Saturday Engine Starter: Has Sarah Palin officially gone “RINO”?

Posted by: ST on August 20, 2011 at 9:00 am

Sarah Palin wavesBefore we get started with this, and before the diehard Palinistas take offense, I need to state for the record that I – a Palin fan and frequent defender – almost always use the term “RINO” with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek, as I believe the term has become as overused and abused and watered-down as the word “racist.” Today is no exception.

There was a fairly significant uproar in the conservative blogosphere yesterday, lead by Michelle Malkin, over comments Sarah Palin made to Fox News’ Greta van Susteren on Thursday about Utah Senator Orrin  Hatch (R), who is being primaried by Tea Party-affiliated groups like Freedomworks for his McCain-like tendency to hold hands with Democrats.  Palin, no stranger to controversy, said some things that surprised diehard Tea Partiers. As to what she said, CNN files this report:

(CNN) – As longtime Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch fights off some tea party opposition to his re-election bid next year, he’s getting some unexpected praise.

Friday morning Hatch’s re-election campaign was touting comments made Thursday night by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a favorite of many in the tea party movement.

“To your particular point about Senator Orrin Hatch, he is doing good in terms of trying to get a balanced budget and he has been for the last couple of decades. He has pushed hard for some fiscal reforms that we have got to see implemented,” said an e-mail release by the Hatch campaign, highlighting comments the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee made on the Fox News Channel.

“We need to be agreeing and embracing his idea and working with him to make sure that that happens instead of shooing him away and shooing him out of a tea party movement,” added Palin, who is considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Hatch, who is running for a seventh term in the Senate, is facing opposition from some in the tea party movement, including FreedomWorks, a major DC-based conservative grassroots organization that is actively working to find a candidate to take on Hatch in next year’s primaries.

In a statement, Hatch thanked Palin for her kind words, saying “I am grateful for the support of Sarah Palin as I continue to lead this fight. Mrs. Palin is highly respected by Utahns and the national conservative movement and I appreciate her influence to create a united front in confronting the issue of our national debt. It is an honor to have Sarah Palin’s backing for the balanced budget amendment and I will continue to use my time in the Senate to see it passed.”

Palin has also used her influence to back Gov. Perry when he had a tough primary fight against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2009, and it’s been reported that Perry and Palin are “quickly” becoming friends.  Perry, as we all know from the last week of fierce infighting between so-called “true conservatives” and the rest of us conservatives, has been blasted by the “true cons.” for allegedly being an “open borders” Governor, for “corporate cronyism”, for “being soft on Islam”, etc.

No RINOsSo, with all that said, does Palin’s praise of Hatch’s support for a BBA and her backing of Gov. Perry in 2009 and her defense of him now as the MSM ratchets up their attack machine mean she’s now officially crossed over in “RINO” territory?  I admit to not being clear what people mean when they use the term anymore, as it has gone from meaning literally a Republican In Name Only a la Lincoln Chafee to meaning “a Republican who disagrees with me or who supports a candidate who I disagree with.”

I’m especially sensitive to this, considering that I – a bonafide conservative who “went to the dark side” back in the early 90s after being an ignorant liberal for years – have been called a “RINO” in the past for, among other things, supporting President Bush’s immigration reform plan back when others in the party were calling him “Jorge Bush.” It shook me to the core that someone so reliably and staunchly conservative as myself could be considered a sell-out to my core ideals by not lining up with other conservatives on the immigration reform plan championed by both McCain and Bush. Of course, I’m not the only conservative who have been unfairly accused of it – many others have.

This goes back to a post I wrote last month asking readers “what is a RINO?” It didn’t get a lot of responses, but I’m hoping this one will.

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19 Responses to “Saturday Engine Starter: Has Sarah Palin officially gone “RINO”?”


  1. Michael Gersh says:

    Some Tea Party types have said that they mean to primary Allen West! Many people who self-identify as Tea Party are new to politics, and their ideas of ideological purity threaten to squander the momentum gained in the midterms. Like liberals, they surround themselves with like-minded people, and believe that there is a landslide coming that will sweep every conservative to victory. This is their first rodeo, and they don’t know any better.

    Others, more experienced, are using the movement for personal gain. Old pols who have been born again as Tea Party conservatives, leading what used to be a grass roots movement and using that leadership as a step to personal aggrandizement.

    Very human. There is a power shift in the making, and ambitious people want a piece of the pie. They are abusing the naive true believers in many cases. Orin Hatch is one thing. 7 terms are enough to allow for a host of questionable judgments in anyone, and Utahans are in a better position to judge that than I. But if they really put up a candidate against Allen West, it will be a signal to me that the movement has no legs.

  2. Richard Garrell says:

    I was away from the computer until late yesterday and was surprised that this little snippet from the Greta interview had made such a splash.

