Sarah Palin Is A Bona-Fide Conservative
First, let’s get it right out there. She’s definitely got the same sort of “star” quality that you get from a guy like Obama. It has nothing to do with policy, or politics, but there’s something about the story that is compelling. By Friday evening my wife– who is not a politico in any sense of the word; more a follower of the cult of celebrity– wanted to vote for her!
She’s what you expect must be most Republican mens’ wet dream. She’s attractive, dignified, but with a bit of that Alaskan rough edge about her. She’s got the family woman credentials down pat, but her history of being hardnose in office suggests that she’s got gravitas to go along with it. And all that while retaining the femininity and charm that a certain Democrat lacks. And she’s a heck of a lot hotter than Elizabeth Dole.
She could conceivably do everything that McCain expects, wooing all the right voters and actually giving him a chance in this election. So let’s get down to the brass tacks here…
Policy-wise, she’s got most of the major conservative credentials to attract the conservatives that McCain doesn’t jive with, but without having the “Beltway Insider” image of Biden.
She has a reputation for fiscal conservatism and standing up to corruption, which has already been attacked by my fellow contributors, but which I think is far better than those attacks would suggest. She seems to be a pretty adept politician, so when the Bridge to Nowhere appeared, she got out ahead of it. When Stevens was starting to stink, she realized that she wouldn’t want to stand close enough to pick up the stench. Does that mean she’s a ruthless opponent of pork and corruption? No, it means that she understands politics well enough to realize that rank and file Republicans are sick and tired of the game as the Party has been playing it, and she’s willing to change to meet the changing conditions. That’s a plus.
Just as important for a running mate of McCain, she’s solidly a social conservative. Pro-life, pro-gun, pro-God, pro-drug-war, anti-gay-marriage. Pro-military, with a son about to head to Iraq. Pro-family, raising a Down’s Syndrome child and supporting her daughter who is going through her own troubles as a pregnant teenager (oddly a positive for a Republican?). Her foreign policy positions are a bit of an unknown, but nobody is expecting the VP to set foreign policy. She hits all the policy positions that need to be hit from the evangelicals who are not enamored with McCain.
But there’s a problem. Everything I’ve said so far is from the standpoint of a conservative. I’m not a conservative, I’m a libertarian.
From the standpoint of a libertarian, the story is a bit different. My first paragraph above on her policy, with regards to spending and corruption, is acceptable. From her record it appears that it’s more of a pragmatic approach than a principled approach, but I could conceive holding my nose and voting for a pragmatist if they were on the right side of the issues. But from a social standpoint, I disagree with her on most of her conservative viewpoints. She is the type that I could easily supporting things like Bush’s faith-based charity initiatives, although perhaps a bit less kooky than a guy like Huckabee. As a VP (or potentially a President, if McCain’s health falters), I doubt many of her social positions would actually make their way through congress, but I’d hate to see her follow the “compassionate conservative”– read big welfare spender– approach of Bush.
Sarah Palin appears to be a bona-fide conservative Republican, and is conservative in many of the ways that John McCain is not. Those who are looking for a conservative Republican must be pleased. But to a libertarian, she’s at best a mixed bag. There were a lot of choices that would be far worse from a libertarian standpoint (he could have nominated Huckabee!), so I think it’s mildly a positive result. But it’s not quite enough to make me giddy, or to jump out and pull the lever for McCain/Palin in ’08.