Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

September 2, 2008

Sarah Palin Is A Bona-Fide Conservative

by Brad Warbiany

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.

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  • Kay

    Very succinctly stated, Brad, and a commentary that I can agree with you on pretty much all points. I do think, however, that you’re going to see in the days to come that while you may not agree with her stand on all social issues, you will see that she has no desire to impose her values on anyone. You and I have corresponded on some of those issues in past – we know that socially I am more conservative than you – but I would not dare to try to impose my will on anyone, and I think you’ll see that Gov. Palin is the same.

    I think she is a WORLD away from Gov. Huckabee – and as a Christian conservative, let me just say, that if McCain had been so foolish as to choose him as a running mate, I’d be in a major depression right now – because he WOULD most definitely attempt to force his values on all.

    I’m not saying, even, that he’s a bad person – at least not in his own mind, but he has the failings that many evangelicals do which assumes that if you don’t profess to be Christian, you’re immediately anathema to all Christian values.

    I don’t get that “vibe” from Gov. Palin and all and look forward to her speech this evening.

  • Kay

    Oh, and did you see this endorsement?:

    http://www.gaypatriot.net/2008/09/02/breaking-news-log-cabin-endorses-john-mccain/

    I think the Log Cabin Republicans have finally figured out who the repressive party has been . . .

  • http://tennzen.blogspot.com/ TennZen

    Well said. She is a McCain Republican. A “reformer” at first blush, but still completely on board with McCain’s stance.

    The glittering exterior can’t mask the underlying issues for long.

    My vote is still for Barr

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    TennZen,

    I just checked out your blog. Good stuff!

  • http://anarchangel.blogspot.com Chris Byrne

    Ahhh Barr, and his political deathbed conversion… Nevermind, I’ll save that for after he loses and stops pretending to be a libertarian.

    From a libertarian perspective she’s a mixed bag… Yes, that would be because she isn’t a libertarian.

    Hell, from a libertarian perspective, every other LIBERTARIAN is a mixed bag, never mind republicans. The fact that she isn’t downright horrible from the libertarian standpoint is something of a miracle given todays GOP.

    I think the best thing that can be said of her, is that she ISN’T really representative of todays GOP. I think that’s a good thing.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Chris,

    It seems to me that it really doesn’t matter what Sarah Palin believes.

    She isn’t running for President.

    Heck, she isn’t even running for Senator, Congressperson, or any other position where she actually would have responsibilities and could actually accomplish something.

    She’s running for Vice-President of the United States. Her sole duties in that office would consist of breaking ties in the Senate, inquiring as to the health of the President, and attending funerals of foreign leaders deemed too secondary for a Presidential visit.

    Even if she was the greatest thing since sliced bread, nobody has given me a reason why I should vote for John McCain just because she’s on the ticket.

  • Norm Nelson

    Doug, I agree completely. You can put a bow on a pig but its still a pig.

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  • SC

    Doug,

    If that was it, then it might be true that there’s no reason for concern on the Palin front. The trouble, though, is two-fold: first, we have the recent development of a strong VP (Cheney). Now, McCain might very well pull in the reins and so that won’t be a problem, but that won’t be known until it happens.

    The second is that those would only remain her duties if McCain doesn’t die or become otherwise incapacitated, and the man’s 72 years old and is a cancer survivor with repeated bouts with melanoma. I’ve seen reports (supposedly based on actuarial data but I can’t confirm that) that his odds of dying in office may be as high as 20% or about 1 in 5, with similar odds for incapacitation. Either event would result in Palin taking the reins of power.

    Brad, as for your observation that she’s a pragmatist…I’m not sure what criteria you use for that determination, but while she was mayor of Wasila, the city secured the services of a DC lobbying firm that brought in federal earmarks for 14 projects to the tune of $27 million dollars – for a town of less than 10,000. While that’s not so different than other politicians bringing home the bacon for their constituents, it does highlight the inconsistency of her claim as a hardcore earmark reformer. To me, actively hiring a lobbying firm in order to seek out earmark money is a little more than pragmatism.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    SC,

    The arguments you cite are reasons to be concerned about Palin, her policies, and her qualifications.

    I was specifically addressing people, some of whom I’ve been exchanging email with since Friday, who didn’t support McCain before but are now totally “on board” solely because of the Palin pick.

    Frankly, that doesn’t strike me as all that rational a way of looking at things.

  • http://anarchangel.blogspot.com Chris Byrne

    I think a lot of the folks who are now “totally on board with McCain” so to speak have the following phrase in mind:

    “Palin/Jindal in 2012″

  • Kay

    Interestingly, however, it appears that by about 2003, Sarah Palin had had enough of the lobbying firm and had distanced herself from them and from the earmarks. She’s three years younger than Obama who only committed to stop lobbying for earmarks last year before his candidacy. Things that make you go . . . hmmmm.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Chris,

    Perhaps, but….

    Given Governor Jindal’s record, I would think his name goes before hers.

    If McCain/Palin loses, then Palin is going to be a second-tier candidate behind the Romney’s and Huckabee’s of the world.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Kay,

    She was supporting one of the most notorious earmarks ever, the Bridge to Nowhere, up until the second Congress decided to make Alaksa pay for it themselves.

    That happened late last year.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    Doug,

    How many of those who are “now totally behind McCain” would have voted for him anyway as the lesser of two evils? I’d say most. Palin just makes them a little bit more excited to do it.

    Most of us who were anti-McCain haven’t changed our story just because of Palin.

  • SC

    Kay,

    Might it be possible that she “distanced herself” from the lobbying firm in 2003 because whe was only mayor until 2002, after which she was appointed to the oil commission and so had no more reason to *have* any contact with the lobbying firm? It seems this would be the more likely explanation than any sudden change of heart about earmarks.

    Then, when she fired up her gubernatorial campaign in 2006, one of the planks she ran on was getting the Bridge To Nowhere built (and yes, the funding was specifically earmarked within the transportation bill for the bridge, and later Congress removed the specific requirement of using the funding for the bridge).

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Brad,

    You’ve probably got a point there

  • http://www.lucysfrugalliving.blogspot.com Lucy Stern

    Brad has a point there, I fit that role….

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