Thursday, October 23, 2008


My feeling about Marc Ambinder's "Palin in 2012" post is that it's probably what a lot of Republicans think will happen -- and should happen -- four years from now, but 2012 is a long way away and we should all recall Gore and Lieberman's status as front-runners for 2004 before placing any bets.


There's a suspicion in some McCain loyalist precincts that Gov. Sarah Palin is beginning to play the Republican base against John McCain -- McCain won't let her campaign in Michigan...McCain won't let her bring up Jeremiah Wright... McCain doesn't like her terrorist pal talks....

Think ahead to 2010...2011...2012.

Palin is ambitious. Very ambitious.

I agree with the last two sentences; I'm not sure about that first paragraph. If it's happening, I think Palin and some McCain-Palin campaign staffers are working against McCain on those issues. I think it's a far-from-unified group, and when certain decisions are made, not all the McCainiacs are with the program. And when they question a decision (on Wright or Michigan, say), they play that familiar childhood game: "If Dad says no, ask Mom."

And if she wants the job, she's easily the frontrunner to become THE voice of the angry Right in the Wilderness. She is a favorite of talk radio and Fox News conservatives, and speaks their language as only a true member of the club can. (Her recent Limbaugh interview was full of dog whistles that any Dittohead would recognize. Including her actual use of the word ditto.)

All true. But who knows what the GOP will want or need in 2012, assuming Obama is elected this year? Right now it looks as if the GOP after this election will be reduced to its wingnutty base. But maybe, finally, the GOP will listen to its pull-back-from-the-fringe wannabe reformers.

A lot depends on what the narrative of the next four years is. How long does the economic downturn last? What's going on in international relations? What are people upset about, and who's being blamed? That future is unwritten.

Palin will have plenty of time to become fluent on national issues. She will easily benefit from the low expectations threshhold, and will probably even garner positive reviews from the MSM types who disparage her today.

I think Kristol and Barnes and the other insiders who are besotted with Palin will try to get her up to speed -- she'll be offered think-tank positions and smart young righties to help her pen op-eds. (No, I don't think she's going to try to stay in her little job in her Podunk state now that she's seen the bright lights.) But I'm with TBogg on this: does one become not a national joke? Sarah Palin is more Dan Quayle than she is Richard Nixon even if she shares and possibly rivals Nixon's vindictive streak. It's entirely possible that two years from now, when people think of Sarah Palin, the little projector in their heads will run Tina Fey videos.

Ambinder believes that she will have become more fluent on national issues, but she has shown very little ability to demonstrate or articulate a deep understanding on any topic possibly because she is enamored with her own cuteness and still believes that she can soundbite her way through policy discussions. She may be able to charm her way through a debate in Alaska but she never had to face a Romney, that creepy Bobby Jindal, or even Rick Santorum if Jeebus tells him his time is now.

As an ex-aide put it, "She's not going to pore over briefing books and charts and white papers and reports for hours and hours. She knows how to connect with people, and it's like, 'Give me bullet points and I'll run with it.'" Maybe, in a year when people think eveything's going pretty well, voters say, what the hell, let's take a chance on a candidate like that -- see, e.g., 2000. But even then, Bush needed to fake more gravitas, and more command of the issues, than I suspect Palin ever will.

I think a lot of Republicans will want Palin -- but I think their polls four years from now will show that, for most Americans, she's still Ms. "I Can See Russia from My House!" So they'll use her as an ATM -- they'll send her around the country to raise money,. They'll also deploy her to stir up crowds in the 2010 midterms. But they may read the polls and look for someone else who has Palin's positions but none of her baggage That's basically what the religious right did in 2000 -- they chose Bush, not Alan Keyes.

I don't know if she's even going to stay in politics. I think she'll get a seven-figure book deal as soon as this election is over, from a right-wing imprint like Mary Matalin's Threshold or a religious publisher with success in secular bookstores (say, Tyndale or the Murdoch-owned Zondervan). If 1% of McCain-Palin voters buy her book, she can have a #1 bestseller (half a million copies would be do the trick), and I think she'd have huge crowds at her appearances.

Who knows what she'd do after that? Cable TV? Right-wing talk radio? Don't laugh -- when she does the cramming her own way, she doesn't garble her sentences all that much. She might never go back to electoral politics -- the money and fame this way might be greater.

And she's certainly had more relevant experience for a career like that than she has for the presidency...

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