PALIN: MEET THE NEW PARTY BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD PARTY BOSS
I think Frank Rich is really on target in today's New York Times -- he argues that Sarah Palin is primarily looking out for her own future, which, she very much believes, includes the presidency, either (literally) over John McCain's dead body or in a future election year (and she's joined in this belief by a lot of Republicans):
...there's a steady unnerving undertone to Palin's utterances, a consistent message of hubristic self-confidence and hyper-ambition. She wants to be president, she thinks she can be president, she thinks she will be president. And perhaps soon. She often sounds like someone who sees herself as half-a-heartbeat away from the presidency. Or who is seen that way by her own camp, the hard-right G.O.P. base that never liked McCain anyway and views him as, at best, a White House place holder.
My one quibble with Rich concerns this:
We are not a nation of whiners, as Phil Gramm would have it, but the G.O.P. is now the party of whiners. That rebranding became official when Republican House leaders moaned that a routine partisan speech by Nancy Pelosi had turned their members against the bailout bill. As the stock market fell nearly 778 points, Barney Frank taunted his G.O.P. peers with pitch-perfect mockery: "Somebody hurt my feelings, so I will punish the country!"
... Palin is an antidote to the whiny Republican image that Frank nailed. Alaska's self-styled embodiment of Joe Sixpack is not a sulker, but a pistol-packing fighter.
But it's not either/or. Palin is a fighter, but she's also a huge whiner -- just about all she's done since the debate (apart from accusing Barack Obama of being a big commie) is whine about the mean old mainstream media "filter" that's allegedly prevented her from saying exactly what she wants to say to the American people, with exactly the amount of editing, or lack of editing, that she wants.
So she's a pugnacious whiner -- and that's classic GOP. That's an archetype that goes back at least to Richard Nixon.
I don't know how Republicans have pulled this off over the years, but they've managed to make people believe they're the tough ones even as they whinge about hippies and college professors and liberal journalists and overwweight documentary filmmakers who are being mean to them. It's baffling. Palin is doing it again, to the delight of the base.
I don't know if she can ride this all the way to the White House. I certainly hope not. But if she gets there, it won't be as a person who rolls with the punches. It'll be as someone who doesn't, and lets everyone know that, as aggressively as possible.