The Problem with Palin

How’s that hope-y, change-y stuff working out for ya?” asked former Governor Sarah Palin at the so-called Tea Party Convention this weekend in Nashville, where the popular populist spoke for $100,000.

The advocates of fiscal responsibility gathered at the $549/ticket event cheered the McCain stumper and bail-out supporter with all the gusto that the “Values Voters” showered upon the topless model and sex-tape star who “think[s] it’s great that in America we can choose between ‘same-sex marriage’ and ‘opposite marriage’.”

With the popular outrage sparked by the Bush bail-outs, I’ve become more hopeful about the future of economic freedom than I’d been in 20 years. And the tea parties and town-hall protests just buttressed my optimism.

I’m still optimistic, but the reflexive, relativistic, populism-as-the-new-elitism near-worship showered upon Gov. Palin by supposed conservatives and libertarians– people who profess to believe in economic freedom–tempers my optimism.

The problem isn’t simply that the rambling rogue was wrong about the bank bail-out, and it goes beyond her sometimes appearing flaky and non-conversant regarding matters of national policy; it’s that she displays no deep, nuanced, informed, well-considered political philosophy.

Conservatism, particularly its free-market vein, has a strong intellectual heritage. It’s that principled pedigree that provides a foundation for the arguments that can fend off demagogues’ efforts to rob Peter to pay Paul, that illuminate why it’s not good for everybody when you spread the wealth around. Unfortunately, national-level Republicans since Ronald Reagan appear to be largely ignorant of this heritage and have been clearly unable to articulate its principles. America has paid a dear price for such failures. And conservative gushing over Gov. Palin suggests that we’re likely to keep paying it.

In the Fall of 2008, as he was touting his disastrous bank bail-out, former President George Bush XLIII, apparently oblivious to the irony, described himself as “a market-oriented guy“. Nearly a year after leaving office, he said that the bail-out went against his “free-market instincts“, in a speech that made clear that he hasn’t achieved any greater philosophical depth since leaving the White House than he exhibited while he was living there.

A robust, realistic, principled political philosophy can provide guidance in the midst of crisis. The problem with Bush was that he had never developed such a principled philosophy. It is also the problem with Palin.

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6 thoughts on “The Problem with Palin

  1. Hi,
    I happen to like Sarah Palin, and think she is "mostly" on target; however, I definitely agree with your statement about Republicans since Ronald Reagan.

    I tend to look back further to the original Republicans such as Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. They were not only speaking the words of our founders, they were our founders. It is their wisdom that set this great nation in motion.

  2. You don't see me bashing Ron Paul or Mitt Romney, do you? I'm a conservative Republican whose interested in building coalitions so that we can infiltrate the GOP, take it over and win in 2012. We can't do that without Palin. Wipe out 30% of your base and enjoy having Obama again for a 2nd term.

  3. You can join whatever party you want after that because it won't matter. The conservative movement doesn't need any help from Palin bashers since no candidate can get elected without her. So alienate us and kiss the shining city goodbye.

  4. I'm a little stunned by your critique here Leslie.

    You first try to link the Tea party convention and it's attendees as followers of Carrie Prejan? While I was not in Nashville I had many friends who were and I'm almost positive Ms Prejan was not on any speaking dais.There is no evidence that the people who attended are the same people you speak of in regards to Ms Prejan. If there is I stand corrected. Also I'm really not quite sure what your point on what Gov Palin was paid OR attendees were charged. Someone can be fiscally responsible and pay $500 or $5 for that matter as long as they CAN afford to pay it. It is a irrelevant point and I wonder why it keeps coming up among capitalists of all people.

    To also show a clip from SNL to bolster a point about what the Mccain campaign's folly was in 08 is troubling. Sarah Palin was running for V.P. She followed the company line as all good V.P. candidates do. I'm sure as you well know Jack Kemp, could not have agreed with Bob Dole on his policies in the 96 campaign and it is just the nature of the beast. If one wants to be totally pure in their convictions than I guess you never run for the second spot.

    Also to somehow compare Bush to Palin one only has to look at both of their experiences when they both served in executive positions in regards to economic policy. If you even do a rudimentary study of that you would know that the comparison is foolhearty.

    Gov Palin may or may nor run for ANY office in the future. If she does she will be expected to go through the barriers of questions that any candidate must face. I for one, will wait for that time period to come, before I make any judgment about one's intellectual or lack thereof prowess, after those questions have been answered. I fear that you and many more such as you, have fallen to a "Peggy Noonan" attitude where Gov Palin just isn't a " Sophisticate Sounding" person thus she must be dismissed. Under that scenario today, the very person that Ms Noonan used to write for,President Ronald Reagan, would not qualify to run for office today with those that believe like her. Reagan showed that one can have conservative values and not have to have flowery or covert language surrounding those ideals to "sell it" He spoke of those ideals that he believed in and the populace as a whole picked up on that and the results speak for themselves 25 yrs later. Palin speaks in the same vernacular, only time will tell if she truly has the same core principals someone like Reagan had. I'm willing to wait to find out.

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