    Here was part of my comment at Hot Air last night.

    I’m appalled at this treasonous act and officially turn in my Palin cultist card forthwith. Heh!

    Maybe Palin just likes Hatch better than Chaffetz or maybe it was just a way to get the balanced budget amendment mentioned in the press today.

    I can’t believe that out of the whole interview that this is what was the big take away. Also, don’t forget that Mark Levin is a raging ‘RINO’ on this issue as well.

    Mark Levin Dings Freedomworks Over Campaign to Oust Hatch

    I agree with Palin that we need a balanced budget amendment and giving Hatch credit for pushing for one and also with Levin on having questions about Chaffetz, Dick Armey and Freedomworks.

    I think Armey, like a few other Tea Party ‘leaders’ are nothing more than opportunist using this grassroots movement for their own benefit and profit.

    When Palin and Levin are accused of being RINO’s you know the word has lost it’s original intent. Great example of using Lincoln Chaffee. Now that’s what I call a RINO!

    Of course, I’m a Palin cultist and a huge fan of the ‘Great One’, so I’m a little biased.

  3. bc3b says:

    Is Palin a RINO? Are you a crazy woman?

    Palin didn’t endorse Hatch, but rather encouraged Tea Party activists to work with him in passing a balanced budget amendment.

    It appears that everyone who doesn’t agree with you and Michele Malkin on EVERYTHING (probably down to your favorite college football team) is a RINO.

  4. ST says:

    Way to NOT read what I wrote, bc. Your sarcasm detector not working today?

  5. I was wondering about this as well, though, as pointed out, she didn’t endorse him.

    But then I read Chaffetz is a former Huntsman aide who has endorsed Mitt Romney–hardly the stuff of TEA party legend.

    So I think people need to look at the actual races and individuals on balance before demanding ideological purity litmus tests.

    RINO is thrown around entirely too much and obscures debate.

  6. Brian72 says:

    I find this whole thing to be a little strange. Palin obviously did not endorse Hatch for re-election, she endorsed the Balanced Budget Amendment, and his long time effort on that issue.

    That interview was almost half of Greta’s program, and Palin really took Obama to the woodshed with some flair, and that part of the appearance was the headline top of the page at Fox Nation for most of yesterday.

    In my estimation, there isn’t anyone who has taken more abuse and attacks on behalf of the Tea Party Movement than Sarah Palin has. She has stood firm in the midst of the most intense and sustained media napalm assault for over two years straight, and that doesn’t even count the 2008 campaign itself.

    I noticed that on Hot Air, many of the very same people who were screaming RINO at Palin were just a day or two ago screaming at Michelle Malkin for daring to bring up Rick Perry’s questionable actions as Governor, which you alluded to in this post.

    So, are we going to hold people accountable or are we not?

    I noticed that despite the fact that Michelle disagrees with what Palin said rather strongly and made that absolutely clear, she did not use any insulting or abusive language toward Palin personally at all. She even used one of her favorite Palin terms at the end, “WTF?”

    She seemed a bit disappointed in Palin on this one statement, but did not throw her under the bus and revoke her conservative credentials forevermore.

    That’s worth pointing out.

  7. Phineas says:

    Calling someone a RINO has become like calling someone a “commie,” a “socialist,” a “progressive,” or a “Nazi.” The name-caller wants to do just that, call names at someone he doesn’t like, and doesn’t care about meaning. The result is that these words get stripped of any real meaning.

    To me, American conservatism is a tree with many branches: economic, political, national security, and social. And each of those branches can have their own branches, yet still be conservative. Or you agree with two or three out of four and yet still be on the Right. (I’m not a social conservative on most issues; more of a moderate or libertarian, depending on POV. Yet I dare anyone to call me a RINO.)

    Lincoln Chafee and, I’m sorry to say it seems so, Scott Brown agree with conservative positions in so few of those categories that they are genuine RINOs. Former Ambassador and Governor Jon Huntsman would be another. (Huntsman should really run as a moderate Democrat.)

    In the end, though, I really don’t think this name-calling serves any good purpose. The overriding goal is to get Obama out of office and wrest control of the Senate away from the (Social) Democrats. In-fighting (as opposed to legit examination and criticism) only distracts us from that.

  8. Brian72 says:

    There are absolutely some Republicans that need to be targeted for defeat in primaries by the Tea Party movement, but to say Palin is one is really quite ridiculous.

    That’s how I felt when I heard the cry to primary Allen West.

    I mean, really? C’mon!

  9. tahDeetz says:

    Palin’s olive-branch to Hatch tells me she sees the benefit in making a few key allies with those on the ins & that have a decent voting record.

