The illustrious writer of Back Channels has, according to my sources, taken a sabbatical this week at the Tabacon Thermal Springs and Spa. I’m sure it is in preparation for his coverage of CPAC.
If he were present for the day job, I’m sure he would have wrote something along the lines of this stunning article detailing one of CPAC 2009 speakers – Sarah Palin:
HT: Sarah’s Full Court Press for finding this jewel of an article that fairly analyzes the impact of Sarah Palin on the political landscape. The O campaign may have change the rules for the ground game in election, but Sarah has revolutionized the candidate running for election. She took one small step for herself, and one giant leap for women in politics.
The Meaning of Sarah Palin
In the end, Palin had a modest impact on the race. About 60 percent of those interviewed in the exit polls said McCain’s choice of Palin had been a factor in their vote. Of these, 56 percent voted for McCain while only 43 percent voted for Obama. In other words, she appears to have helped McCain more than she hurt him, but not by much, which is as it should be; we were voting for a President, after all. In the face of unprecedented attack, Palin succeeded where almost no vice-presidential candidate ever has before in winning sustained support for the ticket.
This suggests Palin’s potent combination of cultural populism and social conservatism might provide the roadmap a Republican politician will need in the future to make headway against the Democratic tide. But that roadmap will only take that Republican politician so far. The rest of the journey requires the articulation of a broader vision for American families, American prosperity and freedom, and American security; a vision of conservatism, not only a nimbus of populism.
There is every reason to believe Palin will try to accomplish just this in a future national election. It may be, however, that other ambitious Republicans will be better suited to the task of perfecting the formula for electoral success she introduced last fall.
Either way, the Palin moment shed a powerful light on the power, the potential, and the ultimate inadequacy of a conservatism grounded solely in cultural populism. It also exposed the vulnerability of the Left to a challenge to its most cherished claims—as the sole representative of the interests of the working class and the only legitimate path to political power for an ambitious woman.
And, perhaps even more telling, it revealed the unfortunate and unattractive propensity of the American cultural elite to treat those who are not deemed part of the elect with condescension and contumely.