In response to The Speech:
Daniel Larison calls down an anathema on all their houses, demanding political purity. Rod Dreher offers a more nuanced reflection, mainly centered around the question of whether putting Sarah into national ascendance would justify lending assent to the last eight years of bellicose, incompetent Republican rule. While a close call, he's leaning mccain/PALIN.
Both seem to assume that Sarah represents all that is good for the future of conservatism in spite of all that's bad about Republicanism. Having praised her speech - and criticized the sources of the vicious hostility of a number of her overheated critics - I actually remain dubious that Sarah is the savior of conservatism any more than Obama is the actual savior.
My main objections - it will surprise none - revolve around her (doubtless Alaskan, if not Repubican) impulse to "drill, baby, drill" (is that chant any less creepy than when it was "burn, baby, burn"?). I think her position is reflective of a broader set of commitments that ultimately raise questions of how she can reconcile her laudable small town conservatism to her adherence to economic profligacy that contributes above all to homelessness and placelessness. I'm not against drilling per se - and it really wouldn't matter if I were, since it will be pursued by a thirsty public and a craven Congress, as surely as an addict will search the dregs of an ashtray for an unsmoked cigarette butt - but what I AM against is the prospect that we will tap whatever domestic reserves we still have in an effort to bring down prices enough to continue our happy and wasteful motoring suburban lifestyle. If the best and largest oil reserves we have remaining are offshore and under ANWR, shouldn't we put what remains to good use - like preparing for a post-oil world? Shouldn't we create incentives and zoning regulations to increase settlement density and make a world of decreased cheap energy a decent place for our children? If McCain/Palin (or Obama/Biden) are serious about treating domestic and sustainable production as a national security issue - which surely it is, about the best and most effective front we can fight in the "war on terror" - then isn't it about time to ask the citizenry for the kinds of sacrifice that warfare demands? The Republicans have spoken quite a lot about John McCain's noble sacrifice for his nation and have gaudily displayed their motto "Country First," but not once have I heard a single one of them call for even a comparatively tiny amount of sacrifice from the citizenry. We don't have to expect that we're going to live in the Hanoi Hilton, but surely it's not so awful if we begin living in smaller houses spaced closer together if it means we don't have to send another generation of soldiers to protect our "Vital National Interests" in the Middle East? Instead, we hear the tired mantra of tax cuts (who's demanding them? Oh, yea, those folks with large inheritances) and free enterprise (you know the kind - subsidized by the Fed).
How about a deal - we "drill, baby, drill," and in turn put a floor on the price of oil. How about not letting it drop below $4 a gallon, for instance (or, pick your favorite amount, and adjust it for inflation, etc.)? The tax revenue could be used to sponsor research in alternative energies, for starters. It could be used to subsidize public transportation (don't gasp - we already use tax revenues to subsidize private transportation, including things like the "bridge to nowhere"), and investments in infrastructure that will be actually useful in a decade (rather than expanding existing highways). What about creating mandates that encourage States and localities to approve mixed use zoning - rather than the current set of incentives that foster vast distances between where we live, shop, learn, work.... How about changing a whole set of tax incentives that currently favor BIGNESS instead to favor small businesses and local farmers? I'm not a policy guy, so talk among yourselves. But we need something else than tax cuts and "free" markets.
Such a set of policies, or something like them, would ACTUALLY do something to support the kinds of home towns that Sarah Palin came from and whose values she extols. Ironically, it's the policies of her party (no less than those of Bill Clinton, to be honest) which did a whole lot to kill off my home town and many just like it. How about a call for some policies that support real small town values, rather than a really great speech about them? I loved the speech - I really did - but, as you keep saying about Obama, in the end, is it "mere rhetoric"? Personal example is a good thing, but societal structure shapes us. Show me the money - and that it's not all going to go the oil companies, the "developers," the big box stores, and the SUV manufacturers. Show me the money, Sarah. I'm ready to believe, but admit to a whole lot of skepticism.