Sarah Palin And The New Gop

February 6th, 2009 at 11:35 pm | 51 Comments |

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Yuval Levin has written one of the most fair-minded takes on Sarah Palin to come along since the election season.  The Governor of Alaska leaves few unmoved. Our blog master believes the Palin temptation is the death of the GOP (while I believe that the Giuliani temptation is its true death). In point of fact, stuff as Levin here acknowledges, medicine it depends on what Sarah Palin really is. Just as we don’t really know what Barack Obama is, seek we do not know who Sarah Palin is beyond Tina Fey’s caricature of her. This includes her conservative supporters’ projections.

Governor Palin, like a distaff Sampson, has attempted to clean the Augean stables of the Last Frontier’s Republican Party. She has had some success on that front. Most of her governorship has been during flush times for Alaska because of high oil prices. Now, with prices down and the economy slowing, a true test of her mettle appears. She has started a PAC and is making her first national political moves, from backing Rick Perry for Governor of the other oil giant, Texas, against Kay Bailey Hutchinson, to attending the ultra-Washington event, the Alfalfa dinner. She has just come out against the stimulus bill, putting her, again, in the camp of John McCain. And she’s not afraid to take on Hollywood smears! She looks better every time the Democrats appoint another millionaire tax cheat who went to the right schools.

Her key weakness nationally is foreign policy and the lingering concern that she can not credibly project surefootedness on complex issues. She can kill in a debate or a set piece speech. Just as Gerald Ford prematurely liberated Poland in his debate with Jimmy Carter, Joe Biden was driven to liberate Lebanon (with French help) from Hezbollah during his debate with Palin. She simply did not commit any gaffes in that debate and came off better than Biden. Her convention speech was the highlight of that event. The inability to speak credibly on foreign policy, or something as complex as health care, in an interview setting will be a deal breaker in a Presidential run, especially given the built antagonism towards her by the media. If Sarah Palin can speak on foreign policy issues in a manner that seems informed and not just a recitation of talking points she will erase her one major weakness among the fair-minded. If she can not, the ridicule and unrelenting drumbeat of the media will doom her chances.

Unless inflation and unemployment are historically high in 2012, or we have suffered terrible foreign policy reversals, I do not believe any candidate can beat Barack Obama for reelection. Palin, in that year, is no worse off than any other Republican and the cards simply have to fall right. But she is young enough to have twenty years of elections ahead of her. At her age Ronald Reagan was a Democrat and a T.V announcer.

The current GOP lacks a bench of powerful, elected conservative women. Most of the elected Republican women are either a little dull or a little liberal. If part of the “New GOP” is to get away from old, white guys who can’t talk, then Sarah Palin is an answer to that. She has accomplished more in politics, at 44, than any woman left or right her age, including the top graduates of any Ivy you can name.    The Palin of conservative dreams combines practical common sense with an ability to play on other fields. The question is will she do the work and does she have the capacity to create a world view that connects her roots with America’s future? The truth is neither I nor her detractors know. If she can, there is no Republican politician on the horizon who has such a capacity to both drive the Left mad, and to beat them.

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51 Comments so far ↓

  • MarkG555

    Veccione is right — Levin’s piece on Palin was full of good insight. This article, by contrast, is pretty superficial. I’m still waiting for any post on this site to tell me something I could not get reading the threads at Red State.