13 November 2008

Thoughts on Palin

I keep hearing and reading that Sarah Palin is one of the bright young stars of the Republican Party. I also was struck by the fierce defenses of her, especially in the realm of "conservative" radio and print. And I've come to the question, "why?"
What are her bona fides of conservatism? What in her record shows she has any concept of traditional conservative thought?
She fought corruption in Alaska, or so the narrative goes. Good for her. Good for Alaska. Being against corruption doesn't make you a conservative.
She has also brokered higher tax rates for the oil companies that end up being tax rebates to the brave souls who live in Alaska. There are no state income or sales taxes and only a few municipalities collect property taxes. So the residents get state tax rebates without paying taxes. On tax policy, she is in league with Obama.
To her credit, after it became unpopular, she abandoned the bridge to nowhere. But the state kept the money. I assume that the money was used for more legitimate ends, but as one who has significant problems with the federal government giving states any money for anything, I doubt it.
Some of the same nonsense was blathered about Lynn Swann when he ran for governor of Pennsylvania. Idiots like Sean Hannity were saying how important it is to get conservatives like Swann elected. When Swann was on Hannity's show he was asked what he saw as a shortcoming of congress, my guess is so that he could show that he could be an objective critic of his own party. His complaint was that the feds weren't giving the states enough money for No Child Left Behind.
Now anyone with the slightest idea of what conservatism is or stands for, especially apropos federalism, can spot the obvious conflicts above. But nary a word is said.
The same can be said of the treatment of Bush. Whenever there was legitimate criticism of Bush from the right, it was promptly quashed. After writing the excellent book Impostor, Bruce Bartlett was fired from the think-tank he worked at and has become almost invisible at National Review Online. Here's the test I give to Republicans who say they've been critical of Bush (or, "I haven't agreed with all of his policies,"): if a Democrat were to sign McCain-Feingold or either of the last two farm bills or impose steel tariffs or textile restrictions or have spending increase as much as it has over the past eight years, how would you react. The answer is that they would blow their stacks. As well they should, these are idiotic policies no matter who proposes or endorses them. But they didn't and thus have no standing, with me, for when they criticize a Democrat for doing what he believes in. According to Jonah Goldberg:
Dissent from Bush was muted for years, in large part because of 9/11 and the Iraq war. Conservatives, right or wrong, rallied to support their president, particularly in the face of shrill partisan attacks from Democrats who seemed more interested in tearing down the commander in chief than winning a war. But the Bush chapter is closing, and the fight to write the next one has begun.

He wasn't "their" president, and continued defense of Bush or his policies will only erode whatever intellectual integrity remains. I will leave for another time and place (and have mentioned elsewhere already) the absurd notion that objection to Bush's views on the role and scope of presidential authority can be construed as "tearing down the commander in chief" or was limited to Democrats.
Back to Palin, if you can't handle an interview with lightweights like Couric and Gibson at 44 years old, you'll probably never be fit to be president. If she's on the ticket in 2012, Obama won't even have to campaign.
Anyway, I'm more and more into the Libertarian camp. Just finished What it Means to be a Libertarian and am moving on to Libertarianism: a Primer. Also I've picked up a bunch of stuff by Ludwig von Mises. Good times.

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