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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sarah Palin and The Republican's Political Civil War

Sarah Palin has again found herself in an ideological battle that she never had any intention of finding herself in the middle of. During the campaign, her candidacy became a flash point for the culture wars. Her political future has now become a flash point for a political civil war within the Republican party. That political civil war is between so called elitists like Peggy Noonan and Charles Krauthammer on one side and the regular base of voters on the other side.

There were always some within the Republican party that were always uncomfortable with Palin. These folks agree to some extent with the caricature of Palin created by her opponents. Intellectuals like Noonan see Palin as unprepared, unintellectual, and bad for the party and America.

Sarah Palin's resignation gives Republicans a new opportunity to see her plain—to review the bidding, see her strengths, acknowledge her limits, and let go of her drama. It is an opportunity they should take. They mean to rebuild a great party. They need to do it on solid ground.

Her history does not need to be rehearsed at any length. Ten months ago she was embraced with friendliness by her party. The left and the media immediately overplayed their hand, with attacks on her children. The party rallied round, as a party should. She went on the trail a sensation but demonstrated in the ensuing months that she was not ready to go national and in fact never would be. She was hungry, loved politics, had charm and energy, loved walking onto the stage, waving and doing the stump speech. All good. But she was not thoughtful. She was a gifted retail politician who displayed the disadvantages of being born into a point of view (in her case a form of conservatism; elsewhere and in other circumstances, it could have been a form of liberalism) and swallowing it whole: She never learned how the other sides think, or why.

The other side mostly includes regular citizens that have fallen in love with Palin.

Supporting other conservative candidates and taking on the policies of the Obama administration. That didn't quite sound like Nixon 1962. More like Reagan 1976 perhaps. But surely she couldn't seriously be considering stepping down as a move toward stepping up? Sure, the polls suggested that her decision had, if anything, made her more popular among the party's base (and the wider electorate). But Republican consultants said she could forget about the 2012 nomination, and aren't they supposed to be the experts? If she even wants to run as a GOP candidate, that is. Because what is all this talk about supporting conservatives of any party or no party at all? Is she going rogue again? Is she planning a third party run?

And while they were still pondering these 'will she/won't she', 'Third Party/GOP' questions, out of right field came yet another bombshell, namely an op-ed in Obama's own Washington Post in which she launched a full frontal assault on his position on cap and trade - or 'cap and tax', as she called it. It's left the Democrats - and their (many) friends in the media - in a state of confusion similar to the one they were in immediately after her introduction as vicepresidential candidate on August 29th. They're throwing everything at her in a desperate attempt to find a line of attack that will work:

When you have two extremes, both are more wrong than right. Palin is NOT infallable. She bombed on two interviews and her announcement in resigning the governorship was a rambling and incomprehensible monologue. On the other hand, she is a lot more accomplished, savvy, and intelligent than any of her critics realize. Her critics also put an awful lot of stock in interviews and a speech.

Much like most political civil wars, this one has a pre determined outcome. The Republican party can't make it without its base. Its base loves Palin. Charles Krauthammer is brilliant and he makes a lot of money simply to give his opinion. That said he only gets one vote, and his opinion on this matter will not be followed by the masses. The conservative masses WILL follow Palin.

Folks like Krauthammer and Noonan want someone polished, intelligent, and with inside the beltway savvy. In fact, what they consider intelligence and savvy is their own interpretation of it. Regular voters of the conservative variety aren't bothered by her folksy style. They don't think that her term as Governor and Mayor offer little in the way of experience and accomplishment.

The main reason that she has now been mentioned for a potential third party run has everything to do with this split. The regular voters outside the beltway feel as though the so called insiders have lost touch with their beliefs. Over the last eight years, the Republican party has moved toward big government and incompetence. The voters outside the beltway wanted small fiscally conservative government. They see Palin as the individual that will lead them away from the inside the beltway attitude that caused the Republicans to lose their way. In that respect, the sort of criticism she has received after resigning from Governor has only hardened their belief that she's the one.

The folks outside the beltway view these so called conservative intellectuals as indicative of the sort of inside the beltway thinking that lead to massive government expansion and incompetent governance that occurred over the last eight years. Regular voters point out that it was these very elitists that were in charge for eight years.

One of the most appealing things about Palin is that she has always practiced what she preached. She governed as a fiscal conservative, corruption fighter. Obviously, she lived her life as a pro life individual. I don't know what the future holds for Sarah Palin. I don't even know if she wants a political future, but I do know that all her opponents, conservative intellectuals included, would be wise not to underestimate her.

She has, whether by chance or design, carved out a very powerful nitch as a conservative populist. Her message of smaller government, lower taxes, freedom and liberty can and will resonate with major portions of the populations. More beautifully from her perspective, most of the criticism continues to come strictly from those parts of the political spectrum that Palin can effectively point out have contributed to higher taxes, more government, less freedom and liberty.

