On the plane ride to Florida on Thursday morning I decided to finish up my copy of Commies: A Journey through the Old Left, the New Left, and the Leftover Left, Ron’s memoir which I hoped to get him to autograph. What struck me from reading Ron’s life story was just how radical he used to be. I certainly knew that he was radical politically, but what came as a surprise was that he used to employ the radical style as well. This side of Ron seems to rarely come out today. As long as I’ve known him he’s always strove for more tempered rhetoric and generally more moderate, center-right positions and approaches. It’s been intriguing to juxtapose him with David Horowitz in both their style and ideas. Nine times out of ten Ron is the more subdued of the two.
That was not the case in his speech at Restoration, though. Talking with Ron before the panel I knew he intended to provoke a bit.
His message to the roomful of conservative diehards: we need to be realistic about 2012 and not nominate a figure who’s as polarizing as Sarah Palin. (Watch Ron’s whole speech below.) He’s perfectly respectful of Palin and praises her for being an important conservative leader. But he reminds that a presidency can’t be won if the center and center-right are turned off.
While Ron’s argument inspired some heated opposition from a few in the crowd, it wasn’t quite as controversial as he expected. Many around me nodded in agreement.
As for me? Yes, Ron is right that centrists and moderate conservatives can’t be taken for granted. It would be imprudent to nominate a Barry Goldwater when we’re up against the Radical-In-Chief. However, I wouldn’t be rushing to exclude Palin from the game. There’s still plenty of time and too many unknown variables to begin picking presidential candidates.
Ron’s speech begins at 10:50.
Question and Answer: