When I was a boy I had a wire-haired terrier, a stray who showed up on the farm and made himself at home; one day walking past a woodpile the terrier spotted a barn rat and in the blink of an eye charged, ears tucked back, hair bristling; now, far as I know, that terrier had never laid eyes on a rat before but in that one glance knew he’d come face to face with his blood enemy.
With the same instinct Sarah Palin seems to have taken one glance at Washington Republican Political Establishment (WRPE) and spotted her blood enemy.
The WRPE is a strange beast. Its lineage is hereditary and, over the last thirty years, entwined with the fortunes of the Bush dynasty. You can’t separate the WRPE and the Bushes. President Bush the Senior’s father was a Wall Street banker and Republican Senator from Connecticut – so it was natural when George H.W. Bush landed in Washington he was appointed to one of sinecures of the WRPE – Chairman of the National Republican Party.
George H. W. Bush survived Watergate and went on to lead the Washington Republican’s losing fight against Reagan in 1980. Then the Gipper either slipped or got hood-winked in a weak moment and picked George H.W. Bush for Vice President. For awhile after that the WRPE more or less laid low – until Bush was elected President then it re-ascended to supremacy.
Next the torch passed to Bush the Younger and with Karl Rove pulling the strings the WRPE took control of just about everything in the Republican Party in Washington and a good bit of it outside Washington – for instance, handpicking candidates (like Liddy Dole).
Now the Establishment Republicans are good at flying conservative flags but when it comes right down to it they have no real interest in ideology. They can take it or leave it, depending on whether or not it works politically; to them conservativism isn’t a creed it’s a political tool to be used or discarded as needed.
They’re also a company of politicians who’ve learned they can make a lot more money lobbying Republicans than electing them (for instance, five of the six Republican Party Chairmen picked by George Bush have been lobbyists) and, by and large, while they’re world champion lobbyists their record of winning political campaigns is checkered.
After Clinton’s impeachment, even with Democratic fortunes at a low ebb, they lost the popular vote in the 2000 election (but had the good fortune to be saved by the Electoral College). They did defeat liberal John Kerry in 2004 but then got walloped by Pelosi and Obama in 2006 and 2008. And then there’s what just happened in the Special Congressional Election in New York’s 23rd District this year.
Just as Rove and company have been doing for years, the WRPE handpicked a Republican candidate, arranged for her to get the nomination (without a primary), then ran her campaign. Their political theory this election (which explains their choice of Albany Assemblywoman Deidre Scozzafava) seems to be ‘inclusion’ – that the key to winning elections for Republicans post-Obama is running ‘inclusive’ candidates who lead ‘inclusive’ campaigns and if that sounds a bit like Republicans imitating Democrats – well, it is.
If you want a firsthand example of ‘inclusiveness’ take a moment to go to the Republican National Committee’s website and click on the link to their Facebook. You’ll land on a page called ‘Heroes.’ Then click again to look at the gallery of Republican heroes. The first four pictures that pop up are Lincoln, two African-Americans and a Hispanic. The second four pictures are Reagan, a woman and two African Americans. It’s a perfectly politically correct gallery of “Republican Heroes’ carefully selected to meet quotas for women, African-Americans and Hispanics. For instance, Jose Barbosa (a Hispanic leader from Puerto Rico) is on the official Washington Republican hero list while Teddy Roosevelt failed to make the cut.
Deidre Scozzafava, the Assemblywoman the WRPC picked as their candidate in New York, was the soul of ‘inclusion.’ She was so inclusive she supported President Obama’s ‘Stimulus Bill,’ gay marriage and voted for a hundred and ninety tax increases. The National Republican Party spent over a million dollars to elect her and the result was a meltdown. Scozzafava started out leading in the polls, collapsed, and didn’t make it to the finish line – instead she withdrew at the 11th hour then in a final act of ‘inclusion’ endorsed the Pelosi Democrat to help him defeat the Conservative Party nominee by 3000 votes.
It’s hard to imagine a more bungled political campaign – or one more devoid of principle.
Which brings me back to Sarah Palin.
There are times – like when she’s ‘tweeting’ – when Governor Palin sounds like the Yukon Gold Rush version of a Valley Girl. But it also looks like the first time she sat down in a room with the lobbyist politicians running the John McCain’s campaign – right off she spotted her blood enemy.
At first the fight between Palin and the Washington politicians was a simmering feud, then it was a guerilla war and now it’s an outright war with neither side asking for or offering quarter. And if you think Palin is overmatched consider this: The official RNC Facebook page has 100,000 members. Sarah Palin’s Facebook page has over 900,000.
As long as the Washington Republicans are hanging around its neck the conservative movement is at best treading water and at worst sinking and Sarah Palin is the one national Republican leader standing up to them. That may not be the savviest political move and it doesn’t mean she’s qualified to be President but, right now, it does make her the one essential woman in conservative politics.