Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's endorsement of Donald Trump for the Republican nomination sucked up all the media oxygen on Tuesday, with many commentators saying that Palin's stamp of approval would give Trump the conservative credentials he so desperately needs.
While Trump has been sharply criticized by many (including me) for his lack of support for conservative principles on many issues, Palin has been viewed as a conservative standard-bearer ever since she first appeared on the national scene in 2008. Much of Palin's popularity with tea partiers and conservative activists comes from her willingness to be a strong voice for conservative principles, and sadly, today's endorsement stands in direct contradiction to many of Palin's own words over the years.
Perhaps more than any other issue, Palin has been a loud and consistent pro-life supporter. As she told Katie Couric: “I am pro-life and I am unapologetic in my position that I am pro-life.” In response to a questionnaire from The Eagle Forum, a conservative pro-family organization, she wrote: “I am pro-life. With the exception of a doctor’s determination that the mother’s life would end if the pregnancy continued. I believe that no matter what mistakes we make as a society, we cannot condone ending an innocent’s life.”
Trump, who is claiming now to be pro-life, nonetheless has been a vocal pro-choice advocate for years, telling Fox News ”I'm totally pro-choice“ on October 31, 1999. Two months later, he told reporters, ”I want to see the abortion issue removed from politics...I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors."
Trump has shown very few signs he has any real appreciation for pro-life issues. Glenn Beck pointed out back in July last year that Trump's claimed conversion to being pro-life "was seriously one of the single worst explanations of being pro-life I’ve ever heard someone give." There's also been no indication that a President Trump [shudder] would make any effort to appoint pro-life, strict constructionist judges, a critically important issue for actual, genuine pro-life advocates.
On eminent domain:
The Supreme Court's decision in the 2005 case Kelo v. City of New London was immediately decried by conservatives and property rights advocates. (Without getting too far into the legalese, the Kelo case dealt with eminent domain, the power of the government to take property for “public uses” and compensate the owner.) Prior to Kelo, “public uses” were generally expected to be actual government uses, like building highways and schools. The Court's decision in Kelo allowed the government to take private residential homes and give them to another private owner, a developer who wanted to knock them down and build a resort.
In 2008, Palin talked to Fox News' Carl Cameron about the Kelo decision, and said, “Private property rights are so precious in this nation and for the Supreme Court to have sided with government, instead of the people, the property owners, that was frustrating.”
Not only has Trump repeatedly praised the Kelo decision, he has personally sought to use government power as a brute force for his own profit, most famously regarding the Atlantic City home of an elderly widow named Vera Coking.
Trump wanted her land to expand a casino parking lot to create a waiting area for limousines, but Coking didn't want to sell her home. Trump pushed New Jersey’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to sue Coking to take her property. Fortunately, this was before the Kelo decision and the case was tossed out, but it is a key example of Trump's enthusiasm for eminent domain abuses. As National Review described him, Trump “is one of the leading users of this form of state-sanctioned thievery.”
On mocking people with disabilities:
Palin's son, Trig, has Down's Syndrome. When Jack Steuf, a Wonkette writer, wrote a post mocking Trig (“Oh little boy, what are you dreaming about? What’s he dreaming about? Nothing. He’s retarded.”), it was met with immediate backlash and an advertiser boycott. #TrigsCrew became a popular hashtag with conservatives on Twitter, as well as other parents of special needs children. Palin herself tweeted to thank everyone who had supported Trig.
Palin was more vocal after a Family Guy episode that also seemed to target Trig — the plot involved Chris going on a date with a girl who has Down's Syndrome whose mother is “the former governor of Alaska” — posting a Facebook rant written with her daughter Bristol. Palin called the episode a “kick in the gut” and Bristol called the writers “heartless jerks.”
Trump infamously mocked reporter Serge Kovaleski's physical disability, after not liking a critical article Kovaleski had written about him. Kovaleski has arthrogryposis, which limits the functioning of his joints, and the video shows Trump holding up his hands in a claw-like manner and making similar jerking gestures that are the markers of this disability.
This was far from the first time Trump has mocked someone's disability after they criticized him. He attacked Charles Krauthammer, who is in a wheelchair, as a “loser” who “just sits there,” and called him “a guy who can't buy a pair of pants.”
On flip-flopping politicians:
Palin attacked Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in June 2013, accusing her of “flip-flopping" on the issue of immigration. "I think that every politician should be held accountable for breaking their campaign promises," said Palin, who called for Ayotte to be "challenged," saying that being primaried would make sure that Ayotte was "held accountable" and forced to "answer as to why it is that [she] flip-flopped.”
Trump, on the other hand, has flip-flopped on pretty much every major conservative issue.
Sarah Palin spent years being a strong voice for conservative principles. She jumped into Republican primaries to endorse candidates who she believed would carry the torch for the same limited government, pro-life, pro-family, and strong national security values.
Today, Palin is standing in Ames, Iowa to put her support behind someone who cannot be trusted to protect the unborn, who has twice traded in his wives for younger models (literally), who claims to be for the “little guy” but who has been all-too-willing to use government as a hired thug to line his own pocket, and who spent years making significant donations to Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee.
I miss the Sarah Palin I thought I knew. I miss the tough-talking governor who energized the 2008 ticket. I miss the tea party champion. I miss the brave woman who didn't just talk the talk, but walked the walk on the pro-life issue, no matter how nasty the attacks on her and her family. I don't know where this Sarah Palin went, but she wasn't in Iowa today.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.