Governor Palin and the Difference between Responsive Leadership and Reactionary Politics

Vice President Biden has come under fire for awful comments he made regarding the Chinese’s one child policy while in China on Sunday (emphasis added):

“But as I was talking to some of your leaders, you share a similar concern here in China,” he continued. “You have no safety net. Your policy has been one which I fully understand – I’m not second-guessing – of one child per family. The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable.”

Vice President Biden condoned the horrific policies of the China government that allow only one child per family which has subsequently resulted in forced abortions, including sex-selective abortions, human rights violations, fines, and loss of jobs.  These comments have engendered responses from the declared Presidential candidates. Governor Romney called China’s policy “gruesome and barbaric” while asserting that Biden acquiesced. Governor Perry criticized Biden for “moral indifference”.

This “one child” policy is decades old, and the Obama administration is more than two and a half years old. Where were these men on human rights abuses and the Obama administration indifference prior to this presidential election, when their comments could score political points? As we highlighted during the Chinese President’s visit to the US in January, Governor Palin has been at the forefront of highlighting international human rights and the Obama administration’s negligence in addressing these abuses, not because it would score her political points, but because of her principled support for human dignity and the sanctity of life. In September of 2009, during her a speech in the Chinese region of Hong Kong, Governor Palin boldly, yet diplomatically, criticized China for their injustices and disrespect for human liberties (emphasis added):

Think about it. How many books and articles have been written about the dangers of India’s rise? Almost as large as China – and soon to be more populous – virtually no one worries about the security implications of India becoming a great power – just as a century ago the then-preeminent power, Great Britain, worried little about the rise of America to great power status. My point is that the more politically open and just China is, the more Chinese citizens of every ethnicity will settle disputes in courts rather than on the streets. The more open it is, the less we will be concerned about its military build-up and intentions. The more transparent China is, the more likely it is they we will find a true and lasting friendship based on shared values as well as interests.

I am not talking about some U.S.-led “democracy crusade.” We cannot impose our values on other counties. Nor should we seek to. But the ideas of freedom, liberty and respect for human rights are not U.S. ideas, they are much more than that. They are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other international covenants and treaties. They apply to citizens in Shanghai as much as they do to citizens in Johannesburg or Jakarta. And demands for liberty in China are Chinese, not American, demands. Just last year, many brave Chinese signed Charter 08, a Chinese document modeled on the great Czech statesman Vlacav Havel’s Charter 77. Charter 08 would not be unfamiliar to our Founding Fathers and was endorsed by Havel himself. No, we need not convince the Chinese people that they have inalienable rights. They are calling for those rights themselves. But we do have to worry about a China where the government suppresses the liberties its people hold dear.

In May of 2010, Governor Palin hammered the Obama administration’s State Department for essentially apologizing to the Chinese for Arizona’s immigration law, when it was China who was one engaged in true human rights violations, including their population control measures (emphasis added):

The absolute low point of this campaign came last Friday, when a U.S. State Department delegation met with Chinese negotiators to discuss human rights. Apparently, our State Department felt it necessary to make their Chinese guests feel less bad about their own record of human rights abuses by repeatedly atoning for American “sins” – including, it seems, the Arizona immigration/pro-border security law. Asked if Arizona came up at all during the meeting, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner answered:

“We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society.”

Note that he said “We brought it up” – not the Chinese, but the U.S. State Department’s own delegation. Instead of grilling the Chinese about their appalling record on human rights, the State Department continued the unbelievable apology tour by raising “early and often” Arizona’s decision to secure our border. 

Arizona’s law, which just mirrors the federal law, simply allows the police to ask those whom they have already stopped for some form of identification like a driver’s license. By what absurd stretch of the imagination is that the moral equivalent of China’s lack of freedoms, population controls (including forced abortions), censorship, and arbitrary detentions?

This is not the only time that Governor Palin has made principled policy statements that were later echoed by announced, campaigning presidential candidates. Last week during an interview with Lou Dobbs, Governor Palin was asked about Governor Perry’s comments on the Federal Reserve, to which Governor Palin replied (emphasis added):

 [Perry] called it like he saw it and I always respect people for doing so.What Governor Perry is voicing concern about is something I wrote about on Facebook pages about ten months ago, this quantitative easing or monetizing our debt, essentially printing money out of thin air, which will eventually devalue our dollar and, I think, lead to inflation, in order to make it look like our debt isn’t as bad as it really is, and Governor Perry was voicing great concerns that many of us share. He just used some more candid terms, I think, than some of us would have used.

Again, Governor Palin was principled and politically prescient enough to speak on the effects of quantitative easing as early as November of 2010, long before Governor Perry made such comments during the nascence of his presidential campaign. She made statements on Facebook and during a speech in Arizona warning of the inflationary impact of quantitative easing because it was important for our country to be aware, not because it had potential to score political points or provide red meat for potential supporters.

Governor Palin’s prescience and principled stances are not only a matter of rhetoric, but of record. During her time as Governor, she cut spending 9.5% and vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars in spending, not because times were tough, but because she wanted to keep government small and solvent. She reformed Alaska’s pension system and used surplus dollars to help pay down underfunded pensions, which reduced Alaska’s liabilities by 34.6 % to help provide analysts at Moody’s with enough confidence to later upgrade Alaska’s credit rating to AAA. This were not politically expedient decisions (she actually came under fire from lawmakers and unions for these decisions), nor were they done because of fiscal emergency, they were done because they were the right things to do for the short and long term fiscal health of Alaska. These are the kinds of rhetoric and record that distinguish a responsive leader like Governor Palin from the reactionary politicians like Governors Perry and Romney.



(237 Posts)