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Mary Altaffer | AP Photo

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The first thing a great many people, politicos, and non-politicos alike, said in private conversations when they heard the news that Sarah Palin would endorse Donald Trump is, “What did he pay her?”

That may be an unfair question, but it’s perfectly fair to put it this way: “What has Donald Trump done for Sarah Palin?” Meaning, what has Trump done to promote the values that Palin’s supporters have been advocating for the past eight years?

This isn’t the behavior one expects from a consistent conservative; it’s what’s expected from a dictator.

For starters, look at the three major issues that gave rise to and have animated the Tea Party since 2008 when then-Governor Palin burst on the national scene: The bailouts, the stimulus, and Obamacare.

At several points in her endorsement speech, Palin decried “the establishment,” a term that became popular in response to Republicans and Democrats cooperating to prop up Wall Street banks after the 2008 financial crash. Palin supporters, by and large, vehemently opposed the bailouts.

Did Trump? When the time came to choose between the Tea Party activists and his friends in the New York/Washington corridor, Trump chose the latter.

Donald Trump was no Rick Santelli. Trump was for the $700 billion bailout program, which is as establishment as it gets. He was for the subsequent auto bailout, too.

President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill? Yep. You betcha. Trump was for that.

Obamacare? Sure, Trump says he wants to repeal it, but his plan only seems to involve more government. “I’m going to take care of everybody…the government’s gonna pay for it,” he has previously said. Thousands of people protested against Obamacare in 2009, joining together in our nation’s Capital that March. Trump, most likely, would have been welcomed on the stage. But Trump wasn’t there. In fact, Trump wasn’t anywhere to be seen or heard from around that time -- When it mattered.

So, again, what has Donald Trump done for Sarah Palin?

The former Alaskan governor also promised Trump would stand up to “special interests” if he becomes president. Well, wouldn’t now be a wonderful time for Trump to start?

There is only one special interest in Iowa, where Trump and Palin rallied together last night: ethanol. Instead of pledging to put an end to the federal subsidies and the mandates controlling that industry, Trump has blasted  his rival Ted Cruz for having the audacity to do just that.

Trump isn’t going to stop the influence of special interests; he is the special interest.

Trump has lavished political donations upon big wig Democratic politicians such as Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid,  Chris Dodd, Teddy Kennedy, Anthony Weiner, Charles Schumer, Charlie Rangel, and others. He’s also poured money into organizations dedicated to electing Democrats, such as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Yes, Trump has donated to Republicans, too, but that only underscores the notion that he uses donations to buy access with no real principles, save for his own financial ones, attached to the transaction.

Up until 2011, the majority of Trump’s generous donations went to Democrats. That means during the bailouts, during the stimulus, during the wretched fight over Obamacare, Trump was funding the Democrats. Helping them stay in power. Supporting them with his cold, hard cash as they passed these travesties into law.

Please tell me, what has Donald Trump done for Sarah Palin?

As a businessman-turned politician, Trump eagerly threatens litigation against those who disagree with him, without a second thought about the First Amendment, and using lawyers as his foot soldiers to protect his prestige and privilege. He’s threatened the Club for Growth for running negative ads about his record and just this week, a Washington Post reporter who wrote about a New Jersey casino he drove into bankruptcy.

Trump has shown no regard for property rights with his support of eminent domain, even attempting to use it, unsuccessfully, to force a widow out of her home in order to build a private parking lot for limousines.

More recently, however, he’s shown an arrogant willingness to tell private enterprise where it may do business. As president, Trump boasted, he would force Apple and Ford Motor Company to build their products in the United States.

This isn’t the behavior one expects from a consistent conservative; it’s what’s expected from a dictator.

Palin is free to endorse anyone she likes. Trump is a successful businessman who has done many things for many people, but it’s awfully hard to see what he’s done for Sarah Palin.

The Arena