AEI fellow Steven F. Hayward, who knows his Ronald Reagan (Hayward is the author of The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counter-Revolution, 1980-1989), argues in a Washington Post op-ed that while all would-be political heirs to Ronald Reagan need to do their homework, Dutch "would probably have cheered on and surely would have had no problem voting for" Sarah Palin should she become the Republican Party's presidential nominee:
Like Reagan, she has enormous charisma and a populist style. At her best, such as on the "Tonight" show last week, she shares his self-assurance and ease in front of a crowd. Like Reagan, she hails from outside the political establishment and does not crave the approval of the elite; rather, she seems to thrive on their disapproval.Read Steven Hayward's opinion piece in its entirety here.
Like Reagan, Palin consciously speaks in ways appealing more to principle than to party. And like Reagan, she divides people across the political spectrum. Her "death panels" broadside against Obama may have seemed like cheap demagoguery, but it resembled Reagan's attack against the Panama Canal treaties in 1978: "We built it, we paid for it, it's ours, and we're keeping it!"
Virtually all the criticisms of Palin -- calling her an anti-intellectual lightweight who can't name a magazine she reads or a founding father she admires -- were lobbed at Reagan before and during his time in the White House, and the critics hailed from both sides of the aisle. The GOP establishment was very uncomfortable with Reagan, even after he'd won two presidential elections in landslides -- and who can forget Clark Clifford's "amiable dunce" label?
Reagan would probably recognize, and approve of, these aspects of Palin's political persona. He knew the power of being an outsider and how it plays well with the people even if it gets bad reviews with the East Coast news media.