Thursday, November 06, 2008


Steve Benen is flagging this post from Erick Erickson of RedState, one of the top outposts of crazy-base GOP thinking -- and while it's aimed at campaign staffers, I think a potential 2012 GOP candidate may also get caught in the crosshairs:

RedState is pleased to announce it is engaging in a special project: Operation Leper.

We're tracking down all the people from the McCain campaign now whispering smears against Governor Palin to Carl Cameron and others. Michelle Malkin has the details.

We intend to constantly remind the base about these people, monitor who they are working for, and, when 2012 rolls around, see which candidates hire them. Naturally then, you'll see us go to war against those candidates.

It is our expressed intention to make these few people political lepers....

Erickson names a few "lepers," none of them Romneyites -- but, as I said in an earlier post, there's a belief on the right (or at least in some corners) that ex-Romney staffers are dishing a lot of the dirt on Palin. Erickson himself pointed fingers at Romneyites late last month:

When I was in St. Paul for the Republican Convention, more than a dozen people told me acolytes of Mitt Romney were feeding all the stories to the media portraying Palin in a negative light.

In fact, I heard that one of the biggest pushers of anti-Palin stories, including encouraging reporters to pursue the "Trooper-gate" story was Romney spokesman Kevin Madden....

These days it is hard to miss Kathleen Parker's savage attacks on Sarah Palin. She ... [was] also some of the first pundits in bed with the Romney campaign in 2007/8.

At this moment, however, it is absolutely clear -- there is an effort, organized or not, by supporters of Mitt Romney to harm the reputation of Governor Sarah Palin....

(Erickson did add that he thinks Romney himself isn't part of this effort and would "be extremely disappointed to find this out.")

This could be an interesting turn. When Mitt Romney withdrew from the '08 race in a blistering culture-war speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference, he was hailed as a right-wing hero; his speech, as we were reminded a couple of days ago by The American Spectator's Robert Stacy McCain, literally brought tears to the eyes of the right-wing zealots in attendance. And elsewhere on the right, there's talk of a Mitt/Sarah pairing for 2012 (a widely disseminated column in wingnuttia is titled "Looking Forward to 2012: Palin-Romney, or Romney-Palin?")

But now influential voices in the base are looking around for heretics -- and Romney's supporters may be among them.

Instead of finishing Palin off, the whispering campaign against her might just make her more popular among GOP loyalists -- and, to the extent that Romneyites are involved, might make Romney a pariah to the base. This is a party that's likely to have fewer and fewer non-zealots in the future, so respect for the 'Cuda may be a litmus test, one that Romney fails.

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