Palin’s Evolving Populism

Jun 1 2011 @ 12:23pm

I couldn't help but notice this from yesterday's bad pizza summit with Donald Trump:

Outside Trump Tower, Palin sounded a lot like a candidate, saying both she and Trump have “a desire to see our economy get put back on the right track, making sure that we have a balanced trade arrangement with other countries across this world so that Americans can have our jobs, our industries, our manufacturing again. That’s what built this country. It was manufacturing and exploiting responsibly our natural resources. We can do that again if we make sensible decisions.”

That sounds a mite protectionist, does it not? Add that little data point to the firing of her neocon kill-the-Arabs foreign policy team, and the hiring of Peter Schweizer, a more paleocon figure, as Ben Smith reported a month ago:

[C]ondemning 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. He's a partner of former Cheney aide Marc Thiessen in a speechwriting business, and is the author of several books, including a sympathetic and well-reviewed history of the Bush family.

Palin may be moving toward the core populist position: seeing the benefits of tariffs, viewing the developing world as incapable of democracy and a hotbed of Jihadist violence, enthusiastically backing the torture of terror suspects, demonizing elites of all kinds, and viewing Muslim-Americans as a potential fifth column. It's a more natural position for her than the neocon indoctrination she was subjected to as the price of running with McCain. The difference between her and, say, Father Coughlin: a replacement of his rancid anti-Semitism with a Christianist philo-Semitism that sees Israel as the vanguard of a civilizational war that may presage the Apocalypse.

Yep: it will get worse before it gets better.