There is a political civil war that Palin is in the middle of, unwittingly, but one thing I know is that in this political civil war, Sarah Palin will be a winner.


10ksnooker said...

Palin appeals to normal people, something the elites don't understand.

Anonymous said...

"the elites" made her! She a fabrication of the Republican party elites. An empty suit that repeats the same polemical talking points over and over and she can't clearly elucidate an idea to save her life.

When did "folksy" become a euphemism for simpleton? When did uneducated become such a desirable trait in leaders?

mike volpe said...

That tendency to insert really big words in attacking Palini is part of the elitists problem. I'm glad you left that comment because it is emblematic of why attacks on her only harden her base. The same sort of language was used by the Village Voice hit piece.

Tell me all the illuminating ideas that Senator and President Obama has come up with. What exactly did Senator Obama say besides hope and change that was so intelligent? He really didn't and yet no one suggested he was uneducated and a simpleton and couldn't "elucidate" an idea. He made a bunch of empty and unreasonable promises. Those aren't ideas.

walterc said...

Rather than wasting time with a new 3rd party, I hope she can help us takes control of the GOP and get rid of the Dem light RINOs pretending to be conservatives in charge now.

On a related note, am I the only one disappointed in Michael Steele?

Ben said...

I'm a "normal" conservative and Palin doesn't appeal to me AT ALL.

I give her credit for taking on the establishment in Alaska but she's simply unable to explain or defend her positions on issues.

While she may be able to write an op-ed piece (probably with plenty of help) she's not agile enough to go off script or debate well.

As if all that weren't enough, she quit in the middle of her first term as Governor after she'd blasted President Obama for being inexperienced.

While a lot of people I respect like Palin, I for one would be glad to see her retire from the limelight.

She won't be able to unite the party or articulate the ideas of limited government & personal liberty well enough to attract those disenchanted by President Obama's leftist policies.

She's quite simply not what we need right now, and as such, I hope she goes away sooner rather than later.

mike volpe said...

What's funny about Ben's statement is that I often feel that President Obama can't defend any of his policies. He also has trouble going off script.

I'd be curious to know if Sarah Palin is NOT what the party needs right now, who is?

I want to hear voices. I just think that hers should be prominent among them.

President Obama was a first term Senator when he became President.

Governor Palin is about to become a private citizen. I am confused at how she is too inexperienced to be a private citizen. Is she too inexperienced to write an op ed also? Is she too inexperienced to make stump speeches for politicians she believes will help this nation? What exactly is she too inexperienced to to do?

Ben said...

Mike, she's too inexperienced to be the Republican's presidential nominee in 2012.

You're right, President Obama has trouble defending some of his positions & stumbles when going off prompter, but do you really want the Republican version of Obama in the White House?

mike volpe said...

We're in 2009 and you are now saying that someone is too inexperienced to be the nominee in 2012. How ridiculous?

In other words, the only experience that matters is being a professional politician. Do you ever wonder why the elitist argument falls flat with the masses? Guess what, there was a time when serving public office was done by private citizens. Then, after serving, those same citizens went back to private life.

The idea that she isn't experienced or accomplished enough to be president is pure fantasy.

She's been a mayor, a whistle blower, and a Governor. She's cut taxes. She's taken on the oil companies. She's even taken on the corrupt politicians in her own party. You don't think she's ready to be president? Guess what, there is no one standard for presidential preparation. I've had the good fortune of knowing many whistle blowers and there is no more courageous act.

What John Kerry became a lifetime politician and that made him ready to be president but Sarah Palin has lived her life in a different way and that doesn't. Please.

Edd said...

It is amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares about getting the credit.
Palin resigned and her agenda moves forward with the her replacement. The objective is achieved, because she didn't need to be Governor.

Gail said...

Excellent article.

This nation is about self-government. Congress, from where our citizen statesmen were supposed to lead and influence government has become a complete sell-out to special interests.

Sarah Palin is a breath of fresh air in a very stale environment.

We love her because she represents us. No one else is interested in doing that. And the pseudo intellectuals can malign her all they want, by their actions we know how they feel about We the People.

And, we will vote accordingly.

Best regards,
Gail S

Jack said...


I'm so disappointed with Steele I can’t see straight. He has no organizational skills or that of being a leader for the GOP. If he had it together Gingrich, Jindal, Sanford, Romney, Huckabee and most importantly Palin would be fomenting strategy for 2010 and 2012 with this all star team. She can and will out raise the amount of funds we need compared to the others combined. I don’t understand this Republican slashing away at her and thus far Sarah is my choice. If we need a new party so be it.

Ben said...

Mike, I like how you immediately assign the "elitist" tag to any POV different than yours. How very ignorant of you. I'm probably also not a "real" Republican because I don't support Palin right?

