The White House expects Jon Huntsman, the U.S. Ambassador to China, to resign his post this spring to explore a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, top Democrats said.
GOP allies of Huntsman have already begun laying plans for a quick-start campaign should the former Utah governor decide to enter the ill-defined Republican field.
While Huntsman has no direct involvement in it, a group of operatives that could eventually comprise his strategy team has set up an entity called “Horizon PAC” to serve as a placeholder for his political apparatus.
President Obama was asked about rumors of Huntsman’s departure earlier this month at a joint press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao, where Huntsman sat front row, center.
“I couldn’t be happier with the ambassador’s service, and I’m sure he will be very successful in whatever endeavors he chooses in the future,” the president said.
With a mischievious smile, the president added: ““And I’m sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary.”
At the Gridiron dinner Saturday night, White House Chief of Staff William Daley joked that President Obama “has no hard feelings,” a White House source noted. “He just did an interview with the Tea Party Express about how integral he has been to the success of the Obama administration.”
Politico reports that the White House is bracing itself for a potential breaking in the ranks should US Ambassador to China and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman resign and decide to take on the President in 2012.
But could they just be saving face? It could be that the optics of a member of the Obama team leaving to challenge him looks just too damaging – so they’re playing it off as if they expect. Who knows.
For Mr. Obama, whose advisers already have their eyes set on his re-election in 2012, the selection of Mr. Huntsman is something of a political coup. He has emerged as one of the nation’s most visible Republican governors and was expected to at least consider seeking his party’s presidential nomination to run against Mr. Obama….
It was far from certain whether Mr. Huntsman would have actually sought the Republican presidential nomination – his centrist views could have created a challenge in early-voting states – but if he is confirmed by the Senate for the ambassadorship to China, he is part of the Obama team at a time when China is of critical importance. And he is out of the mix in the 2012 presidential race.
“When the president of the United States asks you to step up and serve in a capacity like this, that to me is the end of the conversation and the beginning of the obligation to rise to the challenge,” said Mr. Huntsman, who was joined by his wife Mary Kaye, and the couple’s seven children, one of whom was adopted from China….
“Governor Huntsman has respect for China’s proud traditions,” Mr. Obama said Saturday. “He understands what it will take to make America more competitive in the 21st century and will be an unstinting advocate for America’s interests and ideals…. I hope the good people of Utah will forgive me and understand how proud they should be of their governor for his willingness to serve… He always puts country ahead of himself. That’s what Jon has always done.”
So everyone knew what was going on. It was hailed as a savvy plan. What now? The savviest people are the one who can outfox somebody else’s savvy plan.
The White House strategists may have been too clever by half. Few people had heard of Huntsman outside of Utah in 2009. While Huntsman had a good center-right record in the state, he had not done much to build himself into a national brand. Since then, the political winds have blown far more favorably to conservatives within the GOP, which may have left Huntsman on the outside in any case. Now Hunstman has a much higher profile than he may otherwise have attained.
In fact, they may have done themselves more damage than good. Putting Huntsman in China would give him more credibility in foreign policy than just about any of the other presumed candidates in the GOP race except for John Bolton. Even if Huntsman doesn’t win the nomination, criticism of Obama’s “smart diplomacy” from within the fold — especially from the man who managed the key relationship with the nation that holds a large chunk of our debt — will do significant damage to Obama in a general election.
This looks like an effort to push Huntsman into resigning as soon as possible. The sooner Huntsman leaves, the sooner the White House can blame him for the failures in the US-China relationship over the last two years.
When the reports first came up, I laughed them off. But it’s striking now that Huntsman has failed to do the same. What I’d like to see — for the nation’s interest, and (in my view, but what do I know?) for Huntsman’s — is for him clearly to put them to rest. Says that of course he’s a Republican, and of course he’ll support the GOP ticket in 2012. But he’s doing the nation’s business now in Beijing, and doesn’t want to complicate that with all this political gossip. To me as armchair strategist, staying out of the 2012 fray would seem to save him a lot of heartache. Avoiding a primary fight in this bitter season, when he’s fresh off Team Obama; and, if he survived that, avoiding a general election battle when — one assumes — the economic cycle should be improving. If that economic assumption is wrong, everything else changes. But if that were the case and Obama seemed gravely weakened, I am not sure that makes a moderate, rather than a red-meat conservative, the most likely Republican candidate.
