Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, speak during a campaign rally… (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images )
Sarah Palin weighed in on the new Republican presidential ticket and, no surprise, took some hard shots at President Obama ("reckless" spender, "dismal failure.") A bit less expected was Palin's rant against ... socialized medicine? ... Chicago-style politics? ... Michelle Obama force-feeding us vegetables?
No, California. The state of California.
In a Facebook statement Friday night, the former Republican vice presidential nominee tried to boost the current Republican presidential ticket by talking about the "cautionary tale" of the Golden State. The failure to elect Mitt Romney and newly minted running mate Paul Ryan, Palin suggested, could force the rest of the U.S.A. down the grim California trail.
The reality television star ("Sarah Palin's Alaska") was so intent on burying California that she didn't just go after obvious shortcomings, such as huge deficit spending and ballooning public pensions. She also managed to throw a few big shovels of dirt on the state's most resilient economic engines -- technology and entertainment.
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"The Golden State once boasted the entrepreneurial innovation of Silicon Valley," Palin wrote in her almost 1,200-word post, "the American creative engine of the arts, economically powerful and beautiful cities from San Francisco to San Diego, and fertile farmlands that helped feed the nation."
Once? Once boasted? It would be hard to find anyone who actually follows California's economy who would say technological inventiveness is on the wane or that Hollywood’s creative machine has stalled out. And surely the onetime Alaska governor didn't mean to say the glimmering coastal cities had lost all their sheen or the Central Valley its legendary productivity?
The Palin message signaled that she has lost nothing of the lipsticky-pitbull fervor she brought to her rogue vice presidential run with John McCain in 2008. She spent very little time in the Romney-Ryan endorsement nod talking about Romney and Ryan, instead railing about the Democrat occupying the White House and the state (Is it the government? The culture? Something Maria Shriver said?) she loves to hate. The Business Insider called it an "epic tirade."
If a bit more precise with their barbs, conservatives have long made California a favorite target. We have been painted as the land of not only silicon chips but silicone bustlines, home of effete chardonnay sippers and Happy Meal bans. Each new instance of paparazzi-confirmed debauchery affirms that moral compasses lose true north once they cross the Sierra Nevada.
The state is a frequent punching bag of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page and, last week, of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Speaking in Iowa, Romney said: "Entrepreneurs and business people around the world and here at home think that at some point America is going to become like Greece or like Spain or Italy, or like California -- just kidding about that one, in some ways."
Though Romney (who remains comfortable enough with California to raise campaign cash here and to maintain a La Jolla beach home) muted his criticism, we get the point.
For Republicans, there's no obvious danger in bombing away on a state whose political tendencies remain deep blue. Still, people, comparing California to Greece? Suggesting its tech and entertainment dynamos -- still world leaders -- are in some kind of major retreat? Fire away at the ample targets, if you will, but please employ the laser-guided missiles.
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