State of the Union

Rooting for Palin

Richard Spencer asks, “how can we not get behind” Sarah Palin and my answer is: Very easily. He writes that “this is a woman who loves guns, has lots of kids, is a rugged individualist in the Western mold, lowered property taxes, and not too long ago supported Pat Buchanan!”

Ho hum. I counter that she consents to run with John McCain, which would be enough to turn me off to her even if she endorsed the collected works of Bill Kauffman and Andrew Bacevich. I won’t be watching her speak at the convention so could someone let me know if she says any thing that might force me to reconsider my opinion, such as:

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It’s Finally Happening

Sweeping police raids across the Twin Cities. Manhandled, handcuffed, intimidated and detained: lawyers, journalists and activists in anticipation of the Republican convention. Public meetings dispersed, “hippie houses” raided by black-clad, heavily armed SWAT teams. Glenn Greenwald, who was at one of the houses raided this morning, has the scoop.

UPDATE : Thanks Dennis!

UPDATE II : I just came across this from Friday:

The FBI will play a big role in gathering intelligence and investigating any terroristic threats that may pop up during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

The agency has set up an Intelligence Operations Center at an undisclosed location, where information on suspicious people or activity will be collected and immediately analyzed. The agents will have access to all FBI and local databases.

Ralph Boelter, special agent in charge of the Minneapolis division of the FBI, said the agency has put more resources in Minnesota than ever before “because the responsibility is substantial.” He couldn’t reveal numbers for security reasons.

The FBI has also set up a Joint Operations Center, which would become a command center and be used only in the event of a crisis.

“Hopefully we’ll never activate this,” he said.

The Republican National Convention, held at the Xcel Energy Center Sept. 1-4, is designated as a National Special Security Event, or NSSE, which means the U.S. Secret Service is the lead agency coordinating security. The FBI, as well as state and local authorities, are all part of the security operation.

I’m starting to think the conventions are just one big, steroidal table top exercise. Luckless pedestrians like Greenwald and Asa Esclocker fit in merely as props!

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Palin Rocks

John McCain’s never seemed to me to merit his “maverick” moniker, but the Palin pick is clear evidence of an independent spirit. He met the women only in February, barely knows her, yet was clearly sufficiently smitten to disregard all professional party insider advice and the heavy neocon lobbying to choose Joe Lieberman, Bill Kristol’s pick to ensure Americans will be fighting Mideast wars in perpetuity. Watching McCain camp followers react to the choice is a bit like seeing the middle aged heirs of a very rich man feign pleasure when they learn Daddy has decided, very late in life, to marry a woman he just recently met, who happens to be forty years his junior.

Indeed Palin is, if anything, the Lieberman antithesis. The blogosphere has begun to chew on the fact that she apparently played some role in the Buchanan campaign of 1996, and perhaps in 2000 as well. There remains a constituency in this country for the idea that Buchanan is the devil incarnate, but if he’s not correct on absolutely everything, his views on American foreign policy have proved more prescient than any single sitting Republican senator. The Palin choice promises to instigate a boomlet of old Buchanan controversies, including a criticism of the Israel lobby which has become increasingly mainstream since the Iraq war went south. Sarah Palin may not have supported Pat in 1996 primarily because of his foreign policy views, but clearly she wasn’t put off by them, despite the hysterical anti-Buchanan frothings of every neoconservative and neoliberal media outlet in the country. You have to think a hockey mom mother of five would be more resistant to the American Enterprise Institute world view than anyone else McCain could conceivably have chosen. If there’s a good argument for John McCain, it might be that he’s old, has a history of serious illness, and has chosen Sarah Palin as his veep.

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Double Standard-Bearers

Give Sarah Palin her due. If nothing else, she’s saving Republicans from pretending that Joe Lieberman is a model conservative just because he could rock that “bomb, bomb, bomb” duet.

But her eager partisans should find talking points that don’t involve congratulating Alaska’s favorite hockey mom for having a son with Down Syndrome. My mother did, and no one gave her a medal (or made her veep). She didn’t consider it high heroism not to kill her baby because he came with an extra chromosome.

Have even pro-lifers adopted the eugenic assumption that a genetically imperfect child is less deserving of life? That the abortion of a healthy baby is a tragedy but not killing a disabled one shows extraordinary grace? If not, praise Palin equally for not aborting children one through four.

Granted, the incidence of Down Syndrome has declined in recent years, even as average maternal age has crept upward—an indication of how many of these children aren’t allowed to be born. Studies show that some 91 percent of those diagnosed prenatally are aborted.

This makes Palin part of a moral minority. But gushing over that compromises the pro-life argument and patronizes her boy. There are plenty of other things to like about Sarah Palin. Pick a better one.

