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Is Palin a Puppet?

During the Bush presidency, William Kristol’s Weekly Standard closely mirrored the administration’s agenda, not only in the magazine’s unwavering enthusiasm for war with Iraq, but in trying to make connections between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, assertions that should now be considered at least as wild as those who believe 9-11 was an “inside job” carried out by the United States government. Kristol, whose magazine once ran a cover story on the supposed “connection” between Saddam and Osama, likely considers the so-called “9-11 Truth” movement a collection of conspiracy-minded kooks, but in the mid-2000s the same could be said of the Weekly Standard, which perpetuated its own conspiracy myth to promote a war that Americans likely would not have supported otherwise.

But support it Americans did, particularly on the Right where everyone from the president and vice president down to talk radio either explicitly said or heavily implied that there was a connection between 9-11 and Iraq. Working in talk radio, I still receive the occasional phone call from listeners who believe this nonsense.

And I still get plenty of phone calls from conservatives who honestly believe we must stay in Afghanistan at all costs. When Kristol called for Michael Steele’s resignation after the Republican National Committee Chairman dared to raise questions about the wisdom of our war in Afghanistan, it reminded me of just how much influence—and damage—neoconservatives have exerted on the larger conservative movement. During the Bush years, if Steele had voiced such criticism, he likely wouldn’t have survived, as there was no room for debate on foreign policy—or the size of government, the national debt, increased executive power—the very things the Tea Party raises hell about today. As an illustration of the significant difference between traditional and neo-conservatives, during the 2004 election, the New York Times‘ David Kirkpatrick reported that Kristol said he’d take “(John) Kerry over (Pat) Buchanan or any of the lesser Buchananites on the right. If you read the last few issues of The Weekly Standard, it has as much or more in common with the liberal hawks than with traditional conservatives.”

Curiously, at the same time Kristol was calling for Steele’s head—and high profile conservatives like Ron Paul and columnist Ann Coulter were defending him—Sarah Palin sided with Kristol. Writes the Huffington Post’s Thomas Z. Dengotita, “Tea Party darling Sarah Palin has issued a major foreign policy statement on her Facebook page taking a generally hawkish neocon line. She wants, for example, to eliminate the withdrawal timetable for US troops in Afghanistan and presses for support of that war, along with other aggressive measures. This puts her with Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol and other conservatives who are demanding Michael Steele’s resignation for knocking the war.”

Palin’s stance poses a challenge to the Tea Partiers and the larger conservative movement. Is the Right finally serious about limiting government and reducing spending, which must include at least addressing the fact that our now bankrupt country has a larger military budget than every other nation combined, or will conservatives simply revert to the same old, Bush-style, Kristol-approved and Palin-suggested, neocon statism? Kristol freely admits that he would prefer a pro-war president John Kerry, or Obama, than a figure like Buchanan, Paul or any traditional conservative who might question American foreign policy. Ann Coulter asks, rightly, “Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney have demanded that Steele resign as head of the RNC for saying Afghanistan is now Obama’s war — and a badly thought-out one at that. (Didn’t liberals warn us that neoconservatives want permanent war?)… I thought the irreducible requirements of Republicanism were being for life, small government and a strong national defense, but I guess permanent war is on the platter now, too.”

Coulter makes the distinction that Palin and her adviser, Kristol, ignore—that there is a difference between support for a strong national defense and support for nonsensical permanent war. Neocons have successfully equated the two in the minds of many conservatives, and that right-wingers like Coulter, Buchanan, Paul, columnist George Will, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, and of course Steele, would dare question the Bush/Obama foreign policy consensus, is completely unacceptable to Kristol’s camp.

The neocons’ reasons for staying in Afghanistan are about as legitimate as their reasons for invading Iraq, and they will undoubtedly continue to tell any lie necessary to protect the notion that perpetual war somehow equals a “strong national defense.” Conservative talk radio has been predictably silent about the Steele controversy and the reaction to it, mostly because hosts like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and their mimickers have been in the neocon camp for so long they likely don’t know how to address such foreign policy questions being raised on the Right. Kristol, no doubt, hopes Palin can put a stop them being raised. And while everyone continues to wonder whether Sarah Palin will run for president—neoconservatives are happy just to have her run interference.

11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "Is Palin a Puppet?"

#1 Comment By PalinDrone On July 13, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

You nailed it. Palin is Kristol’s latest iteration of Dan Quayle. Kristol’s MO is to cozy up to attractive looking WASPs who need a little help in the Big Think department.

As an academic Kristol closely studied Machiavelli and knows himself to be no sort of Prince, so he’s contented himself with the ear of likely lads and lasses that he just as contentedly discards when they cease to be of use to Bill Kristol – or Israel. I’m afraid the stench already adheres to Palin.

#2 Comment By jsknow On July 13, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

If you don’t think anyone in the government had anything to do with 911, please explain two things to me. 1. What brought down steel and concrete buildings that were designed to withstand a hit by a plane… INTO THEIR OWN FOOTPRINT? 2. Why was the evidence in NY and at the pentagon removed without even a faked attempt at a thourough investigation? I’m sure you won’t be interested in what they have to say but more than 1,200 engineers and architects have expressed significant criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report. Several even allege government complicity in the terrible acts of 9/11. [1]

#3 Comment By William Antonini On July 14, 2010 @ 2:06 am

I am not so sure that Geo. Will should still be considered a right winger! I am sure, except for the Afgan War, Mr Scarborough should not be. Otherwise I agree with a good deal of what you write. Thanks, and keep it up.

