The GOP has a Palin Problem
The National Journal conducted a poll of 109 Republican Party leaders, asking them to “rank 5 candidates in the order of likeliness to capture the GOP nod.” That former MA Governor Mitt Romney topped the lists of those polled with 81 points, 62 per-cent of which were first place votes, is unsurprising. Were it not for half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s poor showing (25 points) it probably wouldn’t be worth talking about.
Not one of the party leaders or pundits polled selected Palin to top their list. Taking into account the ideological nature of her supporters — distrustful of government, adherents to the myth of a liberal media, and, most importantly, a profound disdain for the GOP elite — this was the best outcome Palin could have hoped for.
Talented FiveThirtyEight.com political prognosticator, Nate Silver, likes Palin’s chances to win 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Silver posted “10 reasons that Palin Could Win,” last Nov. 18. In his Jan. 7 reaction to the Insider’s Poll, Silver reiterated his number eight reason from last year:
…If the Establishment, owing to electability concerns or whatever else, tries to put hurdles in her way by re-structuring the primary or delegate allocation process, it may only play into the victimization complex of Palin and her supporters.
Silver’s commentary is apt, and though the poll doesn’t represent any direct effort to “neuter” Palin’s potential candidacy, that doesn’t mean they wont (see video, below). “Although the Establishment’s concerns about Palin’s viability as a general election candidate are well grounded,” Silver notes, “mostly they’re just terrified of her because she doesn’t need them. “
It might be wiser for establishment Republicans to remain hands-off, and wait for Palin to self destruct. Her supporters have proven themselves willing to keep their blinders on, content to cling to the dazzling façade rolled out at the 2008 Republican National Convention. However, Palin’s high visibility — albeit, NEVER in a critical forum — increases the probability of a politically fatal mistake.
Indeed, she may have already made it. I’m not referring to Palin’s recent doubling down on her “death panel” analysis of health care reform efforts in Washington – a turn of phrase awarded “Lie of the Year” for 2009 by Politifact.com, Pulitzer winner in that same year. Palin’s deceit in this matter will go unnoticed by her supporters.
However, Palin’s snubbing of the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has got much attention. Much more interesting is her commitment to speak at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Feb. 4-6.
Muriel Kane posted an excellent summary about how different factions are reacting to Palin’s curious positioning at RawStory.com, Jan. 8.
Missed opportunity, simple greed, or shrewd calculation? Only time will tell the real meaning of Sarah Palin’s Tea Party gambit.
Another aspect that has, thus far, received little attention from the media pertains to whom Palin will share the stage with at the Tea Party Convention. Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America Eric Boehlert posed the question in a Jan. 9 post: “Will the press question the ‘Palin – Farah’ ticket?”
The Beltway press still refuses to raise questions about Palin’s decision to attend the first annual Tea Party convention in Nashville next month and share the stage with a fringe radical like Joseph Farah, who is an avowed gay and Muslim-hating extremist, and whose wingnut publication, [World Net Daily], remains obsessed with the loony, and thoroughly debunked, conspiracy claim that Obama was not born in America.
Of course, Kane was correct – only time will tell how this will play out. There is a long way to go, but the potential for Palin to become the 2012 GOP nominee still exists. So, too, does another outcome which I suggested the day Palin announced her resignation as Governor of Alaska:
If Palin does still have national aspirations, her only hope of success (in her mind, mind you) would be to position herself at the head of some third-party, the radical right-wing of the GOP finally throwing off its remaining moderate faction.
- David Weigel, “Is Palin Getting $100,000 to Speak at the Tea Party National Convention.” WashintonIndependent.com, 7 January 2010.
- Here’s a teaser for the Jan. 10 ‘60 Minutes‘ segment on Sarah Palin:
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Image from flickr.com user, geerlingguy - by way of CreativeCommons.org