Tuesday, September 01, 2009

At the Head of the Table: Churchill, Kennedy, & Palin

Definitely read this terrific piece at The American Spectator:
... The British statesman was a guest at a dinner in a private home. The dinner hour arrived and the guests made their way to the dining room. Churchill moved to a chair along the side of the table. Mortified, the hostess was quickly at his side, gesturing to the empty chair waiting for him. "Mr. Churchill," she said, "your seat is at the head of the table." To which Churchill responded in typical Churchillian style. "Madame," he said, "wherever I sit is the head of the table." And with that -- the Great Man sat down where he was.

This is a rare quality in political leaders. In reality it's a human trait, not a political one. Your Aunt Sally could possess Churchill's "head of the table" characteristic and not your Uncle Jim. Yet in the rarefied world of politics, where there is by definition a handful of nationally prominent politicians at any given moment, possessors of Churchill's "head of the table" trait stand out.

They possess, as did Winston Churchill, an unquantifiable capability that can not just electrify a room full of supporters but send them into passionate fits of ecstasy -- while simultaneously sending opponents into a furious, foaming rage. If these politicians master the art of using this quality, they can instantly play a huge role in anything from a winning political campaign to driving a piece of legislation across the legislative finish line. Or stopping it.

By now, a year after her emergence on the national scene, it is crystal clear that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has this "head of the table" gene in spades. She is, in a remarkable way, the real heir -- make that heiress -- to Senator Kennedy. She is charismatic, she has a decided point of view and she is a lightning rod for controversy. Just as Kennedy managed to sink a once sure-thing Supreme Court nomination with his famous Bork speech, Governor Palin has managed to explode Section 1233 of the ObamaCare House bill with her vivid description of "death panels," severely damaging the President's entire legislative priority in the process.

Are there other Americans on the political scene like this right now? Yes indeed, with some having one-word name identification with most Americans. Hillary and Newt would be two in this rarified crowd. Former vice presidents Dick Cheney and Al Gore are another two, making headlines regularly, both out of office with the presidency in each case seemingly never in the cards.

This is what really drives Sarah Palin's critics nuts. She sits up there in Alaska with Todd and the kids, taps out a few words on her Facebook page -- and presto! ObamaCare has a torpedo amidships! Without doubt this causes Palin's rivals, just as it once did with Churchill's and Teddy Kennedy's, to fret and fume if not foam.

There are a zillion talk radio hosts in America these days. I need not mention the "R" word for everyone out there to know who is, instantly, understood by all to be "talk radio." This is Churchill's head of the table factor on radio. She may be quiet over there in the State Department at the moment, seething about her treatment in the White House or elsewhere, but there isn't an American awake who doesn't know Hillary is there, plotting, planning --well, something. This is Churchill's head of the table factor momentarily setting up shop in the State Department.

like Ted Kennedy, Sarah Palin has a gift. An ability to make Americans focus on the issue of the day -- and likewise the head of the table ability to lead the country in a specific direction. In fact, she just did it on health care, making her sentiments plain with a Kennedy-style "Robert Bork's America" pronouncement. No other losing vice-presidential candidate in American history has drawn this kind of attention -- whether the passionate applause or the enraged disdain -- as Sarah Palin. Every time her enemies disparage her it only serves to underline the point, just as Ted Kennedy's enemies did the same with him.

[Read the whole thing]

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