Will the neocons who tutored George W. Bush in the ideology he pursued to the ruin of his presidency do the same for Sarah Palin?
Should they succeed, they will destroy her. Yet, they are moving even now to capture this princess of the right and hope of the party.
In St. Paul, Palin was told to cancel a meeting with Phyllis Schlafly and pro-life conservatives. McCain's operatives said Palin had to rest for her Wednesday convention speech.
Yet, on Tuesday, Palin was behind closed doors with Joe Lieberman and officials of the Israeli lobby AIPAC. There, according to The Washington Post, Palin took and passed her oral exams.
"Palin assured the group of her strong support for Israel, of her desire to see the United States move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and of her opposition to Iran's aspirations to become a nuclear power, according to sources familiar with the meeting."
AIPAC's mission, like that of Likud, is to goad America into launching air and missile strikes on any and all Iranian nuclear facilities.
AIPAC went away happy. Purred spokesman Josh Block, "We were pleased that Gov. Palin expressed her deep personal commitment to the safety and well-being of Israel."
Heading home to Alaska to prepare for her interview with Charlie Gibson, Palin was escorted by Randy Scheunemann, McCain's foreign policy guru and, until March, a hired agent of the Tbilisi regime.
Scheunemann's lobbying assignment: Bring Georgia into NATO, so U.S. troops, like 19-year-old Track Palin, will be required to fight Russia to defend a Saakashvili regime that has paid Randy and his partner $730,000.
Reportedly, a phone conversation was held between Saakashvili and Palin, in which Palin committed herself to the territorial integrity of Georgia, though South Ossetia and Abkhazia have declared independence and been recognized by Moscow, which now has troops in both.
Also on Palin's plane was Steve Biegun, formerly of Bush's National Security Council, and Scheunemann's choice to tutor her. Of Biegun, Steven Clemens of the New American Foundation says, "He will turn her into an advocate of Cheneyism and Cheney's view of national security issues."
During her interview with Gibson, Palin often took a neocon line. Three times she said that, should Israel decide to attack Iran, the United States should not "second guess" Israel's decision or interfere.
This contradicts U.S. policy. Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs, has warned Israel not to attack Iran, as the United States does not want a "third front." And the Pentagon is withholding crucial weapons the Israelis want and need to carry out any such attack.
Palin also volunteered that the Russian invasion was "unprovoked," though Georgia attacked South Ossetia first. She followed up by saying that Georgia and Ukraine should be brought into NATO.
Would that mean America would have to go to war with Russia on behalf of Georgia in any new conflict, asked Gibson.
"Perhaps so," said Palin.
Scheunemann should get a fat severance check from Saakashvili for that one.
One ex-White House aide at American Enterprise Institute, asked by Tim Shipman of the Daily Telegraph if AEI sees Palin as a "project," replied: "Your word, not mine. ... But I wouldn't disagree with the sentiment. ... She's bright, and she's a blank page. She's going places, and it's worth going there with her."
In fairness to Palin, on issues like NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, her answers reflect the views of the man who chose her. She has no option at present but to follow the line laid down by Scheunemann.
But make no mistake. Sarah Palin is no neocon. She did not come by her beliefs by studying Leo Strauss. She is a traditionalist whose values are those of family, faith, community and country, not some utopian ideology.
Wasilla, Alaska, is not a natural habitat of neoconservatives.
And her unrehearsed answers to Gibson's questions reveal her natural conservatism. Asked if she agrees with the Bush Doctrine, Palin asked for clarification. "In what respect, Charlie?"
Gibson: "Do we have the right of an anticipatory self-defense?"
Yes, said Palin, "if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against (the) American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend."
Exactly. The intelligence must be legit and the threat "imminent."
Interviewed by Alaska Business Monthly in March 2007 on the surge, Palin said, "I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place."
That is not the language of empire or "benevolent global hegemony."
Palin may disappoint many conservatives in the next seven weeks by having to parrot the McCain-neocon line on NATO expansion, NAFTA and a "path to citizenship" for illegal aliens. But the battle for Sarah's soul is not over.
For, again, the lady is no neocon. Nor is the husband Todd, First Dude of Alaska and former member of the "Alaska First" Independence Party.