Sunday, September 07, 2008

western exposure

Another gem from the otherwise predictable Palin commentary, this one from Gerard Baker of the Times on Line (London), noting the difference between Southern and Western conservatism and the McCain-Palin ticket's identification with the latter:

"Hailing from Arizona and Alaska, the Republican ticket has a chance to rekindle a western conservatism different from the old Yankee paternalist sort or the Bible Belt version. They like their guns out there (some still kill their own food) and they are pro-life and deeply pro-America, of course. But at a time of grave challenges, the themes of economic freedom and opportunity, the resistance to the idea that government holds all the answers, could resonate with voters."

I would add another difference, which I think appears elsewhere in Baker's column: that the Palin brand of conservatism is far more optimistic and I suspect tolerant--note her lack of identification with the anti-gay cause and the ease with which she has so far glided off the pregnancy issue--than the Bush-Gingrich-DeLay version. One may argue that this is a mere difference of style, but style matters in politics: Reagan's morning in America was miles away from Pat Buchanan's decline of the west, even if they did agree on some issues. Of course, Reagan might lose today, and Obama is not without some style--or religious enthusiasm--of his own. But the change is palpable, and I think Democrats dismiss it at their peril.


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