In one of her more infamous television appearances, former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) was asked for her take on the Bush Doctrine. At the time, the Republican didn’t know what that meant – Palin suggested at the time that “doctrine” and “worldview” are synonymous.
Eight years later, however, Politico reports that the Alaskan has a distinctly Bush-like message for Donald Trump’s Republican skeptics: “You’re either with us or you’re against us.”
“That gang, they call themselves Never hashtag, whatever, I just call ‘em Republicans Against Trump, or RAT for short,” the former governor of Alaska told attendees of the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, ahead of Trump’s address. […]“[T]he ‘splodey heads keep ‘sploding over this movement because it seems so obvious,” she said. “[Colorado Republican Senate candidate] Darryl [Glenn] wins, Trump wins, America will win because voters are so sick and tired of being betrayed.”
She added, in reference to Trump’s GOP critics, “At such a time as this, you cannot be lukewarm. We’re going to take our country back, and you are either with us or against us.”
Palin went on to complain that Democrats want to give Americans “free stuff” – a familiar, albeit ridiculous, phrase – and that the Obama administration is responsible for “trillion-dollar deficits,” which isn’t even remotely accurate.
But watching the former vice presidential nominee today – thanks again, John McCain – we were reminded anew about the kind of political party that would nominate Donald Trump for the nation’s highest elected office.
A few weeks ago, New York’s Jon Chait had a good piece along these lines, explaining that Trump’s rise to political prominence began in 2008 – “only then he was called ‘Sarah Palin.’”
The actual Palin, transparent to her handlers behind the scenes, was even more horrifyingly buffoonish than the public version. She required remedial ninth-grade-history-level tutorials on events like World War I, World War II, and the fact that there are actually two Koreas. She appeared to be mentally unstable. Some of her handlers found the prospect that she might assume the vice-presidency so dangerous that, in the weeks leading up to the election, they prepared a contingency plan to warn the public in the event John McCain had a chance to win.After the campaign, Palin’s defenders – that is, the entire Republican Party – began to slowly edge away as it became increasingly difficult to defend her erratic persona. Palin indulged conspiracy theories, like “death panels” in Obamacare and the allegedly murky circumstances surrounding the president’s birth, and praised Trump for pursuing the investigation.
If these concerns about Palin’s clownish antics sound familiar, it’s probably because so many of the identical complaints describe Palin’s presidential candidate.
Over the course of the last year, as Trump positioned himself as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, there’s been no shortage of Republicans who’ve asked, in panicked tones, how their party and its voters could embrace someone so ignorant and dangerously unprepared for national office. And yet, many of these same Republicans, just two presidential election cycles ago, were prepared to put Sarah Palin one heartbeat from the Oval Office.
Sure, Trump is in some ways worse – Palin was actually elected to local and statewide office before her national campaign, while Trump is a literal amateur – but watching Palin’s incoherent word salad today, it was hard not to appreciate the fact that she blazed a GOP trail that Trump is happy to follow.