Political Hay

Morning in America

With one bold masterstroke, everything that was so wrong with American politics has been made right.

By 9.3.08

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With one bold masterstroke, everything that was so wrong with American politics has been made right. It is as if Frodo just dropped the Ring of Power in the lake of fire at Mount Doom, and, as the third book of The Lord of the Rings reports, "There was a roar and a great confusion of noise...Towers fell and mountains slid, walls crumbled and melted, crashing down....Then all the Captains of the West cried aloud, for their hearts were filled with a new hope in the midst of the darkness."

American politics was broken because the conservative movement that has been so effective since 1980 suddenly seemed to have no representation this year. McCain seemed to be too moderate to lead and inspire the conservatives. In Barack Obama, the Democrats have nominated the most liberal/left candidate in American history, based on current and past voting records, policy positions, rhetoric, and background, farther to the left even than George McGovern. Disaffection with the Republican Party generally seemed to leave the formerly vast conservative legions with no significant political leadership at all.

Development of the issue of energy production, initially introduced into the debate by Newt Gingrich, opened a ray of hope. The extremely revealing Saddleback Church debate last month showed McCain to be far more conservative than previously perceived, raising hope still further.

But with the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain's vice-presidential running mate, American politics has been reborn. As the accidents of history have come together, Palin is no ordinary vice-presidential pick. Here is why her selection is so significant, which the old establishment, now highly partisan media cannot even begin to comprehend, because they are not capable of effectively covering and reporting on the Republican Party and the conservatives.

LET US ASSUME that McCain serves out his first term just fine. He will be 76 at that point. He is unlikely to run for reelection because he would be 80 by the end of a second term, older than anyone carrying the burdens of the Presidency has ever been. At that point, a Margaret Thatcher version of Ronald Reagan would be standing first in line for the Republican nomination for President.

At age 44, Palin is no kid. She has already demonstrated in deed as well as the spoken word that she has a well-developed, consistent conservative philosophy across the board. She has cut taxes at both the state and local government level. She has slashed wildly overgrown state spending. She has recognized that we need to produce energy for our economy to run on today, and not just dream about the possible future of the at present flower power alternatives of wind and solar. Obama and his minions give every indication of not understanding this in their childlike rush to start shutting down oil before real alternatives are ready.

On social issues, she is a leader of the pro-life cause, consistent on pro-life issues across the board. She is a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). She is openly an evangelical Christian and proud of it. When she herself was pregnant within the past year with a child diagnosed with Down syndrome, she went ahead and gave birth to in her words "a beautiful baby boy." In America today, 90% of such Down syndrome babies are aborted.

By example as well, she has rebutted quite decisively Obama's statement earlier this year that if one of his daughters made a mistake and became pregnant, he "would not want to punish her with a baby." When the world just discovered that Palin's 17-year-old daughter was 5 months pregnant, Palin announced that her daughter would give birth to the child and marry the father. How can anyone see killing their grandchild in their daughter's womb as a morally acceptable alternative in these admittedly difficult circumstances? In any event, Palin obviously walks the walk as well as talking the talk.

The point is that with the moderate McCain at the top of the ticket, the addition of the solidly conservative Palin suddenly unifies and energizes the Republican Party as it has not been for years. Already, contributions to the Republicans and to the McCain campaign have surged.

IN ADDITION TO THIS, there is the women's vote. Suddenly, the Republican ticket offers an exciting history shattering precedent as well. Palin as the first woman vice president will solidify Republican women as never before, and bring in more independents as well. Moreover, because of continued angst even in female Democrat ranks over the treatment of Hillary by the party and the Obamaites, Palin will, indeed, draw in even moderate Democrat female voters, particularly with the moderate McCain at the top of the ticket. Liberals are already saying, no, it was never about the getting the first woman into national office, it was really all about getting the first liberal woman into office. But millions of women voters will not buy that baloney.

But does Palin have the experience to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency? Palin has been an elected public official since 1992, five years longer than Obama, who first took office as a state legislator in 1997. She has executive experience as a former mayor, and by January, she will have served as a Governor for two years, compared to 4 years in the U.S. Senate for Obama, who has never had any executive experience. (Jimmy Carter was a one-term Governor from Georgia for just four years, and the liberals never doubted his qualifications).

Palin has had a stellar record as Governor that has won her an 80% approval rating. Besides cutting taxes and spending, Palin has already led a multistate agency to win approval and construction for a new pipeline that will bring more natural gas to the lower 48 states, and consequently help lower prices. She has also led an anti-corruption campaign that took on senior officials in her own party. After fingering the Republican state party chairman for ethics violations, she beat in a primary challenge the incumbent Republican governor who tried to cover up the violations. She then went on to defeat a former Democrat Governor in the general election.

In sharp contrast, Obama declined to join challenges to the Chicago Democrat political machine. Instead, he curried favor with the machine, and he won his elections with its support. Obama's former fundraiser Tony Rezko, now in prison, was a party machine man, not an ethics reformer. Obama's legislative record is meager, as he has mostly tried to claim credit for non-controversial initiatives that he supported along with almost everyone else.

