Sarah Palin A Pragmatist, Not The Conservative Boogeywoman

Sarah Palin, that religious nutjob who bans books, who demands that creationism be taught in place of evolution, who is determined to impose her pro-life views on society, and who is just an all around bad person who compares unfavorably to the Taliban.  That’s the Democrat’s characterization of her.

Well, as usual, liberals are revealed to be liars who viciously engage in the politics of personal destruction.

Fred Barnes has an article that is worth reading for anyone who would like to see the real Sarah Palin:

Palin the Pragmatic
Doctrinaire conservatives beware.
by Fred Barnes
09/22/2008, Volume 014, Issue 02

Conservatives are rushing to crown Alaska governor Sarah Palin as the new Ronald Reagan. And indeed there are similarities. Like Reagan, Palin has a dazzling star quality and an appeal to voters outside the conservative orbit. But there’s another likeness to Reagan that conservatives may find a bit off-putting. She governs as a pragmatic conservative–with heavy emphasis on the pragmatic.

Palin, John McCain’s vice presidential running mate, is a strong social and religious conservative. She opposes abortion and gay rights and, as an evangelical Christian, believes in a God-centered universe. But these matters are neither her top priorities as governor nor even her second-tier concerns. Her social conservatism has been muted.

Instead, her agenda since being elected governor in 2006 consists of oil and gas, taxes, and ethics reform. “Just look at the bills she put her name on,” says John Bitney, her policy director during her first year as governor. “They speak for themselves.” The bills involved a new arrangement for building a natural gas pipeline, higher taxes on oil companies, and new ethics rules covering the governor’s administration and the legislature.

Those were her major initiatives. Next on Palin’s list of priorities were maintaining the solvency of the pension program for teachers, cutting spending in the state’s capital budget, and assuring that parents who home school their children aren’t discriminated against by state regulations.

Palin has frequently voiced her support for anti-abortion bills requiring parental consent for girls under 17 and outlawing partial-birth abortions. “Alaskans know I am pro-life and have never wavered
in my belief in the sanctity of every human life,” she declared in April.

But she refused to introduce the pro-life measures in a special legislative session last spring devoted to the gas pipeline. “These issues are so important they shouldn’t be diluted with oil and gas deliberations,” she said.

Later, she declined to call a separate special session to take up the abortion bills. Her reasoning: Pro-lifers had failed to persuade her the bills could pass the state senate. Nor would she intervene to pressure two Republican senators who opposed the legislation to change their minds. Palin isn’t willing “to jump out in front of the bus on things that aren’t moveable” in the legislature, says state Republican chairman Randy Ruedrich.

Palin’s conservatism, like Reagan’s, has never been in doubt. When I talked to her last year, she described herself as “pro-business and pro-development.” The Anchorage Daily News said the spending cuts she imposed in 2007 “may be the biggest single-year line-item veto total in state history.” Of course, Palin is also pro-gun.

When she attended a governor’s conference in Washington last February and was interviewed on C-SPAN by Steve Scully, she endorsed “across the board” tax cuts because Americans “know best” how to spend their own money. Palin said she’s “committed” to making Alaska “more of a contributing state .  .  . and less reliant on the federal government.”

Her biggest task as governor has been to start construction of the gas pipeline to the lower 48 states. She tossed out the sweetheart contract her predecessor, Republican Frank Murkowski, had reached with three oil companies and negotiated a new deal with a Canadian company. The goal, she said, is “to feed hungry markets in our state, reduce energy costs, help secure the nation, [and] flow that energy into hungry markets across the nation. That’s my mission.”

Her record as governor hardly qualifies her as a doctrinaire conservative. She proposed a graduated tax on oil as the price soared, then signed a bill passed by the legislature that set the new tax rate even higher. Reagan, by the way, cut taxes in 1981 and raised them the next year.

Why did Palin push a pipeline and favor a tax hike? Bitney says the answer is simple: Alaska needs more energy as older oil fields become depleted, and the pipeline will generate jobs and revenue. As for raising taxes, Palin follows the command of the state constitution to get the maximum benefit from the state’s natural resources.

Bitney says Palin never instructed her gubernatorial staff to “go after abortion” or any other issues of concern to social conservatives. In a campaign debate in 2006, she said that both evolution and creationism should be taught in public schools. “You know, don’t be afraid of education,” she said. “Healthy debate is so important and so valuable in our schools.”

The next day she thought better of her comment. “I would not push the state board of education to add creation-based alternatives to the state’s required curriculum,” she said. But there shouldn’t be “a prohibition against debate if [creationism] comes up in class.”

As governor, Palin has appointed a commissioner of education and nine members of the state board–without applying a litmus test on creationism or evolution. And there’s been no effort, either by Palin or her appointees, to add creationism to the curriculum.

