(Denver Post, June 26) “The best man in the cabinet.” That’s how Golda Meir was described by her colleague, David Ben-Gurion. She went on to lead Israel to victory in one of its darkest hours, the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Meir once attended Denver’s North High School, and you can visit her girlhood home in Auraria.
The little grandmother was revered as “the Iron Lady,” before Britons conferred the title on Margaret Thatcher. The grocer’s daughter was not one to shrink from the sound of the guns either. She vanquished Argentina in the Falklands and helped stiffen George H. W. Bush’s spine (when they were together in Aspen, as it happened) after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
I thought of the Iron Ladies, with their Colorado connections and their heroic leadership of America’s closest allies, last week after Michele Bachmann electified the first Republican presidential debate. Pundits were derisive, one scoffing that her rivalry with Sarah Palin is a "cat fight." Unfair? Yes. Surprising? No.
Palin and Bachmann know you don’t go on the playground unless you can take rough teasing, and both have survived worse. This latest round merely reminds us it’s a liberal man’s world in which conservative women are fair game for putdowns and the non-sexist PC rules apparently don’t apply.
It’s ironic, though -- because there’s evidence that each woman is no common kitty, but a lioness with mettle such as few American politicians of either sex have demonstrated in our times. While Bachmann and Palin can’t yet be compared with Thatcher or Meir, both are on a career arc that could lead there in a decade. What two other women, after all, have ever vied for a major party’s presidential nomination?
As for the evidence I’m referring to, Denver audiences wowed by the Minnesota congresswoman and the former Alaska governor could attest to their remarkable appeal. Colorado Christian University, where I work, brought in Michele Bachmann last summer and Sarah Palin this spring. Each lit up the room.
Bachmann roused a crowd of 600 at Western Conservative Summit 2010 with her fiery yet precise argument for returning Congress and the White House to Republican hands. Palin was equally impressive as she used a speech at CCU on May 2, the day after our forces killed Bin Laden, to spell out a statesmanlike doctrine for the use of U.S. military power.
After some banter about basketball and bear hunting, the alleged airhead from Wasilla (perpetually underestimated, like a certain B-movie actor who won 49 states and took down the USSR) deftly zinged Pakistan’s double-dealing and Obama’s “ill-defined” Libyan folly. Then with Reaganesque toughness she set forth five principles for the American way of war:
(1) “Commit our forces only when clear and vital American interests are at stake.”
(2) “If we have to fight, fight to win. Use overwhelming force. Defeat the enemy as quickly as possible. Nation-building is not the main purpose of our armed forces.”
(3) “Have clearly defined goals and objectives before sending in troops. If you can’t explain the mission to the American people clearly and concisely,” stay out.
(4) “American soldiers must never be put under foreign command.”
(5) “Sending our armed forces should be the last resort. We don’t go looking for dragons to slay.”
Neither of the Bushes, nor Clinton, nor Obama, ever put it so well. America’s day will come, as Britain’s and Israel’s did, to be led by a lioness. Not one but two are in view for 2012. Lady Liberty could do a lot worse than Bachmann or Palin.
Thursday, 9 December 2010 07:36 by Admin
Head On, long a feature on TV in Denver and now presented by Centennial Institute, this month offers a friendly disagreement about whether Nancy Pelosi is one of the winners or sinners of 2010. But there is something closer to unanimity on Gov. John Hickenlooper's continued quirkiness in 2011.
Reviewing the old year in the December round of mini-debates, John Andrews lauds the American worker while Susan Barnes-Gelt pans the Tea Party. And hold the presses - what's this about Palin joining Obama's cabinet?
John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month<!--more--> over an agenda for Congress, priorities for Denver's next mayor, and strategies for improving Colorado schools. <em>Head On</em> has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for December:
1. WINNERS AND SINNERS OF 2010
Susan: There is ample blame and praise to go around for the first decade of the 21st Century.Winners: Wall Street fat cats, Sarah Palin and the tea party; the national Republican Party. Sinners: fat cats, Palin, the Republican Party.
John: The decade started with New York and Washington under attack. It ended with the mistake that is Obamacare and the mediocrity that is Pelosi. Despite that we still lead the world, thanks to the American worker amidst this recession, the American voter left and right, and the American soldier sacrificing so much.
Susan: D C and Wall Street losers all - came out as winners if you count the money they stashed by fleecing the American public. Pelosi is a winner, fighting hard for the American public, while Obama and the Democratic Senate played to the fat cats. Unlike Gingrich who quit when he lost the majority, she's a winner!
John: Right. But she is the liberal gift that keeps on giving. While San Fran Nancy lingers on, though, 2010 is outta here. Departing in disappointment are Betsy Markey, John Salazar, Bernie Buescher, and Cary Kennedy. Entering the new year in glory are Hickenlooper, Bennet, Stapleton, Gessler, and Troy Tulowitzki.
