"What McCain misses in his article is that liberal journalists actually take great delight in the Palin phenomenon. Yes, of course, they don’t want to see her in power, but I think they do want to see her prosper and thrive as the face of the Republican Party. An American right led by or identified with Palin is one that they can very easily ridicule and discredit, and at the same time they can be confident that a Palinized GOP poses no threat to anything they value."Some liberal journalists and bloggers want to see this. Most partisan-left types, perhaps. Others, like Steve Benen and myself, would much rather see a mainstream, serious Republican Party. The reasoning is simple. No party holds onto power for too long in our system. Right now, the GOP is entirely off its rocker, but if the economy gets much worse it might find itself in power, anyway, albeit completely lacking the tools to engage on the issues. As a Democrat I would naturally prefer that the Democrats always be in power, because I prefer their ideas to the Republicans'. However, as an American who wants the best for my country, I am well aware that a Democratic majority is only an economic slump away from becoming a Republican majority, and therefore I have as much stake in there being a viable Republican Party waiting in the wings as anyone else, because I want America to be as well-governed as possible. And having a smart, engaged Republican opposition also helps when the Democrats are in power, as they could theoretically engage in constructive criticism designed to make the majority's policies better.
But it's pretty obvious that we don't have anything like that kind of Republican Party at this point. Instead of rethinking the ideas that led to the Bush disaster, the Republicans have doubled down on those very ideas. There is sometimes a kernel of truth in their complaints about Obama, but it's mostly just populist nonsense designed to make President Obama and the Democrats politically toxic. I'd much prefer a right led by 2005-vintage Mitt Romney to one lead by Sarah Palin, to answer Larison's remark specifically, but it's at least possible that Palin could lead the Republicans into utter catastrophe and oblivion by running solely on her culture warrior antics, and therefore bring about some creative destruction for the Republicans by discrediting the Teabagger types and letting some different folks seize power. This did happen in 1972, where George McGovern's loss led the way toward the subsequent shift of the Democrats toward the center, but I'm more skeptical of it happening with today's Republicans, as backlash and culture warrior nonsense seems to me to be the substance of the conservative movement, rather than an unfortunate symptom. Most Republicans tend to support this backlash stuff in a way that was never true of Democrats and "New Leftism". I can see the case, though I'd just as soon they picked someone else.