name content Support Sarah Palin all you want, but you can’t demand that she fulfill your fantasies — The North Star National

Support Sarah Palin all you want, but you can’t demand that she fulfill your fantasies

Sarah Palin is President Obama’s opposite in more ways than one.

Supposedly one of the advantages of being Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign was that Obama, as a completely empty suit with no real track record, could become whatever his adoring supporters wanted him to be. Post-racial, post-partisan healer? Sure. Left-wing progressive savior? Why not? Super-intellectual brainiac? You got it.

The delusions lasted until Obama was forced to actually govern, at which point supporters and opponents alike had to start dealing with the reality of who Obama is.

Palin has the opposite problem. Whereas Obama said, “Make me president,” and people immediately imagined him to be whatever they wanted him to be, Palin has said nothing of the sort, and yet supporters and opponents alike have already begun demanding that she act like a presidential candidate, and do so in the manner of their choosing.

Political junkies and media types demand that Palin act like a traditional presidential candidate, even though she has never said she’s running and has never been known for doing things in the traditional fashion. When she resigns as governor, writes notes on her hand or chooses certain interview venues, the learned and brilliant say, “That won’t help her!” even though there is no clear answer to the question, “Help her with what?”

But if there is a group even more guilty than Palin’s critics of demanding she fit into their box, it is a great many of her supporters.

Granted, there are Palin supporters so taken with the former Alaska governor that they will support and agree with whatever she says or does, no matter what it is. But the more substantive core of Palin supporters consists of conservative activists, and here is what this group has decided:

Sarah Palin is the “true conservative” hope. Her ascension to the presidency is the greatest thing that could happen not only to the conservative movement, but also to the country. She is real, pure and true whereas most others are somehow and to some degree less than this. And we can’t let her fail.

OK. But there are problems with this, and not necessarily problems that reflect negatively on Palin.

First, as discussed previously in this column, Sarah Palin thinks for herself. Her governing instincts certainly appear to be conservative in most cases, but she is capable of judging a given situation on its individual merits.

At the moment, conservative activists are up in arms because Palin has decided to campaign for her old running mate, John McCain, in his re-election campaign for his Arizona Senate seat. McCain, facing a primary challenge from self-proclaimed “true conservative” J.D. Hayworth, is the scourge of conservative activists because of past votes against tax cuts, his position on immigration reform and his ownership of the now-obliterated McCain-Feingold campaign finance law – among other things.

To summarize: Conservative activists hate McCain, and even though Hayworth was pretty fond of federal pork during his days in Congress, they love Hayworth because he is the anti-McCain in Arizona.

So when Palin decides to go campaign for McCain, conservative activists are aghast: Oh no! This is a terrible mistake! She won’t help her credentials as a real conservative if she does this! Someone needs to talk to her!

Stop.

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A spiritual thriller by Dan Calabrese. Click the image learn more and to order a copy.
Here is something to consider. When Sarah Palin does something, it may not be because she is trying to burnish this or that set of credentials, or because she is trying to please this or that constituency. It might just be because she wants to do it. If this comes off as ill-considered to those who are exasperated not to detect a strategy behind it, perhaps the analysts should recognize the liberty that is bliss for the person who allows herself the freedom to simply come and go as she chooses.

If you like, there is a perfectly sound explanation – and Palin has offered it – for why she is backing McCain in 2010. McCain-Feingold is in the past. McCain’s opposition to the Bush tax cuts is in the past. Immigration reform is not high on the nation’s agenda at the moment. The crucial imperative at the moment is to stop ObamaCare and to get a handle on out-of-control federal spending. On these two issues, McCain’s knowledge, commitment, seniority and ferocity make him well-positioned to help the opposition succeed.

Perhaps it’s true that McCain is not a “true conservative,” whatever the hell that means. But if McCain is the guy who can stop Obama in his tracks on health care and spending, who cares if he’s a conservative, a moderate, a liberal or a socialist? As long as he can help deliver the result the nation needs.

Palin is smart enough to understand that political victories are meaningless unless they result in policy achievement, and she sees these particular policy achievements as most likely if McCain remains in the Senate.

But even if you leave that argument aside, there is an even more compelling justification for Palin to back McCain: She wants to.

Sarah Palin has never signed an I-must statement promising to do everything that a given constituency wants her to do. She has never promised to abide by the list of requirements that will make her a so-called real conservative.

Sometimes her supporters will agree with her. Sometimes they won’t. I wasn’t thrilled when she endorsed the son of Ron Paul in Kentucky, but I don’t feel the need to believe in a Sarah Palin who is perfectly molded to fit my ideal of who and what she is supposed to be.

Just as Barack Obama isn’t necessarily what you imagine him to be, Sarah Palin isn’t going to be what you demand her to be. She is who she is – a very smart, skilled public servant and political figure who thinks for herself and makes her own decisions.

If these decisions sometimes don’t comport to the strategy you think she should be following to achieve the objective you’re sure she’s obsessed with, check to see if maybe you’re the one with the obsession.

And if they sometimes don’t fit with the orthodoxy of your particular movement, and that makes you want to have a hissy fit, too damn bad.