Yesterday morning Ed tagged a Newsweek article that tried to make hay out of the fact that Palin may not receive an invitation to speak at the GOP convention. Ed pointed out that this may not actually be a big deal, both to Palin and the grassroots, and I agree with comments made below the post by RBJ and Skwor that it’s likely just Newsweek trying to create controversy out of nothing substantive.
However, this is where RBJ, Skwor and a great deal of the Hot Air viewership and I may split our views. While I am not a fan of Mitt Romney’s candidacy, and think he is far too moderate in almost every way, I am not disappointed that Palin may not speak at the convention. In fact, I’m quite pleased.
When Palin first came onto the national scene in 2008, I knew literally nothing about her. I actually thought that Romney should have been the VP pick that year, since back then he had the backing of many prominent conservatives and his Olympic, gubernatorial and business background would have been useful during the economic crash. Of course, back then, I also thought he was a conservative — clearly, I’ve learned better since.
But back to Palin. I decided to keep an open mind prior to her 2008 GOP Convention speech, but afterwards was the only person in a roomful of conservative interns who thought it was merely decent. Everyone else was ecstatic about what she had said. I also watched part of her much-maligned Couric interview, but heard from my friend Adam Brickley — who as a college student helped launch Palin to the national spotlight — that I should not put much weight into what I saw there. I then spent the next two years reading her op-eds, watching her speak, and discussing the excitement many other young conservatives had for Palin and her future within the GOP, and realized I just didn’t think Palin added much to the conservative movement. Yes, she has her positive attributes, both personally and with regards to public policy. But between her unpopularity with the general public (yes, partially created and exacerbated by utterly dishonest media portrayals of Palin and her family, as well as completely hateful attacks on her by Paul Krugman and others after the Giffords shooting) and her lack of knowledge on issues outside of anti-corruption and energy policy, I think inviting her to speak at the convention would be a poor decision for the GOP.
Of course, inviting Palin to speak would have its positive effects. Certainly, much of the conservative base would be excited to see and hear her, and it would give them hope that Romney and the GOP establishment isn’t trying to take conservative votes for granted. Additionally, she is certainly a more powerful speaker than Romney and most of the GOP leadership. However, I think the negatives of such an appearance outweigh the net positives for those whose sole electoral goal is to get Obama out of office — including potentially scaring off moderate voters who are open to voting for Romney and giving the liberal media the opportunity to attach Romney to the largely unpopular Palin.
This is not to say the GOP should continue its path to liberal and corrupt political stances. I think one can be a philosophical, small-government conservative and still not want Sarah Palin leading the party, but her legions of fans do have a point that often it is establishment Republicans who are focusing on getting Palin out of the party. However, inviting Ted Cruz, Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, or any of several dozen other prominent conservatives to speak at the convention would provide the needed conservative slant in the lineup of speakers as well as the policy-strong opinions needed to stand up against a biased media intent on getting Obama re-elected.