Palinism, the Rough Draft #2: Calling the RINO Bluff

In prior posts on Sarah Palin and the work in progress I call “Palinism,” I’ve tried to reserve judgment as to whether the place of the latter in our political world, its effective meaning, will have to be defined and developed by someone else and under another name.  No matter how explicitly stated, however, this reservation doesn’t prevent commenters from immediately returning to tiresome, trivially personalized discussion, a game of political Mystery Date in which the media construction “Palin” is compared unfavorably to some dream bachelorette or perhaps to the steady date currently in the White House.

Yet even if assorted provocateurs, obsessives, and open political enemies just want to re-cycle Campaign ’08 video and data files, their reaction is justified in one respect:  As willing as we may remain to accept some other political author if he or she comes along and gives a better presentation, Governor Palin obviously retains a political right of first refusal on Palinism.  The project is hers if she wants it.

There’s new evidence that she may, indeed, be exercising her option.  Her latest release at SarahPAC indicate that, at a minimum, she is working up a treatment, possibly a full-fledged script, and that she intends to be directly involved in any negotiations on the property.

The relatively short statement is worth looking at closely.   I think it gives us a working outline – or good piece of it – for our rough draft.

1)  Confront Obama Directly and Define Him as an Establishment Politician

The transition from Candidate Obama to President Obama has been as predictable as Alaska’s winter snow.

While aligning herself with those who never trusted Obama the nominee’s posturing as a centrist, in her opening sentence Palin also speaks to the broader suspicion of all politicians who campaign one way, and govern another.  “Alaska’s winter snow” can perhaps join death, taxes, and lying politicians among the great certainties of life.  Obviously, the invocation of Alaska also reminds us of who the speaker is – this woman of the open frontier, as far removed from the Obamas of the world as you can be and still remain on the same political continent.

2)  Define The Issues Broadly

We are now witnessing actions that will lead to a monumental shift away from free market capitalism and the strong work ethic that built this great country.

Conservative Republicans, the so-called “base,” do not hold with the likes of Colin Powell, David Frum, David Brooks, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Huntsman, and others, that there’s a future or even much of a purpose for a Republican Party that merely offers somewhat “less of same” against the Democratic Party.  While the moderates obsessively pore over demographic studies and try to imagine tactics that would rent out “more young people, more people of color, more people who are urban-dwellers, more who are the intelligentsia in America” for whatever election day, the Palinists insist on addressing core issues which in some respects haven’t changed since the Founding, always producing two “natural parties,” if under changing names and particular justifications, around the contradiction between centralization of power and fundamental civil liberties.

It’s hard to imagine how “less of same” can rise to “monumental” challenges.  In the current epoch, under actual and proposed radical expansion of the public sector and radically increased public intervention by the state, Palinists see themselves as the defenders of democratic capitalism and the American way of life, not the party of more effective midnight basketball, new PCs for the GAO, or a more intellectually elegant division of spoils.

3)  Emphasize and Broaden the Fiscal Conservative Message

“Change” in this administration has meant rapid movement toward massive government growth, huge tax burdens on future generations, and an unprecedented reliance upon foreign countries.

Further to #2, but focusing on Obamanomics, on which the political fortunes of the Obama Administration and the Democratic congressional majority will tend to rest.  The “unprecedented reliance upon foreign countries” may loom larger in critiques of Obamanomics as we move forward, especially as debt obligations and the potential end of the dollar as international reserve currency come into focus – and the ringing of the global financial alarm clock becomes too loud for us to ignore.

4)  Concretely Explain Why Expanding Federal Government Is The Wrong Answer To Our Problems

Today, we learned that Obama’s decisions continue to impact Alaskans; while we as taxpayers now own General Motors, Obama closes another dealership – this time in Soldotna as more of Alaskans’ hard-earned money and jobs are lost to big government.  Government should not be in the auto industry business.  In Alaska, we have also seen a shift in federal priorities that threaten the loss of subsidized village health care services under the same candidate who led you to believe he’d insure all Americans.  The inconsistent messages and actions are unsettling.

While continually returning to general principles, Palin’s statement lines up simple, comprehensible examples of the inequity, uncertainty, and economic dislocation caused when distant DC overlords run the lives of all their far flung slaves.

5)  Fight For The Soul Of The Party

But we have another voice in Washington, DC – a man who understands what Alaskans believe: less centralized government control, restrained budgets, more opportunity for development, and fewer taxes. Today, we have a friend in RNC Chairman Michael Steele and his bold and courageous speech defines his leadership goals that will guide us all through this most difficult time for our nation.

In order to grain strategic control of the party, Palinists will need allies.  Embracing Michael Steele, at a moment when the usual suspects are busily trying to undermine him, when his own early stumbles have weakened his position, but when his own feisty statements and his own well-received, Reaganite speech show he’s still got some fight in him, may turn out to be a deft political move.

Party “kingmakers,” “insiders,” and reformo “consultants” (very partial link-roll) seem hardly to have missed a chance in recent weeks to minimize Palin, pushing her down the list of important players and possible nominees, when not completely deleting her from it.  A different but partly overlapping group, including some of Palin’s strongest supporters but also many of her critics and potential competitors, has been turning on Steele, scant months after his selection.

By backing Steele, Palin is calling the moderates’ and insiders’ bluff.  If her party adversaries really think that they can do without her and her supporters, all they have to do now is get rid of Steele and put some faceless Crist-Huntsman-Powell “insider” in his place.

Odds favor Palin’s play on this one, I think.  Consistency and honor are not strong points among the moderates, but even they would have a hard time continuing to pretend that they’re the ones in favor of a “big tent” while busily purging the Republican Party of Sarah Palin and Michael Steele, and de-funding the whole operation.

Strange things happen in politics, and best-laid schemes go far agley in a minute, but why shouldn’t it be more likely – and a stronger move, incidentally – for the party’s most charismatic and base-beloved politician to end up working shoulder to shoulder, or tag by tag, with a strengthened party chairman now finding his feet?

On the other hand, if Palin’s play somehow fails, what does she have to lose?  There doesn’t seem to be much role for her anyway in a party run by and for the current crop of Republican “insiders.”  If the Palinists are going to have to fight a nuclear war toe to toe for the soul of the party, then why not get it over with earlier rather than later?

As for the wanna-be realists, maybe they’ll finally get real, and either start working with the team, or change uniforms and be done with it.