Another kind of American entertainer who customized her act for an Asian audience this past week was Sarah Palin.
At first glance it seemed a set-up for disaster. Fund-managers, for their part, are a generally nervous crowd. They especially chafe about ignorant American political figures that might shoot off their mouths and stumble us all into an East-West confrontation. Their big worry, of course, is the U.S.-China relationship.
Enter on center stage the inimitable Palin: What could the former Alaska governor possibly know about China? From her perch in Alaska, after all, she could not claim much special knowledge because she couldn't actually espy its land mass, as she had said she could of Russia, this advantage awarding her a Ph.D. in Russian studies, in her own estimation.
Alas for the Palin critics, the would-be lady Presidential candidate offered a largely defensible and common-sensible outline of views. She reaffirmed the rising role of Asia, the importance of trying hard to understand China on its own terms, and the high stakes involved if the result were failure.
And to the astonishment (if not consternation) of the Singapore government, she even managed to quote that "Asian wise man," as she described the legendary Lee Kuan Yew, 86, in defense of America's staying the course in Afghanistan: ``And Minister Lee knows, and I agree, that our success in Afghanistan will have consequences all over the world, including Asia. Our allies and our adversaries are watching to see if we have the staying power to protect our interests in Afghanistan." That's a position not everyone can blithely disagree with. In fact, the entire speech was easily her most mature exposition to date.
So far so good. The author couldn't resist a couple backhanded swipes, what newspaper writer can't these days?
I only have two pieces of advice for her, if she is interested in having them. One is to keep that speechwriter at all costs! The other is to never, ever depart from script if she can help it. Therein disaster lurks.
That always cracks me up. I mean, seriously, do they think most politicians write their own speeches? Do you honestly think Barack Obama sits down and types out what his teleprompter says? Well, considering how dumb his teleprompter is sometimes, maybe he does... But the idea that a politician must be stupid because they've got speechwriters is laughable. But he somewhat redeems himself:
Obviously the ambitious Palin still has much to learn. But hers wasn't such a bad show at all.
Why, thank you. The press has gone from "Sarah Palin is the Devil incarnate!" to, "Well, she's not too bad." Baby steps.