Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Palin the Weak, ctd.

With the AP finally calling the Colorado Senate race for Mike Bennet, we now have merely another example of a botched attempt by Sarah Palin to influence an election. In fact, most of her high-profile endorsees (Tancredo being the most recent) lost elections that another candidate might well have won. Absent Palin, the Republicans might well have won the Senate, and I would perhaps be gritting my teeth about Senator Jane Norton, Senator Sue Lowden, Senator Tom Campbell, etc. She couldn't even get her own crony elected to the Senate in her own state! Palin showed several traits--notably poor judgment of character and ignorance of the state of the electorate--that cost the GOP real life stakes. You might think that this would wake up a number of Palin supporters and let them wonder if Palin really has what it takes to run a successful presidential campaign.

I very highly doubt that thought will cross their minds.

In fact, I think that Palin will use the media stories about Republicans fretting about her to her advantage. Why did so many of her candidates come up short? Media sabotage! Why do senior Republicans worry about a Palin run? Because they're afraid of her shattering the establishment boys' club! She is already running, and the two or three themes she has will probably be enough to dispense with most problems. Questions about her initial support for TARP and taxing oil companies will likely be harder to answer, but I'm sure any explanation will either bear a strong resemblance to her other two lines of attack, or will be completely incomprehensible. Not that it matters to her fans! What's more, every article written about her bad endorsements or how much other Republicans fret about her candidacy will only strengthen her position, instead of hurting it. Republicans are not wild about their establishment right now, a position that is likely to intensify once Boehner and his crew aren't able to deliver on what they promised. I can easily see Palin drawing sympathy from otherwise skeptical voters out of shared disdain for the Republican establishment, which is only likely to be assisted by her main rival being the uber-establishmentarian Mitt Romney, a man who, incidentally, has little compunction with employing slashing, personal attacks on his opponents. The sorts of attacks that might make Republican primary voters get angry at mean old Mitt, I'm thinking.

At this point, while I can't say I'd prefer Palin winning the nomination due to some nominal chance of her victory, I think there would be certain advantages to that state of affairs. I think it would certainly revive Democratic enthusiasm for 2012 and would probably send the indies back to Obama. I think Palin as president is simply unthinkable to a very large segment of the population, even a fair number of Republicans, and it would probably open the door to a third-party "centrist" candidacy (perhaps by Mike Bloomberg), that would mostly siphon center-right votes from Palin. But in a larger sense, a Palin loss to Obama (and particularly a really bad Palin loss, like 60-40 for example) would simply be devastating to the right-wing fringe to such an extent that they would probably never recover. As someone who holds out hope for a Republican Party that isn't dominated by venal, nutty people, I think a Palin run is the most plausible, quickest path there. After all, if Romney loses, Rush and Fox will just blame his prior moderation. But they couldn't well do that with Palin, could they?

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.