Governor Palin and the Changing Rules of the Establishment

Authors from several publications– the Atlantic, Commentary and the Washington Post have finally caught up on the political history of the past 5+ years–Governor Palin had an excellent record during her tenure. For some reason, the Atlantic writer, Joshua Green, finally realized in May of 2011 what Governor Palin accomplished as an oil and gas commissioner in 2003-2004 and as Governor 2006-2009. She took on the corruption in her own party in both roles. She revamped the oil taxation plan in Alaska by cleaning up the corruption of her predecessor and helping leave Alaska with what is currently a $12 billion state surplus. She initiated a natural gas pipeline project,bringing it further than any of her predecessors. John Podhoretz at Commentary and Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post concede Green’s points in articles they write using Green’s piece as a springboard.

The concessions and praise end there, however, aside from backhanded compliments regarding her political talent. These authors then go on to trash Governor Palin’s actions during the past nearly two years. Green labeled Governor Palin as the embodiment of “right wing resentment”and driven by “virulent animus”. Jennifer Rubin, whose tone deafness to Governor Palin’s true influence and policy prowess we have highlighted several times, asserts (wrongly of course) that Governor Palin has made the choice “to bear grudges, to forgo serious policy study, to reject the advice of all but a handful of advisers”. Podhoretz, however, makes the most uncalled for and backhanded claim about Governor Palin in his piece at Commentary:

In some ways, the story of Palin is a story of temptation. Rather than sticking to her guns and deepening her political credentials and her knowledge base, she embraced her celebrity instead. And in doing so, she didn’t defeat her critics and enemies; she capitulated to them. Listen, it’s her life and her fortune and she is free to do what she wishes with it. And there’s no telling what the future holds for anyone in America. But she had and has more raw political talent than anyone I’ve ever seen, and, alas, as phenoms go, it looks like she is headed for a Darryl Strawberry-like playing career.

William A. Jacobson has a great piece at the Legal Insurrection where he calls in to question Podhertz’s absurd comparison:

Podhoretz’s explanation, much like that of Green, pays only passing attention to the unprecedented and relentless attacks on Palin since the moment she was nominated. Attacks joined in with glee from a broad swath of the media, and most importantly, the entertainment industry which to this day cannot resist mocking Palin.

Rather than a thin skin, Palin showed a mental toughness which few if any politicians could muster in the face of the cultural, political and journalistic forces aligned against her from the get-go.

By using the analogy of the Darryl Strawberry, who truly self destructed from drug addiction, Podhoretz not only uses a bad analogy, he piles on with a cheap shot.

And I have zero tolerance for that.

As Jacobson points out, Podhoretz uses a poor baseball analogy. Darryl Strawberry was an outfielder who played for several Major League baseball teams in the 80s and 90s. Strawberry showed a lot of promise in the early and mid stages his playing career, winning the National League Rookie of the Year in 1983 and being named to the All Star team eight times, before getting involved in cocaine use in 1994 and dealing with a several run ins with the law and a jail term following his career. Jacobson is right–it was both a bad analogy and a cheap shot.

It is more fitting to compare Governor Palin to Bob Gibson— an outstanding pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1959 to 1975 and one of the fiercest competitors to play the game. Gibson had a storied playing career racking up multiple all star appearances, Cy Young awards, Gold Gloves, and World Series rings and was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1981. The 1968 season proved to be Gibson’s most successful season. He won the Cy Young, MVP, and Gold Glove awards that year by having an incredible 1.12 ERA with 22 wins (13 of them shutouts) and 268 strikeouts. However, Gibson’s dominance (along with that of a few other pitchers) led Major League baseball to lower the pitching mound from 15 inches to 10 inches following the 1968 season. Gibson’s pitching prowess led the league to change the rules, thinking he and others were too dominating on the mound. Lowering the pitching mound was intended to remove that advantage. The major league changed the rules.

The same could be said of Governor Palin. Because of her political abilities (something Podhoertz actually acknowledges) and her success, the rules changed. No longer were children off limits. No longer was policy prescience recognized. No longer were political achievements and principles compared as apples to apples with others. Instead, Governor Palin’s children have been mocked. She has been subject to never-before-seen undeserved scrutiny, vitriol, and disrespect. Her political prescience has been largely ignored by Establishment and the press. Her political achievements generally only used a a springboard for criticism while the political missteps of others are overlooked in deeming them the next GOP nominee for President.

The latest Gallup poll shows that the percentage of Republicans and Republican leaning independents view Governor Palin “favorably” or “very favorably” is 71%, which is higher than any other Republican. This is a higher percentage than those who even know who Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Mitch Daniels, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Tim Pawlenty, or Rick Santorum are. For all the criticism that the chattering class levels at her, the everyday conservative overwhelming sees her favorably. Beyond that,  the children of other potential candidates have been rightfully left alone, while Governor Palin’s son,Trig, who has Down Syndrome, has become a political prop of the hatred that the Left harbors for Governor Palin.

The intellectual dishonesty of the likes of Green, Podhoretz, and Rubin proves to be the most politically egregious aspect of their writings. They all assert in one form or another that Governor Palin has not studied up on the issues and hasn’t deepened her political understanding. Of course, this is the furthest thing from the truth. Governor Palin has been prescient on every major political issue. On the issues of foreign policy, Governor Palin has been fully cognizant of the threats of Iran, has warned of the problems of signing the START treaty with Russia, and has being rightfully skeptical of the uprising in Egypt. She is the only potential candidate to lay out a foreign policy vision for the appropriate use of force in engaging the US military. On economic issues, she has predicted the inflation that was bound to follow QE2 by the Fed and was a consistent and early critic of the Obamacare. Of course, there is no doubt that no other potential candidate can match her when it comes to energy issues. Governor Palin’s “political education” may not have retroactively involved her receiving a degree from an Ivy League school, and her recent change in foreign policy advisers now has her ties from the political Establishment essentially severed. These are the defining characteristics of true intellectual curiosity, according to the likes of the authors mentioned. Governor Palin has taken a different route, of course. She has written books highlighting her political achievements and delineating the principles that guide her personal and political decision making. She has criss crossed the United States speaking to business, trade, pro life, college, and Christian groups. She has traveled abroad speaking to groups in Hong Kong and India and engaging in humanitarian efforts in Haiti.

Despite this, Governor Palin is seen as “too unserious” to contend for the presidency. Meanwhile, Governor Romney is still defending a health care reform measure passed while he was governor of Massachusetts. It has failed with an average appointment wait time of 7 weeks and a staggeringly low number of doctors who accept the state provided insurance coverages–which has deemed him “Obama’s running mate” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today. Governor Pawlenty’s record includes former support for cap and trade and a push for a mileage tax. One of the latest Establishment’s favorites, Governor Daniels, has called for a truce on social issues, would consider supporting a value added tax and oil tax hikes, and has openly admitted that he isn’t ready to debate President Obama on foreign policy. Sure these guys are serious–seriously wrong. However, these men are often touted as the next GOP presidential nominee. The rules have indeed changed.

These authors have recognized–albeit a few years late–that Governor Palin indeed has a stellar gubernatorial record marked by a strong fight against corruption, major energy initiatives, and a large state budget surplus. One day, they may look back at the past two years and see that Governor Palin was deeply serious about the pressing policy issues of the day, and she was extremely prescient about the foreign and domestic problems we face as Americans. Given that it has taken these individuals a few years to recognize her gubernatorial success, don’t be surprised if takes them a few years to recognize her seriousness and prescience as well. It just may be during her first presidential term.

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