It’s been the mainstream media template for some time that Sarah Palin cannot win in the general election against Barack Obama, and ‘wise’ Republicans ought to nominate somebody more palatable to so-called ‘independents.’ This thesis is a fraud, and a hoax, repeatedly played out over the last few decades, as a way to both neuter Republicans and also to minimize the damage to the ‘progressive’ agenda should the Republican nominee win. It’s time to speak plainly about it, and put the nonsense to rest, and conduct an honest assessment of the field. First, a little Republican presidential nomination history is in order:
In 1979, such luminaries of the DC Beltway intelligentsia as George Will were picking Howard Baker to win the nomination although he confessed he thought Carter would be difficult to defeat. So much for the lousy prognostications of George Will, who viewed Reagan as ‘too old,’ and ‘too folksy,’ and ‘too much a part of those people.’ (Those people being we in fly-over country.)
In the 1980s, Charles Krauthammer, now every lefty’s favorite ‘conservative,’ was a speech-writer for Walter Mondale. He thought Reagan an incompetent rube. I wonder how Mr. Krauthammer felt when Reagan captured 49 of 50 states, excepting only Mr. Mondale’s home state of Minnesota, and the District of Columbia, with a slim margin of only 3800 votes more for Mondale in Minnesota. Yes, it was really that close to being a 50 state sweep for Reagan.
The problem the Republican party has been experiencing arises not from its conservative wing, but from its muddied, mealy-mouthed moderate wing. The DC establishment tolerates those Republicans who are willing to throw conservatives under the bus. Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and other party ‘mavericks’ are always the go-to Republicans the media seeks to interview.
It is likewise true that the Democrats are always only too happy to offer advice to Republicans on which candidate they might put forward will ‘stand a chance’ of winning. Invariably, the recommendations by Democrats to Republicans consist of liberal, establishment Republicans who can be relied upon by Democrats to compromise the Republican party platform at every turn. As a strategy, this has served Democrats quite well since Reagan, and excepting only Reagan, since Hoover. Only thrice in post-“Roaring Twenties” elections have conservatives managed to get their own favored candidates to the general: Goldwater in ’64, and Reagan in ’80 and ’84. Every other Republican nominee in that period has been a Democrats’ back-up plan if they would happen to lose. Among them, which was an actual conservative? Bush(I or II)? McCain? Dole? Ford? Nixon? Nixon again? Ike? Dewey, Landon, Wilkie, or Hoover? None on this list were actual conservatives. They were Republican establishment candidates, least obnoxious to the ‘Progressive’ agenda of the left.
In 2008, the GOP nominated John McCain, a Senator long-opposed to the conservative wing of his party, and long-favoured by the media culture in DC. Of course, they weren’t about to support him over Obama, but they would support him in defeating any remotely conservative candidates the Republicans might nominate.
Now, three years later, the Republican establishment is trotting out the same sorry class of candidates, typified by Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Jon Huntsman. They’ve even pushed Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels. All of these should be summarily dismissed by actual conservatives.
None of them can win, barring some extraordinary mis-step by Barack Obama, and even a floundering economy won’t help these win in 2012.
So who does that leave? Well, that narrows the field a good deal, and it leaves you with some non-traditional candidates some of which are good, and a few of which are exceptional. Ron Paul is a nice man, and would be a great candidate in a world dominated by peace-loving folk. Unfortunately, his stubborn resistance to the realization that the US is under constant threat prevents him from ever rising to serious contention. His greatest virtue is that he is consistent with his principles. His greatest failing is that his principles won’t permit him to act responsibly in protecting the United States and its vital interests.
Gary Johnson is similarly libertarian. In truth, I don’t know why he runs as a Republican at all. He’s not conservative in any sense, and his whining over not being asked enough questions in the first GOP debate was enough to discard him as self-absorbed. Rick Santorum can’t carry Pennsylvania, his home state, in a state-wide election that was incredibly difficult. What makes anybody think he can defeat Obama in what is sure to be at least equally difficult conditions? There is some mention of Rick Perry, governor of Texas, and he indeed has a fairly solid record of controlling or even reducing the growth of government. Unfortunately, he possesses only slightly more charisma than a rocking chair. That, combined with the fact that he’s from Texas, with the memory of George Bush-the-younger so firmly in the memory of the nation, is probably the kiss of death for any Perry candidacy.
