Magazine article The American Conservative

The American Conservative

Magazine article The American Conservative

The American Conservative

Article excerpt

To: Gov. Sarah Palin

From: TAC Editors

Re: What Your Tutors Aren't Telling You

Congratulations on being chosen as John McCain's running mate. It's an honor, if a dubious one. As you know, conservatives have reservations about McCain. To your credit, they have few such concerns about you.

You've given new life to a party whose brand was bankrupt. You've energized a campaign that was embarrassing its own partisans. Across America, crowds flock to see you--not that old man who barely wheezed his way through the primaries. If John McCain wins, he will owe you, as the guy in the undisclosed location says, "Big time."

Wonder why Middle America finds you irresistible? Maybe they're big Tina Fey fans. More likely, you remind them of the conservative values they feared lost: faith, family, independence. This impression owes more to who you are than what you've done. But at least you keep Obama from cornering the market on hope. Conservatives have faith in you. Don't fail them as George W. Bush has.

You see what happened: the president's entire domestic agenda collapsed under the weight of his failed foreign policy. Social Security reform stalled. Pro-lifers became political orphans. And whatever gains Bush's tax cuts secured were wiped out by record spending. Everything was subordinated to the war on terror.

Conservatives grasping for something to commend give the president points for his judicial picks. But he would have much preferred justices like Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Miers--toadies whose top qualification was their willingness to give the executive more power.

The party that championed the things you prize--individual liberty, fiscal restraint, and a strong defense--has trampled civil rights, pushed us to the brink of insolvency, and broken our Armed Forces. After eight years of Bush, even diehard Republicans are glad to see him go. You might have noticed the elephant not in the room in St. Paul.

There's a better way. In fact, you figured it out in the 1996 presidential primary when you sported the flair of the leading pro-life candidate. (Your minders would prefer that we not mention his name. It triggers their Tourette's.) As you surely know, even beyond social issues, he represents a strain of conservatism that offers a consistent ethic of life and philosophy of limited government. It was not a coincidence that the most pro-life candidate in '96 was also passionately noninterventionist.

It's also no coincidence that those who want you to heed the siren call of global democratization care little for traditionalist causes. Recall that second night of the Republican Convention when you were told to blow off a reception in your honor hosted by Phyllis Schlafly so Joe Lieberman could chaperone your debut before the directors of AIPAC. Neoconservatives pay lip service to life, but, as their enthusiasm for Lieberman shows, they have higher priorities. Now they plan to make them yours.

You'll find the new friends conducting your foreign-policy crash course pleasant enough, if a little dogmatic and a lot condescending. They call you "Project Sarah." We saw that one staffer at AEI--that mystery monogram on all your briefing books--said you're "a blank slate." He added, "She's going places, and it's worth going there with her." That's how they operate. They don't implement their agenda themselves. Rather, they impose it on rising star. If things don't work out, it's because the Project wasn't sufficiently committed. (Just ask President Bush.)

Now you're the latest object of their attention, and you're probably finding the program a bit confusing. They tell you that the U.S. is fighting "World War IV," a struggle against "Islamofascism." We can win, they say, as long as we're prepared to bomb Iran and build up the national-security establishment at home, just like Reagan did.

Trouble is, your tutors also believe we're still engaged in "World War III," the Cold War with Russia. …

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