At Air America and The Huffington Post, Mark Green compares Sarah Palin and Richard Nixon. He notes an obvious difference: RN “was vastly more experienced and sophisticated.” He has a point, but one could make the same point about most other political figures, including the incumbent president. Barack Obama is the first White House occupant since Harding with neither military nor executive experience, and even liberal observers are starting to notice the consequences. Leslie Gelb unfavorably contrasts Nixon-Kissinger diplomacy with President Obama’s recent Asia trip, which he says “suggests a disturbing amateurishness in managing America’s power.”
Green notes RN’s ideological pragmatism and asks rhetorically: “When has Palin ever shown such a moderating inclination?” One may find the answer in an Associated Press report from May of 2008:
During her first year in office, Palin distanced herself from the old guard, powerful members of the state GOP. She asked Alaska’s congressional delegation to be more selective in seeking earmarks after the state’s “Bridge to Nowhere” became a national symbol of piggish pork-barrel spending. She stood up to the oil interests that hold great power in Alaska, and with bipartisan support in the statehouse, she won a tax increase on oil companies’ profits.
The biggest similarity, Green says, is that Palin practices the “politics of resentment” by attacking elites. It is true that RN considered himself an outsider, as does Palin. But as James Ceaser and Andrew Busch explain in their book on the 1992 election, Upside Down and Inside Out, “outsiderism” is a very old tradition in American politics. The next time Green goes to one of his party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners, he will find himself honoring two practitioners of that tradition.