Like many on the Right, I was taken by surprise by former Governor Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Carly Fiorina for the Republican nomination for Senator from California. As a supporter of both Palin and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who’s also running for the nomination and who shares many of the Governor’s beliefs, I had expected her to endorse him, should she choose to get involved at all. Not surprisingly, her announcement set off a minor storm on the Right, both in California and nationally. This post, then, is about two things: the endorsement itself and how the Right should take it.
SHE DID WHAT??
Governor Palin issued her endorsement on Thursday; you can read it on her Facebook page, including the update she added after receiving a lot of criticism.
Why’d she do it?
Not being a party to the inner workings of either the Palin, Fiorina, or DeVore camps, I’m not going to speculate about “real” motives. (Then why are you blogging, dude? I thought that was the whole point! -Tito I’m trying to be reasonable for a change?) All I have to work with are the Governor’s own words, so, out of courtesy to her and lacking contrary evidence, I’ll take them mostly at face value.
Yeah, there are a couple of things that bother me. Well, three actually. In no particular order:
First, Governor Palin lists several reasons for supporting Carly Fiorina in the pre-update portion of her post, all meant to show Fiorina’s a genuine conservative whom the conservative-libertarian Right can support. Okay, but almost all those also apply to Assemblyman DeVore, who also seems to have been more consistent in his beliefs than Ms. Fiorina. So, what’s the difference that tells me I should give my vote to Carly? Sarah doesn’t say, largely ignoring Mr. DeVore in her post.
Second, Palin refers to Carly’s growing up “…in a modest home with a school teacher dad…” Huh? Pardon me, Governor, but Carly Fiorina is the daughter of Joseph Sneed III, who was an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Texas since graduating from UT in 1947. Subsequently, he taught at Cornell and Stanford law schools, was the Dean of Duke’s law school, and served from 1973 until his death in 2008 on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Fiorina was born in 1954, when Judge Sneed was made a full professor at UT, and three when he took up his position at Cornell. I would not call this a “modest upbringing” in the way most people understand it, certainly not like Governor Palin’s own youth. Not wanting to believe the Governor was being deliberately misleading in that statement, I can only assume she took biographical information from the Fiorina campaign and ran with it. This speaks of sloppy, superficial research at best, and calls the rest of her endorsement into question.
Third, when Palin referred to Fiorina in her endorsement as a “commonsense conservative,” I had to ask how it was conservative for Carly Fiorina to endorse legislative apportionment on the basis of gender, rather than individual merit. That’s corporatist, not conservative. And it’s something I find antithetical to everything American politics should be.
I’ve yet to receive a good answer to any of these.
Of the aftereffects of the endorsement itself, there’s no doubt that it was good for Fiorina and a body-blow to DeVore, who actively sought Governor Palin’s blessing. And there’s no doubt that it sent shock waves through the conservative populist (“Tea Party”) movement here in the Golden State and nationwide. And this leads to the next section.
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THIS??
To paint with a bit of a broad brush, there have been three general reactions to Palin’s announcement:
Puzzled, but willing to give the governor a break: “Now why would she do that? It doesn’t make sense, but I’ve admired her to this point, so I’ll have to think about this for a bit.” I fall into this group, along with quite a few Righty bloggers.
Hurt, betrayed, and ticked off: “OMG?? WTF?? Sarah Palin endorsed that RINO McCain toady? Then she’s not a Tea-Party, grassroots conservative! She’s just a… a… she’s just a Republican politician!” Followed by wailing, gnashing of teeth, and the tossing of souvenir caribou jerky into the garbage. Seen mostly on Twitter. (Including from some DeVore aides. Joshua Trevino, you need to walk back that “sheepdog” comment. It’s insulting both to Governor Palin and conservatives in California, and you make Mr. DeVore look bad by reflection.)
Ticked off at those who criticize Sarah Palin: “How dare you? The Governor is perfect! She’s one of us! She shakes things up! YOU’RE THE REAL RINO!!” Seen mostly at dedicated pro-Palin blogs, such as Conservatives for Palin. And before anyone comes after me with a 10-gauge, C4P does a great job defending the governor from the lies and slanders that have been thrown at her by the Left, the mainstream media (but I repeat myself), and the establishment Right. However, they have a bad habit of reacting to even legitimate criticism or questioning of Sarah Palin like a bunch of coked-up wolverines. (Adrienne Ross, your implication that DeVore is using state-paid staff to subsidize his campaign is definitely tendentious, as anyone can see who reads the article you linked.)
Here’s my take: an endorsement should be taken merely as a guide or a suggestion to be considered, not as holy writ to be obeyed blindly. And I don’t think Sarah Palin wants Stepford Wives for followers. We in the Center and the Right, who believe that progressives such as Barbara Boxer are backhanding the Constitution, spitting on the Founders, and running this country off a cliff, have to remember that our real political foes are on the progressive-statist Left, not each other. There is room to reasonably disagree. Or, as the great philosopher Rodney King once put it:
“Can’t we all get along?”
I support Sarah Palin. I like her record; I like what she stands for. And, 95% of the time, I like her judgment. I plan to vote for her and campaign for her should she run for President. But, as a conservative, I recognize that no person is perfect – not even Sarah Palin. I think she made a mistake with this endorsement, picking the second-best candidate. But I see this neither as a betrayal of “true conservatism” nor as a divine revelation. It is the recommendation of one very smart, very savvy politician whom I admire greatly – and with whom I disagree in this particular case. I can take her opinion into account, look at the web sites of all three candidates, and still make my own choice.
Which is to vote for Chuck DeVore.
If Carly wins, or (God forbid) Tom Campbell, I can vote for them, too, with a clear conscience. Any of the three is better than Barbara Boxer.
Any of them.
So let’s put down the long knives, remember what unites us, and aim for the gold ring in November, not the brass one in June.