Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sarah Palin, Neoconservative

I just watched the first installment of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's interview with Charles Gibson, on ABC's World News Tonight.

Palin gave a confident, intelligent interview. She appeared cool, calm, and perfectly comfortable responding to Gibson's line of questioning.

Yet, the emerging meme on the left is that
Palin was "stumped" on the Bush Doctrine. Granted, Palin seemed to search for a response, but if that's what Palin's critics want to focus on, so be it.

The greater significance of Palin's talk is the way the Alaska Governor offered a ringing confirmation of the basic, underlying ideals that have guided not just the Bush administration's forward policy of preemptive defense and democracy promotion, but that of America's foreign policy tradition historically. This came at Palin's response on the question of God's will:

I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe that those are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That, in my world view, is a grand - the grand plan.

This is, in essence, Reaganite neoconservatism. It is an affirmation of the "shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere."

It is, moreover, why the left wants to destroy Governor Palin.

Neoconservatives initially had their biggest successes in American domestic culture and social policy. Neoconservatives, starting with Democrats like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, attacked the debilitating effects of the welfare state on the traditional nuclear family. Neocon big-shots like Daniel Bell, Irving Kristol, and Norman Podhoretz, among others, took aim at New Left orthodoxies, from affirmative action to radical feminism. More than any other strand on the right, neocons built on the moral firmament of the ideology's social model, and then consolidated the concepts of American's international exceptionalism to shape a consistent vision of U.S. leadership and power in the world. In that tradition, Sarah Palin radically repudiates the domestic postmodernist culture, and adds the flourish of moral clarity in foreign policy to boot.

Palin's got what it takes, with or without an academic familiarity with concepts like "anticipatory self-defense." The Alaska Governor, with her frontier conservatism and a doctrine of inalienable rights worldwide, embodies the tradition of robust assertion of might and values that has been a hallmark of the Bush administration's post-9/11 foreign policy, and now John McCain's.


P.S. There's some broader debate afoot among conservatives indicating how Charles Gibson distorted some of Palin's comments on God and American troops in Iraq. Betsy Newmark's on the case, and she notes, "I think she did just fine, especially considering that this was her first such interview on foreign relations."