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Thank McCain for small favors

I don’t know a lot of about Sarah Palin, but I’m relieved that we will be spared from the televised debate between Joe Biden and Joe Liberman in which these two Washington insiders would be gushing all over each other (Joe I: “Wolf, I want you to know that Joe is the smartest guy on the Hill.” Joe II: “Joe is the guy I’ll call when I’m in trouble, Wolf”), while trying to outbid each other for Who is Georgia’s “Misha” Saakashvili’s Greatest pal in the Whole Wide World. ( Joe I: “I just talked with Misha over the phone.”  Joe II: “And I invited Misha to stay with us.”)

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The Incredible Palin!

Via Andrew Sullivan I see that Jay Nordlinger has found a new Republican to fawn over in Sarah Palin. This is new territory for Nordlinger, who is ususally going faint over all of the macho he-men in the GOP. I first became aware of Nordlinger in 2001 when he penned an egregious article in National Review fawning over Don Rumsfeld as a dreamy hunk.

A couple of years later he gushed over Republican studs in the American Enterprise:

Again, the Democrats will have to acquire a bit more testosterone if they’re to compete with the GOP. This is, indeed, no time for “pitty-patty.” As for the Republicans, if they had any more testosterone, they’d be The Incredible Hulk. House Speaker Denny Hastert was a wrestling coach, for crying out loud. That’s almost overkill!

So for him to go limp over a girl Republican is new, but the man sure can gush:

She is leaderly. That’s not quite a word, but I have employed it often. (It ought to be a word.) Governor Palin is strong, assured, natural — and leaderly. I’m not sure she is less presidential — to say nothing of vice-presidential — than any of the other three on the national tickets.

Like many Americans, she says “Eye-rack” and “Eye-ran” (for two neighboring countries in the Middle East). Some people mock this, but it is very American. And — speaking of mockery — she also says “nuke-u-lar”: like George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter (who was a nuclear engineer), and Eisenhower.

When she said she was “commander of Alaska’s National Guard,” I somehow sat up straighter!

Thanks for Sharing, Jay.

P.S. I wrote about Nordlinger in a piece for TAC a few years back.

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Palin Drones

Here is a good profile from the Almanac of American Politics. I agree with Dan. But I found her introduction unimpressive. In the hours before the pick the media built her up by discussing the choice as a “bold surprise,” and “historic,” then going on to speculate on how she might put former-Clinton supporters into the Republican camp.

She made that last point sharply, going so far as to quote Clinton’s line about 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. My suspicion is that attacks on Palin’s inexperience will be redefined by the McCain camp as an attempt to “diminish the accomplishments of a working mother.”

But one colleague watching the speech said she looked like a local Republican Committee chair who should be introducing McCain during a primary. Her accent seemed unfamiliar. She cited her PTA experience, which lends some weight to Andrew Sullivan’s charge that a Palin-pick is not serious. Compare that to the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee!

Like Bobby Jindal or Mark Sanford, I considered Sarah Palin a promisingly conservative, likable, and reform-minded governor. I wished desperately to spare her (and them) from association with the bellicose and ideological foreign policy of Bush-McCain. These three governors excite various parts of the conservative base but need time to prove themselves. Politics are not for wishful thinking, but there are moments when I allowed myself to imagine one of these governors running on a “humble foreign policy” against Barack Obama. Too bad.

Like Ramesh Ponnuru, I think conservatives are currently underestimating the potential downsides of having Palin on the ticket.

PS-Sullivan can’t seem to decide what thing about her to latch onto. Token Christianist mother of a downs-syndrome afflicted child. Or former pot-smoking paragon of tolerance.)

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Another Possible Deception Operation

As it is almost certainly true that no one actually knows what the Governor of Alaska looks like, are we absolutely sure that it was not Joe Lieberman speaking falsetto while wearing a dress and a wig?

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A Smart Choice on Paper

Palin reassures conservatives, appeals to the “let’s vote for a woman crowd” (which shouldn’t be over-identified with Hillaryites, though they’re part of it), and reinforces McCain’s message of reform — she’s a fresh face who has defined herself in opposition to traditional Alaska Republican corruption.  Her speech just now was underwhelming to say the least, however. The longer she spoke, the less interesting she seemed, and her voice is not particularly mellifluous.  I suspect, then, that the more exposure she gets on the campaign trail and in debate with Biden, the more her star will fade. At first I thought she was far and away a savvier political pick than, say, Romney or Pawlenty would have been.  Now I’m not so sure.

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One Card The GOP May Be Willing To Play

Chuck Todd at MSNBC just got through suggesting that the choice of Sarah Palin for VP could demobilize Joe Biden as the Democrats’ attack dog, particularly in the televised debates. This would be a big blow to Democrats, who finally found someone who could deliver an uppercut with a smile. They’ve been boasting for days they will kick butt in the debates. Not going to happen if his opponent is a girl, Todd suggests. Sounds way too Machiavellian, but think about it: remember how Obama was forced to walk on eggshells so as not to be seen “bullying” poor Hillary during those excruciating forums?

What a brilliant twist! The party that has to constantly prove it has the stones to run the country, now faces a Republican opposition that seems all too capable of playing the gender card to win this election. And who said Karl Rove was day old bread?

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