Palin and Randy Scheunemann

As Imsinca, my friend from over at The Plumline, alerted me yesterday, Randy Scheunemann attended Palin in her Hong Kong visit and speech.  That’s more than a little interesting.

As noted below in various posts, this blog’s thesis is that a coterie of influential conservative strategists are now managing Palin’s public image very tightly for the purpose of forwarding her as a candidate (likely for the presidency) in three years (or seven, if three looks too soon).

This thesis holds that:

1) there is an overall strategy to keep her isolated from the press and from any public situation where she might (would be certain to) continue to demonstrate her lack of education and intelligence/thoughtfulness and completel unsuitability for an office such as the Presidency of the US, as happened continually through the election

2) further, this period of isolation will be used to manipulate and rehabilitate her image through having others write her Facebook entries, op eds, etc (clearly the case)

3) these will be followed by key conservative opinion leaders promoting those Facebook entries etc as demonstrations of her “intellectual heft” (Limbaugh used this phrase after her first other-authored Facebook entry and Rich Lowry at the National Review used it again yesterday)

4) her resignation as Alaska governor was in aid of point 1) above.  Had she continued to hold that post, she would have been functioning in a public context daily and it would have been inevitable that she’d continue to blunder and demonstrate her unsuitability

5) a further bolstering of her image/reputation as having “intellectual heft” will be facilitated through speeches or written pieces in high-profile venues – Sarah speaks where Greenspan, Clinton and Gore speak!  In marketing jargon, this is called ‘positioning’, placing your product in association with other things or people broadly considered to be of high value.  Do these people think in this manner?  Andrew Card, ex GM exec, said as regards a question on when war with Iraq would begin,

From a marketing point of view you don’t introduce new products in August“.

(Quick note here on a contending thesis, which one might draw from her ex son-in-law’s recent interview, that she’s just out for money from speaking fees.  Who knows what is in her head?  But the above and what follows suggests there are others involved here who have a different agenda.)

So, the question presents itself, who would be strategizing in this manner and why?

The clues we already had were that Bill Kristol had been a key promoter of Palin after meeting her on a conservative cruise up to Alaska (pay the big bucks and get to mingle with top conservative leaders).  And Kristol’s support for Palin through the election and since has been unwavering.  The National Review and Weekly Standard (Kristol is a senior figure in both) have mirrored Kristol.  Likewise, Limbaugh.  Less vocally, but no less important, the Wall Street Journal.  We’ll note that, following Palin’s speech in Hong Kong, both the WSJ and the National Review (Rich Lowry) immediately put up glowing accounts of Palin’s speech and performance (the WSJ omitting to mention that some Americans present walked out of the speech and Rich Lowry using the Palin showed “intellectual heft” phrase).  There will undoubtedly be much more of this now careening around the rightwing media world but I haven’t had time to survey it all).

Another supporter, as a senior campaign figure and later, has been our Randy Scheunemann fellow.  After the failed election attempt, some voices in the McCain/Palin campaign were rather merciless in their accounts of Palin’s intellectual insufficiencies and in her overwhelming egocentricity and narcissism.    Jumping immediately to her defence (with smears of those who had spoken out) were Bill Kristol, the National Review, the Weekly Standard and Randy Scheunemann.

So, who is Randy?    What’s his political leaning?  Who is he connected with?  Paragraph one of the wikipedia entry kinda gives the game away…

Randall J Scheunemann is an American lobbyist. He is the President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which was created by the Project for the New American Century(PNAC), of which he is a board member. He was Trent Lott‘s National Security Aide and was an advisor to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Iraq. He is a paid lobbyist for the country of Georgia and was 2008 Presidential candidate John McCain‘s foreign-policy aide

The Project for a New American Century is the neoconservative body which advocated a pre-emptive attack on Iraq back in Clinton’s term (he ignored these people) but who gained central power under George W Bush.   Read up on them at Wikipedia if you aren’t familiar with these people.  Again, Bill Kristol is a central figure.   A or the central doctrine of this crowd is that America ought to act so as to ensure that it remains the single dominant international force, economically and militarily, through beating down any nation or international entity which might act to threaten US dominance.  If you’ve wondered why the UN has been propagandized against with such vigor, that’s the reason.  If you’ve wondered why these people are now suggesting it is better to continue hating Russia and to continue poking it in the eye just to piss it off and show who is boss, that’s the ‘rationale’.