#4 Pingback By Strange Foes, Stranger Bedfellows – National Catholic Register (blog) | IraqiGovernment.net On July 14, 2010 @ 10:26 am

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#5 Comment By Robert Johnson On July 14, 2010 @ 10:54 am

While I am for building up Afghanistan’s troops so they can take over from us (rehiring Iraq’s army is the only way we settled down things over there), Steele was right that WE, that is the US per se, cannot win in Afghanistan in the sense of stopping insurgents during the occupation phase, any more than we were able to control Iraq with solely our own troops during the occupation phase. The neocons, on the other hand, really DO want an empire in the sense of pre-WWII UK or France. The position held by Will on the right and Maddow on the left is respectable – that perhaps the only way to get Karzai to have his OWN nation’s forces take over is to do an immediate pullout – but it could also be that Karzai building up the ANA and ANP won’t happen, and then Al Qaeda and the Taliban will come back in. However, Hunter’s main thesis – that former Buchanan supporter Palin has sold out to the neocons and the Teapartiers are being “used” – is largely right, though she seems to be hedging her bets by supporting Rand Paul. Thus if his stock takes off and her own stock and other neocons’ stock falls, she can hitch her star to him. Pretty clearly her numbers are low enough that she’ll never be President. She’s like Quayle in THAT sense also ROTFLMAO. I suspect someone as nim-witted as Kristol selects the dumbest Gentiles he can find – “sweetheart, YOU’RE gonna be a STAR!” – since he and other neocons like the Podhoretz and Kagan progeny are severe regressions towards the mean from a not-all-that-high-anyway set of parents.

#6 Comment By colincampbell On July 14, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

It seems to me that Ann Coulter is really only questioning it now because a democrat is in office. She had no problem with “forever-war” as long as her guy was waging it.

#7 Pingback By Right Women News: July 15, 2010 On July 15, 2010 @ 1:27 am

[…] Is Palin a Puppet? Jack Hunter | The American Conservative During the Bush presidency, William Kristol’s Weekly Standard closely mirrored the administration’s agenda, not only in the magazine’s unwavering enthusiasm for war with Iraq, but in trying to make connections between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, assertions that should now be considered at least as wild as those who believe 9-11 was an “inside job” carried out by the United States government. Kristol, whose magazine once ran a cover story on the supposed “connection” between Saddam and Osama, likely considers the so-called “9-11 Truth” movement a collection of conspiracy-minded kooks, but in the mid-2000s the same could be said of the Weekly Standard, which perpetuated its own conspiracy myth to promote a war that Americans likely would not have supported otherwise. Read more […]

#8 Comment By Ed Roberts On July 15, 2010 @ 8:39 am

“Is Palin a Puppet?”

That’s a rhetorical question isn’t it? The desperation with which GOP Tea Party crashers insist on trying to tout Palin’s ‘conservative credentials’ is almost comical. Palin was the perfect air-head running mate for McCain, but will never be able to get any respect from the true grassroots.

Diehard republican kool-aid drinkers love her looks, but then, most of them voted for W at least twice.

Great column, Jack, and right on point as usual.

#9 Comment By gerry mccourt On July 17, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

The tea party people I encounter are lock step with neocon
thought. There is a huge Christain Zionist faction in the Tea party. Palin also has express her warm love for all thing Zionist. Bloody Billy knows how to pick them!
….”She had an Israeli flag, of all the things, mounted on her office wall, and I have that on film” he said. “I was very surprised to see that and when I asked her about it, she said that she loves Israel and the she had friends who visited the country and brought her the flag.”
[2]

#10 Comment By Jim Williams On December 23, 2010 @ 9:05 am

The connection between Iraq and Osama Bin Laden:

bin Laden is believed to be the leader of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was believed to be given sanctuary in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is in the middle east, on the far side of Iran from… Iraq.

Iraq, after having used WMDs on their own populace, and harboring Al Qaeda training camps, fired on our warplanes flying the no-fly zone in violation of the armistice. This last was reason enough to go to war with anybody.

The connection between Iraq and Osama Bin Laden is the same as the connection between Tunisia and Adolph Hitler.

We should have, after invading Iraq, conquered it and Afghanistan, appointed American governors-general, built up our forces, crushed Iran, then swing west and crush Syria, before giving the rest of the middle eastern nations an ultimatum. Instead, thanks to Bush’s inherent progressivism and the left’s constant carping and criticism of their own country, we decided to blow billions of dollars, thousands of lives and nearly a decade of time “nation building”.

#11 Comment By Kowalski. Not Murkowski. On December 23, 2010 @ 2:20 pm

Did you see the WikiLeak doc which confirmed the existence of WMDs in Iraq *prior* to US tactical involvement?. That, coupled with the UN’s repeated efforts at scheduled inspections prior to invasion simply gives teeth to what you might remember as Res 1551. This intervention led to Saddam’s defiance, which culminated in the bipartisan Congressional vote to invade Iraq (minus the support I believe of one congresswoman in CA).

Look, the left deifies the UN. You’re shooting down the great one-world goal with your dismissal of pre-Iraq peacekeeping efforts, efforts to try to hold Saddam Hussein responsible for previously d o c u m e n t e d inspection findings. Now, with the specific WikiLeaks doc as verification, it simply confirms what the UN encountered: WMDs existed as catalogued, and likely moved during lead-up to military response. Had really hoped to see you piece mention the safe harbor provided by Iraq to al Qaeda, following the attacks on the USS Cole, SoAfrican embassy and the WTC parking garage incident back in ’94. And, can you imagine a Saddam Hussein alive today on the world stage? The bowing and scraping by Barack would’ve been epic. Oh and I’m sure the neoProgs are much too smart to be taken in and whupped over and over by some chillbilly. Sarah Palin — dumb? For reals, now. Get a new meme. That’s so 2008. (Although, we no doubt agree on the challenge of insurgents, theocratic oppression and the treacherous terrain riddling the AfPak region. )