Speed Reads


Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan: Contrasting symbols of the GOP's future?

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Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan have some things in common. Among other things, they were the GOP's last two vice presidential nominees. But competing profiles out today on each of them seem to demonstrate a clash of visions for the future of the Republican Party.

Over at the Washington Post, Robert Costa argues that Palin is a "diminished figure in the Republican Party" who has glommed onto some of the Tea Party populists she helped elect in the past:

With near-constant internal conflicts roiling the GOP, Palin has veered right, siding with [Ted] Cruz and [Mike] Lee, who were vocal proponents of last year's government shutdown and popular figures among the conservatives who read [Erick] Erickson's RedState blog and donate to the Heritage Foundation. [Washington Post]

Meanwhile, BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins writes about Paul Ryan's "inner-city education," noting that "Ryan is doing something rather unprecedented for a Republican: He is spending unchoreographed time with actual poor people."

Something they both have in common? While Palin panders and Ryan reaches, both say things that might not play well outside of red-state America. Palin joked that "waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists," while Coppins' profile cites Ryan joking that "usually when I get up this early, I get up to kill something."

Still, one gets the sense that the last two Republican veep nominees represent opposing visions for the future of the GOP — visions whose trajectories appear to be widening.

Just last week, I wrote about how some conservatives pine for rural America, seeing it as the traditional and "real" America — and why this poses a problem for a GOP facing a demographic time bomb.

Along those lines, Palin and Ryan may be symbolic surrogates in this great struggle for the heart and soul of conservatism. Palin looks backward and plays to the rural-embracing base. Ryan, on the other hand, is heading to the cities and spending time with Americans who don't traditionally vote GOP. In that sense, Ryan is reaching for the stars.