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Is Big Tent Republicanism Back?

1:22 PM, Aug 6, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The New York Sun editorializes:

Mrs. Palin, in her Facebook posting, did not criticize, or even mention, the First Lady, who is entitled to a vacation. She did speak of how the president’s lecture to the AFL-CIO “must have been tough for our good union brothers and sisters to sit through, though it may have resonated with some union bosses who desire their members to adopt a herd mentality, too, so as to not dare speak up against what Washington is doing to us.” What struck us about this is that it’s hard to think of a Republican reaching out so pointedly to union members since the man who invented Big Tent Republicanism, Ronald Reagan.

Mrs. Palin’s demarche is one to keep an eye on. What are the Reagan Democrats going to do in November 2010 and November 2012? Mrs. Palin, with her campaign for the Mama Grizzlies and her “whole stampede of pink elephants,” as she put it in the now-famous video, has upended the former left-of-center feminist calculus about women voters, not to mention women candidates. The question her latest post raises is whether she’s going to strive for a similar upset in the calculus among blue collar voters who, once could be counted on by the Democrats until Reagan came along and talked to them about inflation, taxes and unemployment.

She’s certainly had her eye on, say, Ohio, where she is invested in the gubernatorial race and where her endorsements and campaign contributions, Politico noted as far back as February, suggest she fully comprehends the outsized importance of the state. It is true that, during the 2008 campaign, the president of the Steelworkers, Leo Gerard, made a point of saying that Todd Palin’s union card doesn’t confer auxiliary membership on his wife and scoring her record as governor. But all the more notable the language of Mrs. Palin’s latest post about how Mr. Obama’s record may be resonating for “some union bosses.” No doubt Mrs. Palin has her work cut out for her. But the employment numbers being brought in this week, well into the Obama economy, are quite a backdrop for her fraternal greetings.

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