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OPED: Palin, you have no relevancy in this election
When entertainment news sites announced in March that Sarah Palin had signed onto a reality show modeled after "Judge Judy," many in the conservative movement cheered. And not because they were itching for more of Palin's disjointed, wild-eyed television appearances.
If she had her own TV show settling neighborhood disputes over dog poop, perhaps she finally would be cast aside as a credible spokeswoman for the tea party, the Republican Party or conservatives in general.
Alas, no. Reality show contract in hand, Palin still has managed to commandeer mainstream political news coverage — as she did Sunday with her pronouncements against U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Palin told CNN's Jake Tapper that Ryan's hesitation to endorse Donald Trump would be a career-ender for Ryan because "he has so disrespected the will of the people, and as the leader of GOP, the convention, certainly he is to remain neutral, and for him to already come out and say who he will not support is not a wise decision of his."
Whoa. OK, so Palin is upset that Ryan isn't aboard the Trump Train yet.
She went further, declaring she would work to unseat Ryan. He faces a Republican primary challenge for his congressional seat this summer. Wisconsin's presidential primary was April 5, but the primary for state and congressional offices is Aug. 9. Ryan faces tea party candidate Paul Nehlen.
Palin is goodness-gracious-stinkin'-mad that Ryan said he is not willing to endorse Trump at this time. Most likely, neither are the 714,753 Republican primary voters in Wisconsin who voted for someone other than Trump. Ted Cruz — not Trump — won the Wisconsin primary, including Ryan's own congressional district. For Palin to paint Ryan as out of touch with his district doesn't make sense. He's perfectly aligned with it.
But then, expecting sensible proclamations from Palin would be like expecting James Joyce from a fortune cookie.
Palin tried to make the case Sunday that Ryan was one of those insider GOP establishment types trying to derail Trump's path to the nomination.
A few glaring irrationalities come with that characterization. Ryan has been the emergency brake to the "Never Trump" movement. Repeatedly, he shot down speculation and suggestion that he would step in at the GOP convention to take Trump's slot as the Republican presidential nominee. Ryan could not have been more clear that no, he would not do that, even if asked, cajoled, begged, recruited, kidnapped or forced at knifepoint.
Dousing Ryan with the "insider GOP establishment" taint is simply untrue. Ryan ascended to speaker because he was viewed as an independent, outside voice for moderate and conservative Republican members. The inside track initially went to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader, who later bowed out. Ryan was not the establishment's pick.
Ryan has been among the strongest voices for fiscal conservatives in Washington. No one dared mention entitlement reform before he started talking about it. He has introduced and promoted plans that would turn parts of Medicare into a voucher program. He wants to streamline Medicaid by giving states more control through block grants. He advocates capping non-defense discretionary spending, consolidating the tax code into two tax brackets and reforming the way billions of dollars in federal poverty money is distributed. Those are not popular ideas.
For years, GOP leadership considered Ryan a back-bencher because he was actually serious about getting spending under control. He wasn't part of the fraternity whose members merely talked about downsizing government. He wrote legislation to do it.
Palin wouldn't know much about Ryan's role in leading the discourse on spending discipline, though, because she was too busy learning how to pronounce "Ahmadinejad" in preparation for her television interviews during the 2008 presidential election.
Palin served a purpose. Her hockey-mom thing was effective. But her time is over. Her moment is gone. When she makes television appearances now, her desperation to be relevant oozes through the screen. She is spacey and mouthy and unpredictable. Perfect for reality TV but not to be taken seriously.
— Kristen McQueary is a member of the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune.