Sarah Palin has recharged the conservative movement. Its fun listening to Rush now—his enthusiasm and passion is limitless. It’s the same story with the conservative blogosphere—bloggers who two weeks ago were fretting about McCain’s destruction of the Republican party are now enthusing about the new face of the GOP and wondering how much money to give to McCain. Many—on both the Left and Right—see Palin as the next Ronald Reagan, and the real leader of the GOP.
Maybe she is. But she’s not God. Conservatives are becoming much too caught up in “Palinmania.” Sarah Palin is a good person, and a brilliant pick for McCain. But she’s not perfect. Not every speech will be a barnburner like the one she gave at the Republican National Convention. There will be times when she gives poor speeches, or commits monumentally stupid gaffes.
And there will be times when she and the conservative movement disagree. Do you know her position on illegal immigration? Or free trade? Or Social Security? You don’t—nobody does. (The usually dependable OnTheIssues.org has little or no information about her stance on any of these issues). There will some issues on which her position differs from that of the conservative movement. (It was the same way with Reagan. On occasion, he abandoned the conservative on issues such as spending, immigration, and abortion).
That doesn’t mean she is not a good, even a brilliant, candidate. She is. That doesn’t even mean that she’s not the next Reagan—she very well could be. But she is not a totally flawless candidate, and conservatives should realize that.
Much of the Right’s enthusiasm over Palin reminds me of the hype surrounding Barack Obama when he first entered politics. He was the One, the man (or was he only a man?) who would forever change the face of modern politics, the person who was the change we were waiting for. Democrats fell for the silly hype, and look where it got Obama—two months before the election, he is neck and neck with an unexciting old codger with a dreadful speaking voice who can’t excite anyone. (Now Palin is energizing voters, but McCain was close to Obama even before he picked Palin). Messianism is not all that it is cracked up to be.
Are conservatives going overboard in their excitement over Palin? Some are, sometimes. Bill Whittle (whom I very much enjoy reading) exulted that “Sarah Palin has stolen Barack Obama’s glamour. She’s stolen his excitement, robbed his electricity, burgled his charisma, purloined his star power, and taken his Hope and Change mantra, woven it into a cold-weather fashion accessory, and wrapped it around her neck.”. Really? After one week? Peggy Noonan, another of my favorite writers, calls this election a “nation-defining” election due to Palin’s presence.
Perhaps both will be proven right—but after one week, there is not nearly enough evidence to support those conclusions. A one week performance can’t prove anything—it is possible, albeit unlikely, that Palin is a one-hit wonder who will just fizzle out.
I’m ecstatic about Sarah Palin. I am now proud to be a Republican in a way I wasn’t before. She is a wonderful pick, and could very well become the next great leader of the GOP. I suspect that most conservatives feel the way I feel, and they should. But they should also be aware that no candidate is perfect, and refrain from showing her the sort of adulation that Democrats feel for Barack Obama. She’s a great candidate—but she’s only human.