How are the WSJ and Limbaugh related?  To get a complete picture, I suggest you read Annenburg’s “Echo Chamber”, a scholarly study (some of it is a bit of a wade) of how Limbaugh (talk radio generally, but Limbaugh most particularly) and the WSJ have functioned in tandem to manipulate the conservative movement over the last two to three decades (evicting moderates via the primary processes, for example) in order to foster business-friendly and war industry-friendly national policies and notions.  A revelatory, if depressing, exercise is to google the PNAC individuals and look for their ties to the weapons and military-related services industries.

And this all brings up the question of why in hell these folks would want someone so unprepared as Sarah Palin is to actually be pushed forward as national leader?    And the unavoidable conclusion is that they have no illusions about her at all.  She will be a leader nominally only.  Her lack of curiosity, her lack of education, her lack of experience, her lack of a coherent political philosophy, her lack of knowledge of the world, and her lack of strong and grounded opinions which aren’t merely simplistic and manipulatable cliches all make her, quite in the manner of Bush but even more so, a figurehead or placeholder leader.  Her electoral appeal is the other promising feature and it is key.  These folks are concerned with access to power above all else (Limbaugh is something else – he looks to be driven by an appetite for high status and money but I doubt he has a coherent notion in his pathological head re political theory).

Cynical?  Flat out Machiavellian?  You bet.  But if you read Leo Strauss, the neoconservative theorist under whom Kristol was tutored, you’ll find an unyielding Platonist – that is, holding a set of notions derived from Plato’s Republic where it is held that society must be managed by a select elite of political philosophers because the unwashed masses aren’t up to the task of self-governance or communal governance.  It is a seriously un-democratic philosophy.  As Strauss argued, for example, it is not a bad or immoral thing for this elite to lie to everyone else.  It is, within this philosophy, a “noble” responsibility.

Update: Ben Smith at Politico reports that Dan Blumenthal and DC lawyer Kim Daniels worked on the speech as well as Scheunemann.  Blumenthal is an AEI scholar who has co-written with serious war-mongering neoconservative  Robert Kagan.   Kim Daniels is a lawyer who works with the Thomas More Law Center…

The Thomas More Law Center is a not-for-profit public interest law firm dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. Our purpose is to be the sword and shield for people of faith, providing legal representation without charge to defend and protect Christians and their religious beliefs in the public square.

So, the Christian Right (who have also remained steadfast supporters of Palin) perceive some advantage in having her marketed  as well.  Any port in a liberal storm, I guess.  But there’s a bit of a conflict here.  From the Christianist perspective, God’s in charge.  From a neoconservative perspective, sure, we can tell that lie if it gets our person elected and then WE are in charge, bub.

Update: Andrew Sullivan notes some details from the new, improved and
re-programmed Sarah


9 responses to “Palin and Randy Scheunemann

  1. We are in complete agreement and I further contend that all this anti-government furor is nothing more than a blind to hide their behind the scenes manipulations.

  2. Bernie,

    Cogent, accurate, and frightening!!! Are these the folks that Eisenhour was warning about in his farewell shot at the “military-industrial complex”?

  3. Good morning, gentlepersons

    @rukidding – my understanding (not nearly as educated as it ought to be) of Eisenhower’s warning was that he was observing the building confluence between corporate power and government. He’s not an innocent in this, having been a key player in the very ugly United Fruit Growers story where the CIA, US military force and administration propaganda was used for the benefit of that company and the individuals in his administration who stood to gain personally through their ties to the company.

    But more importantly, I think, WW2 not only helped pull America out of the depression, it also saw the necessary rise in the American armaments industry. But what does such an industry, now very wealthy and powerful as business entities and tied into the government do during peace? Where and to whom does it market its products? If the dynamic is for business to grow and expand, what now? Eisenhower, it seems, saw these factors up close and thus his warning. As you know, the US now has a larger military expenditure than all the rest of the world’s nations combined. That’s a lot of lobbying. Worse, it surely means a lot of happy war-mongering.

    As I mentioned above, there are considerable ties between the PNAC crowd and this military/industrial corporate complex as it now exists (with “service” elements increasingly included as defence operations and monies have been shifted to the private sector, eg Blackwater and Halliburton). And when we see the on-going rah rah for super-expensive hardware systems to protect America against perhaps the Martians, these boys are usually near the center of such rah rah. Lots of ties to AEI as well.

    My own impression of all this is somewhat mechanistic or functionalist. That is, if Leo Strauss had died from measles at 14 and had never formulated his ideology and if Bill Kristol had been run over by a drunk NY cabbie on his way to private short-pants school on the Upper West Side, then some other ideology and personalities would have emerged to facilitate their present propagandist and organizational roles.