2. FEARLESS PREDICTIONS FOR 2011
John: Fasten your seatbelts for a wild ride in 2011.Here are John and Susan’s fearless predictions for a year you won’t believe.TSA requires a colonoscopy for every airline passenger.Gov. Hickenlooper puts Tancredo in charge of Hispanic outreach. Carmelo Anthony leaves the Nuggets and is elected mayor in a landslide.
Susan: The uber popular John Hickenlooper sees Mr. President in the mirror after his first Democratic Governors Association meeting, and sets up a field operation in Iowa. Denver voters are so unimpressed with mayoral candidates that they unanimously elect 'none of the above' as mayor.
John: Also in 2011, WikiLeaks exposes the secret life of Joe Biden and nobody notices. Ex-coaches Josh McDaniels and Dan Hawkins go into witness protection. Obama sends Hillary to Afghanistan as commanding general and names Sarah Palin secretary of state to remove her from the 2012 picture. His poll numbers skyrocket.
Susan: Denver traffic engineers convert all the city’s 1-way streets to 2-way and add bus-rapid-transit to Colfax – causing Denver’s economy to boom! Someone slips truth serum in DC’s politician’s eggnog, causing nationwide voter recalls. 2011 ushers in a decade of peace, health and economic stability for man & womankind.
3. PRIORITIES FOR CONGRESS
Susan: The lame duck session needs to be euthanized! Both parties are ignoring the overwhelming best interests of the American people: jobs, jobs, jobs. Tax breaks for millionaires is a distraction. Obama must take the lead and veto any unreasonable bill.
John: Congress changing hands at the turn of the year is good news for Americans who were concerned about our country drowning in debt while government grew and liberty shrank. The Republican House needs to resist any tax increase, set about repealing Obamacare, and get tough on radical Islam.
Susan: Puuleeeze John. Americans want jobs. They want their kids to be educated and the troops, stuck in Afghanistan defending a corrupt government, to come home. The US healthcare system eats nearly 10% of the GNP - the highest in the world. We need to invest in education, infrastructure and retraining workers. Otherwise, pass the marmalade, we're toast.
John: What Americans want was clear on election day. The Tea Party made itself heard. Taxpayers are demanding some adult leadership in Washington DC for a change. A president in over his head and a Congress out of touch paid the price. Speaker John Boehner is the new sheriff in town.
4. PRIORITIES FOR DENVER’S NEXT MAYOR
Susan: Denver`s next mayor faces challenges and opportunities. Here is my to do list: 1. Love the city and tell the truth.2. Restore two-way traffic to all downtown streets.3. Replace the chief of police. 4. Develop a retail strategy for the City to address declines in sales tax.
John: Better yet, a strategy for overall economic growth. The candidate who offers a vision for making Denver a magnet for jobs, innovation, and in-migration will deserve to win in a walk. Pull the plug on Hickenlooper’s tax-and-spend policies. Discourage medical marijuana. Privatize, deregulate, and restore the pride of law enforcement.
Susan: To continue - explore taking over Denver Public Schools to restore sanity and accountability. Don't run unless you truly believe in City Building, the ability of local government to make a positive difference - and, most important, develop and articulate a vision - in short: LEAD!
John: Leadership equals taking things over, Susan? There you Democrats go again. Denver has an elected school board. Let them do their work and let the mayor do his. Economic growth, safe streets, and livable neighborhoods ought to be plenty. If only Democrats and Republicans competed for mayor.
5. BETTER SCHOOLS FOR COLORADO
John: Colorado’s billion-dollar budget deficit means that state aid to education will be cut for the second straight year. But learning performance could improve if legislators free the districts from mandates and school boards face down the teacher unions. Students in Utah achieve higher than Colorado at 60 cents on the dollar.
Susan: The issue isn't unions or no unions - it's hiring good teachers, paying them well and firing them if they don't. No urban school district has the resources to educate the diversity of students who walk through the door. It's not about mandates. It's about ensuring every student and her family have a full range of opportunity.
John: Increased resources are impossible right now, and they aren’t the answer anyway. America’s real spending per pupil has doubled since my kids started school, with zero improvement in test scores. Education expert William Moloney says by following the example of other countries, we can have much lower budgets and much better schools.
Susan: You’re half right, John -- more money in the classroom doesn’t necessarily translate to better schools. Improving the quality of teacher education and training, lengthening the school day and year are part of the puzzle. There’s not simple answer but cutting budgets is not a magic bullet.
