Free Markets, Free People

Sarah’s Getting Ready for 2012

Sarah Palin has opened up a Political Action Committee called SarahPAC.  This is not the action of someone who thinks she’s had her brief day in the sun of national politics, and is preparing to retire gracefully to the wide open spaces of Alaska.This is as close to a declaration of candicacy for president in 2012 as it is possible to make three years in advance.

But, apart from the Hot MILF thing, what does Sarah Palin have going for her?

It’s an interesting question because, as Josh Painter at RedState writes, who Sarah Palin is, or what she believes, seems still to be in the eye of the beholder.  Painter surveys a variety of views about Sarah Palin, whose common thread seems to be that what one believes about Gov. Palin derives from one’s internal state of mind, rather than the external reality of what Sarah Palin actually stands for.

In examplum:

Self-described conservative Paul Mulshine, in his New Jersey Star Ledger column:

If anyone can think of a reason Palin qualifies as a conservative, please let me know. The truth is that Palin is a project of the so-called “neo” conservatives, who are actually a bunch of moony-eyed leftists masquerading as conservatives.

Patrick J. Buchanan, in an opinion piece for Chronicles magazine:

Make no mistake. Sarah Palin is no neocon. She did not come by her beliefs by studying Leo Strauss. She is a traditionalist whose values are those of family, faith, community and country, not some utopian ideology.

Michelle Goldberg, writing in the left wing magazine The Nation:

She has not always governed as a zealot; in fact, she’s a bit of a cipher, with scant record of speeches or writings on social issues or foreign policy. Nevertheless, several people who’ve dealt with her say that those concerned about church-state separation should be chilled by the idea of a Palin presidency. “To understand Sarah Palin, you have to realize that she is a religious fundamentalist,” said Howard Bess, a retired liberal Baptist minister living in Palmer. “The structure of her understanding of life is no different from a Muslim fundamentalist.”

Professional Palin critic Dan Fagan in a post on his Alaska Standard blog:

It is indisputable the governor has leaned strongly to the left with her policies in her first two years as governor.

Apparently, Sarah’s message–whatever it is–still hasn’t been clearly made to the literati.  It’s endlessly amusing to me, though, that she’s seen both as an unreconstructed  conservative, and a wild-eyed leftist.

Depending on who’s doing the viewing, of course.

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13 Responses to Sarah’s Getting Ready for 2012

  • Hey, it worked for Obama…

  • Oh, if only the late, great William F. Buckley were still around to give her elocution lessons ala “My Fair Lady.”

  • I gotta say, I jumped to judgment entirely too quickly with Palin.  Like a lot of people, I tried to soak up as much information as I could get about her soon after her announcement.  Beyond the basics of image and conventional wisdom built around her, I looked at her positions on the issues, I watched a gubernatorial debate — and I was pretty enthusiastic.  She wasn’t exactly my dream candidate, but I thought that (a) she was the best candidate I could have expected from McCain, and (b) she had good instincts, if not an intellectual framework for a conservative governing philosophy.

    During the campaign, I increasingly began to wonder where the Sarah Palin was that I had seen at the gubernatorial debate.  She was suddenly incapable of answering questions directly and with relevant context.  And I started to regret my initial burst of enthusiasm.

    Despite that, I still think she was the best candidate McCain could have chosen.  He had no GOTV to speak of before he chose Palin — she energized the kind of people who make things move on Election Day.  She immediately helped secure states that had been flagging — obviously Alaska, but also states like Montana, which shows just how weak McCain was.  She was the only thing distinguishing the McCain campaign in any meaningful way (that is, not in a “me-too-but-less” way, as Ruffini would put it) from the Obama campaign.

    These are my current impressions, which don’t create a complete picture of a person:

    • Her rise has been due to a combination of good instincts and good luck.
    • Both of those evaporated during the McCain campaign — perhaps because of bad management, hostile media, or lack of preparedness in an unfamiliar environment… I’d bet a combination of the three.
    • She’s been able to avoid a lot of the hard decisions that create hard edges on politicians and allow people to see them clearly for who they are.
    • She pivoted a little too ably on pork.
    • She would have had a much more difficult time in a state not so blessed with oil money, which makes me wonder if she can make the really hard fiscal choices.  I have serious doubts.  I’m not so much wondering if she’s a “neocon” (does she have a foreign policy framework, or are we talking more instincts?) but whether she’d be another “compassionate conservative.”
    • I really don’t think she’s going to start governing as a hard social conservative — she sounds the right notes, but she doesn’t expose herself (politically!) fighting for it.

    But on one thing, I’m sure you’re right: she’s aiming for bigger things.

