Sarah Palin will be neither as good as her supporters hope nor as bad as her critics claim. That should be obvious, but because such things get easily buried, let me say it more strongly. Sarah Palin will not be as good as her supporters hope by a long shot. I think she is a refreshing hope for reducing some of government waste and corruption, but it’s a big government, and she’s just one person. Nor is her record entirely unblemished. She gets credit for being the one who killed the Bridge to Nowhere, but her claim to have opposed it from the beginning doesn’t seem to be true. It’s a perfect example. She’s likely to be better than others, but she is still – deep breath – a politician, dammit.
On the other side, the worries from the left that she’s going to make everyone live like she thinks they should is overstating by a long shot. Asking the librarian if she would remove books, being told no, and then dropping it, is not the mark of an Inquisitor. I think Palin has social-conservative instincts, and would grab what victories she could as they went by on that score. But she is not a social crusader, and nothing in her record suggests it. She goes after the big targets and hangs on. That’s fine. As for troopergate, there is a lot being made of what are at most inappropriate interventions. A trooper is drinking in a state patrol car? If I did that it would be immediate dismissal. I don’t know how common it is to shoot moose from the car in Alaska, but I’ll bet that would be fireable in other states. And threatening to put a bullet in your father-in-law should disqualify you from being a state policeman, in my book. So once you know about these incidents – whether you read them in the paper, whether they came across your desk, or whether your sister told you, I can see why a governor would want to make sure that person was removed for the good of the citizenry. If the trooper’s supervisor decides that a five-day suspension is enough, that’s a little nuts. If you’re the governor, you now have reason to suspect that the supervisor doesn’t run a very tight ship. We would hope that any public official would, however, realize that they were too close to the case and pass it to someone more neutral. To keep yourself as involved in it as Palin did seems a little…entitled. What you would expect from – a politician.
Let’s apply the same thing to Obama. The swooning and messiahship memes have been offensive and a little frightening. But so are the people trying to read the entrails of goats about his Muslim sympathies. He leans pretty far to the left and has a pretty elevated picture of himself. But he is not going to take office and start kicking the Jews out of Florida and giving pieces of NYC to Pakistan. (Alaska, maybe, but not New York). I think he will be prone to a type of international diplomacy that will weaken us, and an interventionism in the economy that will slow us up, but I don’t think he will actually forget he is president of the US and start thinking of himself as president of the world.