(Denver Post, May 30) An Alaska mayor shocks the governor in a primary, then humbles an ex-governor in the general election, then electrifies the nation as John McCain’s running mate. A legislator from the laughing-stock Massachusetts Republicans upsets the attorney general to capture a perennially Democratic Senate seat. A lowly Pennsylvania congressman ignores the president’s support for a party-switching senator and retires him in a primary, Obama endorsement and all.You know their names. In ousting Arlen Specter, Joe Sestak (corrupt job offer notwithstanding) followed a pattern set by Scott Brown and Sarah Palin. Voters in both parties are turning to conviction candidates and giving resume’ candidates the boot. Palin’s rollicking speech at DU last weekend, hours after the state Republican convention, got me wondering whether the same pattern fits Colorado.Laughing that it was fun to do politics at an ice rink, the Wasilla hockey mom skated in to forecheck the Messiah himself. Her deft indictment of Mr. Obama’s policies delighted the crowd of several thousand, about half of them Tea Partiers by a show of hands. With her peroration on Reagan as a model of the “lifeguard leadership” America needs, you could hear Sarah asking herself: “Should I run in 2012?”Time will tell. Right now there is 2010 to deal with, and on a Saturday that had seen conventional wisdom toppled among both Democrats and Republicans, something else you could hear was our state’s previously favored hopefuls for senator and governor frantically recalculating their chances.Jane Norton and Ken Buck, Senate rivals in the August GOP primary, both attended the Palin event. Once the underdog, he was riding a 77% delegate majority and positive media buzz. She was coming off several days of rough press and party grumbling over her decision to bypass the convention and file petitions. Listening in on their thoughts that night would have been fascinating. Though still formidable in likability, endorsements, and funding, the former lieutenant governor now clearly has a race on her hands. For all that Norton was recently lauded by Gov. Palin as a “pink elephant,” a conservative woman to watch, the pit bull of the hour seems to be Buck.The same dramatic reversal of fortune, like something out of the movies, has befallen Michael Bennet and Andrew Romanoff, Senate rivals on the Democratic side. Romanoff, feisty and buoyant, radiates conviction. Bennet has the resume’, but he plods. The incumbent’s war chest and White House backing may prove no more decisive for him than they were for poor Arlen Specter.It was in the race for governor, though, that May 22 invited the craziest speculation on who might become Colorado’s Sarah Palin. Evergreen businessman Dan Maes, authentic and fearless but politically unknown, announced in early 2009 against Gov. Bill Ritter. Fat chance. Like most Republicans, I shrugged and awaited the serious contenders. First came former congressman Scott McInnis, then state Sen. Josh Penry, then (very briefly) former presidential candidate Tom Tancredo. But suddenly last November, Penry and Tancredo were out. This January, Ritter too was out. And now as June begins, McInnis sits SECOND on the ballot behind, of all people, Dan Maes.Is it another case of conviction trumping resume’? If latecomer Joe Gschwendtner gains traction, does a three-way primary (like Palin’s in 2006) help Maes? Could Dauntless Dan, if nominated by the GOP, beat the media’s darling, John Hickenlooper? There is precedent. Back in 1962, the untried John Love took out Democrat Gov. Steve McNichols. Things are at a boil, and as Samuel Adams of Boston Tea Party fame observed, “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.” Americans and Coloradans, fired up about over-government, have made this a year of surprises already. My hunch is we haven’t seen anything yet.
('76 Contributor) Last Saturday, May 22, I went to a conference at the University of Denver where Governor Sarah Palin, along with radio hosts Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt, defended limited constitutional government against the excesses of President Obama. While I found all three speeches inspiring and entertaining, Dennis Prager’s speech stood out as the most concise and substantive.
Hugh Hewitt gave a “Ten Commandments for 2010,” in which he exhorted the American people to support powerful republican candidates in the election and to discuss current issues with their Democratic friends.
Sarah Palin gave a rousing speech against Obamacare and its inherent rationing, Obama’s apology-driven foreign policy, the irresponsibility in government that gave rise to Greece’s economic debacle, and the condemnation of Arizona for enforcing national immigration laws. She ended on a positive note, mentioning Ronald Reagan’s history as a lifeguard, his personality grounded in conviction, and his optimistic common sense.
While these speeches strongly encouraged the audience, their focus on current issues constrains their power to the present. Dennis Prager’s speech, by contrast, voiced America’s foundational principles and the current disagreement about them. He proclaimed that the current political struggle is not about personalities, but ideas, that the American and Left-wing worldviews are waging a civil war over the heart of America.
He illustrated the Left-wing’s confusion in three points. The Left attacks the motives of TEA Partiers, declaring them racist and prejudiced, while defending those of terrorists, explaining that they might have had a bad day or faced a difficult foreclosure. The Left considers Arizona to be an enemy, and tries to negotiate with Iran. Finally, they do not understand the American system.