PALIN HAS BEEN CRITICIZED as lacking any foreign policy experience, a trait she shares equally with Obama. But as a consistent conservative, she surely understands that diplomacy offers no hope if not backed up by a strong military option. By contrast, can we really trust the consistently left-wing Obama on maintaining our national defense? This is the man who has said that as President he would phase out our nuclear deterrent, a point to be revisited in a future column.

In any event, Palin surely does not entertain the again child-like notion advanced by Obama that he could talk a murderous dictator like Ahmadinejad out of the mass genocide he promises for Israelis or the severe terrorist threat he poses for our own nation. Sound positions on these critical issues are far more important than experience.

But the key decisive factor on the experience question has been overlooked. Palin is running for Vice President. Obama is running for President. Before Palin ever becomes President, she will have served as Vice President of the United States for quite some time. At that point, she will have far superior experience than Obama has today.

Conservatives now cannot stand by and watch the establishment Democrat party controlled media try to destroy Palin before she gets off the ground. Eleanor Clift has already attacked Palin as a ditzy female version of Dan Quayle. But at age 44, Palin as a Governor and longtime elected official has a far more distinguished record than the much older Clift. Clift's pedestrian journalism career consists mostly of reciting Democrat party issued talking points in braindead prose.

MAKE NO MISTAKE about it. Conservatives suddenly have a huge stake in the election of the McCain/Palin ticket. In addition to the exciting prospects for Palin, McCain has been running a strong campaign on the issues, for which he has not yet received enough credit from conservatives.

McCain has been darn good on taxes. Because America today suffers from the second highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, McCain has promised to cut the federal rate from 35% to 25%, restoring America's international competitiveness. McCain also proposes what has been a high priority among supply side economists for years, precisely because it would be so strong in restoring economic growth. That is to allow immediate expensing for capital investment, which means that capital investment expenses could be deducted in the year they are incurred, rather than strung out over many years under arbitrary depreciation schedules. This would eliminate an enormous bias against investment in America.

McCain has promised to phase out the badly mistaken Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) outright. He proposes to increase the dependent's exemption for children from $3,500 to $7,000, which would further slash income taxes for the middle class. He pledges to keep the Internet tax free, a cause he has long championed, and opposes taxes on cell phones. McCain would also make the Bush tax cuts permanent, again contrary to Obama, which would leave the top individual income tax rate at 35%, and the top tax rate for capital gains and dividends at 15%, while maintaining the phase out of the death tax.

McCain is even better on spending. He promises to go after wasteful and unnecessary federal spending with even more zeal than Reagan, an issue on which Palin lends strong support. McCain proposes to freeze all federal discretionary spending outside of defense and veterans benefits for one year, and to limit overall federal spending growth to 2.4%, about one-third the annual increases since 2000. He promises to reclaim the money committed to earmarks, eliminate broken, ineffective government programs, reform procurement policies to cut wasteful defense spending, and "veto every pork-laden spending bill and make their authors famous." Through these policies, he promises a balanced budget during his first term.

McCAIN ALSO HAS a sound program for increasing energy production. He proposes to increase oil and natural gas exploration and production, in part by eliminating the ban on offshore drilling. Palin as the VP creates a teachable moment for McCain on drilling and production from ANWR and the rest of Alaska. McCain also promises to bring back the nuclear power industry by eliminating unnecessary regulatory barriers that have stopped the construction of any new plants for over 30 years. He has set a goal of 45 new nuclear plants by 2030, with an eventual goal of 100 new plants. He also favors the rapid development of clean coal technology, so that America can continue to use its vast reserves of coal, which produce the majority of electricity in the U.S. today.

By increasing supply, these policies would bring down the price of energy, oil, gasoline, and natural gas, which would also provide a further boost to our economy across the board. By contrast, Obama has no program to bring the price of gasoline and other energy down, and hasn't even embraced that as a desirable goal.

Yet, McCain's energy program is balanced. Like Obama, he also proposes federal support for the development of alternative technologies such as wind and solar power, and for flex-fuel vehicles, clean car technology, and electric cars. The key difference is that McCain is going to keep up, rather than move to shut down, production of oil, gas, and other established energy sources, while these futuristic technologies are still in development.

As critical for conservatives as anything else is the appointment of Supreme Court Justices, and other judges, which will also be discussed in detail in a future column. Here McCain has pledged unambiguously to appoint Justices like the recent Court additions of John Roberts and Sam Alito, and he voted as well to confirm Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Obama has said just the opposite, that he would appoint Justices like former ACLU General Counsel Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the ultraliberal David Souter, while opposing appointments like Alito, whom he voted against. Again, the stakes for conservatives could not be higher.

With these positions as their platform, the sharp contrast with Obama's left-wing extremism, and the broad excitement generated by the addition of Palin to the ticket, the potential now exists for a McCain/Palin landslide. You heard it here first. I expect accolades when it happens.

Yeah, I think it's going to be all right. Yeah, the worst is over now. The morning sun is shining like a red rubber ball.

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About the Author
Peter Ferrara is Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy at the Heartland Institute, General Counsel of the American Civil Rights Union, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Senior Policy Advisor on Entitlements and Budget Policy at the National Tax Limitation Foundation. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.