The Trouble With Sarah Palin

Via Daniel Larison, I see that Pat Buchanan is desperately trying to convince himself that Palin is not a “neocon.” Leaving aside the definitional problems of the term – does anyone know what a neoconservative actually is anymore? – I wonder what Governor Palin has done to dispel the notion that she’s fully committed McCain’s foreign policy worldview. Fortunately, Buchanan assures us that she’s . . . from Alaska:

In fairness to Palin, on issues like NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, her answers reflect the views of the man who chose her. She has no option at present but to follow the line laid down by Scheunemann.

But make no mistake. Sarah Palin is no neocon. She did not come by her beliefs by studying Leo Strauss. She is a traditionalist whose values are those of family, faith, community and country, not some utopian ideology.

Wasilla, Alaska, is not a natural habitat of neoconservatives.

Of course, Wasilla isn’t the natural habitat of all sorts of creatures. Undeterred, Buchanan marshals more evidence to bolster his claim:

And her unrehearsed answers to Gibson’s questions reveal her natural conservatism. Asked if she agrees with the Bush Doctrine, Palin asked for clarification. “In what respect, Charlie?”

Gibson: “Do we have the right of an anticipatory self-defense?”

Yes, said Palin, “if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against (the) American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend.”

Apparently, ignorance of our country’s recent foreign misadventures now counts as definitive proof that one is not a “neocon.” I weep for the future of the United States.

As Governor of Alaska, I doubt Palin gave much thought to foreign policy. Her remarks on the surge in 2007 – “I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place” – are a refreshingly honest admission of her own limitations. The danger of the Palin pick, in my mind, is that her foreign policy outlook will be defined in its infancy by McCain’s pre-existing biases.

Now, some commentators have suggested that Palin is cleverly disguising her real preferences for expediency’s sake. Granted, there’s no real evidence that this is true (and plenty of evidence that suggests otherwise), but idle speculation appeals to people like Pat Buchanan who intuitively identify with Palin’s biography.

In fact, Buchanan’s wishful thinking is incredibly reminiscent of the liberal commentariat’s infatuation with Palin’s current running mate. Despite his incredibly hawkish views and willingness to pander to the conservative base’s worst instincts, I think it’s fair to say that our “East Coast Media Elite” were rooting for McCain to win the Republican primary. In 2006, a New Republic article suggested that McCain’s strategic vision was actually quite complicated and that he might even reconsider his hawkish outlook. Of course, McCain went on to win the Republican primary on the strength of his jingoistic rhetoric and his “prescient” support for the Surge, but I’m sure Buchanan’s capacity to see into Palin’s soul will be proven right this time around.

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3 Comments

Filed under Conservatism, Foreign Policy, Presidential Politics, The Media

3 responses to “The Trouble With Sarah Palin

  1. Klug

    I could be wrong (and could be getting myself in neck-deep), but I think that Buchanan is arguing that she’s not a Neocon ™ according to the textbook definition. It’s a reasonable statement — but who knows? Maybe she, deep down inside, is a neocon. I doubt we’ll get to find out.

  2. Fair enough, and I will readily admit that Palin’s ideological inclinations are pretty ambiguous on any number of issues. I do, however, find the idea that Palin secretly disagrees with McCain on foreign policy or civil liberties faintly ridiculous, and I think dissident conservatives should stop kidding themselves.

  3. Pingback: The Lesser Weevil «

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