    • One of the disadvantages you have as a VP candidate is you’re fighting someone else’s fight.  And, unfortunately, you’re under someone else’s control. 

      Learning to better present one’s self, handle the media, and learn the issues are all learned skills, and skills she’ll master with coaching and help.

      Next run at anything, she gets to present herself as herself and as she wishes to present herself, not as someone else wants her too.  For instance, pork was a John McCain signature issue.  That’s because he is and has been a Senator forever and that’s an important issue in Congress.  Not at all as important to governors.  She got dragged into that issue and it wasn’t at all as powerful for her and it became a detriment to the McCain message on pork.

      When she can fashion her own campaign, she won’t be fighting those sorts of “round peg, square hole” problems.

  • “Yeah. But just about everything worked for Obama, so I’m not sure if that was luck or skill.”

    Well, I guess you could call it luck, but frankly, I think it more 10 years of vitriol from the Democrats directed at anything to the right of Castro. I’ve long since started to wonder (barring a total disaster along the lines of a Jimmy Carter)  if anything short of the level of frothing commitment we’ve seen the last decade or so will put the Republicans back in power.

    You call this what you will, but I’ve come to the conclusion, having lived through Carter and Reagan,  for all the good things he was and did, that Reagan only came to power when he did because Carter was such a bloody disaster.  Reagan happened to be correctly positioned to control that situation at the right time. It was down to Reagan pointing out that those failures as generated by Carter, and pointing out the principles governing those actions and those failures.  At that point it was a simple matter of letting nature take its course. 

    Could Palin be the one correctly positioned for ’12? I don’t know.  I don’t mean to suggest based on what evidence we have in front of us that she is by any means a Ronald Reagan.  Yet, the fact is anyone so positioned against Carter could have won 1980.  I wonder if she and her people aren’t coming to the same conclusion I have. 

  • [W]ho Sarah Palin is, or what she believes, seems still to be in the eye of the beholder. 

    Perhaps, but it seems to me that what a given pundit says about  Sarah Palin seems to have alot more to do with who the pundits thinks his audience is.

    Everyone has been long on spin, but short on specifics.  What is very clear though is that Palin resonates with middle America – the people the MSM and ultraleft look down upon –  on a very personal level.  She is authentic to them the same way Obama is authentic to progressive statists. 

  • She won’t go after our guns.
    She will cut taxes.
    She will be fiscally conservative.
    And, she will kill anyone who attacks our country.
    Is there something else, crucial, that really matters?

    • I think this is close to right.

      I think she’s got a strong sense of service.   When she talks about Alaska it’s about what is best for Alaska which means a whole lot of very practical things.     Of the quotes up there, I think Buchanan is closest to right.

    • Brown,

      You ought to be a political advisor.  I think that, if Palin (or anybody else) ran on this simple platform, they’d sweep the election in ’12.  Or just about any other election year, for that matter.

      One consequence (perhaps intended) of the lefty campaign to destroy the meaning of words is that it prevents people having a clear idea of who a candidate really IS (once again, Orwell saw the future when he wrote about Newspeak).  For example:

      “Sarah Palin is a NEO-CON (snarl)!”

      Um… OK.  So, just what the hell IS a neo-con?  I’ve yet to see anybody give a good definition of this.

      “Sarah Palin is a RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALIST (snarl)!”
      Um… OK.  How do you mean?  Do you mean that she adheres to some literal interpretation of whatever holy book is central to her religion?  Or do you mean that she’s a wannabe theocrat?

      See what I mean?

      What people forget is that Palin is a politician: she can be expected to bend with the breeze to some extent and say what she thinks will appeal to the greatest number of voters.  While too much of this is a bad thing as it demonstrates a lack of principles and character, some is inevitable in a democracy.  Indeed, it’s a subject for debate whether a politician should act according his his principles or according to the will of the majority (to the extent that it can really be known).

      We’ll see how Palin does over the next few years.  I’m quite sure that MiniTru will be keeping a VERY close and critical eye on her.

  • “Professional Palin critic Dan Fagan”

    With so many people willing to do it for free, is it possible to make money as a professional Palin critic?

    Seriously, though, I’m somewhat ambivalent about her.  On the one hand, her actual record shows she’s strong, smart, and capable.  On the other, that down-home aw-shucks schtick she sometimes substitutes for actually answering whatever question was asked irritates me no end.  It’s just the hillbilly version of Obama’s empty elocutions and frankly she can, and should, do better.

  • We should keep that fact in mind as so many of our fellow Republicans succumb to enthusiasm for a 1964-style Palin kamikaze campaign for 2012.