Being mayor of a small town, a whistle blower, and a governor for less than one term does not qualify Palin to be President.

Now before you use President Obama again to refute that, keep in mind that Palin blasted him for being too inexperienced to lead & just because President Obama did something doesn't make it right.

Since when did being intelligent or intellectual become a bad thing?

I'm sorry, but I don't want someone that is just like most Americans to run the country. I'd like our best and brightest in charge of our nation.

It's an extraordinarily difficult job that make even brilliant men look foolish at times. So yes, I'd prefer someone who's intelligent, insightful, and eloquent to lead our party.

If Palin wants to be an advocate for "average Americans" that's fine, she seems to appeal to many in that constituency.

However, as I said before she's incapable of conveying the conservative message that this country needs in the face of such flamboyant Democratic spending. As a result, I do NOT want her as the voice or leader of the Republican party.

John said...

I looked at the Couric interview closely, including the edit points, expressions, positioning, and so on and it became pretty clear to be that a big part of the reason why the Palin interview with Couric looked so bad was editing. That's not to say Sarah Palin isn't often light on details, something noted by one of her opponents for governor, but her answers are often not nearly as clueless as left-wing commentators or the editing would suggest.

Even her enemies in Alaska have conceded that she's smart (read the widely distributed Anne Kilkenny letter, for example) and plenty of the claims against her (especially concerning creationism, sex eduction, gay rights, and other social issues) are simply false.

Further, all of the evidence suggests, for example, that Bristol Palin received the conventional school sex education and knew about contraception and simply failed to use it. So does that show that abstinence is a failure and will never work 100% of the time or does it really show that sex education is just as much of a failure and doesn't work 100% of the time, either?

mike volpe said...

I'm really confused. When did Sarah Palin run for President? The reality is that there is no one way to run for President. There is no one set of credentials.

I think that Palin is plenty qualified, but she isn't even running for president. I never even suggested she would. She is about to become a private citizen and I know she is qualified for that.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, who?
I have news for pro- and anti- Palin navel-gazers. Most Americans have moved on, as evidenced by the fact that the majority of my friends and family '08 Obama supporters no longer want to hear me talk about the latest antics of Palin.
On the other hand, Palin bears watching. There are enough of us "so scared of Palin LIBRULS" who are going to keep watching Palin and friends.

Anonymous said...

"She bombed on two interviews"

Nice to see you finally acknowledge it Mike.

I said as much a long time ago and you claimed she was set up with gotcha questions.

She DID answers those Couric questions very poorly.

Anonymous said...

Here is more insight in to Palin. [with a lot of detail]

I note her resistance to learning and dislike of knowledge as being her most disturbing trait.

mike volpe said...

They were gotcha questions. That doesn't mean she answered them poorly. She did, but it's not as though these were questions that Couric would ask anyone but Palin.

Anonymous said...

They only reason they were "gotcha" questions is because Palin had previously said something very stupid.

For example, living near Russia have her foreign policy experience.

mike volpe said...

Interesting, I remember President, then Senator, Obama claiming that living in Indonesia as a kid was somehow good foreign policy experience. I don't remember him ever getting any gotcha questions the way that Palin got.

As always, there is a different standard for Palin as for anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Yeah thats it.

Its all media bias.

She not one of the "elite" right?

Perhaps it got to do with the fact people don't respect her intelligence and see her as lacking the intellectual nous to be President.

Anyway, it doesn't matter what we think. She will never be President because she lacks broad appeal, even within her own party.

Bye bye.

mike volpe said...

Great argument, did you think no one would notice that you didn't address the point I made abouit Obama.

Of course, anyone that thinks they know the future is full of themselves. No one knows what will happen four years from now so we will see.

Anonymous said...

Does Michael Steele + Bilingual Ballots = New Republican Majority?

So says this writer who is ecstatic about the "New Republican Party" that he says Steele is creating.

I on the other hand doubt Republicans can out pander the Democrats on the issue of "Identity Politics"(Racial Politics). As long as Republicans choose to fight the Democrats on battlefields of the Democrat's own choosing they will lose. It's simple Sun Tzu.

The Republican party continues to go further and further away from the direction we need it to go for a vehicle of positive change. I feel that the only option left to us is a new party because even if the Republicans win next time I don't see them as significantly enough different from what we have now.

Debbie Winterhalter said...

The elites on both sides of the aisle are trying to destroy her, just like they did Reagan. Remember how "stupid" he was made out to be. You can always tell who the establishment is most afraid of by who they attack most viciously.

Palin is obviously intelligent, not Ivy League educated but good old fashioned smart, the kind we need more of these days. Not sure what her role is, but it's an important one and to all you so called Republicans that think otherwise, check out the media on Reagan from 76' to 80', sounds real familiar.......