Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Clue time for "libertarian Republicans"

She entered politics at the city council level, campaigning in support of a new sales tax and for "a safer, more progressive Wasilla."

As mayor, she pushed through an increase to that sales tax to pay for a government-owned, eminent-domain-enabled ice rink and sports complex that requires a $100k+ annual taxpayer subsidy to this day (down from more than half a million per year early on). She also hired a lobbyist to tag down $27 million in federal pork for the town -- at its current population, more than $4,000 in government largess for every man, woman and child in Wasilla.

As governor, she was for the "Bridge to Nowhere" before she was against it, signed the largest operating budget in Alaska's history, advocated a welfare program to provide each Alaskan with an "energy debit card," and hectored half a billion dollars in corporate welfare "seed money" out of the state legislature for a company to begin building a natural gas pipeline.

Surprised by the orgiastic reception Sarah Palin's vice-presidential candidacy is receiving from "libertarian Republicans?" You shouldn't be. To the extent that libertarian politics resembles the film industry, "libertarian Republicanism" is very much the equivalent of the red carpet at the Oscars. Inside the building, films and those who work on them are at least theoretically rated on quality. Outside on the carpet, it's unashamedly all about who showed up with who and in what dress (and whether or not her goodies might accidentally fall out of it on camera).

Generously assuming that each and every one of the proliferating left-wing blogosphere rumors is either untrue (book-banning, for example) or irrelevant (proxy-mothering, for example), Sarah Palin's record is, well, fair to middling as Republican politicians go, but not "libertarian" in any meaningful sense of the word.

Her "libertarian" resume consists, pretty much, of cultivating a friendly relationship with key members of Alaska's Libertarian Party during her gubernatorial campaign so that they'd support her instead of their own candidate (and apparently that candidate himself was one of the successfully so cultivated!).

Sow's ear ≠ Silk Purse

Sarah Palin is an attractive, congenial, skilled politician. Those are important attributes in any political race, but an attractive, congenial, skilled social conservative is an attractive, congenial, skilled social conservative, not a libertarian.

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