Sarah Palin is back, with her signature flamboyance and slightly incoherent phrasing. The queen of Wasilla has returned from wherever she was to tell us that the Donald is just the candidate to trounce the GOP establishment and to make America great again.
Unfortunately for all of those who think that the Donald will really take it to the GOP establishment, said establishment has just discovered an even greater threat to its power and dominance: Ted Cruz.
The political genius who brought Sarah Palin out of Alaska obscurity to make her a national figure, John McCain declared last week that Ted Cruz might not be eligible to run for president. When you need advice on how to run a presidential campaign, who better to ask than John McCain, a man we can largely thank for the presidency of Barack Obama.
And then there was another superb presidential candidate, former Sen. Bob Dole who announced yesterday that Ted Cruz was the worst thing that could ever happen to the Republican Party and would cause a cataclysmic defeat. The reason: Cruz is too conservative. Considering that Trump’s unfavorable ratings are higher than Cruz’s one does not know what Dole is thinking, except that the Republican establishment hates Ted Cruz with a white, hot rage.
It has seen the enemy and the enemy is Ted Cruz.
And then there was the popular Republican governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad who said that Ted Cruz is the worst thing that can happen to Iowa. Branstad wants to lead an ABC movement-- Anyone But Cruz—because the Texas senator is the only candidate who opposes ethanol subsidies. You know about ethanol subsidies, the government program that mandates the inclusion of ethanol in gasoline, a massive support program for Iowa corn farmers.
The program shields said farmers from market forces and it also, btw, provides gainful and lucrative employment for Branstad’s son who is, you guessed it, an ethanol lobbyist. Since the anti-establishmentarian Trump favors increasing ethanol subsidies—he has certainly learned political pandering fast and well—he is totally acceptable to Branstead. Not so that devil Cruz.
Anyway, Sarah Palin rolled into Iowa the other day to bless the Donald’s campaign with her own brand of folksy wit and wisdom. Better yet, her endorsement gave the Trump campaign an aura of inevitability.
Fortunately, for those who missed it, the New York Times has quoted some of Palin’s best lines. And quoted them with bemusement, and mostly without commentary.
For your edification:
How about the rest of us? Right-winging, bitter-clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religion, and our Constitution.
And he, who would negotiate deals, kind of with the skills of a community organizer maybe organizing a neighborhood tea, well, he deciding that, ‘No, America would apologize as part of the deal,’ as the enemy sends a message to the rest of the world that they capture and we kowtow, and we apologize, and then, we bend over and say, ‘Thank you, enemy.’
“He’s got the guts to wear the issues that need to be spoken about and debate on his sleeve, where the rest of some of these establishment candidates, they just wanted to duck and hide. They didn’t want to talk about these issues until he brought ’em up. In fact, they’ve been wearing a, this, political correctness kind of like a suicide vest.
There are more, but those are a good sampling. The Times parses them to show what Palin meant, a useful contribution to the national conversation.
As you recall, Palin burst on the scene in 2008 as a politician who could give a great scripted speech. She had great natural talent, but as Margaret Thatcher noted, Palin never did her homework. She let intuition be her guide. It was calamitous. It did not take too much time for most of us to sour on Palin, and to question the judgment of one John McCain.
Ross Douthat, the Times’s best conservative columnist offers this assessment of her political career during the 2008 presidential campaign. He said:
Palin gave interviews — terrible, terrible interviews. She was in over her head. Her own paranoia took center stage. She became her critics’ caricature, embracing a mix of willful ignorance and proud ressentiment. What was distinctive about her Alaskan career was subsumed into a much more conventional sort of movement conservatism, which she picked up from the professional ideologues who rallied to her during her trial by fire. And eventually the movement tired of her, the culture tired of her, and her act ceased to be interesting even as reality TV.
One would like to say that with Palin the circus has again come to town, but with her endorsement came the news that her oldest son had been arrested on charges of domestic violence. The charges against Track Palin are too serious to be dismissed as comedy.
The New York Times summarizes the police report:
Mr. Palin’s girlfriend, according to the affidavit, was found hiding under a bed. She told another officer who arrived at the house that Mr. Palin hit her on the left side of the head near her eye with a closed fist and that she then curled up in a fetal position, “because she didn’t know what else he would do.”
The woman said Mr. Palin kicked her on the knee and threw her phone, according to the affidavit. He then went inside, cocked a gun with his right hand near the trigger and his left hand next to the barrel, which was pointed to the side, and said, “do you think I won’t do it?” the woman told the police. She added that she was worried that Mr. Palin would shoot himself.
A police officer said that he later found the weapon, an AR-15, unloaded on a kitchen counter, according to the documents.
The next day celebrity endorser Palin stood up for her son. One sympathizes with mothers who defend their children and with mothers who love their children unconditionally. Truth be told, Palin was raising an important and salient issue. And yet, her articulation drowned the issue and opened her to the charge of condoning wife beating.
She was right to suggest that the way the nation treats its veterans definitely has an influence on how they behave. And she had good reason to say that President Obama bears considerable responsibility for the mental health issues of veterans. Still, don’t we want people to take responsibility for their behavior?
In her words:
My son, like so many others, they come back a bit different, they come back hardened. They come back wondering if there is that respect for what it is that their fellow soldiers and airman and every other member of the military so sacrificially have given to this country. And that starts from the top.
That comes from our own president, where they have to look at him and wonder, 'Do you know what we go through? Do you know what we're trying to do to secure America?
So when my own son is going through what he goes through coming back, I can certainly relate with other families who kind of feel these ramifications of some PTSD and some of the woundedness that our soldiers do return with….
Apparently, combat veterans are responsible for a disproportionate number of incidents of domestic violence. Of course, the argument is often used to malign the military and to demean masculine cultures.
But, it is not a great idea to look as though you are excusing domestic violence. And we all know that Palin’s remarks will be played in that sense.
Yet, Palin was approximating an important point. The best way to diminish the trauma of combat veterans is to assert that they fought honorably for a noble cause. When Obama and his flunkies constantly bad mouth the Iraq War they are demoralizing the soldiers who fought it. Worse yet, when Obama gave Iraq away, when he surrendered American victories to serve his own ideological deformity, he surely damaged the minds and souls of combat veterans. When politicians denounce the war as useless and futile, they are also demoralizing the soldiers who fought in that war.