If Huntsman can’t say that, how can he stay? How is the Administration supposed to view the cables they get from him these “next few months”? Or the talks they have with him about Chinese policy on North Korea, the RMB, trade? It would be nice to hear Huntsman himself say, “This is all very flattering, and at the right time, but for now, we have important business here in China….” Just a thought.
… let me amplify something I said half-coherently in a live conversation with Guy Raz on All Things Considered a little while ago. My intended point was:
Shootings of political figures are by definition “political.” That’s how the target came to public notice; it is why we say “assassination” rather than plain murder.
But it is striking how rarely the “politics” of an assassination (or attempt) match up cleanly with the main issues for which a public figure has stood. Some killings reflect “pure” politics: John Wilkes Booth shooting Abraham Lincoln, the German officers who tried to kill Hitler and derail his war plans. We don’t know exactly why James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King, but it must have had a lot to do with civil rights.
There is a longer list of odder or murkier motives:
– Leo Ryan, the first (and, we hope, still the only) Representative to be killed in the line of duty, was gunned down in Guyana in 1978 for an investigation of the Jim Jones/Jonestown cult, not any “normal” political issue.
– Sirhan Sirhan horribly transformed American politics by killing Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, but Sirhan’s political causes had little or nothing to do with what RFK stood for to most Americans.
– So too with Arthur Bremer, who tried to kill George C. Wallace in 1972 and left him paralyzed.
– The only known reason for John Hinckley’s shooting of Ronald Reagan involves Jodie Foster.
– It’s not often remembered now, but Manson family member Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme tried to shoot Gerald Ford, again for reasons that would mean nothing to most Americans of that time.
– When Harry Truman was shot at (and a policeman was killed) on the sidewalk outside the White Blair House, the attackers were concerned not about Cold War policies or Truman’s strategy in Korea but about Puerto Rican independence.
– The assassinations of William McKinley and James Garfield were also “political” but not in a way that matched the main politics of that time. The list could go on.
So the train of logic is:
1) anything that can be called an “assassination” is inherently political;
2) very often the “politics” are obscure, personal, or reflecting mental disorders rather than “normal” political disagreements. But now a further step,
3) the political tone of an era can have some bearing on violent events. The Jonestown/Ryan and Fromme/Ford shootings had no detectable source in deeper political disagreements of that era. But the anti-JFK hate-rhetoric in Dallas before his visit was so intense that for decades people debated whether the city was somehow “responsible” for the killing. (Even given that Lee Harvey Oswald was an outlier in all ways.)
That’s the further political ramification here. We don’t know why the Tucson killer did what he did. If he is like Sirhan, we’ll never “understand.” But we know that it has been a time of extreme, implicitly violent political rhetoric and imagery, including SarahPac’s famous bulls-eye map of 20 Congressional targets to be removed — including Rep. Giffords. It is legitimate to discuss whether there is a connection between that tone and actual outbursts of violence, whatever the motivations of this killer turn out to be. At a minimum, it will be harder for anyone to talk — on rallies, on cable TV, in ads — about “eliminating” opponents, or to bring rifles to political meetings, or to say “don’t retreat, reload.”
The attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and the killing of six innocents outside a Tucson Safeway has bolstered the ongoing argument that when speaking of things political, we should all avoid using inflammatory rhetoric and violent imagery.
“Shooting Throws Spotlight on State of U.S. Political Rhetoric,” reports CNN. “Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics,” states the New York Times. Keith Olbermann clocked overtime on Saturday to deliver a commentary subtitled “The political rhetoric of the country must be changed to prevent acts of domestic terrorism.” The home page of the Washington Post offered this headline to its story about the shooting: “Rampage Casts Grim Light on U.S. Political Discord.”
