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The Power of Authenticity


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Kristol: Gingrich on the Power of Authenticity

Newt Gingrich e-mailed me the following, which he gave me permission to share with the wider world:

Authenticity is the one word threat to the Obama-Biden ticket.

There is something going on this weekend which traditional pundits, traditional consultants and traditional politicians are simply missing. All of the normal biography-oriented and issue-oriented analysis misses an emotional gestalt event comparable to when Ronald Reagan in 1980 crystalized his leadership in New Hampshire when he seized control of the GOP debate.

In one sudden moment Friday, John McCain fundamentally changed American politics in a manner that transcends issues and details.

The great threat to the Obama-Biden ticket can be captured in one word: authenticity.

There is something unaffected and "unsophisticated" (in the Columbia, Princeton, Harvard and University of Chicago meanings of the word) about Governor Palin. She really was point guard of a state championship basketball team. She really is a competent hunter. She is a hockey mom. She has one son about to go to Iraq.

She has 13 years in elected office

By any practical standard she has done far more in the real world with much more spontaneity and practicality than Barack Obama. And there is something deeply real and courageous about John McCain ignoring most of his advisers and all of the "insider wisdom" to reach out to a younger woman whose greatest characteristic is undaunted courage and a willingness to clean out the corruption in her own party.

This is a moment of stunning authenticity versus a sad collapse on the part of the Obama campaign from " change you can count on" to politics as usual, as marked by Obama's choice of a senator first elected when Palin was 9 years old.

As I wandered around from a family restaurant to the dry cleaners to a variety of other non-political places, people kept walking up to me and talking with energy and enthusiasm about their reaction to McCain’s choice of Governor Palin. As I sifted through their emotions and the intensity of their reaction it hit me that they were responding to "the real thing." The power of Palin is that she is so out of the establishment, and so out of the talking-heads, inside-the –Beltway-elite mindset, that the 80 per cent of Americans who believe we are on the wrong track suddenly can identify with someone who isn’t part of what got us on that track.

Palin will make mistakes. The news media and the Obama researchers will find things to attack. But if she stays relaxed and continues to be authentically who she has been for 44 years, the country is going to love her, and they are very rapidly going to get disgusted with the cynical negative nastiness of politics as usual.

Finally 2008 really has given us "change we can count on." Ironically, it is the McCain-Palin ticket.

Posted by William Kristol on August 30, 2008 04:12 PM


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