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On Sarah Palin: Why the Quayling is failing

She's taking a page from Reagan's book.

In a column for Townhall.com, The Quayling of Sarah, David R. Stokes lays out the strategy being used by the Democrats and their Vichy Republican fellow travelers to shoot down former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s national political possibilities:

Any nine-year-old child or MSNBC show host (pardon the redundancy) understands that the idea is to vex and therefore hex Sarah Palin. The goal is to click repeatedly on her image and drag her into a folder marked either “too dumb to lead,” or “demonize by caricature.”

The strategy is nothing new. It has been tried in the past, without success against Ronald Reagan and more effectively against Dan Quayle (whose quixotic battle with “Murphy Brown” was doomed from the outset – he should have taken on real villians instead of television characters).  It will fail to stop Sarah Palin. She has chosen to fight not the liberal characters of “Sex in the City” but the very real evil of abortion.  And her  son Trig, born a Downs baby, is a living testament that she’s not just a weekend warrior.

The problem with Quayling as a strategy goes beyond the weakness of the tactics used to implement it. It is doomed because the troops being deployed to carry it out are inferior. Against Palin, Quayling was first trotted out by intellectual elitist scribes who appear in the columns of the New York Times, The Nation, Washington Monthly and even Townhall.com and National Review. Unfortunately for the elitists, the largest audience for such fare is composed mostly of other elitist writers. No one takes Kathleen Parker seriously anymore, with the possible exception of her editors. Your average independent swing voter doesn’t hang on every word written by Maureen Dowd, and most of them have never even heard of David Frum. They may remember who William F. Buckley was, but Christopher Buckley’s name doesn’t ring a bell.

The B-Team is now trying to do the job, but – let’s face it – the audience for clowns like Chris Matthews is very small and has already bought the meme. Yet Matthews keeps on trying to sell it via television’s doormat of cable news outlets, MSNBC. Like a demented Billy Mays hawking bogus OxyClean by saying “I get so excited every time I do this,” Matthews gets a thrill running up his leg from ShamWow President Barack Obama. Matthews is not one of the intellectual giants of The Left, yet he rarely misses an opportunity to mock Gov. Palin’s intelligence, as he did when discussing her recently signed deal to pen her memoir:

“Sarah Palin – now don’t laugh – is writing a book. Not just reading a book: writing a book. Actually, in the word of the publisher, she’s collaborating on a book. I love the way that sounds. Does that mean that she answers questions of the writer, and then the writer writes the book? I guess the reason to have someone write a book for you and claim it’s your book is you get to do a nation-wide book tour, and act the part of a, of an author yourself.”

Please don’t anyone tell Matthews that Ted Sorenson wrote JFK’s Profiles in Courage and that Barack Obama likely had a ghost writer also, one whom many suspect is mad bomber Bill Ayers. It might chill that thrill going up Matthews’ leg.

The Quayling strategy won’t work when it is entrusted to such as Matthews, who has become such a cartoonish parody of himself, he is increasing being known as Tweety. Stokes writes:

“The problem is, all this will do is make her more popular with an important constituency – her core base, in fact – that could very well propel her to the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.”

What Stokes is overlooking here is that the governor is in fact reaching out beyond her base.

Though she made news with her support of Miss California Carrie Prejean in the flap over gay marriage, the Palin record in Alaska was to veto a bill that would have disallowed benefits for the same-sex partners of state workers on constitutional grounds.

Yes,  she is a vocal proponent of ANWR drilling and stands with the oil companies in support of offshore drilling in Alaska’s coastal waters, but the governor has been a tough bargainer with those same oil companies, and she has called for Alaska to get half its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

Her opponents on the left see Sarah Palin as a right-wing idealogue, but she is actually a mainstream conservative with a strong libertarian streak who has enormous populist appeal. She has taken a page from Ronald Reagan’s play book and has learned how to walk the fine line of principled pragmatism. The first step toward winning your battles is to choose them carefully.

Sarah Palin’s strongest suit may be her uncanny political instincts. Practicing what she preaches about the sanctity of innocent human life has made her the country’s leading advocate for the pro-life position at precisely the moment when America’s attitudes are shifting on abortion and the gruesome procedures used to carry it out.

A recent Gallup Poll shows that a pro-life view is now held by a majority of conservatives and independents, Catholics and Protestants, men and women. There’s no guarantee that the public will continue to recoil from abortion, and the issue is not the key to the White House. But it will certainly get her through the toll gate on the highway that leads to it. Gov. Palin will have to demonstrate that she will be able to clean up the train wreck Obama’s policies have the economy headed for and put it back on the  right set of tracks. If Alaska can avoid the suffering the rest of the nation will be forced to endure under Obama’s corporatist regime, it will greatly enhance her credibility. She will also have to show that she has a firm grasp on the issue of national security, and her arguments for a strong national missile defense are a good start.

With her unwavering stand for life and her more pragmatic stance on issues which have cooler buttons, the governor is not only bolstering her base, but she is determined to win over independent swing voters at the same time. She is going about it the right way – Reagan’s way – and her political detractors, by attempting to define her as stupid, just as they tried unsuccessfully to do to Reagan, are headed for an EPIC FAIL.

- JP

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