Why Sarah Palin Makes such a Big Difference for the GOP Ticket

It is pretty obvious that the liberal media's reaction to Sarah Palin is driven by their two camps: those who don't understand her, and a small but growing number who do and are scared to death. Either way, their shallow analysis that Sarah Palin was picked as a calculated decision to "appeal to the base" and to "disaffected Hillary supporters" is to miss the point of the relationship between thermometers and thermostats.

Palin clearly does appeal to the base, and an opportunistic appeal to Hillary voters is wise, since a flip of merely 10% of  her primary voters means a net gain to McCain of the margins of the 2000 and 2004 elections combined.

Sarah Palin, however, is more than a pawn in a one dimensional chess game to figure out where the electorate tailwinds are and help the McCain ticket get in front of it. The choice of Palin is a potential reboot of the political thermostat. She has turned the heat up on conventional political wisdom across the country as she has done at every level of her new but accomplished political career.

The Alaska Governor is far more than someone who appeals to the base, she is someone who can make the base appeal to America. She is more than a token to take advantage of disaffected Hillary voters, she can replace Hillary as the authentic female role model and more in line with how the base lives. That's why the base is beyond happy. They are  electrified. And fear of this game-changing dynamic is panicking some on the left (and in the center, too.)

Mrs. Palin believes and lives what she says, and that is why her story and her opinions are so authentic and compelling. It seems like she was doing all she could to live a life free from government influence and interference when corruption, regulation, schools and bad energy policy made that impossible. So she joined the political game to change it, not to play at it.  To get government out of the way for Track and Piper and the gang, she took the season off as team mom.

She changed the PTA. She changed Wasilla. She changed the powerful and entrenched Oil and Natural Gas Board. She changed Alaska.  Quickly and demonstrably, to the overwhelming approval of the citizens of Wasilla and Alaska. When she says that the opinions of the pundits and reporters and insiders are not of concern to her, it is more than a good line. It is reflective of her history. The public gets the impression of someone who would rather be back in Wasilla at the snow machine races than live the compromised life of a DC politician.

The Alaska insiders are in her political prop wash in one form or another. No one who has crossed her has been the better for it. The state of Alaska is, however.

Many of those political carcasses littering the landscape behind her are Republicans, a fact that the McCain campaign is mentioning endlessly. That is supposed to appeal to the part of the electorate which hates Republicans, as well as placate the unfathomable part of McCain that also seems to hate Republicans from time to time.

But make no mistake about it: Sarah Palin is the base, as in those who believe in the basic principles of smaller government, lower taxes and a strong national defense. She is more of the base than George Bush 41 or 43. She lives a Reagan life. She lives a Contract with America life. She lives the life the Founding Fathers envisioned when they crafted a Constitution to guarantee everyone a shot at such a life.

The base instantly recognized her as one of them and fell in love. No one has done this since Reagan. Bush was never this loved or considered "one of us," but next to Al Gore and John Kerry he was positively adorable.  He was a diluted representative from the start and continued to go out of his new tone way to "de-base" himself, causing a substantial fraction of the country not to like him and more importantly, distorting what it means to be part of the base in the process. 

Palin's appeal to Americans who for various reasons would not consider themselves conservatives is obvious.  Be they Reagan Democrats or independents or undecideds or disaffected Hillary voters, many will like what she says, does and is and want to be a part of it.

And it won't be because she built a bigger tent, either. It's because she is living proof that her tent is where the principles that have made America great and singular in world history are held dear. She doesn't care what middling moderate temperature the pundits think the political temperature is. She is not interested in adjusting. She knows what the temperature should be and has lit the fire in this campaign to reach it. We can only hope she'll level her moose rifle at any pundits or consultants foolish enough to attempt to adjust her thermostat. If they can't stand the heat, they should get out of her kitchen.

Reagan won nearly 60% of the vote and no one has come close since. Those principles are still valid but got watered down by trying to be "kinder and gentler" (Bush 41) and  a  "compassionate conservatism" (Bush 43). That is to accept the liberal premise that true conservatism is not compassionate. That's the kind of screwy idea you get in the Ivy League or in Washington focus groups, not in Wasilla Alaska.

The base is not deceived. McCain is not one of us. He won't run like Reagan and he won't get 60% of the vote. If he gets a tad over 50%, he won't govern like Reagan. But what we do know is with Palin on the team, reaching 50% is suddenly possible in 2008. With her youth and authenticity, the days of 60% are at least worth dreaming about again.