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Palin's "Crony Capitalism" Mantra Gets "60 Minutes" Boost

Palin's "Crony Capitalism" Mantra Gets "60 Minutes" Boost

By Scott Conroy - November 14, 2011


If Sarah Palin had run for president, Sunday night's episode of "60 Minutes" likely would have marked a significant moment for her campaign.

In the venerable CBS News program's opening segment, Hoover Institute fellow and Palin adviser Peter Schweizer previewed his forthcoming book, "Throw Them All Out," which details allegations of legal, yet ethically dubious insider trading and conflicts of interest among members of Congress.

“There are all sorts of forms of honest graft that congressmen engage in that allow them to become very, very wealthy,” Schweizer told correspondent Steve Kroft. “So it's not illegal, but I think it's highly unethical, I think it's highly offensive, and wrong.”

Schweizer has been described in various news reports as a “foreign policy adviser” and a “speechwriter” for Palin. In fact, he is both of those things, and far more than that.

Though he has managed to stay largely under the radar until now, Schweizer’s influence on Palin since joining her staff last spring has been profound.

When Palin was still mulling a presidential run back in September, she delivered a closely watched speech in Iowa that served as a preview of sorts for Schweizer’s new book. In the speech, it was the former Alaska governor’s references to “crony capitalism” and “the permanent political class” that picked up the most attention -- buzz phrases that appear near the very beginning of Schweizer’s new tome.

“This is a book about how a Permanent Political Class, composed of politicians and their friends, engages in honest graft,” Schweizer writes in the introduction to his book, which goes on sale Tuesday. “Let’s call it crony capitalism.”

Along with Steven K. Bannon, the filmmaker behind the pro-Palin documentary “The Undefeated,” Schweizer’s influence has been instrumental in leading Palin to a renewed focus on her political roots as a reformer.

Palin’s image as a good-government stalwart defined her early success in Alaska but was largely forgotten after her 2008 vice presidential run, when she was defined by her hard-right conservatism and penchant for rhetorical bomb-throwing.

But now Bannon is considering embarking on a new film project based on many of the themes in Schweizer’s book, and Palin appears ready to reinsert herself more prominently into the 2012 fray, though not as a candidate.

“I think she’s seeing herself more as the reformer that she was before, rather than somebody who is involved in the political debate, because I do believe she thinks the system is compromised -- that it needs to be changed,” Schweizer said of Palin in an interview with RCP.

Schweizer said that because of potential conflicts of interest with his own book, he was not involved in strategizing over how Palin plans to highlight the issues it raises, but she appears almost certain to do so in the coming days.

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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