Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rand Paul and Sarah

“You saw the Tea Party group basically in action twice in the last two or three years. One was for the anti- immigration-reform thing . . .

The second was after the nomination of Sarah Palin, this enormous surge to McCain, huge crowds coming out when he couldn't get a couple of hundred people before . . .

Now . . . Ron Paul, will do better. He's not going to be nominated, but he will do better than he did before if he runs again because he'll get some of those folks. But right now, quite frankly, the one candidate who can get them better than anybody else is Ms. Sarah Palin.”

- Patrick J. Buchanan, January 15, 2010 on “McLaughlin Group”

After weeks of speculation, on Monday, February 1, 2010, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin endorsed Kentucky Republican Rand Paul for the U.S. Senate. Palin, whose political baggage is too bulky to mention here, may prove to be a kingmaker.

Already, Rand Paul is pulling ahead in the polls in a race that was supposed to go easily to Secretary of State Trey Grayson. The Palin endorsement was welcomed by the Paul campaign and comes just two days after Rand’s father Ron Paul came to Louisville to campaign for his son and two days after the secretary of state smeared the father and son as “a career politician and pro-choice marijuana advocate,” respectively although not respectfully.

The Palin endorsement is intriguing. Hardly anyone in American politics, save perhaps President Obama, elicits such knee-jerk love or hate. In fact, I feel like an oddball in that I neither love nor hate the former governor. What’s wrong with me?

Some might also ask what’s wrong with Palin herself. Why would she endorse Rand Paul, the son of one of the most famous American libertarians when she has also endorsed pols such as her old running mate John McCain and Texas governor Rick Perry. It’s hard to imagine those three endorsees (a libertarian Republican, a progressive Republican, and George W. Bush’s lieutenant governor) getting along for five minutes. Maybe Sarah Palin is confused about her political philosophy. Maybe she is endorsing three people she just happens to like. Maybe she is just an old-fashioned politician held captive by the moment.

What to make of the endorsement? The Paul campaign welcomed it but some of the grassroots supporters of both are a little uneasy about it while others are simply distraught.

But in the words of Barry Goldwater, after conservatives threatened to abandon the party when Richard Nixon started pandering to the party’s liberals, “Let’s grow up, conservatives.” Or in this case, let’s grow up, Ron Paul Republicans.

Sarah Palin does have some political problems. She touts the bellicose foreign policy of John McCain both on their campaign trail and in her book. She held her hand out to receive stimulus money while she was still governor. She doesn’t really show much knowledge of the issues beyond the talking points. But both Sarah Palin and Rand Paul claim Tea Party support and like Pat Buchanan said, “The one candidate who can get [people] better than anybody else is Ms. Sarah Palin.”

Some grassroots libertarians are upset at the acceptance of the endorsement because Palin’s policy positions are far from perfect, and in some cases, are far from Rand Paul’s. But both claim Tea Party credentials and both campaign as the outsider to the establishment. And in a year where a Republican can win in Massachusetts, the endorsement is a good thing.

Why? 3 main reasons:

1. The endorsement might just produce, at the very least, a primary win. But to even get that far, alliances must be made and coalitions built, which by nature means teaming up with people who do not share complete confessional solidarity. A coalition is not a religious creed, where all points must be agreed upon to signify a true believer. Accepting Sarah Palin’s endorsement is not an abandonment of principles. It is good political sense.

2. Like it or not, she brings in people. And in a state that went 57-41 for McCain-Palin, Republican opponents like Trey Grayson will have more trouble marginalizing Rand Paul when one of the party’s biggest stars comes out for the latter. Will he continue trying to convince voters that Rand Paul is “pro-choice” when one of the country’s most prominent pro-life figures endorses him? Is Trey capable of walking the tightrope of vilifying Rand Paul without implying that Sarah Palin is also kooky, nutty, and anti-Semitic?