Herman Cain is an interesting candidate, but he suffers a significant flaw: While he’s a skilled speaker, a business expert, and a crowd favorite, the problem with Mr. Cain was revealed when asked his opinion on a Palestinean “right to return.” He didn’t know what it is. If you’re in your 60s, and you’re seeking the office of President, you ought to know what this is all about, and the fact that you don’t means you’ve not been thoroughly engaged in following the political issues facing the world.
Then there are the ladies. Michelle Bachmann has a tremendous gift as a politician, but she’s a better legislator and policy wonk than she is a leader. While she is decidedly a conservative, and gets kudos from Tea-Party members, she lacks the skills of leading people from diverse interests through tough, divisive issues. Over her years in Congress, she has slowly become more like those she seeks to defeat. She’s also hired Ed Rollins as a campaign consultant, which means she doesn’t recognize a loser when she sees one. His last electoral achievement was getting Christine Todd Whitman elected governor of New Jersey. Are you conservatives ‘wowwed’ yet? Hardly.
This leaves Sarah Palin. Sarah is a favorite among Tea-Party types, which includes not only a fair slice of the Republican conservative base, but also a nifty subset of the ‘independents’ or ‘moderates’ who think Obama and Washington DC are out of control. Sarah, however, comes with a few more pluses than the others: She started as a school-board member. She got involved in politics in order to improve her local community. She wasn’t born to outrageous wealth, meaning that she understands the difficulty of raising and maintaining a family in our nation. She knows the hardships of life. She’s received no special dispensations from the establishment on high in DC. She is truly an outsider.
Sarah Palin is an expert at conducting media operations. She knows how to use emerging media like Facebook and Twitter to her inestimable advantage. Sarah doesn’t merely speak to her audiences, but engages them. She is able to capture their imaginations, and make them feel at ease. She remembers names and faces with ease, and works a crowd better than virtually any other living politician.
Consider her recent trip to New Hampshire. She essentially stole Romney’s announcement show by merely showing up. The media portrays her as an airhead, so she said she hadn’t meant to steal Romney’s thunder. I think if she’s especially smart, she’ll work out a way for her tour to be on hand for for Michelle Bachmann’s announcement, set some time this month in Iowa. If Palin’s as smart as I think she is, particularly given Rollins’ recent attacks on her, she will find a way to steal Bachmann’s thunder too, before announcing, or perhaps while announcing her own candidacy.
The moment Sarah Palin announces, a number of Republican fence-sitters will jump directly into her campaign, particularly rank-and-file members.
I think if she plays her cards right, she can sail to the GOP nomination without difficulty, so superior a candidate is she.
People ask me the tough question about Sarah Palin: “Okay, so even if she can win the Republican party nomination, doesn’t she wind up like Barry Goldwater in ’64, judged ‘too extreme’ for America?” This is the chief concern I hear, along with: “The Democrats lie and cheat and have most of the media in their pockets. They’ll do anything to help Obama across the finish line.”
Both of these are valid concerns, but now I’m going to tell you why they won’t matter, and they’re nothing to fear: Sarah Palin, should she enter the race, will begin a great pursuit of Barack Obama. She will show up everywhere, and will chase Obama all over the country, while making it appear that she’s the one being pursued. She will challenge every stupifying remark of this President, and all of his advocates and shills in the media. She will challenge the underlying arguments, and she will do it in a manner uniquely Sarah.
Obama’s record has more holes than Swiss cheese. If Sarah Palin makes this campaign about Obama’s record, and makes that stick, she will punish the Democrats. She could win 50 States in 2012. She will need to push the envelope. Palin is an all-or-nothing sort of candidate, and she knows it. If she’s going to go, she’ll put herself in the midst of enemy fire in a way no Republican has done since Reagan. She means it. She’s not playing games, but she does keep score. If Palin runs, it will be an all-out war, and there will be no retreats and no surrenders.
Most of all, these things combine with one other factor, simple but necessary to a Palin victory: She’s one of us. She’s one of our own. She feels the pain and misery of the Obama Depression. She knows the real meaning of the liberty we’re losing. She enjoys being among us, genuinely, because she is one of us, and of us. This is the reason the left and the media so viciously attack her: Sarah Palin is the voodoo doll for the lefty hatred of conservatives in particular, and America generally.
There’s a reason many conservatives really get their hackles raised when they hear the latest attack on Palin. They know it’s really an attack on them. This creates a real bond between a leader and those who they seek to lead. If Palin recognizes this, and I think she does, and capitalizes upon this fact of American politics, she will chase Obama out of office with gusto.
It’s time to discard the establishment view of the Republican nomination, and the media conventions regarding who can win. We already know. So do they. That’s why they’re working so tirelessly to convince you otherwise.