    @Imsinca – the present anti-government thing is really very interesting to me. There’s a long history of it in the US of course which we don’t really see in Canada and that is fundamentally, I think, a consequence of your rebellion against England – thus the Constitution, Bill of Rights, anti-federalist sentiments and a serious resistance to taxation. Toss in the manifestly paranoid tendencies that Hofstadter writes about so well and there’s a highly volatile mix that surges and wanes over time. Obviously, we’re in a surge period.

    But I think you are absolutely correct to imply a connection between all of that and modern conservative/RNC strategies. First, there has been an on-going purposeful drive to disaffect citizens from Democratic governance – really, to portray it as un-American and invalid or improper – to portray it as something alien and dangerous and outside of American traditions. A lot of money from the Scaifes and Coors and Bradleys (extremist and corporate) has gone into building up an entire propaganda industry and alternate media universe in order to forward these notions. A fundamental element to all of this is the “government is bad – IF a Democratic government but loyal and good if Republican” premise. After all, what else is it that Limbaugh and Coulter et al ever say?

    It is a ‘populist’ phenomenon but it has been manipulated and directed in a very particular and purposeful manner. Many individuals fall outside of this but overall that seems to be the picture.

  4. Added note:

    Murdoch’s role in all this isn’t clear to me. He clearly uses his media purchases and operations in order to gain political clout which in turn (as in the US) allows him to accumulate further media holdings and even further clout. The author of the recent book on him (which I haven’t read) insists that Murdoch’s political ‘philosophy’ – that is, the philosophy his holdings promote – would turn on a dime if he saw the money in that direction. But I’m not at all sure that I buy this. There’s no example that I know of in Australia or Britain or the US where he’s done anything else but push a rightwing agenda.

    He clearly facilitates all the stuff we’ve talked about above but he seems an odd man out.

  5. Here’s the connection between the two camps, one the military industrial complex, which you so aptly describe and two, the anit-government as a campaign slogan figureheads. The two are working together to achieve the same goal. Obviously, it would be difficult to run a campaign advocating war in a war weary America, absent another attack from outside forces. But the anti-government rhetoric can easily bridge that gap. Let’s hope Obama can turn things around in the coming year. It is fascinating watching our Sarah though.

  6. Imsinca
    Not sure what you mean there by “bridge the gap”.

  7. I think the anti-government platform resonates enough with an economically strapped populace that it can ease their way into office. What conservatives really want is a return to trickle down economics which protects the wealthy and the corporate interests and a return to America as the greatest force in the world and therefore expands the military (corporate) complex. They can’t sell this right now so in order to “bridge the gap” they are stoking the fires of anti-government sentiment. I believe that anger, which is very real during econimic crisis, needs to be directed toward the greed of corporate America instead.

  8. One more quick note to address my forming impression of conservative politics going forward. Palin, Huckabee, Romney, Dick Armey, Kristol and Beck are all positioned to advance the anti-government propaganda as they are currently outside of the government. Michelle Bachman was recently endorsed as an important voice in the congress by Boehner and Cantor. Isn’t she one of the most vocal anti-government spokespersons in the congress?
    Anyway, enough of my theories.

  9. Imsinca
    Sorry to be so long in responding…business busy.

    Understood re ‘bridge the gap’. Certainly, strategists on the right are trying to direct ‘populist’ resentment arising from the economic downturn onto Dems/liberals. As Republicans are tied more closely (in the popular mind and in reality) to corporate interests, they understand that one version of populist resentment (folks turning their anger towards wealthy business/banking elites) has to be prevented. The trick becomes diverting attention to other targets of resentment ripe in the American culture….race is one, fears of “government takeover” another, the old fears of “socialism/communism” another, anti-intellecutalism another, and resentment against some amorphous and non-deserving part of the community who are getting too much for little contribution (‘welfare queens’, illegal aliens etc). The propaganda campaign against Acorn rests, in its propaganda efficacy, on the first and last of those. But as Maddow and others have demonstrated, the anti-Acorn movement goes back further than the recent kefuffle and is actually a strategy designed to disempower an organization that gets poor folks (lots of blacks in there) out to the voting booths. So attacking it now in the manner being done has multiple goals – all to the same end of desired electoral advantage.

    On Bachmann, my impression of Boehner and Cantor’s recent endorsement was that it was a necessary correction following on a statement by them (or one of them) that Bachmann’s rhetoric was overboard and dangerous to Republicans’ electoral hopes. The potential for internecine war had to be closed down.

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