3. If Sarah Palin does get gutted for supporting Rand Paul, it only confirms that the GOP is the War Party and only the War Party. Federal encroachment, borrowing and spending, bailouts, and amnesty are all tolerable as long as you support torture and imperialism.

Welcome to the Kentucky race, Sarah. I hope you get a chance to listen to Dr. Paul.


Update: Regarding point #3 that the GOP may prove itself to be the War Party, see here for Jeanette Pryor's take at David Horowitz's Israel First Newsreal Blog. Ms. Pryor proves that point very plainly:

"The logical conclusion of this endorsement is that Palin considers America’s global defense of freedom, national defense, the War on Terror, the defeat of Radical Islam, and the support of Israel and our allies, to be less important than 'some' domestic policy issues."


Daryl said...

Great post. I totally agree with your analysis.

"I feel like an oddball in that I neither love nor hate the former governor. What’s wrong with me?"

I'm with you.

Carl Wicklander said...

Thanks for the visit, Daryl. I hope you'll be back.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I too, happen to take Sarah Palin at face value. I'm looking for her deliver a disertation on foreign policy theory. I think she's an honest person and I'll take her at her word. Now as for voting for her, she has some work to do on her education. So do a lot of others who claim knowledge they don't possess. Interesting post. Thanks for the visit to my site.

Law and Order Teacher said...

There should be "not" between I'm and looking. Sorry.

Jeremiah Whitmoore said...

Sarah Palin is two people. There's the establishment McCain mouthpiece and then there's the Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul supporting secessionist. You never know which Sarah is going to show up. She is everything to everyone.

TRUTH 101 said...

Another excellent post Carl. Should I ever decide to create a different internet persona I will try hard to be like you my friend.

Steel Phoenix said...

I think the answer to this one is painfully obvious. The political backlash from the perceived failings of the previous administration determine the outcome of the next election. It's quite likely that Obama will be most vulnerable for his expansion of government, thus all these tea parties by people who don't even seem to know what they are there to complain about.

The center right is playing Libertarian in order to get elected. They have neither the intentions nor the credibility for actually following a Libertarian agenda if elected. If I were Rand, I'd accept the endorsement graciously, but not return the favor.

Carl Wicklander said...

Law and Order Teacher,

I've kind of soured on Palin. I was excited when she first surfaced as a VP candidate, but she seems like more of a personality today.

I read her book and it was okay. Mostly stories about her upbringing, Alaska politics, and the presidential race. I was disappointed that she didn't really have any major historical figure to cite. For any number of reasons, she definitely needs more of an education.

Carl Wicklander said...


"She is everything to everyone."

That's what's called a politician. And you're right - you don't know who is going to show up. But I haven't really liked what's been showing up for awhile now.

Thanks for the visit.

Carl Wicklander said...


I'm flattered, but you've just got to be yourself. Your blog is great and I always read it even if I don't leave a comment.

Carl Wicklander said...

Steel Phoenix,

I hope there wasn't some sort of deal where Rand would one day endorse Palin. The only reason I have to be excited about this endorsement is that it might get more people to come aboard in this election.

Oso said...

I don't know much about Rand.I'm a lefty who supported Ron Paul.My youngest daughter contributed 20.00 which was big $ for her at the time.

I'm not a fan of the Austrian school;my support was mainly based on two things, the first being his foreign policy-we can't be the world's policeman and second-his honesty.

I didn't observe that quality in the Democrat or Republican candidates.

Carl Wicklander said...

Thanks for the visit, Oso.

I had never heard of Ron Paul until the early Republican debates when he inadvertantly lit a fire by stating that we have terrorism over here because we have been over there. Nobody liked it but it had to be said.

Rand Paul treats the war issue more delicately because he's in a primary in a very red state, but he still says that we can't police the world.

As for honesty, the one Democrat I respect in that regard is Dennis Kucinich. There's a lot that he stands for that I won't support, but I believe he has integrity and he is a solid voice against perpetual war.