Yesterday, Sarah Palin in an interview on CBN came out in support of the participation of of GOProud, a gay advocacy group, at CPAC (video here). In doing so, she did not voice support for the group, but merely said that she thought they had a right to be heard:
Well, I’ve never attended a CPAC conference ever so I was a little taken aback this go around when I couldn’t make it to this one either and then there was a speculation well I either agree or disagree with some of the groups or issues that CPAC is discussing. It really is a matter of time for me. But when it comes to and David, perhaps what it is that you’re suggesting in the question is should the GOP, should conservatives not reach out to others, not participate in events or forums that perhaps are rising within those forums are issues that maybe we don’t personally agree with? And I say no, it’s like you being on a panel shoot, with a bunch of the liberal folks whom you have been on and you provide good information and balance, and you allow for healthy debate, which is needed in order for people to gather information and make up their own minds about issues. I look at participation in an event like CPAC or any other event, along, or kind of in that same vein as the more information that people have the better.
This has been a point of contention with social conservatives, and indeed many are boycotting CPAC because of the participation of GOProud.
Allahpundit notes that some social conservatives have now demanded that Palin “clarify” her remarks. (With social conservatives, what is the proper nomenclature here? Is she supposed to “recant” or “repent”?) However, does Palin really need to “clarify” anything? As Allahpundit himself points out,
When you’ve got conservatives as prominent as Dick Cheney and Ted Olson in favor of gay marriage, when you’ve got even a majority of Republicans in favor of letting gay troops serve openly, then you’ve got a difference of opinion within the conservative tent that’s worth exploring. That’s really all Palin was saying to Brody, I take it. “Traditional marriage” advocates want to play the “no true Scotsman” game in order to rule this issue out of bounds, but it’s too late for that. The gay-marriage debate is here and it’s happening, even within the conservative tent, which I assume is why Palin’s okay with GOProud’s CPAC sponsorship notwithstanding her own support for a Federal Marriage Amendment. It’s a shame that she’s being pressured simply for recognizing a basic political fact on the ground.
Incidentally, are GOProud’s goals “at odds with … core conservative principles?” Here’s their list of legislative priorities. They’re not calling for a constitutional right to gay marriage. They’re calling for federalism:
DEFENDING OUR CONSTITUTION – Opposing any anti-gay federal marriage amendment. Marriage should be a question for the states. A federal constitutional amendment on marriage would be an unprecedented federal power grab from the states.
Question for our Palinista readers especially: How do you want her to play this now that she’s being asked to “clarify”? I tend to think that she’s invulnerable among social conservatives no matter what, but if she and Huck both run, he’ll use this against her in the primaries. Unless, of course, he supports GOProud’s participation too. Has any reporter asked him? (Can’t find anything on Google.)
Regarding Allahpundit’s last question, I’ll bite.
First, the phrase “How do you want her to play this?” is obnoxious. It assumes that she is merely playing the angles like just about every other politician out there, and has no core principles. If I thought for a second that this was true, I would not be a supporter.
Second, she is vulnerable among some social conservatives. Her support of Rand Paul has already cost her some credibility as far as a handful of social conservatives are concerned, and her statements on GOProud will no doubt drive still more people away. At the same time, if she runs in 2012 most of these same people will come back to her, as her position on social issues is not that different from theirs, though there is a difference on policies and priorities.
Third, who says that a social conservative cannot be respectful of other’s opinions, even when one disagrees? While Frank Cannon complains that “Certainly Governor Palin would not be in favor of allowing a socialist group to be a participating organization (i.e. co-sponsor of CPAC) in the name of healthy debate,” we are not talking about a socialist organization. If one merely stripped away the name of the organization and listed its policy goals, most conservatives would be in support of GOProud’s agenda (found here), or at least recognize it as being within the realm of conservative thought. Does it hurt to let them speak?
Fourth, one can be a social conservative and still hold that there are limits as to what the government should control or be involved in. Do we really want the government peeking into people’s bedrooms? Do we want, as Huckabee would seem to have it, the government deciding whether we are too fat because it is a moral issue in his eyes? It is perfectly consistent to be against gay marriage (as it represents a government sanction of something immoral and government interference with religion), yet to be in favor otherwise of letting the homosexual community be. As Palin herself said in 2008,
I’m not going to be out there judging individuals, sitting in a seat of judgment telling what they can and can’t do, should and should not do. But I certainly can express my own opinion here and take actions that I believe would be best for traditional marriage, and that’s casting my votes and speaking up for traditional marriage that, that instrument that it’s the foundation of our society is that strong family and that’s based on that traditional definition of marriage, so I do support that.
In short, it would be reasonable for Palin to cling to the fusionist perspective, where social conservatism and libertarian ideas are intertwined. Indeed, when she talks about being a “common sense” conservative, this is what I take her to mean. There is no need to “play” anything here, or to “clarify” for that matter. From what I can tell, she has been clear and consistent all along.
- CPAC 2011: Boycott Deters Few Potential Presidential Candidates (caffeinatedthoughts.com)
- GOProud at CPAC: Much Ado About Nothing (conservativegirlwithavoice.com)
- Sarah Palin Supports GOProud’s Attendance At CPAC (I Think) (outsidethebeltway.com)