Sarah Palin: Conservative of the Year

In several recent posts, most recently here, I have predicted that the Republican Party and the conservative movement are in a downward spiral due to their dominance by anti-intellectualism and the beliefs of the religious right. There is no more future in the twenty-first for a movement which supports creationism over evolution than there is for one which argues that the earth is flat.

Here’s one more small piece of evidence of the wrong direction the conservative movement is moving in from Human Events:

Sarah Palin wins HUMAN EVENTS’ prestigious “Conservative of the Year” Award for 2008 for her genius at annoying all the right people. The last woman to get liberals this hot under the collar would have been … let’s see now … oh, yeah: Me!

Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter. Lumping the two together certainly makes sense. Both are dead ends.


  1. 1
    Mark says:

    I have to say, I’m not so sure that this is the way conservatism is headed, at least not in the long run.  Out of the ashes of talk-radio conservatism, there are a number of more intellectual conservatives beginning to make a push to retake the reins of conservatism ….how that will turn out, I have no idea.  But their voices are definitely there, and growing louder (well as loud as a calm and rational voice can get).  I call it the de-Malkinization of the Right. 

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Hopefully you are right, but as I’ve discussed in previous posts on this topic I see far too many signs that the right is moving in the Palin direction–at least in terms of who has the influence politically. There are other voices, but they are being marginalized by the GOP establishment.

  3. 3
    DB says:

    I hope Palin’s fame continues over the next couple of years when the “real” conservatives who want the Republican nomination get to release their own hounds on her. She may have gotten a little roughed up recently getting picked for the VP nod, but how will she hold up when conservatives start gunning for her ignorance?

  4. 4
    Mark says:

    One article/post I’m working on right now makes the argument that the Palin pick was a seminal moment in temporarily deterring the death of the Republican establishment (which is sad, because a different pick would have given McCain a chance to articulate a new style of conservatism, albeit in a losing campaign, much as Goldwater did in 1964).  In the long run, though, Palin/Limbaugh/Malkin conservatism is electorally unsustainable and will eventually give way to a new, as yet unknown, style of conservatism that has an actual philosophical basis. 

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:


    I agree that “Palin/Limbaugh/Malkin conservatism is electorally unsustainable.” The question is whether more principled and rational conservatives and moderates will take control of the GOP in the near future or if the religious right and Palin/Limbaugh types will continue to dominate for several years (even if it means losing most national elections).

    Perhaps the best thing for the GOP, and the country, would be for Palin to be the 2012 nominee and lose in a landslide. That might shut up those who are claiming the GOP lost because they weren’t conservative enough (in a Palin sense) and bring about a change in control of the party.

  6. 6
    Mark says:

    Agreed.  And, unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to that question.  In the long run, it will definitely happen; in the short run, I have no idea who will win out.  But if McCain had chosen someone that was less “Red Meat” than Palin, I don’t think it would be an issue.   Yes, the Talk-Radio crowd would have crowed about how the McCain-??’s failures proved them right, but I think it would have been in vain – the party infrastructure would have changed hands and the Talk Radio crowd’s influence would have waned.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:


    At first the nomination of McCain did appear to be a rejection of the more radical components of the GOP. However instead of running an honorable campaign as he promised, he increasingly pandered to the extremist elements, including choosing Palin as running mate.

    It is possible that we might have entirely different issues in 2012 or 2016 and today’s left/right division will be radically different (as it now is compared to the pre-Bush era). Maybe someone we don’t expect will wind up leading the GOP. A lot can change, but for now it looks like the social conservatives and the Limbaugh mentality are dominating the party.

    Without pandering to the far right, as with McCain picking Palin, there is far less enthusiasm, including volunteer workers and contributions, behind the Republican candidate. This makes it hard for other forces in the party to take control. However when they do go with someone like Palin they make it extremely unlikely to win a national election.

  8. 8
    Mark says:

    Ron – also true.  Thinking about it that way, the Palin nomination was just the continuation of McCain’s attempt to appease the “base,” which I think worked quite well, at least in terms of making the election closer than it otherwise would have been(since the fundamentals were such that no Republican had much chance to win this year).  Either way, McCain had a real opportunity to try to articulate a new vision of conservatism, possibly losing by Goldwater margins, instead of trying to make it close and “rally the base.”  His choices were to guarantee a lasting impact on conservatism, or to throw a political Hail Mary in a desperate attempt to win an unwinnable election.  He chose the Hail Mary.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    It was both a Hail Marry and a way to reduce his loses. Without Palin he risked having conservatives stay home. Putting Palin on the ticket may have both simultaneously reduced the risk of losing by Goldwater margins while also making it unlikely to actually win unless the gamble worked out.

    One mistake he made was not vetting her. I doubt they realized how reactionary her views were, how many scandals surrounded her, and most importantly how unprepared she was to run on a national ticket.

  10. 10
    RTM says:

    You guys are to hard on Palin.  She doesn’t appeal to a wide base, however, she has possesses many great qualities not the least of which she is likable and posses some star qualities and she can communicate.  Whether she was casted upon the national scene too soon is another matter.  She has a very large and loyal following.  I would hate to see the republicans throw her away.  She with all of her shortcomings is still the most recognisable republican in the country.

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