The GOP jockeying for the chairmanship of the powerful House financial services committee has ignited a nasty fight within House Republican circles. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), as the senior Republican on the panel, is in line for the spot, and Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) is challenging him. This insiders' tussle has drawn Sarah Palin into the fray. Yet in her desire to add Hill powerbroker to her resume, Palin has demonstrated that she is a Wall Street bailout hypocrite.
It was a tremendous flip-flop. Palin was for the bank bailout before she was against it.
Palin entered this brawl after Bachus, following the midterm elections, blamed her for the GOP's failure to take over the Senate. Bachus was making a familiar point: because Palin backed tea party candidates in GOP primaries (such as Christine O'Donnell in Delaware) over more conventional and presumably electable Republicans, the GOP screwed up opportunities to win Senate seats ripe for the picking. "Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate," Bachus groused.
Palin fired back, saying that because Bachus supported "the Bachus bigger government agenda," it was "no wonder he's not thrilled with people like me." She cited Bachus' votes for the Wall Street bailout and the cash-for-clunkers program as proof he was no "commonsense conservative." Palin's attack was widely interpreted as her placing a finger—or fist—on the scale for Royce (who voted against the TARP bailout). It also was a tremendous flip-flop. Palin was for the bank bailout before she was against it.
In the two years since Palin was the Republican vice presidential candidate, the former Alaska governor has pulled a 180 regarding her position on the Wall Street bailout enacted by President George W. Bush. In the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, Palin held that now infamous interview with CBS News' Katie Couric, and she endorsed the bailout. The exchange was odd because Palin provided a confusing reply, inexplicably tying the bank bailout to health care reform, but it was clear she favored the bailout (as did Sen. John McCain):
COURIC: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries? Allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy? Instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?
PALIN: That’s why I say, I, like every American I’m speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in, where it is the taxpayers looking to bailout. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy—helping the—Oh, it’s got to be about job creation too. Shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track… And trade we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive scary thing. But 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.
Weeks later, during an October 21 CNN interview, Palin gave a straighter answer, indicating her full support for the bailout:
Now, as for the economic bailout provisions and the measures that have already been taken, it is a time of crisis and government did have to step in playing an appropriate role to shore up the housing market to make sure that we're thawing out some of the potentially frozen credit lines and credit markets, government did have to step in there.
In her 2009 book, Going Rogue, Palin noted that the bailout had been absolutely necessary, and she even chastised the House Republicans (like Royce) who had voted against it:
The House of Representatives rejected a Bush-backed economic bailout plan in a vote in which two-thirds of Republicans voted no. The impression this made on the electorate was not helpful to our cause. Millions of Americans were poised to go bankrupt or lose their savings, and the perception was that Republicans had failed to respond.