Pumas 4 Palin

Lessons for Sarah Palin on Bill Clinton’s Birthday

Posted on: August 18, 2009


(Scroll down for an explanation!)

The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton was born August 19, 1946.

Let’s wish Bill many, many happy returns of the day!

The Big Dawg’s latest public appearance can be seen in this video of the Netroots Nation ’09 Convention earlier this month.


The reason for republishing this post on Bill Clinton is multifarious.

Bill is beloved of the PUMA people. Go ahead and check a couple of dozen puma blogs, you will see love for Bill in every one of them, often even more affection for Bill than for Hillary, if that were possible.

Pumas of all persuasions admire the Big Dawg for his political acumen, his laconic humor, his inexhaustible energy, his intellectual grasp, his ability to work an audience, his relaxed visceral interactive style, his centrist policy stance, his icy steadfastness, and yes, for his flawed character. Pumas, more than anyone, acknowledge the frailty of human soul, the consuming flame that is political ambition, and hence we seek no perfect human. Pumas don’t believe in unicorns.  The solid grounding in reality is what drives pumas, and just as we know there is no perfect politician, we also demand fair play even in the dirty game of politics. Bill Clinton was victimized by the nasty elements of the GOP in the most evil manner, period. Everything else about impeachment was mere talking points gibberish. So much so that during the 2008 election season, while most Dems were happy drinking the koolade and bashing the Clintons, Pumas (who actually didn’t know they were Pumas yet) watched aghast, at the destruction of Hillary’s candidacy and the diminution of her stature. Pumas believe in a certain non-partisan integrity, fairness and simple honesty, above all else. That explains why a lot of pumas became un-Democrats,  some forever; a few became Republicans, some totally Palinized. It’s possible though, that one might even go so far as to say that there may be linkages of bloodline, at the individual voter level, even if not at leadership level,  amongst Pumas, Blue Dog, Moderate GOP, and  DLC mindset. Whatever the connection or attraction, the free thinking, independent minded voters in the middle of the political spectrum like politicians of a certain special sort and strength.

This is fertile demographic for Sarah Palin. A section of the American public that warms to the personality and policy achievements of Bill Clinton in a non-partisan way, that demographic also is likely to warm up to Sarah Palin for pretty much the same reasons: compelling life story, great personal style and charm, an instinct for political goodness, a warm, humorous persona; lively, jazzy, blue collar cool; gritty, unyielding personal force of will power – these are all traits Sarah projects and folks recognize. A quintessentially, historically American personality.

The great challenge however is, can Sarah Palin go across the completely artificial, cultural divide of popular polemics to touch these folks? Can Sarah Palin connect with the independendents and Pumas, not as a Republican, but as a person – mom, citizen, mayor, activist, parent, and vote-seeker? Will the ‘base’ let her? The only way to find out is do it. Just go around the country, mix casually with folks at the block party level, just make a human contact. When Sarah travels to these areas of lower US over the next year, she should seek out the non-GOP sections, venture into unfriendly areas, even the urban lairs, and let them get to know her up close. And talk endlessly about herself and her ideas, and listen to everyone that will talk to her. Bill Clinton could teach her a thing or two about that!

Sarah Palin IS a lot like Bill Clinton: Now, let me say right off the bat that this statement exposes me to all sorts of charges, most of all of projection. Followers of Obama were accused of seeing in him every sort of messianic answer to each and every problem. But that’s not what I am talking about. If I am drawn to Sarah Palin it’s not because of what I expect her to deliver via a certain legislation, rather it is because of what I seen in her personality, character and demeanor.  Her style informs me of her substance, more than more than my hopes of her legislation.

Sarah Palin the politician exhibits a lot of characteristics that a successful leader like Bill Clinton proved are needed.  It’s true, her ardent followers would prefer to compare her to Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and so on. For some reason they don’t usually mention the two-termer Bush 43, why is that?  Could it be that everyone except the hardcore know what a disaster GWB was?  After all, no one person is more responsible for driving the youth and the middle class of this country into a love affair with Obama – and resurgence of the hard left- than the ineffectual GWB. Mid term election of 2006 was the abject proof of that. Bush admitted so much when he replaced Rumsfeld with Gates, less than a week after the election. What can be more pathetic than that!

