As we impatiently await an official campaign announcement, it’s fun to compare Palin versus Obama, right? …
So much was made of Barack Obama’s presidential "temperament" back in 2008. In fact, in the absence of any other rationale, it became the most popular reason for supporting him as election day neared. Even some conservative pundits fell in love with this one-word justification for electing an unknown entity to the most powerful position in the land.
In a world gone mad, we needed someone with the right "temperament" or so they reasoned.
But what did that mean – "temperament"? And can we now say unequivocally that it was a bad idea to elect someone solely based on the perception that they didn’t rattle easily? It wasn’t even a true perception: Obama’s handlers later acknowledged that they purposely controlled all his press ops during the campaign, and he mainly read verbatim from teleprompters along the trail.
We’ve now had a chance to see Obama "unplugged" as president. And frankly, it isn’t a pretty sight.
In unscripted moments, he’s accused hard-working police officers of "acting stupidly," berated surgeons for removing children’s tonsils and diabetics’ feet just for the profit, and called Tea Party Americans by the sexually explicit term "Tea Baggers." He’s publically ridiculed the Supreme Court, and compared Republicans who opposed tax increases with "hostage takers."
He encouraged Latino Americans to "punish their (Republican) enemies," while later claiming his political opponents "talk about" him like he’s "a dog."
President Obama has passed three significant pieces of legislation, all along stark party lines. He attracted a grand total of six Republican votes in three massive government growth bills, his signature accomplishments as president:
Stimulus – 306-221 both chambers with three GOP votes
Obamacare – 279-251 final vote both chambers with zero GOP votes (one if you count the original house vote)
Dodd-Frank Financial "Reform bill" – 297-231 final vote both chambers with three GOP votes
These are not the words and deeds of a mild-mannered person with a presidential temperament. These are the words and deeds of a hardcore partisan who has never held a chief executive position, and never faced real scrutiny or opposition — until now.
That is why we can’t judge presidential temperament from scripted media appearances alone. We have to see how someone behaves in the heat of battle, performing in a job with real accountability, in which they are governing for the benefit of all the people, not just their own party supporters.
This is in part why it’s so important for a president to have serious elected executive experience.
What can we learn about Sarah Palin’s presidential temperament from her serious elected executive experience?
Here’s what Newsweek wrote about her temperament in 2007 … long before they sold their souls to elect Barack Obama.
There are more female governors in office than ever before, and they are making their mark with a pragmatic, postpartisan approach to solving state problems. …
In Alaska, Palin is challenging the dominant, sometimes corrupting, role of oil companies in the state’s political culture. "The public has put a lot of faith in us," says Palin during a meeting with lawmakers in her downtown Anchorage office. … "They’re saying, ‘Here’s your shot, clean it up’." … Although she has been in office less than a year, (Gov. Sarah) Palin earns high marks from lawmakers on the other side of the aisle. During a debate earlier this year over a natural-gas bill, State Senate Minority Leader Beth Kerttula was astounded when she and another Democrat went to see the new governor to lay out their objections. “Not only did we get right in to see her,” says Kerttula, “but she asked us back twice—we saw her three times in 10 hours, until we came up with a solution.” Next week in Juneau, Alaska lawmakers will meet to overhaul the state’s system for taxing oil companies—a task Palin says was tainted last year by an oil-industry lobbyist who pleaded guilty to bribing lawmakers.
That massive overhaul of the tax system (ACES) passed 57-1. Palin’s other significant pieces of legislation were also overwhelmingly bi-partisan. The Gasline Inducement Act passed 59-1, and her Ethics Reform bill also won nearly unanimous support.
What about bagging on the opposing party?
In her speeches, Sarah Palin does not seem to criticize the Democratic party as a whole. While she has openly challenged what she calls the disastrous Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda, all of her criticisms are of specific ideas, and specific people, just as she makes a distinction between union "leaders" and the rank-and-file union member. In her RNC nominating speech, Palin didn’t utter the word Democrat once, except in referring to the "Democratic nominee." In her high-profile address to the Tea Party Nation conference, she talked about bringing conservative Democrats and independents on board the Tea Party agenda.
Sarah Palin is often described by the liberal media as polarizing or controversial but her sustained and unprecedented high approval ratings governing Alaska suggest that she was anything but. Almost two years into her term, she enjoyed nearly 90% approval, due to her focus on cleaning up corruption and pursuing broadly popular goals such as responsible energy development. Compare this with the fact that two years into his term, Obama was in the record books as one of the most polarizing presidents in modern history, with a 68-point gap in his approval ratings from Democrats and Republicans, due to his pursuit of divisive policies.
Based on words and deeds, Palin seems to know more than Obama how to serve the common good. As she said in her nominating speech:
Politics isn’t just a game of clashing parties and competing interests. No one expects us to agree on everything. But we are expected to govern with integrity, good will, clear convictions, and … a servant’s heart.
And what about presidential temperament? Here’s what one of Palin’s commissioners said about her emotional makeup and fitness for higher office:
"She is free-spirited, generous of heart, funny, spontaneous and, most importantly, fearless. She is all about her family and very grounded in who she is. She is a workhorse, has incredible charisma and touches the hearts of people. She is very intuitive, self-confident, and very, very strong. … If she runs in 2012, it will be a whole new ballgame."
Certainly in 2012, no one will suffer any delusions about Obama’s true temperament. And maybe, the media might discover the truth about the woman they’ve falsely called polarizing for three years.