The headline on the New York Times website was predictable enough: former Gov. Palin was railing against "career politicians," implicitly including most or all of the active candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. But she had this to say as well: "I want all of our GOP candidates to take the opportunity to kill corporate capitalism that is leading to this cronyism that is killing our economy."
It might be noted that she addressed this comment to reporters, while the Tea Partiers of Indianola, IA heard the stuff about career politicians and how "it’s not enough to just change up the uniform...If we don’t change the team and the game plan we won’t save our country." However, they did hear her break with Republican orthodoxy to say, in the Times's paraphrase: "the cozy relationship between political contributions and government favors needed to be exposed and eliminated." The ideological line, you will recall, is that there's nothing problematic about campaign contributions, that they are, in fact, the moral equivalent of free speech. I had not been aware before now that Palin thought differently, or that she considered "corporate capitalism" tantamount to "cronyism." She might not want corporate capitalists to remember those words should she decide finally to run for President, unless she feels assured of alternate donation streams. According to this story, she has until the end of this month to decide if she wants to appear on all the important ballots. That's another instance of the tyranny of the ballot; in an ideal polity, a person should be able to declare her candidacy the day before the election and be eligible for votes the next day. Likewise, Palin may strike people as uncertain when she says she hasn't made her mind up yet, but let's remember that we've just begun September 2011, and the first choices of delegates are still months away. It makes sense for her to think carefully, not just about whether to run or not, but also about what kind of campaign she might run. Her speech today hints at an unorthodox approach that reminds me of the Tea Parties before the brew was poured, when grass-roots protests against the 2008 bailouts decried the same "corporate capitalism" Palin now denounces. Time will tell if she was simply behind the times today, or actually ahead of the curve.