It is wishful thinking that seeks to liken Sarah to Reagan or Thatcher. This doesn’t mean she won’t turn out to be like them. Sarah might yet wind up becoming the great true savior of this nation, but wishing it to be so ain’t gonna make it happen. It is going to take a lot of work on  Sarah’s  part, and even more work on her followers part – for they should let her be, without strings like on a puppet – to let Sarah Palin go forth and develop an attachment with the American public that engenders a victory, that enables a vision to be shared, and that builds joinly a sense of dignity that the nation is groping for. If Sarah can lead, and her follower will follow, the rest of the nation will follow suit.

In terms of sheer charisma, style, potential, passion and verve, and yes being a lightning rod for the opposition – in a lot of ways, Sarah Palin is  like Bill Clinton, just replace the saxophone with a hunting gun. The moralists at both extremes of right and left might go aghast at this comparison, but for my money their style of political struggle is surely a winning way. We already know that Bill Clinton thinks very highly of Sarah Palin as a politician.

Also too, both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton exemplify a certain type of scrappy, dogged pursuit of ambition that is classically American. It’s an illustration of the individual triumphing over the institutionalized obstacle, overcoming those obstacles and reshaping the institutions themselves, namely the parties. Both of them took a long time to plan, build up steam, and face insurmountable odds. Sarah Palin is looking at a similar story to be written, as a redeemer of the party, who just happens to be a leader of the nation also. She too is looking at a party in pretty much in the same bad shape as faced those two gents. It won’t come easy for her, but then nothing ever did. She more than any other person knows, that as a commercial fisherman so much work is preparation, the hard work, the detail, the grind, the grime. The actual act of catching fish … well, Sarah knows it all. I just hope she is somewhere in a quiet place, mulling things over. Just getting ready, that is!

In one of the clips here, Bill Clinton talks about interesting divergence in the paths taken by himself versus Hillary in public and private spheres of service. The point of that I believe is that you go with the flow of life, and serve if that’s what you chose to do. That is service in public or private sphere, both could be satisfying, challenging, just different in terms of frame and scope. Should Sarah Palin chose the private sphere, NGO, church, academia, commerce, etc., that would be fine too. The world loves Sarah too much to forget her. She could continue to be in public view without being in office or even be active in  politics. A Hillary-style “listening tour” of the lower 48 would do wonders for her image. It will certainly keep her base energized, to be guided through 2010 vote. It will bring a lot of independents, blue dogs, and pumas into her orbit of influence.  It will also give a lot of  ‘other’  people a chance at a second look at Sarah, that is cool, dispassionate and away from the heat and polemic of an election season. There will certainly be a moment that is yet to come, when this country will need another strong advocate of Americana, when that moment comes, there should be a leader ready. The very worst thing that Sarah could do is fade away like Gerry Ferraro. For Sarah Palin  is the repository of so many dreams and hopes;  she holds in trust so much that was possible, yet stolen away. So Sarah, hang around, prepare, and be ready.


Original Post Begins Here:

The William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation
P.O. Box 1104
Little Rock, AR 72203
Phone: 501-370-8000
Fax: 501-375-0512

Proper Form of Address
Envelope Address: The Honorable (President’s name)
Salutation: Dear Mr. (last name)

This has been a most active and public year in the life of the 42nd president since he left office as the only 2-term Democrat in the White House since FDR. He visited almost every state, hundreds of small towns in America saw a president for the first time. He took a lot of heat, all of it unwarranted. form every direction, the right, the left, the radical left, the neocons, and so on. He withstood it all with just the same fortitude as he did while in office. Hence the affectionate name given to him by admirers in the blogosphere, The Big Dawg.

Here, a couple of videos down the memory lane, those were the days – will they return?

Where is Arsenio these days?

And the best of all, the final State of the Union address in 2000. Just listen to the applause.


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