Donald Trump scored the first big coup of the presidential campaign, snatching Sarah Palin from the clutches of conservatism and enlisting her in his progressive, authoritarian, populist crusade.
Trump is an authoritarian, make no mistake. After all, thinks he can order Apple to manufacture its iPhones in the U.S. and order Ford to do the same with its trucks.
Clear-thinking conservatives will find echoes of Barack Obama in Trump’s populism. Obama fired the CEO of GM back in the day and replaced him with a guy who admitted he didn’t know thing one about making cars. At the inaugural Tea Party event in Boise, where I lived at the time (April of 2009), our first speaker was a man who had fled Eastern Europe to get away from that kind of autocratic control of the economy, and was stunned to find it surfacing in America.
Palin, the Queen of the Tea Party movement, would have been expected to endorse a fellow arch-conservative, such as Ted Cruz. But she didn’t. She handed in her crown, resigned her post, and went all in for the guy who can’t stop calling the truest conservative in the race “a very nasty guy.”
Why on earth would Sarah Palin do this? There is one simple explanation. It’s payback time.
Palin is still smarting from the treatment she received from the GOP establishment and the media in the 2008 campaign. She was ridiculed, mocked, dissed, dismissed, laughed at, scorned, and treated by the ruling class Republicans as well as the low-information media as an embarrassing backwoods hick. She has been stewing over that for the last eight years, and now at last she’s found her opportunity to even the score.
Yesterday was not about Trump vs. Cruz. It was about Palin vs. the GOP establishment.
Palin herself admitted as much in the first 60 seconds of her Trump endorsement speech last night. (Emphasis mine throughout.)
“When asked why I would jump into a primary — kind of stirring it up a little bit maybe — and choose one over some friends who are running and I’ve endorsed a couple others in their races before they decided to run for president, I was told left and right, ‘you are going to get so clobbered in the press. You are just going to get beat up, and chewed up, and spit out.’ You know, I’m thinking, ‘and?’ You know, like you guys haven’t tried to do that every day since that night in ‘08, when I was on stage nominated for VP, and I got to say, ‘yeah, I’ll go, send me, you betcha. I’ll serve.’”
So here is her opportunity to tweak the media and poke a finger in their eye while they helplessly fume and record every word. And it’s her opportunity to stick it to the man, the GOP establishment.
“Trump’s candidacy, it has exposed not just that tragic ramifications of that betrayal of the transformation of our country, but too, he has exposed the complicity on both sides of the aisle that has enabled it, okay? Well, Trump, what he’s been able to do, which is really ticking people off, which I’m glad about, he’s going rogue left and right, man, that’s why he’s doing so well. He’s been able to tear the veil off this idea of the system...
“Our own GOP machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape, they’re attacking their own frontrunner. Now would the Left ever, would the DNC ever come after their frontrunner and her supporters? No because they don’t eat their own, they don’t self-destruct. But for the GOP establishment to be coming after Donald Trump’s supporters even, with accusations that are so false. They are so busted, the way that this thing works.”
Not eloquent, to be sure, but effective. Trump is ripping the veil off the GOP establishment and Sarah is going to do her part to pull it down right along with him and leave it in tatters on the floor and stomp on it after she does. She soon launched another broadside: “What the heck would the establishment know about conservatism?”
“How ‘bout the rest of us?” she added later. “Right wingin’, bitter clingin’, proud clingers of our guns, our god, and our religions, and our Constitution. Tell us that we’re not red enough? Yeah, coming from the establishment. Right.”
Palin’s endorsement will certainly help Trump and will inflict some level of damage on Cruz. How much remains to be seen. But her endorsement is not about Cruz, it’s about payback.
Does Palin know that Trump is not a conservative? Almost assuredly. She gamely tried to pretend that Trump is pro-life and an advocate of “strict constitutionality,” but she knows better. Does she know that Cruz is a genuine conservative? Of course she does. That’s why she enthusiastically endorsed him in his race for a senate seat in 2011 against the GOP establishment.
But in truth last night’s speech was not about Cruz. It was about the GOP establishment and its disgraceful, condescending treatment of her eight long years ago. The GOP establishment is now today in a back room somewhere pulling their hair out by the roots, screaming at the ceiling, and pounding the walls in frustration. And Sarah relishes the thought of it.
Conservatives in Iowa and everywhere else love Sarah Palin, in part because they don’t like what the ruling class did to her any more than she does. She will add fire and enthusiasm to the Trump campaign, and further wig out the GOP establishment. And that’s why she’s doing it. If the GOP establishment doesn’t like it, they have only themselves to blame. They should have seen this day coming a long time ago.