One of the negatives of writing a news blog is that I occasionally have to acknowledge the existence of Sarah Palin. Most of the “big boyz” are writing about this nondescript video she put out about “mama grizzlies,” sure to be the newest term of art for female conservative candidates and a marketing buzzword on the level of “security moms,” because, well, Sarah Palin said it. But as long as I’m breaking down and mentioning her, I thought this tidbit merited a mention.

Sarah Palin is waging a battle inside the “tea party” movement to exempt defense spending from the group’s small-government, anti-deficit fervor.

There’s growing concern among Republicans — and especially among the pro-defense neoconservative wing of the party — that national security spending, which is under a level of scrutiny and pressure not seen since the end of the Cold War, could fall victim to the tea party’s anti-establishment, anti-spending agenda. The former Alaska governor, as the unofficial leader of the movement and its most prominent celebrity, is moving to carve out such funding from any drives to cut overall government expenditures.

I hope nobody thinks that she cares one way or the other about this. But her handlers include some of the neocon establishment, and they must have their precision bombers and their fighter jets and their wars. Really they must have their billable projects for the military industrial complex. So through the former half-term governor, they’re trying to make sure that the whole deficit mania exempts, well, 30% or so of the overall budget.

The vestiges of the Ron Paul movement, still alive among the Tea Party set but also fairly marginalized, disagrees with this strongly. But he’s committing the sin of intellectual consistency. It’s far easier as a conservative to contradict yourself in the space of two sentences.

“Something has to be done urgently to stop the out-of-control Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending machine, and no government agency should be immune from budget scrutiny,” she said. “We must make sure, however, that we do nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our military. If we lose wars, if we lose the ability to deter adversaries, if we lose the ability to provide security for ourselves and for our allies, we risk losing all that makes America great. That is a price we cannot afford to pay.”

Clearly, we risk losing the entire country if we fail to spend as much on the military as every other nation on Earth combined. I mean that’s just down-home common sense.

This is some folkspun wisdom, too:

“Secretary Gates recently spoke about the future of the U.S. Navy. He said we have to ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 [billion] to $6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines and $11 billion carriers. He went on to ask, ‘Do we really need . . . more strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one?’ ” Palin said. “Well, my answer is pretty simple: Yes, we can and yes, we do, because we must.”

I believe that answer basically boils down to “Because, shut up, that’s why.”

Now, a smart political party would expose this hypocrisy. They would see a GOP that can’t stop talking about deficits and can’t stop exempting drivers of the deficit. They would argue boldly for major cuts to unnecessary and wasteful military programs, or even float the notion that we may not need bases in 130 countries, and push the deficit rhetoric right back in their opponent’s faces.

Outside of Barney Frank, we don’t have that kind of talk in the Democratic Party.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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