Below I’ve posted a piece from Mark Levin and a reaction from Peter Wehner. I’ll refrain from adding my thoughts until the end of the post, so you can see the commentary for what its worth without my take muddying the waters. The back-and-forth stems from Mark Levin’s continued frustration with Sarah Palin detractors. In the piece directly below, he adds a couple of “quick points” that he believes explain the developing situation. At the end of his remarks, he says that if he is challenged on said claims, he will lay out the full case for his assertions. Peter Wehner appears to be calling for such a clarification.
“The hate for Sarah Palin”
But if you google Politico and Palin, the evidence of a Politico agenda is overwhelming. And the manner in which Politico’s editors pursue their hate-Palin agenda is to cherry-pick the individuals they quote to make the point they want made.
A couple of quick things: 1. As I demonstrated last week, remarkably George Will missed the Reagan Revolution not only in 1976 but as late as 1980. In the 1979 Republican Presidential Primary, his first choice was Howard Baker, his second choice was George H. W. Bush, and his third choice was Reagan. Not until days before the 1980 general election did he write on November 3, 1980 that Reagan deserved election. For all his wonderful columns, the Republican electorate better understood the needs of the nation and the excellence of a potential Reagan presidency than Will. It is hard to believe he was so wrong about a matter of such great import, despite Reagan’s presence on the national scene for many years. 2. Charles Krauthammer was not only wrong about Reagan, as late as 1980 he was a speech-writer for Vice President Walter Mondale. Krauthammer, like Will, not only missed the significance of the Reagan candidacy, but was putting words in the mouth of a terribly flawed politician from a philosophical perspective. I certainly do not begrudge, but in fact encourage, liberals becoming conservatives or Democrats becoming Republicans. Reagan was a Democrat who famously changed parties. But I do not believe that individuals touted by a left-wing “news” site as two of the leading conservative intellectuals, who stunningly opposed Reagan’s candidacy while both were of mature age and mind, are necessarily reliable barometers in this regard. The “non-intellectual” voters knew better. 3. It is apparent that several of President George W. Bush’s former senior staffers are hostile to Sarah Palin, including Karl Rove, David Frum, and Pete Wehner, to name only three. Pete is a good friend and a very smart guy. That said, Bush’s record, at best, is marginally conservative, and depending on the issue, worse. In fact, the Tea Party movement is, in part, a negative reaction to Bush’s profligate spending (including his expansion of a bankrupt Medicare program to include prescription drugs). And while Bush’s spending comes nowhere near Barack Obama’s, that is not the standard. Moreover, Bush was not exactly among our most articulate presidents, let alone conservative voices. I raise this not to compare Bush to Palin, but to point out only a few of the situational aspects of the criticism from the Bush community corner. (If necessary, and if challenged, I will take the time to lay out the case in all its particulars, as well as other non-conservative Bush policies and statements. No Republican president is perfect, of course, but certainly some are more perfect that others, if you will.)
“Answering Mark Levin’s Challenge”
In his response, Mark groups Karl Rove, David Frum, and me, all of whom served in the Bush administration. While having gracious words to say about me, Mark argues that “Bush’s record, at best, is marginally conservative, and depending on the issue, worse.” He raises this point not to compare Bush to Palin, he says, but “to point out only a few of the situational aspects of the criticism from the Bush community corner.” He adds parenthetically that “If necessary, and if challenged, I will take the time to lay out the case in all its particulars, as well as other non-conservative Bush policies and statements. No Republican president is perfect, of course, but certainly some are more perfect that others, if you will.”
The gold standard for Levin is Ronald Reagan, which got me to thinking: from a conservative policy perspective, how does Bush’s record stand up to Reagan’s?
Let’s start with illegal immigration. Levin has excoriated Bush for being weak on illegal immigration — but Reagan, at least by the Levin standard, was far weaker. Reagan, after all, signed a bill granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, something Bush never supported. And in a 1984 campaign debate, Reagan went so far as to say, “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.”
Regarding the Supreme Court, Reagan appointed Antonin Scalia, among the greatest jurists in history. But he also appointed Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, both of whom turned out to be fairly problematic from an originalist perspective. Bush appointed two terrific conservative jurists to the High Court, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and no O’Connor or Kennedy clones.
I add these excerpts and these links not to weigh in on the “conservatism” in measurables of Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. In my humble opinion, such a conversation is absolutely laughable; and most certainly settled. (Riehl World View has some links and commentary to add to this if you disagree). I add it because of the opening line to this response by Peter Wehner where he says, “On his Facebook page, Mark Levin takes exception to some of us who have said critical words about Sarah Palin” and the overall theme that led to this “debate.”
If you read the content above or the full article linked withing, you might be asking yourself as I did, “How does this “debate” have anything to do with Sarah Palin?” The Presidency of George Bush juxtaposed against the Presidency of Ronald Reagan? An analysis of the people that served in both and the whereabouts of Palin-detractors during the 70′s and 80′s?
After some thought, I came to realize that it has everything to do with Sarah Palin. Her place in the Right-leaning world has become so polarizing that it stands to surmount her polarity even with the general population and that unknown class of individuals that call themselves “independents.”
Mr. Levin, a man I respect and admire deeply, was making the assertion that the men “attacking” Sarah Palin were “marginally conservative” by osmosis or proximity to George W. Bush, and his evidence for this claim was their service in the Bush Administration. While I am troubled by the linkage between the two and find it wanting, I am more troubled by the need to discredit fellow conservatives in the name of defending Sarah Palin.
Why must we continue to destroy one another in defense of someone clearly in no need of protection? She’s seems completely capable of defending herself from all on-comers. And if she is not/were not, should the rest of the conservative world really be compelled to fill in the lines of her defense; or to correct them for her?
Is this the future we stand to call reality if she were to enter this race? If it is, then I want no part of a Palin candidacy.
If one of my heroes, Mark Levin, would by similar logic lump someone like me into a “marginal conservative” class just because I am not a die-hard supporter of the Former Governor, then I say the price we would pay for her entering this race is losing all credibility in the world of true ideology.
If Mark Levin, one of the most outspoken and articulate supporters of true conservatism is willing to chip away at that movement by inciting an internal Palin-friendly-conservative measuring stick, then I think very dark days are ahead for our Party, our ideology, and our country.
Once again, we are seeing evidence that Sarah Palin cannot enter this race. She is by all accounts, just too big to fail. People like Mr. Levin will not let her fail by natural selection of politics in the “free market. They will prop her up until she emerges as our candidate surpassing her current role as the “face of our Party”; and then we will all be forced to do the same because the alternative would be four more years of the worst president in American history.
In a world where “conservatives” are talking about back-benching the “social side” of conservatism for the interest of expediency and effective governance or policy, do we really have the time, energy, or fortitude to spend our intellectual capital defending Sarah Palin?
Conservatism is under attack Mr. Levin, Mr. Wehner. Conservatism; The American Way of Life; The American Dream; Liberty… those are things worth going to the mats for. Sarah Palin is not.
Some commentary on the debate…
and Hugh Hewitt