Friday, October 31, 2008


We haven't even gotten through this year's election, much less the next four years, but I think some Democrats are already feeling unusually confident about 2012. They're thinking we'll have a President Obama, and four years from now he'll be facing the person who's greatly impressed many of the prominent conservatives planning to gather soon to strategize about the GOP's future, the person seen by many as the future of the party -- Sarah Palin.

But will this really happen if Obama wins next week? Alas, I doubt it.

It certainly looks as if running her would be a suicidal move on the GOP's part:

A growing number of voters have concluded that Senator John McCain's running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, is not qualified to be vice president, weighing down the Republican ticket in the last days of the campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month. Nearly a third of voters polled said the vice-presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their vote for president, and those voters broadly favor Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee....

But there are still too many Republicans out there who know too much about winning elections for me to believe that they're just going to hand us their most beatable candidate on a silver platter. I have to assume that these people know how to read polls and know they have to stop her.

Granted, 2012 won't be 2000. Back then the ideal candidates of the wingnut and Christianist purists were the likes of Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer. They weren't well known (as Palin is) or well organized (as Palin will surely be in four years if she chooses to run), so it wasn't hard to beat them with a candidate who could coopt their message, appeal to moderates and moderate conservatives, and raise real money, i.e., George W. Bush.

That's the principal task for the more level-headed Republicans in 2012 if they're facing President Obama: to find a Sarah Palin who isn't, er, Sarah Palin, a Sarah Palin Lite, with credibility. They know they have to appeal to the crazy base -- they saw how uninspiring a Palin-less McCain was to the hard core -- but they know they can't just appeal to the crazy base. I can't believe smart Republicans won't recognize all that and make it their life's work.

So I suspect we're going to see ever nastier stories (and unsubstantiated rumors) about Palin, either in the immediate future or a couple of years from now, unearthed by anti-Palin Republicans trying to stop her rise. Republicans are, after all, pretty good at that kind of thing.

I'd love to believe it'll be Palin in 2012. But I think they'll take her down before then.

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