This is the first in a series of occasional posts that will (time and space permitting) present some of our best-loved “conspiracy theories” for discussion. A particular favorite of mine is the “Sarah Palin as neocon sock puppet” theory.
In order to examine this particular theory in depth, we first need to define some terms. A “neoconservative” is not, as many people seem to think, simply an “uber” or “ultra”conservative. In fact, neoconservatives are not really very conservative at all. They are quite content with sweeping social programs, Big Government and massive debt as long as those help them to achieve their primary goal, which is winning elections so they can promote American exceptionalism and use the American military to export democracy by force. Neoconservatives, though generally quite secular and not inclined to military service, use both war and religion to control the populace…war because it whips up a sense of patriotism, and religion because it fosters a public fervency that helps them win elections.
One of the best-known and most influential neoconservatives in America is William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, FOX News commentator and son of Irving Kristol who was one of the founders of the modern neocon movement. Bill Kristol met Sarah Palin in 2007 when the National Review’s “conservative cruise” stopped in Alaska and some of the passengers visited the governor’s mansion. Kristol immediately saw Palin’s potential usefulness to the neocon cause, and began organizing a campaign to move her into the upper circles in Washington. From the article:
The most ardent promoter, however, was Kristol, and his enthusiasm became the talk of Alaska’s political circles. According to Simpson, Senator Stevens told her that “Kristol was really pushing Palin” in Washington before McCain picked her. Indeed, as early as June 29th, two months before McCain chose her, Kristol predicted on “Fox News Sunday” that “McCain’s going to put Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, on the ticket.” He described her as “fantastic,” saying that she could go one-on-one against Obama in basketball, and possibly siphon off Hillary Clinton’s supporters. He pointed out that she was a “mother of five” and a reformer. “Go for the gold here with Sarah Palin,” he said. The moderator, Chris Wallace, finally had to ask Kristol, “Can we please get off Sarah Palin?”
Immediately after Palin was given the VP nod, and in the two years hence, Kristol has been a constant booster of Sarah Palin, and has written numerous articles and editorials in her praise, passionately defending her from attacks by “establishment Republicans.” This has been puzzling to many who see virtually nothing in common between Kristol, the scholarly ideologue, and Palin, the fiery populist. But it’s perfectly clear to anybody who pays attention to political history (and conspiracy theories.) In fact, the neocons have done this before: It was neocons who tapped George W. Bush and helped him reach the Oval Office, where they used him very successfully to advance their ideological goals. Now they are attempting to do the same thing with Palin, and to their delight they have found a politician with all the same raw material…military hawkishness, an aversion to travel and study, a powerful ego, a “down-home” vibe and a strong appeal to evangelical Christians. The George Bush presidency offers a disastrous template for what a Sarah Palin presidency (similarly controlled by neocon ideologues) would be like: big new social programs designed to buy votes, a ballooning of debt, a decline in international status, a killing blow to the economy and new wars opening costly military fronts in various countries.
If you liked The Bush Years, you’re going to love The Palin Years, brought to you by the same production company.