Before I pick apart, line by line, the absolutely laughable sequence of words and imagery that were apparently floating around in the head of Politico's Andy Barr last night (C4P is on it too), I'd like to offer my own unfettered analysis of Sarah Palin's speech. Now, I'm not claiming to be completely objective, but at the very least I'm going to keep my version of events factual. I've already posted the bare bones sequence of events, and of course you may have watched it yourself live online. Complete video isn't yet available, but the audio (minus about 2 minutes) is available here along with a short video clip. Let's take a look at some key aspects of Palin's visit to Colorado which hold larger political import.
First of all, Palin's last visit to Colorado consisted of a December 8th stop in Colorado Springs on her book signing tour. That's two visits in the span of 6 months during which the presidential election has been gearing up. Clearly, should she run for President, Colorado would be a top priority. And why not? It's a swing state in which she polls well - she'll probably be the front runner if Huckabee doesn't run. Colorado shares many similarties with Alaska. We're a western state which has real mountains (I'm talking 14ers), an outdoor culture, and a remnant of that entrepreneurial spirit so prevalent in bygone frontier days. In fact, the Palin family made a great effort to connect with Coloradans during their visit, and I'm happy to hear that Todd went hunting with General Boykin. I didn't quite catch the joke about coming to Alaska to hunt moose instead of pheasants, but we do have elk and plenty of other big game here as well Governor Palin. :) Come to think of it, I've never actually been hunting - Todd, you have a standing invitation to show me how it's done!
Originally, Palin was scheduled to speak at the Patriots & Warriors Gala, which the Sharon K. Pacheco foundation canceled, citing security concerns in the wake of the death threats leveled at Palin after the Arizona shooting. However, TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) and CCU (Colorado Christian University) were happy to oblige Palin's scheduled visit to our state by hosting the Tribute to the Troops as an alternative. And yes, Andy, the place was packed with enthusiastic Palin fans here in your supposed Democrat stronghold of Colorado.
Palin spoke at length about our military and foreign policy, appropriate at a tribute and fundraiser for the troops. She briefly connected the military themes to American strength, exceptionalism, and entrepreneurship at home as well. The most important part of her speech was the revelation of the Palin doctrine, which I hope you'll allow me to quote even though it's somewhat long:
I believe our criteria before we send our young men and women, America’s finest, into harm’s way, I believe that our criteria should be spelled out clearly when it comes to the use of our military force. I can tell you what I believe that criteria should be. I can tell you what it should be in five points:
First, we should only commit our forces when clear and vital American interests are at stake, period.
Second, if we have to fight, we fight to win. To do that we use overwhelming force. We only send our troops into war with the objective to defeat the enemy as quickly as possible. We do not send our military and stretch out the mission with an open-ended and ill-defined mission. Nation-building, a nice idea in theory, but it’s not the main purpose of our armed forces. We use our military to win wars.
And third, we must have clearly defined goals and objectives before sending our troops into harm’s way. If you can’t explain the mission to the American people clearly, concisely, then our sons and daughters should not be sent to battle. Period.
Fourth, American soldiers must never be put under foreign command. We will fight side by side by our allies, but American soldiers must remain under the care and command of the American officers.
And fifth, sending our armed forces should be the last resort. We don’t go looking for dragons to slay. However, we will encourage the forces of freedom around the world who are sincerely fighting for the empowerment of the individual.
When it makes sense, when it’s appropriate, we’ll provide them with support and help them win their own freedom. We’re not indifferent to the cause of human rights or the desire for freedom. We’re always on the side of both. But we can’t fight every war. We can’t undo every injustice around the world.
But with strength, and clarity in those five points, we’ll make for a safer, more prosperous, more peaceful world. Because as the U.S. leads by example, as we support freedom across the globe, we’re gonna prove that free and healthy countries, they don't wage war on other free and healthy countries.
The stronger we are, the stronger and more peaceful the world will be under our example.
This is critical for a number of reasons. First, it shores up what critics perceived to be her weakness in foreign policy. Much of that was nonsense, given Palin's relations with Canada and Russia as governor of Alaska - a state which is surrounded by foreign countries instead of other U.S. states. But to be fair, she was not able to articulate the Bush doctrine when asked about it, but this shows that Palin has now put together a solid rationale for a muscular yet appropriately limited foreign policy.
Some people might have wondered why Palin has been such a strong advocate for American military might around the world when the country is weary of three wars. Granted, she is a disciple of Reagan, has a son serving overseas, and was commander-in-chief of the Alaskan National Guard. And Osama's death was yet another vindication of America's aggressive foreign policy. But with a growing bloc of young people opposed to the wars on the right as well as the left and worrying about the toll it is taking on our economy, the issue doesn't necessarily seem a political winner. I believe that she had to counter the inevitable doubts about her ability to handle the role of commander-in-chief as a woman. It's not fair, but it is what it is, and the media certainly wasn't going to portray her as a strong leader. There is no denying, though, that our wars have extracted an enormous fiscal and human cost over the last decade. Now that we have rid the world of Osama and Sadaam, and freedom is spontaneously erupting in the Middle East, many Americans believe it is time to bring our troops home. Palin was sure to clarify exactly when using our troops is warranted, something Obama seems not to know or understand in the case of our intervention in Libya. To Palin, former commander-in-chief of the Alaska national guard, troops are humans and their lives are valuable. To Obama, former community organizer, the troops are nameless, faceless, expendable units in his quest for reelection and world adulation.
Palin also questioned Pakistan's involvement in sheltering Osama bin Laden. Given the warm reception she received on her recent visit to India, it appears that she comes down on the side India against Obama's beloved Pok-ee-stahn, which is apparently not so friendly as he might have led us believe. I'll give the President the benefit of the doubt; it's possible that he wanted to lure them into a false sense of security in order to get bin Laden, and he did order the drone strikes. In fact, I'm surprised that leftists aren't more vociferously bemoaning our dismissal of Pakistani sovereignty in going after bin Laden. However, I'm pretty sure that 90% of Americans agree that our dismissal of the Pakistan government was justified.
Finally, I love Palin's patriotism, faith in the rightness of our cause, and Reaganesque vision of peace through strength. It might as well have been the Gipper himself reminding us,
Some think these principles [American exceptionalism] are outdated... the world would be less free and less safe without our leadership. We must, we will, remain the world's abiding beacon of freedom.