    As well, it lets others know, there isn’t ‘necessarily’ a steam-roller in your future as long as we can cordially play ball, but just keenly understand those lines not to be crossed, which Palin seems to be vigorously stressing as fiscal, which just so happens to be the coalescing point of the teaparty.

    It also frees up time, energy & money for lower hangin’ political fruit.

    In addition, a Hatch detente, hobbles Mitt to an extent in one of his many backyards.

    just muh 2 cent.


  10. Michael Gersh says:

    So Phineas, there were no commies? Overusing the term does not make the phenomenon go away. There were many commies, and there are many RINOs. The fact is that few democrats today are commies, and few republicans are RINOs, but plenty of both are more interested in their careers than any idea of making life on this planet better for anyone but themselves.

  11. Phineas says:

    So Phineas, there were no commies?

    Where on Earth did I ever say that?

  12. Marshall Art says:

    I don’t agree that one must tow the line on absolutely every plank of the platform in order to be a Republican. I thought the term was fairly appropriate for McCain for a number of reasons. Medved constantly referred to his rating by the American Conservative Union being in the 80s. But, a review of their ratings over the course of his political career shows that in some recent years he’s only been ranked slightly over 50. He was always ranked high in his early years, so he has drifted enough to at least have the term dog him a bit.

    ST’s agreement with McCain on the immigration issue doesn’t make her a RINO. Just mistaken. And that’s OK. Given ST’s history on this blog, I’d vote for her without a second thought. BUT, if another Southern Belle ran against her in the primary and the only difference was the challenger’s immigration policy better matched my feelings, I’d regretfully pass up ST.

    More specifically, a RINO politician is one that “compromises” so much that the result is more of leftist policy being enacted rather than a conservative one, or a politician that simply sides with the Dems on votes more often than with his own party. One or two issues are merely regretful lapses.

  13. Carlos says:

    Phineas, I throw the terms “socialist,” “progressive” and “Nazi” very advisedly, but seldom use the word “commie” (or “communist” because it is so misunderstood).

    So Sarah wants to work with Orrin on a balanced budget amendment? Gosh, throw her under the new president bus made in Canada and used for campaigning paid for by we, the people! Such heresy!

    Come on, folks. This amendment is important, and to destroy Sarah over it (you can pretty much bet the farm that Hatch will still be in the Senate in 2013, not some TEA partier) reaks of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

    Most times most comments here make some sense. This one seems to have robbed some people of the ability to connect two dots with a line already drawn.

  14. Phineas says:

    Carlos, to quote Obama, “Let me be clear.” :)

    I was talking in general, not about anyone here in particular.

  15. Carlos says:

    I appreciate that, Phineas, and understand, too. The terms “Nazi,” “progressive,” “socialist,” “raaaciiiist” and “RINO” are all so overused by people who don’t have an inkling of what each really means, or even what each implies in reality, and leaves one’s head spinning in wonderment.

    BTW, the phrase “Let me be clear” is becoming a catchphrase now. I am starting to wonder if the proper definition of that phrase is, “I’m about to tell you a whopper because if I can’t dazzle you with my brilliance I’m gonna baffle you with my b.s.”

    Keep up the good work.

  16. George Robinson says:

    Vocabulary, the devil’s tool. Then along comes a guy like me. I sling the lingo to suit the occasion, with certain words reserved to emphasize. Commie is preferred because it elicits “I am not”, not because my target is actually a sub human, though most are. RINO’s are non substantive pretenders who actually believe some progressives are human, to date no evidence of this exists. Independents are similar, the gutless ones who can’t take a decision, or are hiding their sub human condition. RINO’s are more dangerous than Marxists because they do not admit up front to being stupid. The only use found for any of them is Target Practice….

  17. John says:

    “by both McCain and Bush.” It’s funny how nobody ever mentions the fact that this would be championed by Palin, too.
    She told Univision in an interview it “wouldn’t be humane to deport all the illegals” and said she supported a guest worker program.
    Yeah, most national politicians are for it, although most conservatives are dead-set against it.
    Where do they get Perry’s soft on Islam, though?

  18. John says:

    Brian-Yeah. Allen West, now that’s ridiculous. =)) Palin not so much, although she doesn’t hold a seat from what I’ve noticed.
    Thinks it’s “inhumane” to deport all the illegals, supports guest worker program, would probably ram amnesty just like Bush, endorsed McCain, Fiorina, Hatch, supported the bailout in 2008, appointed a Planned Parenthood member to the Alaska state council, she liked Michael Steele a whole lot.
    But…^:)^ you don’t hear a lot of people pointing that out.
    There’s Cain, Bachmann, Santorum. They’re the only ones who are the real deal. Including prospective candidates that are likely, there is a big RINO virus going around.
    God bless America. **==