‘Worse Than Palin’
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
As Governor Romney moves closer to choosing a running mate, the Daily Beast is out with a headline warning against what it calls a “dull white guy.” It runs out the story under the headline “Worse Than Palin?” It prompts us to reprise just why it was that we reckoned that the governor of Alaska was, as we put it at the time, “a brilliant pick” for vice president and why we have stood by that opinion through all the ensuing contretemps. We understand completely that she is not seeking to run in the current contest. But the theme that she introduced into American politics, well, let us just say that more than any other candidate in the past decade she has dug down to what we like to call American bedrock, and that is the ground on which to run.
By American bedrock we mean the deep constitutional principles that undergird our republic. The written constitution. Enumerated powers. Reserved powers. God-given rights. More than any other politician of her generation, Mrs. Palin has stood for what she over and over again has called “constitutional conservatism.” It’s not “neo-“ conservatism exactly. That magnificent strain to our politics was opened up by former leftists who saw that the ideals to which the left once gave lip service were better vouchsafed by classical liberalism. It’s not “paleo” conservativism of what was sometimes called the country-club or old-right. What Mrs. Palin has been talking about is a fealty to original principles, on taxation, monetary affairs, war, and spending.
More to the point, in the past four years, she has taken these conservative constitutional principles to the hustings with astounding effect and shaken up not only the national debate but the Republican Party itself. All over this country, she has swung behind candidates hewing to these principles and given them a leg up onto the November ballot. We speak of Ted Cruz at Texas, Richard Mourdock at Indiana, Deb Fischer at Nebraska, and — in the last election — Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Mr. Cruz is a kind of archetype of the Palin pick, superbly educated in politics and law, fluent in the Founders and what they stood for, keenly sensitive that when the Founders gave us a written constitution it was so that we would pay attention to its plain language.
So when the left carps about the prospect of a “dull white guy,” let us just say we’re indifferent to race, religion, national origin, all these factors. We’re not so much interested in a ticket that “looks like America,” in President Clinton’s phrase. We want one committed to the common-sense, constitutional principles that Mrs. Palin has been pushing. The big question is whether Governor Romney himself gets these points. We’re not of the view that what we need is a person who can read a balance sheet. We’re of the view that what we need is a person who can read the Constitution. The rest will follow. If the jury is out in respect of Mr. Romney on the constitutional fundamentals, we will learn a lot about him by whether he picks a candidate who can carry these points the way it has been done so heroically by the woman we like to call the Alert Alaskan.