I’ve written about how, despite attempts by the McCain campaign to present McCain’s foreign policy views as “diverse,” McCain adheres tightly to a neoconservative view of the world. This is demonstrated both by the policies that McCain advocates, as well as by the fact that McCain’s own inner circle of advisers made up almost exclusively of hardcore neoconservative activists.
A recent Telegraph article described how these advisers are training up Gov. Palin in the neoconservative faith:
Sources in the McCain camp, the Republican Party and Washington think tanks say Mrs Palin was identified as a potential future leader of the neoconservative cause in June 2007. That was when the annual summer cruise organised by the right-of-centre Weekly Standard magazine docked in Juneau, the Alaskan state capital, and the pundits on board took tea with Governor Palin.[...]
A former Republican White House official, who now works at the American Enterprise Institute, a bastion of Washington neoconservatism, admitted: “She’s bright and she’s a blank page. She’s going places and it’s worth going there with her.”
Asked if he sees her as a “project”, the former official said: “Your word, not mine, but I wouldn’t disagree with the sentiment.”
Palin’s answers in her ABC interview, her simplistic presentation of the Russia-Georgia conflict, her mindless threat of war with Russia, asserting that America shouldn’t “second guess” Israeli policy, and her tiresome and dishonest conflation of 9/11 and Iraq, all confirm that she’s been getting the neocon talking points.
As the “former Republican White House official, who now works at the American Enterprise Institute” makes clear, as far as the neocons are concerned, the fact that Sarah Palin knows about as much about world affairs as your average sports reporter is a feature, not a bug, as this allows McCain’s neocon handlers to inscribe their various nutty theories about how the world works onto a “blank page.”
In a way, neoconservatism is a perfect fit for Palin. It’s an ideology is built upon a reflexive skepticism toward scholarly expertise, tending toward more emotionally satisfying — not to mention politically profitable — policy answers than the boring, reality-based stuff offered by analysts who have spent their entire careers studying these questions. The presentation of Palin as a rebel reformer is of a piece with the neoconservatives’ presentation of themselves as rebel intellectuals, and resistance to their ideas is offered as proof of the corruption of American governing institutions, rather than proof that their ideas are just really, really dumb.
Palin’s simplistic, moralistic answers to complicated foreign policy questions shouldn’t be taken as evidence that she’s not smart, she clearly is. Rather, Palin’s simplistic, moralistic answers stem from the fact that neoconservatism is a simplistic, moralistic ideology, one unsuited for actual governance, as the last eight years should have demonstrated beyond all doubt.