“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."