Friday, June 3, 2011

Byron York: Sarah Palin stakes out policy positions

"Palin is establishing herself as a long-lasting voice in the Republican Party."
The media has always been loathe to report on the substance of Sarah Palin. During the first first leg of her One Nation Tour their coverage has mostly been about whether the former governor and vice presidential candidate will get into the 2012 presidential race. They have also reported from the road on all sorts of other side issues, including their favorite subject -- themselves. But a very few of their number have noticed that for four days now, Gov. Palin has been reiterating her policy positions on a number of key issues. Washington Examiner Chief Political Correspondent Byron York is one of those select few:
In fact, in recent days, weeks, and months, we've seen a lot of policy commentary from the former Alaska governor.

For example, during the bus trip, Palin took a stand on an issue that is crucial for candidates considering a run in the Iowa caucuses. "I think that all of our energy subsidies need to be re-looked at today and eliminated," Palin told RealClearPolitics. "We've got to allow the free market to dictate what's most efficient and economical for our nation's economy." What that means is Palin opposes the infamous ethanol subsidy that some presidential aspirants are afraid to question, lest they lose support in heavily agricultural Iowa.

Palin has also been speaking out in support of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan -- another question that Republicans, and certainly all Republican presidential candidates, have had to answer. Palin supports the Ryan plan and even adds that she'd like to include Social Security in the deficit-cutting mix (something Ryan left out). And when Palin criticizes President Obama's inaction on the deficit, even David Brooks, the New York Times columnist who once said Palin "represents a fatal cancer to the Republican Party," observes that, "Sarah Palin is right about that. He has no plan."

Palin has also been talking about foreign policy. In an extended on-the-bus interview with Fox News' Greta van Susteren, Palin addressed a proposal for $2 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt. "We don't have the $2 billion!" Palin said. "Where are we going to get it? We're going to go borrow it perhaps from China? We'll borrow money from foreign countries to give to foreign countries." The problem would be far worse, Palin said, if the Muslim Brotherhood plays a significant role in a new Egyptian government and "our U.S. dollars go to support a government that perhaps will not be friendly to the American government."

When van Susteren wondered whether U.S. aid would "help us rather than hurt us," Palin shot back: "We're going to buy their good will?... Hey, here's two billion bucks that we had to borrow. We'll give this to you, and you know, we'll cross our fingers and hope it does some good?" Palin also questioned the usefulness of the billions in aid that the United States has given to Pakistan.

For those interested in her positions on issues, Palin's Facebook page is filled with notes and commentary. Recent entries include titles like "New Afghanistan Development Dangerous to NATO," "Obama's Strange Strategy: Borrow Foreign Money to Give to Foreign Countries," "Barack Obama's Disregard for [Israel's] Security Begs Clarity," "Obama's Failed Energy Policy," and "Removing the Boot from the Throat of American Businesses." They're not think-tank white papers, but they are substantive statements on key issues.

For those critics who are quick to dismiss Sarah Palin's many issue-oriented Facebook posts, because of the medium rather than the message, and those who have never even bothered to read them, York points out that the governor has more than three million Facebook followers, which he recognizes as "an important forum, especially when combined with Palin's books and television commentary." It's about time some in the media have begun to open their eyes. Yes, media circus, Sarah Palin is a woman of substance.

- JP

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