After listing these confusions, Prager explained the spirit of America as a trinity of three values proclaimed on any coin in your pocket -- E Pluribus Unum, "Liberty," and "In God We Trust."
**He praised America as the least racist country in the world, noting how any immigrant becomes an American the very day he arrives, while immigrants to Europe do not assimilate, even after many generations. In contrast to the American spirit of E Pluribus Unum, the Left divides Americans into interest groups, and cannot understand when a black man stands up at a TEA Party with his “fellow Americans.”
** Secondly, Prager commented on the American love of liberty, in contrast to the Left’s desire for equality of result, even when it leads to poverty.
** Finally, he acknowledged America’s motto, “In God We Trust,” arguing that America was not founded to be a secular nation. Declaring the United States a Bible-based country, he explained that there is no liberty without God, and that God is the author of Human Rights.
After praising the term “Radical Islam” as a defense of normal Islam, Prager concluded his speech with another emphasis on liberty. He declared that “the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen,” and that as the freedom of citizens grows, the size government must shrink.
When asked about the biggest threat to the future of our country, Dennis Prager answered that it is not Obama, but rather our failure to understand what it means to be an American. He declared that there is a moral dimension to smaller government, and that when the government grows the citizens lose their virtue. We are our own problem, and we need to fix it.
Finally, in his closing remarks, Prager stood up against Obama’s attack on American exceptionalism. He quoted Lincoln, who said that America is the last best hope for mankind. Such a statement, Prager noted, has never been voiced for Norway, Sweden or Denmark. Obama states that he believes in American exceptionalism just as a Brit believes in British exceptionalism or a Norwegian believes in Norwegian exceptionalism. This relativistic statement holds that American exceptionalism is not exceptional. Dennis Prager believes that it is, explaining that it was our military who liberated Auschvitz and repeating the age-old wisdom that we mark a great experiment in Republican Government.
America stands at a cross-roads, and struggles in what many have called a “culture war.” The battlefield stands all around us, and American values face daily attacks. The very character of our great nation seems to be at stake, and it depends upon the people to stand up for what is good, true, and beautiful. I do not know whether the “Left” is the enemy, but someone is, and we must stand up for what we know to be good and true. Each citizen has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and therefore he has a duty to stand for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
As Governor Palin said at the end of her speech, our nation’s hope does not lie in Washington D.C., amid the columns of Congress or the power of the President. Our nation’s hope lies in the hearts and minds of its people, and you, and you alone, can defend her.
Tyler O'Neil is a Coloradan currently majoring in history at Hillsdale College.
There's a case of Founding Father forgetfulness creeping through the GOP. Sarah Palin recently showed the extent of the infection. But it seems Colorado is not immune, and may be in desperate need of the vaccine.
In a recent interview with Glenn Beck, Palin was asked to name her favorite Founding Father. While visibly scrounging through her mind's historical file cabinet, she bought some time by declaring, “Well, all of them.” Beck fired back: “Bull crap.” Like a young paralegal, she continued to search her files, eventually producing a name: “Of course, George Washington.” The light bulb above her head was almost blinding, the relief in her face embarrassing.
But while Palin's latest hiccup may cause our historical hearts to murmur, she is not alone in her post-antiquity amnesia. In fact, Palin resembles some Republicans in Colorado.
In November, CCU hosted a debate between the top four Republican candidates for Colorado's upcoming U.S. Senate seat (Ken Buck, Jane Norton, Cleve Tidwell, and Tow Wiens). After the questions about health care and national security came a lighthearted question by moderator John Andrews. The query went something like this: “Tell us what President of the United States you would like to travel back in time and have dinner with?”
While one could not expect the Continental Congress to dominate the dinner table, one could at least expect names such as Washington, Adams, or Jefferson to garner an invite. But according to our potential senators, such patriots would go hungry at their dinner party. Instead, Teddy Roosevelt would have to shuffle his schedule, as most picked him for Andrews's imaginary dinner date.
To be clear, Teddy is not a bad choice. But at a debate where the themes of “fixing Washington” and “getting back to our roots” permeated the discussion, one could not help but note the absence of those who got it right in the first place. And in a national conversation dominated by partisan politics, are we asking too much when we ask our leaders to name a favorite statesman from an era when statesmanship, not rhetoric, brought true hope and change?
So what is the cure? I can't say for sure. But the medicine must contain a steady concoction of history, civic duty, and respect. Historians such as David McCullough, with his book John Adams, could offer the perfect prescription. But it's up to our leaders to fill those prescriptions. Otherwise, we may end up with a group of civic servants who no longer esteem those who have created this democracy. Or worse, who just can't remember.