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Sarah Palin’s California Senate Endorsement Underscores Her Need for Gravitas

Posted on May 9 2010 12:00 pm
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If ever she hopes to lead conservatives, the Republican Party and America, then Sarah Palin needs to become more serious-minded and substantive like Henry Kissinger.

Critics of my recent Sarah Palin post miss my point. My point is not that Sarah Palin should have refrained from endorsing California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina. My point, instead, is that Palin’s endorsement of Fiorina confirms that she (Palin) is not all that conservative.

Fiorina, however, may well be a great conservative; I don’t know. I’m undecided in the California Senate race, though decidedly against the more liberal and dovish Tom Campbell.

Moreover, as some commenters have observed, prudential political concerns may well have shaped Palin’s endorsement. She might view DeVore as a political loser and Fiorina as the only viable candidate able to unseat the far-left incumbent senator, Barbara Boxer, in November.

So I certainly can understand why Palin has endorsed Fiorina. Again, my argument is not with Fiorina; it is with Palin. People like FrumForum’s Tim Mak blithely assume that Palin is a conservative. However, Palin’s public-policy pronouncements, and her record as governor of Alaska, show that’s not yet really the case.

In my post, I cited specific positions that Palin has taken, a specific high-profile senate candidate whom she has endorsed, and specific public utterances of hers to lay bare the myth that Palin is a political conservative.

For example, I noted, Palin has heartily endorsed John McCain, even though McCain has taken very liberal positions on taxes, amnesty, free speech, and the defense budget—and even though a more conservative candidate, former Arizona congressman J.D. Hayworth, is running against McCain for the GOP senate nomination.

What’s more, Palin has appropriated left-wing populist rhetoric to bash so-called predatory lenders and oil companies. She has championed “windfall profits” taxes and more money for the education bureaucracy. Her interest in military and defense issues doesn’t appear to be very deep or profound.

Palin’s problem, I think, is that unlike say, Ronald Reagan, she’s not a philosophically grounded conservative. She’s not well read and doesn’t appear to have thought very deeply about the great and pressing issues of our time.

This is a problem because unless a politician is philosophically grounded in conservative political thought, he is likely to move or “grow” leftward while in office. The political and cultural zeitgeist, after all, leans in a decidedly strong left-wing direction.

I say all this with regret, because at one time I was Sarah Palin’s greatest fan and strongest advocate. I criticize her now only because Sarah Palin has it within her the ability to change and to become a more serious-minded and credible political leader. I for one am rooting for her: Because America needs the Sarah Palin that can be, not the Sarah Palin that now is.

John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. You can follow him on Twitter: @Guardian0

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