Sarah Palin: What if I was to choose Donald Trump as my running mate?
Jerry Seinfeld: Sarah you’re teasing us, that’s not nice
SNL 40th anniversary show 2015
Yesterday while I was visiting the doctor, dropping off a note to my work to say I’d miss the rest of the week and becoming better acquainted with my pillow Sarah Palin took a lot of people by surprise and endorsed Donald Trump for President.
While I would have thought my guy Ted Cruz would have been a better fit for her, particularly since like Palin Ted Cruz continued to fight the fights that others shied away from, I’m presuming that Trump’s reputation as a man of action who gets things done was the determining factor.
The significance of this endorsement can’t be overstated for several reasons.
Spending Political Capital
Sarah Palin is the perfect political capitalist, she has taken her political capital, invested it in the candidates of her choice and come out with even more. No amount of political snark or clever Conan skits will change that.
One of the most important things about political capital is knowing when to spend it and when not to. For example Sarah Palin was willing to spend political capital in the 2012 Texas Senate primary which got Ted Cruz to a runoff and eventually to the US Senate against a candidate backed the governor and a lot of the Texas establishment. (Cruz would win by 13 points in a race that was described as “tight”) Contrariwise Curtis Bostic in the SC-1 special election waited in vain for a Palin endorsement vs Mark Sanford and would eventually lose that primary by 13 points. As I said at the time:
The essence of a smart political operator is to know when to spend said capital and when not to, when the expenditure will lead to success and when it is in vain. When such a move can lead to victory or when a defeat will be costly for the entire cause.
That she didn’t endorse in a state where she has endorsed before speaks volumes about this primary and none of it is good.
That Palin was willing to go all in for Donald Trump tells me she thinks this political investment will pay off.
R. E. Lee: And then AP Hill Came Up
Repeated quote in Civil War dispatches concerning battles when Hill arrived in the nick of time
This has not been a good week for Donald Trump.
Ted Cruz had run circles around him on the Birther Issue but had very effectively turned what was a winning debate moment for Trump, (NY Values) into a negative. Cruz had managed to do what Perry, Bush, Paul and Graham could not, counter Trump effectively. It was so bad that Trump found himself booed by activists which is not something he is used to.
Talk radio hosts had either advised him against his attacks on Cruz or directly hit him for these attacks. It was a moment of crisis, one of the first moments of crisis for the campaign.
Then comes the Sarah Palin endorsement and the narrative changes
Now the topic becomes how Trump got this key endorsement over Cruz. How THE favorite of the Tea Party, the person who has been personally responsible for the election of multiple members of congress, the woman who was practically the only person (other than Rush Limbaugh) willing to fight the fight against Obama when everyone else was running for the hills has decided that Donald Trump is the best choice for the White House.
Sarah Palin rode over the hill just in time, just like the US Cavalry in a motion picture.
Trust but verify
Back on Sept 9th I asked this question on the blog of Donald Trump:
There are several strong conservatives you have records fighting for Conservative causes, both political, fiscal & social and wear the scars from doing so such as Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker and Rand Paul. What is the incentive for a conservative supporter of one of these candidates to vote for you and how will you prove that once you’ve “made the deal” to be president your conservative argument will still remain and you won’t, for example, appoint Supreme Court Justices who support Roe v Wade?
It plays on a point that I made before concerning Trump vs Cruz:
Picture a group of people appointed by a pragmatic deal maker and picture the establishment and even the left having to deal with Trump and his appointees, many of whom will be self-made and have absolutely no loyalty to the conservative electorate that said establishment loathes so much.
Then finally consider Trump himself, he prides himself as being person who is a great negotiator and dealmaker. The problem with a dealmaker is the key question: “What do you give up to make the deal?”
If you are an Establishment republican or even a democrat that question will console you, but as a social conservative it does not.
These worries are not unfounded, and given Trump past public statements concerning issues from Life to single payer, statements which Ted Cruz has taken full advantage of, are reasonable concerns. As a republican senator once said to a former democrat named Wilkie who was the party’s standard bearer in 1940:
“Well Wendell you know back home in Indiana it’s all right if the town whore joins the church but they don’t ask her to lead the choir on the first night.”
I’m sure there is more than one GOP voter who likes how Trump has frustrated the media and has spoken truths aloud that our “betters” have previously forbidden us who have held back from supporting him because of this.
Sarah Palin solves this problem.
Palin’s pro-life credentials are impeccable, her reputation as a conservative is strong on all of the issues that matter to a lot of conservatives Palin has walked the walk.
The fact that she is willing to put that behind Trump is going to reassure a lot of people who were not quite sold. It gives Donald Trump the thing he needed the most.
These are the three big takeaways from the Palin endorsement. Here is one thing NOT to take away from it.
Palin’s endorsement is NOT an attack on Ted Cruz
Look I am not saying anything at all negative about Ted Williams. The further we go into the analysis of the batting statistics, the closer we come to being forced to accept the conclusion that Williams, not Babe Ruth, was the greatest hitter who ever lived. I think he was the second greatest left fielder who ever lived. That’s not criticism.
Bill James: The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract 1985
When I endorsed Ted Cruz on Sept 30th I pointed out that this was not a critique of candidates like Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal who I liked very much:
Like Bill James picking Stan Musial over Ted Williams as the greatest left fielder of all time, my choice is not a critique of either Gov Jindal or Senator Santorum. If for any reason Senator Cruz leaves the race before either of them I will be honored to give public support to either one of them (and will continue to say good things about them on this site and on twitter). But the time has come to make a choice.
To say that The Godfather is a better movie than Casablanca is not to say that Casablanca is a bad movie. To say you like the Red Sox more than the Patriots is not to say that you don’t like the Patriots, To say that Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Peyton Manning is not to suggest Manning is a bad QB, to say that you like a steak dinner over chicken that doesn’t mean you don’t like chicken.
Sarah Palin did not say anything bad about Ted Cruz, she didn’t say that she regretted supporting him in the past, nor has she critiqued what he has done in the least. What she said that given the choice of the 11 remaining GOP candidates her pick is Donald Trump.
Any attempt to spin that as “Ted Cruz sucks” is not only disingenuous, but is dishonest.
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