Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ben Smith: Sarah Palin and neocon advisors part company

"The personnel shift carries an ideological charge."
Ben Smith reports that Gov. Palin and two neoconservative foreign policy advisers who had been writing speeches and providing her with foreign policy advice since the days of the McCain campaign have parted ways:
An aide to Palin, Tim Crawford, confirmed that Orion Strategies' Randy Scheunemann and Michael Goldfarb are no longer working for her PAC. They parted, both sides said on good terms.

"Randy flat out said, 'We can't give you the time,'" Crawford said.

"I very much enjoyed my time working with Governor Palin and wish her and her family all the best," Scheunemann said in an email. "If she decides to run for any office again, she will be a formidable candidate."

Crawford said they've been replaced by Peter Schweizer, a writer and fellow at the Hoover Institution who blogs regularly at Andrew Breitbart's Big Peace.
Smith points out that the change may indicate a move on the former governor and vice presidential candidate's part to further distance herself from the neoconservative philosophy:
Palin parted ways with that aggressive internationalism in a speech yesterday, condemning U.S. involvement in Libya and laying out a more cautious philosophy of the use of force. Schweizer has articulated a more skeptical view of the use of American force and promotion of democracy abroad.

"Egypt does a lot of things wrong, but they have also been pro-American on a lot of levels," he wrote of Obama's support for protesters in Egypt -- which was being roundly criticized by neoconservatives for being insufficiently vigorous. "When protests broke out in Iran earlier during his tenure in the White House, Obama was not willing to openly back them, at least until he came under considerable fire. But now he is supporting them in Egypt?"

Schweizer has also been skeptical of American involvement in Libya, which he compared to Vietnam, speculated that France is "on the brink of a violent civil war" between radical Muslims and its resurgent right.

We've long believed that Gov. Palin's libertarian streak was at odds with the neocons in her organization, and the replacement of Scheunemann and Goldfarb with Schweizer could be a sign that she is fine tuning her staff for a 2012 presidential run as the small government Reagan conservative she has always been.

When Weekly Standard's founder and editor William Kristol, Goldfarb's mentor of sorts, began to back away from his support of Gov. Palin, we thought that it was an indication that neoconservatives had finally realized that she was never going to be the rubber stamp for neocon thinking that they hoped she would be. Today, Kristol confirmed our suspicions by attacking Gov. Palin when he really didn't have to. When you don't toe their interventionist line, neocons sure can get snippy. Memo to Bill K: What part of "We can't afford any more foreign adventures" don't you comprehend?

Not only does the personnel shift allow Sarah Palin to distance herself from neoconservatism, but ABC's John Berman observes that it also "removes one of the few remaining links" to John McCain's 2008 campaign organization.

Peter Schweizer's Hoover Institution bio is here.

h/t: Tony Lee

- JP

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