The lead spokesman for the anti-inflammatory movement, however, was Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, whose jurisdiction includes Tucson. Said Dupnik at a Jan. 8 press conference in answer to questions about the criminal investigation:
I’d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they are—how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths, about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
Embedded in Sheriff Dupnik’s ad hoc wisdom were several assumptions. First, that strident, anti-government political views can be easily categorized as vitriolic, bigoted, and prejudicial. Second, that those voicing strident political views are guilty of issuing Manchurian Candidate-style instructions to commit murder and mayhem to the “unbalanced.” Third, that the Tucson shooter was inspired to kill by political debate or by Sarah Palin’s “target” map or other inflammatory outbursts. Fourth, that we should calibrate our political speech in such a manner that we do not awaken the Manchurian candidates among us.
And, fifth, that it’s a cop’s role to set the proper dimensions of our political debate. Hey, Dupnik, if you’ve got spare time on your hands, go write somebody a ticket.
Sheriff Dupnik’s political sermon came before any conclusive or even circumstantial proof had been offered that the shooter had been incited by anything except the gas music from Jupiter playing inside his head.
For as long as I’ve been alive, crosshairs and bull’s-eyes have been an accepted part of the graphical lexicon when it comes to political debates. Such “inflammatory” words as targeting, attacking, destroying, blasting, crushing, burying, knee-capping, and others have similarly guided political thought and action. Not once have the use of these images or words tempted me or anybody else I know to kill. I’ve listened to, read—and even written!—vicious attacks on government without reaching for my gun. I’ve even gotten angry, for goodness’ sake, without coming close to assassinating a politician or a judge.
From what I can tell, I’m not an outlier. Only the tiniest handful of people—most of whom are already behind bars, in psychiatric institutions, or on psycho-meds—can be driven to kill by political whispers or shouts. Asking us to forever hold our tongues lest we awake their deeper demons infantilizes and neuters us and makes politicians no safer.
So apparently a pretty stupid Sarah Palin poster from last year in which gunsights were slapped over 20 districts carried by John McCain from which the Democratic incumbent had voted for Obamacare, is now to be considered the inspiration for this atrocity. Mrs Palin has some influence, but let’s not get carried away. For what it’s worth – and readers know that I’m hardly her greatest fan – I do not think she is very much more responsible for this abomination than Jodie Foster was for John Hinckley’s attempt to murder Ronald Reagan. In any case, Palin’s poster was only a souped-up version of a campaign trope that both parties have been happy to employ in the past. (That said, Palin Presidential Futures, already worth shorting, took another dive yesterday.)
But the sordid temptations of politics are such that people who argue there’s little sensible connection between Hollywood “violence” and real-world violence now suddenly insist that it just takes a silly poster and plenty of over-heated rhetoric to inspire America’s Top Kooks to come out of the closet, all guns blazing. And of course the reverse is also true: people happy to blame Grand Theft Auto for just about anything now insist there’s no connection at all between the tone of political discourse (“Second Amendment Solutions!”) and some nut taking these notions just a little bit too seriously.
Clearly, things are a little more complicated than that. While you cannot legislate for lunatics there’s also little need to give them any encouragement. But the more we learn about Jared Loughner the more it seems probable – at this stage – that he’s the kind of mentally unstable person who neither needed nor took any inspiration from Palin or the Tea Party or anything other than powerful fantasies that were his own creation.
And this too is normal. Political violence of this type is almost definitionally unhinged but it’s striking how rare it turns out to be the case that the perpetrators can be fitted into one neat political profile or another. And even when they can their targets are frequently so at odds with the meaning of their supposed “philosophy” that trying to “make sense” of such matters becomes an even more frustrating task.
Anyway, we may think these are unusually turbulent times, fanned by unusual quantities of cheap and phoney populism, scaremongering and hysteria but this is not in fact the case. ‘Twas ever thus and the 1960s offer a perspective that might be worth looking at if only, despite all the huffing and puffing, to appreciate how calm and at peace America is these days. Remember McKinley and Garfield too, if you want to go still further back. America ain’t tearing itself apart these days, no matter how much Paul Krugman tries to persuade you it must be. The paranoid style has rarely lacked followers and, just as significantly, the centre has also always had a healthy paranoia of its own. Sometimes, as is the case today or in the aftermath of any other act of grim violence, this will seem unusually plausible.
Most of the time, however, the scare stories about a new era of Militiamen or whatever are seriously over-cooked. The temper of these American times – despite what you will read everywhere today and tomorrow – is not unusually rebarbative or even uncommonly obtuse. (What might be said, mind you, is that the level of rhetoric is out of proportion to the stakes involved in the political game these days.)