Palin’s most celebrated act of practical conservatism was killing the notorious Bridge to Nowhere in Ketchikan. She had endorsed it in a gubernatorial campaign debate, but changed her mind after being elected. By then, the project had become a symbol of wasteful spending, and the congressional earmark with money for it had been rescinded.

But the three members of Alaska’s congressional delegation–Ted Stevens, Lisa Murkowski, and Don Young–still favored the project. Their expectation was that Palin would keep it alive with federal highway funds and state money. She refused.

The anointing of Palin as the new Reagan is surely premature. Let’s say she’s a potential Reagan. Like him, Palin has focused on a few big issues, while allowing others popular with conservatives to fall by the wayside. This brand of pragmatic conservatism worked for Reagan. It’s worked for Palin too.

Sarah Palin is an incredible woman with an incredible story.  Star basketball player, hunter, fisher, beauty queen, mother of five, and top-notch politician, who is married to a rock-steady Steelworker and five time world champion snowmobiler.

And a down-to-earth pragmatist.

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11 Responses to “Sarah Palin A Pragmatist, Not The Conservative Boogeywoman”

  1. David Buckna Says:

    Teaching Evolution – Is There a Better Way?

    Should Evolution Be Immune From Critical Analysis?

    Teaching Origins in Public Schools

    ‘Creation science’ enters the race
    GOVERNOR: Palin is only candidate to suggest it should be discussed in schools.

    Anchorage Daily News
    Published: October 27, 2006

  2. Old Male Admirer/Supporter GA Says:

    Miss Palin is what America direly needs right now. I can give you a hundred reasons to elect John McCain President instead of that young whippersnapper the Dem’s have, and one of those reasons will be Sarah Palin.

    She is strong. She has her own mind but she is also a “one of us” person to know when to consult the people. Obama sings his old tedious “more of the same as Bush” song and criticizes McCain for having voted with Bush 90% of the time. What does he want from his Senators if he should ever make to the White House? Will it make him Happy if they vote against him 90% of the time? Enough said.

    Miss Sarah knows the right balance. I like it that she is clearly not going to be a rubberstamp, that she understands her own human strengths and limitations, and I think John McCain knows the same about both of them. They openly differ on, for instance, abortion. She is full stop period against it whereas McCain suggests exceptions for rape and incest. I tend towards McCain in this but there is a place for both. McCain is for stem cell research under certain conditions and Palin is dead against it. I agree with her. They both have the common sense to consult the people and they know when to do it.

    This truly a once in a lifetime Dream Team! For your sake, for the Country, for the generations to come: ELECT THEM!!

  3. Made me feel real good in GA Says:

    Congrats Michael. High standard! Very well researched! Gutsy! Anybody would be glad to serve as your wingman.

  4. Michael Eden Says:

    Palin is rock-solid courageous. I think she is willing to play along until she sees the right moment, and then she allows her fiscal conservatism and reformer’s spirit to rip. She will take on Republicans as well as Democrats. She HAS taken on major powerplayers (in both politics and industry) and beaten them at their game. She is a real woman of the people. I genuinely admire her.

    I also agree that this is McCain’s moment. What he has done his entire career – often to the ANNOYANCE of Republicans and even conservatives – is EXACTLY what the country seems to be claiming it needs. If McCain and Palin come in to clean house, so much can be done.

    Glad there are folk feeling good in Georgia. I stomped around that red clay of yours a fair bit while at infantry training and jump school. Real pretty country. Good to have a Georgian for a wingman!

    Fred Barnes deserves the credit for the research. I just felt the need to pass his analysis along.

  5. Coenraad Says:

    Michael, I beg please overlook my obsession with the Time Rag again. Maybe I have a hang-up about them but if you come across the September 22 edition read inside article The American Myth by Joe Klein [it is not to bad and he tries to convince you of his good intentions] then read the last page essay Alaskanomics by Michael Kinsley. I seem to bump into one after the other Michael in my silly age but this Kinsley fellow needs to be challenged. It is typical Obama rhetoric: criticize; tear down but not a word of what he would have done if he were in her shoes. Have a go at him my friend or if you get the time to read it let me know whether I am loosing my marbles.

  6. Michael Eden Says:

    I’ll try to look for it. But I would never subscribe to it – or even waste my time reading it beyond the occasional need to refute something. When they published the hit piece against Mother Theresa – and didn’t even allow a writer to rebut the article against her – I pretty much threw that piece of crap away. A magazine that can do that to a Mother Theresa is capable of any polemic and propaganda. It is not worth reading.

    On Alaska, I would offer this: this is a state that had a pretty bad system of cronyism and corruption. Palin has come in – alienating many in her own party to do it – and worked on reform and cleaning up a bad system. It is not easy or immediate. It’s always messy to attack an entrenched system. It’s never “neat” to pursue reform.

