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Example number two is what’s known generally as reform. Change. It’s the kind of thing Obama supporter and VP vetter Caroline Kennedy’s father called a “profile in courage.” Living this value takes guts. There will be consequences for you if you fail. Which is why people appreciate you when they know you have taken the risk — and succeeded.
“If I got my way I’d take Sarah Palin.”
So said a conservative activist here in Pennsylvania days before Senator John McCain did indeed name the 44-year-old Alaska Governor as his vice presidential pick, immediately energizing the GOP’s conservative base. Word of her Alaska stance on reform already had Pennsylvania’s conservative reformers abuzz well before her selection. They felt instinctively that one of her biggest attributes here in Pennsylvania is success in Alaska taking on the old-boy network of GOP Alaskan politics. This particular credential of the young Governor — as a conservative reformer — strikes to the marrow here in Republican Central Pennsylvania, an area that McCain will need to carry heavily if he is to have a chance at overcoming Obama’s margin in heavily African-American and Democratic Philadelphia.
WHY IS WHAT Palin did in Alaska — and what Obama and Biden failed to do for Louisiana — such a big deal? Here’s the story, one which Pennsylvania political activists are still talking about.
Back in 2005, in the wee morning hours of July 7, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed, on a bipartisan vote, a pay raise for not only itself — all members of the State House and State Senate — but judges and some executive branch officials as well. Depending on your length of service, it wasn’t small either, with some salaries going up anywhere from 16% to 34%. There was also a provision in this legislative jewel that allowed legislators to take their raise as an “un-vouchered expense.” Why? Well, because there was this troubling clause in the state’s constitution that flatly forbade legislators from raising their own pay. They could pass a raise for the next session, but not the one for which they were currently sitting. So to get around this small problem, the idea of the “un-vouchered expense” took flight.
To understate the case, when this “pay grab” as it quickly came to be known was discovered, all political hell broke loose in the state, particularly in Central and Western Pennsylvania, the more conservative sections of the Commonwealth. In one of the more remarkable political stories in the entire history of the state (which is saying something considering the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written here) a completely bipartisan campaign to repeal the raise and punish anyone connected with it began almost on the spot. It stretched from the furthest right all the way to the furthest left in a stunningly effective fashion. In particular, attention was focused on the legislative leaders of both parties, who, in the fashion of legislators, had neatly constructed this package in a deeply bipartisan manner.
Long story short, Republicans at the grassroots level were especially furious with two of their own, State Senate President Robert Jubelirer and Senate Majority Leader David “Chip” Brightbill. Candidates emerged to take the two men on in the next primary. Both incumbents were entrenched and had lots of campaign cash at their disposal.
And in two huge upsets, they lost. Big time. In Brightbill’s case to a political novice. This wasn’t all, by any stretch. The number two Democrat in the House leadership — House Minority Whip Rep. Mike Veon — lost his primary as well. A State Supreme Court Justice was unceremoniously rejected in a retention vote, an unheard of event even though he insisted he had played no role in advising legislators on the issue. Finally, chastened legislators got the message. Governor Ed Rendell did indeed sign a bill that repealed the pay raise.
The story still simmers, as does the unpopularity of the legislature and the seething resentment over the pay raise. Only months ago Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett announced the indictment of 12 Democrats — including former Rep. Veon — on charges of using state funds to pay bonuses to staffers for political work. Rumors abound in Harrisburg that Corbett is getting ready to pounce on a similarly lengthy list of Republicans.
ENTER THE PALIN HALF of the McCain ticket. Already noticed before her nomination, word is now spreading like wildfire in these parts that Governor Palin is where she is precisely because she fearlessly took on corruption in the Alaska GOP. While her positions on social issues will doubtless help her in the state that elected the namesake pro-life son of a famous pro-life Democratic Governor (the late Robert P. Casey Sr.) to the U.S. Senate over a pro-life incumbent Republican, make no mistake that Palin’s reputation as a giant killer in the conservative reform movement will help the McCain ticket considerably.
Indeed, Democrat Veon’s angry blue-collar constituents reside in Southwestern Pennsylvania, one of the first stops for the newly minted McCain-Palin ticket that took place before the Convention in St. Paul had even been gaveled to order. McCain strategists looking at a county map of the state cannot miss the fact Senator Obama failed miserably in exactly these same areas in his Pennsylvania primary race against Senator Hillary Clinton, carrying a mere 7 of 67 counties statewide. Obama even lost Lackawanna County (Scranton), the hometown of not only Senator Casey but, as is much noted, the Democrats’ VP choice, Senator Joe Biden.
So too does the weak showing of Senator Santorum in his 2006 race against Bob Casey Jr. in Central Pennsylvania reflect a problem with the Republican base. Grumbles on local talk shows about Santorum’s boasts of earmarks and bringing back pork for the state were heard consistently in the 2006 race against the socially conservative Casey. Here is the place that allowed then-GOP Congressman Pat Toomey to come precariously close to upsetting the GOP’s longtime Senator Arlen Specter in a 2004 primary. For non-Pennsylvanians who focus primarily on Democratic Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the state’s two largest cities, this vast section of the state in the middle is ripe with not only conservative Republicans but conservative Democrats as well. Stretching from the Maryland border to the New York border and extending along the Northerner tier, it forms what local politicos refer to as the “T.” It is in exactly this T — in Altoona and Lebanon — where defeated GOP powerbrokers Jubelirer and Brightbill received their thrashings.
All of which means the selection of the vividly and quite seriously reform-minded Governor of Alaska to run on McCain’s “maverick” ticket has the very real potential of carrying the day for the GOP in Pennsylvania as a whole if she proves to be the base energizer in November that she seemed to be in August. Already the region’s main newspaper, the Harrisburg Patriot-News, which endorsed Casey in 2006, has hailed the Palin choice as “bold.” Said the paper’s lead editorial this past Sunday: “That outsider vs. insider counterpoint has the potential to coopt the line in Sen. Barack Obama’s speech Thursday accepting his party’s nomination when he said, ‘The change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington.’”
As word gets out that Obama and Biden were not only afraid to challenge Senate power Stevens over his Bridge to Nowhere, but quietly voted to deny the funds to the Katrina-struck Louisianans, the contrast between who is serious about real change and who is not will be particularly vivid in a state where voters have become very demanding of the need for the real thing. Not to mention the rest of the nation.
THE INFURIATING FACT for Democrats is that Obama and his call for change have been trumped by the Palin selection. Trumped big time. This explains the ferocious attacks already unleashed on Palin. Liberals in the media and elsewhere for whom she does not represent their idea of a “woman” (all women are pro-choice professionals, right?) will be going after her with the vitriolic poison that is reserved for any woman or minority perceived as leaving the intellectual plantation. Think of the treatment of Clarence Thomas. Times a hundred. Governor Palin is going to have everything but the kitchen sink thrown at her. It has already begun. She will be mocked, made fun of, savaged for everything from her taste for moose hunting to her clothes and hair to having five kids. The business about her daughter’s pregnancy and whether or not she should even be campaigning when she has a Down’s syndrome infant is but the opening round designed to make her look like a fool, a boob and an idiot.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online