Speculations, even from Rush Limbaugh, that Governor Sarah Palin might form a third party has put her back in focus even more than after her recent resignation as governor. Thus, it is reasonable for Republicans, conservatives, and traditionally minded Americans to ask: Is Mrs. Palin producing a rebirth of conservatism and conservative candidates, or is she a distraction and a severing influence on the party?
A second question to ask ourselves is why there is such a cult-like status for Governor Palin among some conservatives? She is the best known female rightist in the national scene, and she does seem to want to address social issues in a conservative way. Nonetheless, the hype is puzzling, and is the intense emotion of the Palinettes disproportionate to what her talents actually are?
Her advocates admire Mrs. Palin for being pro-life, for running a state, for displaying common sense. Her detractors state she is inarticulate, ignorant of economic and foreign policy issues, and not savvy enough to handle the media. There is no doubt that Governor Palin is a very decent and hard-working woman, but is it fair for those on the right to ask if, as good as she personally is, she can be bad politically for the Republican party and conservatives?
When asked why they support Mrs. Palin, her fans most often state that she is “one of us.” But is this the right criteria for choosing our national leaders? We should not want an average person in Congress, in the Cabinet, and especially the Oval Office. We need someone extraordinary, who is smarter and braver and more talented than the rest of us, as our Commander-in-Chief. Rather than wanting a President who is a regular person, we should seek someone who understands a regular person.
The second most common explanation given by those who support Governor Palin is their outrage over the media treatment of her. The “hostile” interviews with Charles Gibson and Katie Couric are mentioned, but why has Mrs. Palin’s performance in “friendly” interviews not undergone scrutiny among conservatives?
When interviewed by Sean Hannity, he asked her thoughts about the economy. Governor Palin commented on the “corruption of Wall Street” and stated that the government should have an “appropriate role in the oversight,” but she never defined what exactly that function was. Mr. Hannity asked if everyone benefits if the rich pay less in taxes; she replied that “everybody does benefit when the government takes less,” but did not clarify why that was. Her responses as to how she would bring reform to Washington and how she specifically took on her own party in Alaska were unclear. When Mr. Hannity inquired as to why Governor Palin supports drilling in Alaska, she vaguely responded that it would be good for the nation. Most ironically, when he asked her if she sees media bias in the campaign, Mrs. Palin’s initial response was, “I don’t know.”
It is fair to conclude that Governor Palin, when judged as a public speaker, is weak compared to others in the conservative movement. This may appeal to the average person, but is this in our best conservative and national interest? Mrs. Palin does not project the appearance of an intellectual and has difficulty in defending her positions.
In his July 15, 2009 piece, “Poor, Persecuted Sarah Palin,” Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank wrote that, even before her convention speech, The Weekly Standard predicted that liberals “will ridicule her and patronize her. They will distort her words and caricature her biography. They will appeal, sometimes explicitly, to anti-small town and anti-religious prejudice.”
In the same column Mr. Frank writes, “Indeed, if political figures stand for ideas, victimization is what Ms. Palin is all about. It is her brand, her myth. Ronald Reagan stood tall. John McCain was about service. Barack Obama has hope. Sarah Palin is a collector of grievances. She runs for high office by griping…She is known not for her ideas but as a martyr, a symbol of the culture-war crimes of the left.” Disappointingly, Mrs. Palin focuses on the criticism and insults directed at her instead of concentrating on articulating solutions for our country.
Is perhaps the real devotion and connection the Palinette’s feel for Governor Palin due to their feeling a kinship with a fellow conservative being persecuted? Many Christians and conservatives rightly believe themselves to be the target of the media, popular culture, and even some Republicans. Is Mrs. Palin just a symbol of the real victimhood that is occurring, or is she an agent for change to promote the values which have become so forsaken?
For a leader to guide America toward conservatism requires substantial tools, skills, and intellect. Just because Governor Palin is on our side doesn’t mean that she is the best leader of conservatism. Although she is more qualified than Obama, as she actually has executive experience, Mrs. Palin’s track record have some conservatives worried that she does not seem to be versed enough, read enough, and curious enough for the type of leadership our country demands.
Governor Palin is still unable to convince the three major wings of the Republican party, who will be forming ideas and making policy, that she is the right person to guide us. If she cannot convince the Wall Street, national defense, and foreign policy Republicans, how will she be able to persuade independents, moderates, and those on the other side?
The mystery remains of why Senator McCain chose Governor Palin rather than more obviously strong candidates who had a record of battling liberals. McCain’s choice was a Republican candidate who was successfully taking on others in her party. Granted, there were inappropriate things going on in Alaska, but why did McCain choose someone who attacks Republicans as he does other than to prove his fairness and make friends with Democrats? Is it possible he purposefully picked a weaker candidate, who wasn’t vetted properly, to decimate the conservative wing of the Republican party? First, he lost an election which he didn’t appear to put his whole heart into. Second, he gave a national platform to Governor Palin who wasn’t ready for the interviews, the scrutiny, and who has caused such strife within the party.
Mrs. Palin has adamant supporters who will defend her at any cost, but their reasons for this devotion have not adequately been explained. Why is there such vigor in defending her, instead of defending conservative principles?
Our economy, national security, and American way of life are being destroyed by a liberal president, government, and the ensuing programs. Whether or not Governor Palin is a candidate for anything in the future, she has fractured the Republican party. The focus of conservatives, and of the GOP, must be in strengthening our efforts in going after the Democrats and advancing and articulating conservative ideas.
Conservatives, unite; focus on making the Republican party stronger and advancing our conservative principles to independents, moderates, and sensible Democrats. The Democrats have the media as an ally so they are able to get away with illogical sound-bites and circular orations, such as that seen when our President is away from his beloved Teleprompter. But Republicans do not have the luxury of using canned lines such as those that Mrs. Palin recites; we need someone who is smart and savvy enough to quickly respond to questions and clearly explain complex issues.
For those on the right, stop worrying about the elections in 2012; right now our national defense and economy are swiftly being destroyed. Both those who are defending and those who are dismissing Governor Palin need to focus their energy on fighting this President and his radical socialist agenda.