The Palin Doctrine: Why the Neocons Are So Excited

Huffington Post

September 15, 2008 – Sarah Palin may not have known what the Bush Doctrine was, but we’re getting a pretty good idea of what the Palin Doctrine is. Or will be — because it’s still currently under construction. And what is it going to look like? Let’s just say, it’s going to seem familiar.

According to London’s Daily Telegraph, the architects of the Palin Doctrine are a group of people who have been singularly wrong about virtually everything in the last decade — the neocons, who have been briefing Palin for weeks.

As predicted, the fact that she didn’t know anything wasn’t a bug, it was a feature. She’s perfect for the neocons: likeable on the outside, a blank slate on the inside. To borrow from an old cliché, if Sarah Palin didn’t exist, the neocons would have had to invent her.

In fact, this is how one former White House aide describes her: “She’s bright and she’s a blank page. She’s going places and it’s worth going there with her.”

Of course, the place her neocon mentors hope she’s going is the White House. Given their dismal track record, they’re smart enough to figure that the American public wouldn’t be too keen on letting them in the front door again, so they are trying to sneak in hidden behind Palin’s skirt. The Trojan Moose approaches.

The Daily Telegraph details how the neocon talent scouts spotted their political Eliza Doolittle back in the summer of ’07. The love connection began, appropriately enough, on a love boat:

“Sources in the McCain camp, the Republican Party and Washington think tanks say Mrs. Palin was identified as a potential future leader of the neoconservative cause in June 2007. That was when the annual summer cruise organised by the right-of-centre Weekly Standard magazine docked in Juneau, the Alaskan state capital, and the pundits on board took tea with Governor Palin.”

So nice to meet you, Governor. And don’t forget, cucumber sandwiches and preemptive invasions on the Lido Deck at four!

Not surprisingly, Palin’s biggest fan is Bill Kristol, who describes her as the “specter of a young, attractive, unapologetic conservatism” that “is haunting the liberal elites.”

Among her other Henry Higginses is neo-neocon Joe Lieberman, who is reportedly helping prep Palin for the big ball — her debate with Joe Biden.

She’s already passed her first test with flying colors: being willing to link 9/11 with Iraq, something not even the president is still willing to do. Last week, she told a group of Iraq-bound soldiers that they were going to “defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.”

By George (Bush), I think she’s got it! Congratulations, Professor Kristol, your student is coming along just fine.

Of course, the neocons know they already have an ally at the top of the GOP ticket. McCain may have been a reformer on campaign finance, but when it comes to foreign policy, he has always been solidly in the neocon club. He loves to burnish his foreign policy bona fides by talking about how he wanted to fire Donald Rumsfeld months before Bush did. But he doesn’t talk a lot about how, in the days immediately after 9/11, he was part of the neocon crowd itching to get into Iraq.

Just a few days after the attack, McCain was already talking about “some other countries” that helped Bin Laden. Countries like Syria, Iran, and…Iraq. And a few weeks later, during an October 18, 2001 appearance on David Letterman, McCain answered a question about how the war in Afghanistan was going by announcing that the invasion of Iraq would be “the second phase” of the war on terror (how prescient of him to know that Saddam wouldn’t give up those nonexistent WMD). What’s more, he tried to buttress the case for attacking Iraq by claiming that the recent spate of anthrax attacks “may have come from Iraq.” Or Fort Detrick.

Six years later, demonstrating how little he’s learned from the debacle in Iraq, McCain hired Randy Scheunemann, a neocon darling who helped form The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in 2002, as his campaign’s chief foreign policy advisor.

As TPMMuckraker noted in July, “Of all the hawkish Washington foreign-policy types pushing both before and after 9/11 for war with Iraq — a war that an overwhelming majority of Americans now considers a mistake — Scheunemann, though not a marquee name, was among the most energetic and influential. And in the invasion’s aftermath, he consistently opposed steps that might have helped stabilize the country.”

And now, according to the Daily Telegraph, Scheunemann is briefing Sarah Palin.

McCain’s selection of Palin may have been reckless, but it was anything but random. The neocons’ view of the world may be disastrous, dangerous, discredited, and deadly — but it’s far from dead. Their patron saint, Dick Cheney, the scowling embodiment of the Neocon Doctrine, had way too much baggage — and way too low approval ratings — to mount a run for the White House.

That’s why the Palin pick was so brilliant. On the outside, she’s exponentially more likable and talented at connecting with people than Cheney ever was. But on the inside, once she graduates from the neocon finishing school, she’ll be a complete and total Dick. Cheney. With lipstick.

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