Everyone is a political consultant, or at least thinks he or she is. Since Sarah Palin was chosen as the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, there has been no paucity of unsolicited advice offered to her by pundits, bloggers and yes, by actual political consultants. I must confess that I have proposed one particular idea for Alaska’s governor in the past, and I’ll come back to it shortly.
But the advice for Gov. Palin that’s making news this week comes from columnist, satirist and best-selling author Ann Coulter. In her new book Guilty, Ms. Coulter mentions Sarah Palin a number of times, according to Ashley Martella of Newsmax.com. What does the blond bomb thrower think Palin should do?
“If I were Sarah Palin’s adviser I would strongly advise her to not run in 2012. She’s very young.”
Instead, Palin should spend the next 8 or 12 years reading the Federalist Papers and other important political works, Coulter said.
“Raise your children so none of them turn out like Ron Reagan Junior, and be a good governor, and then I think she could be another Ronald Reagan…”
“She has everything you can’t get from books, you can’t get from experience. She has heart and soul and absolute integrity, and charisma, and holds the crowd rapt.”
“Now she needs the wisdom and the experience, and I think she could be another Ronald Reagan.”
Far be it for this humble scribe to want to argue with Ann Coulter, but whenever I hear “another Ronald Reagan” talk, I worry. Though even Michael Reagan sees Sarah Palin as the reincarnation of his father, to many conservatives, when it comes to the late, great president, it’s not unlike the premise of the cult action fantasy yarn Highlander. “There can only be one.” It’s perfectly sufficient for the governor to be the apostle of Reagan that she is and be the very best Sarah Palin that she can be.
Thre’s a second problem with Ann Coulter’s prescription. I don’t believe 8 or 12 years are required to read The Federalist Papers. Besides, the governor already has a pretty good handle on the concept of federalism. She “gets” Ronald Reagan on government being the problem and not the solution.
My own unsolicited advice for Sarah Palin is to hire Fred Thompson as her issues consultant. The former Senator has only an upcoming talk radio program (he will replace Bill O’Reilly), his FredPAC political action committee and a single guest appearance on ABC’s Life on Mars as his workload. That schedule should allow sufficient time for Fred to share with Gov. Palin some of his expertise on policy issues. A Cliff Notes version of his thinking on various issues can be found in his radio scripts from his days as an ABC radio commentator here.
On foreign policy, Fred has plenty of knowledge to share. Even before he was elected to the U.S. Senate, he was special counsel to two of that chamber’s committees, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1980 to 81 and the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1982. After he became a member, he served on the Select Committee on Intelligence. After leaving the Senate, Thompson advised Secretary of State Rice as Chairman of the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board. As a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank, he studied national security and intelligence issues, with a concentration on China, North Korea and Russia. The former Senator also served for two years on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Thompson’s resume on domestic issues is no less impressive. Prior to becoming a Senator, he was co-chief council for the Senate Watergate Committee, and he served as counsel to Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander. As a Senator, he was a strong proponent of streamlining government and eliminating waste. In fact, he wrote the book on it. Titled Government at the Brink, Thompson’s Book not only explained the root causes of government waste and mismanagement, but it presented practical solutions for addressing the problem. He was also a supporter of the flat tax and a line-item presidential veto. The Club for Growth evaluated Fred’s record on government spending as “generally impressive.” He served as chairman of the Committee on Government Affairs and helped to establish the Department of Homeland Security, doing extensive work on the issue of cyberterrorism and dealt with other national security matters. He was also a member of the Finance Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence. After the Senate, President Bush selected Thompson to prepare Chief Justice Roberts for his Senate confirmation hearings and shepherd him through the process.
Gov. Palin could do a lot worse than to have Fred Thompson as her mentor on national and international issues. And she shouldn’t have too much of a problem persuading Fred to lend a hand. His wife Jeri Thompson is a member and spokesperson for Team Sarah. What the governor doesn’t know about matters beyond her state, she could learn from Thompson. And she would be up to speed well before Ann Coulter’s 8 or 12 years have elapsed.
Fred Thompson could also share with Sarah Palin his insight on the pitfalls of being characterized as “the next Reagan.” It comes with a set of expectations that no one, not even Ronald Reagan himself in this day and age, could possibly satisfy.