claims by our current president, 'ordinary and common' Americans are not bitter and clinging to guns and God; rather they exercise and demonstrate their commitment to family, faith, hunting, and hard work. I've heard those and other critiques before, about the lack of foreign policy experience, the ‘provincialness’, or lack of 'sophistication' whatever these terms mean from the other side of the Atlantic, mostly from upper class Oxbridge (Oxford & Cambridge graduates) toffs, Tony Blair’s Nu-Labour, and Guardianist's who maintained a healthy contempt for the Sarah Palin’s of the UK- 'Middle Englanders' and 'Daily Mail Readers' and 'Rural people'. I think a more apt term is' Shire-folk' as Tolkien would describe them.

"No, that doesn’t mean that Sarah Palin or other 'Middle Americans' are hobbits, but Tolkien’s metaphors still ring true for the Shire-folk of America as they did for the Shire-folk of England.

"Like America, it's the Middle Englanders who make England work in spite of Whitehall. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that Margaret Thatcher, a girl from a small town in England, worked her way up to become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. One can only hope that happens in this nation."

Thanks James. You have a profound understanding of this country . . . and of Gov. Sarah Palin.

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