    There are little bits and pieces that polemicists can grab hold of and say, “See? She’s no reformer.” And they ignore the big picture – which clearly shows she IS a reformer – in order to fixate on the little pieces out of context.

  7. Old Georgi Critter Says:

    Please allow me to place this comment on an essay named Alaskanomics by Michael Kinsley in Time Magazine September 22 edition. In the same breath as telling Alaskans they are a bunch of hacks he admits that Alaska is independent of OPEC oil. How’s that for logic? Then he blames Palin for using Alaska’s own oil revenues to improve life for the people of Alaska. That is brilliant reasoning, Mr Kinsley. In his closing paragraph he insults Alaskan “small towns and farms and high school hockey teams” [his exact words] by suggesting they think they are batter Americans than their counterparts in the “lower 48 states” without saying on what he bases his statements. He neglects to explain why Miss Sarah is obviously popular all over America but I suppose Time Rag has always known America better that other Americans know America, in Michael Kinsley’s eyes that is. Duh!

  8. Old Georgi Critter Says:

    I hope you allow me a second comment on top Journalism in the Time Rag, this time by Joe Klein in the same September 22 edition. He names the article “The American Myth” and starts it off by saying “Sarah Palin appeals to nostalgia that no longer exists.” Next to these words is a photo of Miss Sarah in Lebanon Ohio surrounded by well-wishers of all ages, clearly showing an old fellow my age [68] and several small children, male and female all obviously exited and smiling. You can see the love and adoring eyes. It seems to me what he calls “The Myth” is very much alive right next to his own words.

    Then he falters badly. Obviously trying to revive Obama’s Hopes for Small-Town America [after all he is still their Man of the Year in waiting] Klein tries to prove that “small town America ceased to exist nearly a century” back and it is now “suburbanites …. he waffles along” for what purpose I fail to understand, but remaining very eloquent in typical Time jargon.

    I would like to see Klein’s statistics but must cut this short. It was my good fortune to spend the years 1990 through 2000 in a Moterhome covering almost forty thousand miles on the back roads. I have been to Moscow Tennessee, Madawaska Maine, Mountain View and Bentonville [home of Mister Sam, they called him still of Wal-Mart] in Arkansas, and I have seen Scenic South Dakota on a warm day in September with deep green grasslands all the way to the Badland hills in the distance, and young college students holding down three jobs to pay their college fees at the Georgia South Western College in Americus Georgia, running between jobs at the filling station, the local hardware butane gas pump and the waiter job at the Steakhouse in the evening. I have met them and talked to them. These are the people who often have to move to the cities or, as Joe Klein would have it, become suburbanites but they are the backbone of America.

    You are out of touch Joe. This Myth has been alive, thank the Good Lord above, and Miss Sarah is giving it a new radiance. Watch and see! Just look at the faces in the photo with your article, Stupid! Small-Town America will rise to embrace her and suburbanites will follow them.

  9. Michael Eden Says:

    Old Georgi,
    I’m pleased to see such a comment appear on this blog or any other.

    You do a good job penetrating into the sneering bias and hostility to small town America that this representative journalist has for “fly over country.” The funny thing about me is, I like the window seat – and it’s “fly over country” I most like to watch. It’s only when I see the cities coming that I lose interest.

    I too love Sarah Palin. She not only represents small-town America; she represents the best of America. I didn’t get “serious” about my support for McCain until he picked Palin. (I was serious about opposing Obama all along, however).

  10. Old Georgi Critter Says:

    I just want to clarify one point in case someone gets the impression that I think of Miss Sarah as good for Small-Town America only. Way I see the American Dream is that it started as a vision in the minds and hearts of people, on which they set out to build it into reality with hard work and diligence. In the modern world it is often difficult to remember the dream when daily struggles and reality take an ugly turn, as in the whole world right now. At such time it is good to rekindle the dream. It is necessary to lift the heart up first. I see Miss Sarah as that spirit for the whole country, which is why I find it so despicable that Time tries to run her down on her small-town origins when they have nothing else to hit her with. I do believe this lady has the guts and the will to push them aside and pull Americans behind/with her [please note I say behind AND with] out of the despair currently prevailing in the Nation.

  11. Michael Eden Says:

    Old Georgi,
    I would also point out that Alaska is our last frontier, and its people still possess that frontier spirit, by and large.

    When Palin delivered her RNC speech, she came across as the same kind of woman I have had seen in churches and family gatherings. She just presents herself so authentically. She doesn’t say or act one way for one group, and then reverse herself for another group.

    When you look at an election map county by county (you can google the last Presidential election), you see sea of red through most of the “small town” counties, and blue in the mega-population centers. I have lived in big cities much of my life, but I MUCH prefer small town values.

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