Sarah Palin and America’s Wine Wholesalers: A Bust?
Based on reports from Las Vegas this morning, (and here) Sarah Palin gave a keynote address to the attendees of the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association's (WSWA) Annual Convention. And as suspected, she had nothing to say about the issue of wine and spirits.
Again, this is not a surprise. No one expected Palin to be educated on issues of the three tier system, the history of wine and spirits in America, the constitutional and legal issues that surround directs shipping or self distribution or the wholesalers support for federal legislation that would exempt state alcohol laws from Federal anti-trust laws or court challenges based on the Commerce Clause.
Perhaps the only interesting thing she reportedly had to say and that relates to this industry was her support for "deregulation". Not specifically deregulation of the wine industry, but deregulation in general. I'm not sure how well that would sit with an organization that has claimed any deregulation of the three tier system would spell disaster for America.
One wonders if Palin's attendance at the WSWA annual conference had its intended effect: to bring in more attendees. Perhaps we'll find out if attendance at this years convention is up or down over previous years.
But one thing to keep in mind is that when an organization solicits an appearance by a politician at an event they are managing, there is an implied endorsement of their political views. I think the people at the top of the national association of wine and spirit wholesalers appreciate and understand this. And yet I don't think they necessarily endorse Palin's particular brand of conservatism. It's a pretty paleolithic set of political views that puts her on the far right wing of the American political spectrum.
No one is going to try to smear wholesalers by association with Palin. At least I can't see a good reason to try to do so. It would be dishonest. The WSWA clearly wanted to add an attraction to their annual convention that, by some accounts, had seen a severe decline in wineries exhibiting at the event.
There is a certain "Damn the implications and meaning" quality to WSWA's use of Palin as a Keynote speaker. In my view, WSWA engages in this kind of communication regularly, particularly when they play the minor card and the "tainted alcohol" card when talking about the implications of reform to the three tier system—something they view as a disaster to their members' financial interests. In other words, it's no surprise the WSWA would do or say whatever is necessary to make their case—even if it means appearing to side with one of the most intellectually incompetent national political figures to arrive on the American stage in years.