Republican establishment takes on Sarah Palin

Senior officials from former president Bush on down say she's not ready for the presidency, and some are questioning her recent decisions and pronouncements.

By , Staff writer

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    Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin rallies support for Republican Senate candidate and tea party favorite Joe Miller during a Miller campaign rally in Anchorage.
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Sarah Palin may have notched some political victories this past week, including a pretty good win-loss record among candidates she endorsed. But she’s also under fire for some of her recent decisions and pronouncements – in this case not from liberals, but from senior voices in her own party.

Starting from the top, GOP critics of Palin reportedly include former president George W. Bush.

“The 43rd President has told friends the ex-Alaska governor isn't qualified to be President and criticizes Arizona Sen. John McCain for putting Palin on the 2008 GOP ticket and handing her a national platform,” New York Daily New Washington bureau chief Thomas DeFrank reported Friday.

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"He thinks McCain ran a lousy campaign with an unqualified running mate and destroyed any chance of winning by picking Palin,” a Republican official “familiar with Bush’s thinking” told DeFrank.

Karl Rove, Bush’s political mastermind, had already questioned whether Palin had the “gravitas” to be president – or even the fortitude to withstand the rigors of a long, bruising campaign.

In recent days, two former Republican speechwriters have weighed in unfavorably on Palin as well.

Michael Gerson, a top aide in the Bush White House, says that in some ways Palin has become “a threat to the Republican future.”

Most recently, Gerson writes in his Washington Post column, that’s the result of her endorsement of Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo in Colorado. Tancredo, a former Republican congressman, is a divisive figure best known for his virulent, sometimes racist anti-immigrant pronouncements

“Her endorsement raises the question of whether Palin has any standards for her support other than anti-government rhetoric,” Gerson writes. “Either as a power broker or a candidate in the 2012 election, Palin's increasingly erratic political judgment should raise Republican concerns.”

Tough stuff, for sure.

Tougher still is what former Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan had to say about Palin this week.

What set Noonan off was Palin’s recent Fox News comment about an icon among past Republican presidents: “Wasn't Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn't he in 'Bedtime for Bonzo,' Bozo, something? Ronald Reagan was an actor.”

“Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin,” wrote Noonan, who then went on to note Reagan’s professional career as president of the Screen Actors Guild and then governor of a large and complex state for eight years before entering national politics, challenging his party’s sitting president (Gerald Ford), and popularizing modern conservative political philosophy – all before winning two terms as president.

“The point is not ‘He was a great man and you are a nincompoop,’ though that is true,” Noonan wrote, contrasting Palin with the 40th president. “The point is that Reagan's career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into politics with him. He wasn't in search of a life when he ran for office, and he wasn't in search of fame; he'd already lived a life, he was already well known, he'd accomplished things in the world.”

Palin’s retort to such criticism is that she’s fighting the political establishment, including the Republican establishment – some of which she labels “sleazy.”

Will it make any difference in a Palin run for the presidency in 2012, something she’s suggested she might do? Very possibly, given the likely opposition she’d face in party primaries.

For all her political clout and celebrity (her own reality TV show will launch this month), most Americans view Palin’s suitability for the presidency the same way former president Bush reportedly does.

According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, just 27 percent of those surveyed see her as qualified for the presidency while 67 percent say she’s not qualified.

“Palin appears to have gained little luster from the success of the tea party political movement with which she'd aligned,” ABC News reported. “Just 39 percent of registered voters see her favorably, the most basic measure of a public figure's popularity.”

Judging by those recent comments from GOP higher-ups, that apparently includes many Republicans.

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