Editor's Corner

Why does Sarah Palin sound like a Leader, and Michelle Bachmann doesn’t?

Pay attention to the title. Don’t make something out of this that it isn’t. This is about the ability to “project leadership”, not Sarah Palin.

Sarah just seems to have a quality Michelle is missing.

And I don’t mean to slam Michelle Bachmann here, no more than people mean to slam Herman Cain when they say he has no “public policy” experience. Myself, I think Mr Cain’s leadership skills honed outside of the public sector are an asset, but so far the public doesn’t seem to buy my point of view.

And that’s the point. The candidate must meet the public’s expectations in certain key criteria other than enumerating a list of conservative truths.

Presentation, Presentation, Presentation

Like it or not “presentation” is very much a part of a candidate’s ability to connect with the electorate. That’s all I’m talking about here, presenting an aura of leadership, not just managerial competence, and not just text-book conservatism.

Sarah Palin is not a candidate and that’s why I used her here as a foil. She not only talks the right talk, she says it with a confidence that she actually knows how to get from here to there. These days, against a foe of unfathomable depths of cravenness, people have to require this element in a candidate.

There is an authority in Sarah’s tone, and while many conservatives, especially women, despise her,  the Left senses this quality the same as if Dr Van Helsing had just walked into the room holding up a cross.

This also can be said for Gov Rick Perry, who isn’t a candidate yet, but likely will be in short order (according to our own Haystack). If he announces, the Left will suddenly turn its gaze away from Sarah, pull its cape over its eyes and shrink away in fright to some dark corner where it can conspire his demise as well. But I doubt they’ll have time.

Bottom line: Perry has that same attitude of leadership. So does Herman Cain.

But not Michelle Bachmann…in my view.

Michelle is as right as rain in the words she speaks, and she means every word. This I believe. No phoniness there. She has no track record of hollowness in her words, or of having looked the devil in the eye, and blinked, as Newt has.

But there is that certain something missing. I try to picture her debating Barack Obama, and I just can’t see her kicking him off the stage.

Neither can I see Tim Pawlenty beating Obama head-to-head on stage. He comes off as a plaintiff schoolboy arguing that his term paper was better than the B- the teacher gave him. His coaches have done him no favors, for you know, as governor, he didn’t spend every waking minute trying to convince Minnesotans  he knew how to be in charge. He was a successful governor. But with his current insecure demeanor, people are right to ask; was he a leader, or only a manager? Having already wilted before the GOP’s No 1 “manager candidate”  on the Romneycare issue, I fear he’d convey the same sort of inner angst against a man, Obama, who could out-preen Mitt Romney into any corner of the room.

We’re looking for a leader here.

The difficulty in defining “leadership” is it carries so many intangibles. It implies a person can inspire people to follow. And knows what he’s going to do when he gets there. Sarah, Rick and Herman have that. I just can’t see anyone itching to get up out of their chairs to follow Mitt Romney, and this is why I’m writing this now, just short of the Iowa debates.

My purpose isn’t to measure any the GOP field except as leaders and non-leaders, and to suggest that I’d hate for a manager to win the GOP vote simply because they’d split the “leader” vote. Conservatives need to start falling in behind leaders now, letting them sort it out.

Mitt Romney has probably the best resume for experience, in both the public and private sector, than any other GOP candidate. But he inspires no one. At best he’s only proven to be a good manager. At worse a poseur.

Sarah Palin is a leader, but comes with heavy negatives, albeit not of her own making. Rick Perry also is a leader, as is Herman Cain, proven leaders and instigators of courage in people. They all inspire. They all make people want to get up and move against the enemy.

And after the dust settles, they all will support each other. There will be no split votes. Most importantly, conservatism’s voter base will have grown the next 12 months, not diminished. None of these will run off voters.

In the coming Iowa debates and straw poll these are the only two (three) potential candidates with certifiable leadership qualities, with that certain something, that certain look, that attitude, and that tone, that will keep Barack Obama and his entire spin machine back on his heels next year…

…assuming he’ll still be candidate.

We should keep this in mind over the next five months.

Citizen With Bark On

About vassarbushmills

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
8 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
Kimberly_SchwartzQueen Hotchibobonessavassarbushmillspilgrim Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Vassar: A good part of leadership is cutting to the chase (and sometimes to the bone) succinctly. The 3 you’ve mentioned, Palin, Cain and Perry all have that. We’ll see how the chips fall out


I remarked upon looking at those on the platform at the last debate that they looked like a good Cabinet material.


On the other hand, Bachmann would make a good VP having survived the travails of the beltway with her honor fairly intact.

I can support Perry, Cain, or Palin. Bachmann, too, over the others who are milquetoast, but I’d prefer her in the VP slot.


I think the job position that you present yourself from has something to do with leadership perception. Perry and Palin speak coming from the leadership as Governor of a state. Cain speaks as a private sector CEO. Bachmann speaks as a House Rep. who has not advanced into House leadership. She is absolutely more correct than the House Speaker but her position is not one that allows her to prevail.

Queen Hotchibobo

Good post. And like it or not, Bachman can’t win. There’s no chance that we’re going to elect someone with no executive experience as that is a major knock against the hapless loser in the office now.

She might be conservative, but she has no more executive experience than Obambi and if he’s proven nothing else, he’s proven that experience matters.

Queen Hotchibobo

And I’ll just add, I lost all respect for Pawlenty when he refused to say a word against Romneycare in the “debate” when invited to do so by the “moderator” and then came out the next day and slammed it.

I have no respect for someone who is willing to say one thing behind my back but not to my face. If you think I made a mistake, tell me and the world the same thing.


Great post, VB. I’ve been trying to figure out just what it is that bothers me about Bachman, and I think you’ve nailed it here. I think she is bright, charismatic, and undoubtedly has the right views, but there’s just a lack of that indefinable sense of authority . . . that gravitas. . .that comes from having been in the position where the buck stops. In the martial arts, you practice side kicks over and over, but until you actually break a board with one, you haven’t been tested – which is why the upper ranks have to break… Read more »