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