Monday, July 6, 2009

Obligatory post on La Palin

I feel like I have to address the Palin resignation, but I think the emerging consensus is largely correct: it's an inscrutable move by a borderline deranged woman who thinks that she can do literally anything to advance her ambitions, and that the resignation torpedoes any chance she has of actually beating Barack Obama in 2012. Okay, maybe others aren't being this blunt. Still, I have at times made several predictions about the next few years of politics, and I feel that they're still good ones (click on the tag below for more):
  1. Sarah Palin will be the 2012 nominee.
  2. At some point during the process of getting there, she will have a full-on breakdown (I think we've just seen one, but there may be more in the future). She cannot handle the pressure.
  3. This will cause the remaining reasonable conservatives to abandon Palin, and vast chunks of the center-right apparatus will abandon the race rather than be associated with Palin, essentially mirroring the circumstances of the 1972 presidential election. I suspect that the GOP's division after the election will be roughly analogous to the Democrats' back then.
  4. Charlie Crist gets the GOP nomination in 2016.
So, we're roughly on track for my predictions. I guess the most dubious one at this point is the first one. Can Palin still secure the nomination? I don't think she can beat Obama if she does. Putting up a loose cannon against the embodiment of Spock seems destined to fail (just like it did in 2008) and Obama would simply wipe the floor with her in debates. I mean, she couldn't out-debate Joe Biden, and Obama is of an even higher caliber than that. Palin lacks anything other than the support of a significant, fervent band of devotees, and I suspect that a Palin vs. Obama race would break records when it came to popular vote differences.

This being said, I don't think it's impossible that she'd get the nomination. Her acolytes simply don't care about such considerations as electability, and the grassroots support means lots of activists and a potentially strong grassroots network similar to Obama's in 2008. There was never a point where Obama led Clinton by more than a few points in the polls after the campaign reached its terminal stage, but from March on there was no way he could lose. This was because he and his supporters outhustled Clinton, plain and simple. Of course, Obama also had a top-notch team of logicians, which I don't think Palin will have (I basically agree with Mike Tomasky here). It seems to me that the biggest fight for 2012 will be between Palin and Huckabee. Romney is a natural target for Palin's resentments, but even if he gets out of the race it seems doubtful that Romney's country-club supporters will flock to Palin, while Huckabee's might. All three were roughly even in the polling the last time I checked, but it seems as though Huckabee and Palin have roughly similar profiles and attract roughly similar types of voters, and with both of them splitting those voters it's possible that Romney might squeak through.

And, on a related topic, I basically agree with these guys on Ross Douthat's latest column. You'd think that an upper-middle class, Harvard undergrad, New York Times op-ed columnist would avoid hackery about cultural signifiers about class, but you'd be wrong. It's not that I don't believe that there is cultural elitism, or that it's a bad thing, but I just don't think that (a) Palin's class or sex had much to do with her failure--if that were it, her facility at playing the reverse snobbery and sexist cards would have pulled her through, and (b) I simply don't think that Douthat has all that much insight into what "Middle America" thinks when he thinks Palin is huge over there, while President Obama won every state in the Midwest except for Missouri (and that was defeat by a razor-thin margin). Reminds me of Geraldine Ferraro's pitch about only Clinton being able to win Reagan Democrats--because who better to know how to do that than the person who lost them in the first place, right? It's not a completely bad column--it's sure as hell better than Kristol's usual sludge--but it sure seems like Douthat's hedging a lot these days, pretty much ever since he went from being a fairly obscure Atlantic blogger to being a prominent Times writer. He's gone from being an observer to being a player, basically. And I totally, totally understand this transformation, and Douthat at least has some scruples and principles, but I guess I feel that something's been lost in the transition between blog and column. He's establishment now.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.