The fact of the matter is that a country of 300 million people cannot help but be generously larded with oddballs, freaks, paranoids and assorted other nutters. Couple that with the American genius for self-realization and you soon begin to wonder why there isn’t more politically-themed violence than is actually the case
We’re going to hear a lot of talk in the coming days about putting an end to anti-government rhetoric. I’ve been listening to it all morning on the Sunday talk shows. Let’s get the obvious out of the way, here: Initiating violence against government officials and politicians is wrongheaded, immoral, futile, and counterproductive to any anti-government cause. As is encouraging or praising others who do. I ban anyone who engages in that kind of talk here.
But it’s worth remembering that the government initiates violence against its own citizens every day in this country, citizens who pose no threat or harm to anyone else. The particular policy that leads to the sort of violence you see in these videos is supported by nearly all of the politicians and pundits decrying anti-government rhetoric on the news channels this morning. (It’s also supported by Sarah Palin, many Tea Party leaders, and other figures on the right that politicians and pundits are shaming this weekend.)
I hope Rep. Giffords—and everyone wounded yesterday—makes a full recovery. It’s particularly tragic that she was shot while doing exactly what we want elected officials to do—she was making herself available to the people she serves. And of course we should mourn the people senselessly murdered yesterday, government employees and otherwise: U.S. District Judge John Roll, Dorothy Murray, Dorwin Stoddard, nine-year-old Christina Green, Phyllis Scheck, and Gabe Zimmerman.
That said, I long for the day that our political and media figures get as indignant about innocent Americans killed by their own government—killed in fact, as a direct and foreseeable consequence of official government policy that nearly all of those leaders support—as they are about a government official who was targeted by a clearly sick and deranged young man. What happened this weekend is not, by any means, a reason to shunt anti-government protest, even angry anti-government protest, out of the sphere of acceptable debate. The government still engages in plenty of acts and policies—including one-sided violence against its own citizens—that are well worth our anger, protest, and condemnation.
There’s no question that the GOP and its proponents are more than ready to play a similar game. Any moral lapse by a Democrat, for instance, is an ethical rot that stems directly from the malefactor’s stance on the minimum wage or Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, say, while hypocrites such as Sen. Larry Craig and Tom DeLay are ethical one-offs. The most-unbelievable response in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was longterm GOP activist Jerry Falwell’s announcement on Pat Robertson’s TV network that gays and women wearing pants etc. were responsible for radical Islamists killing 3,000 people (even more sadly, years after Falwell apologized for his self-evidently retarded statement, conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza blew out the thesis into a full-length book). I’m not trying to be “fair and balanced” here by bringing up GOP stupidity; I’m trying to point out that we’re in a decade of this sort craptastic instantaneous spin that latches on to everything in its path. I say this as someone who was fingered as broadly responsible for the culture that produced “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh.
Readers of this site know I’m no Sarah Palin fan, but to accuse her of complicity in the murderous spree of a clearly insane person is one of the main reasons that partisan political parties are losing market share. I had myself tweeted that blaming Palin for Jared Loughner’s mass killing would be like blaming J.D. Salinger for Mark David Chapman shooting John Lennon (and as Jesse Walker pointed out, in Chapman’s case, at least we could be sure Chapman had read Salinger). Given Loughner’s fixation on grammar and the supposed lack of literacy evinced by most Americans, maybe William Safire and S.I. Hayakawa should be held responsible.
Like Matt Welch and Jack Shafer, I don’t think that today’s political rhetoric is particularly overheated or vitriolic and, even if it were, I don’t think that would be a problem. I suspect that most people are like me in that they respond to folks who actually believe something and are willing to fight for it when it comes to a particular political issue. I don’t like bipartisanship, which usually means that all of us get screwed, but it’s easy enough to respect someone you virulently disagree with if you think they are arguing in good faith.
The problem isn’t with the current moment’s rhetoric, it’s with the goddamn politicization of every goddamn thing not even for a higher purpose or broader fight but for the cheapest moment-by-moment partisan advantage. Whether on the left or on the right, there’s a totalist mentality that everything can and should be explained first and foremost as to whether it helps or hurt the party of choice.
That sort of clearly calculated punditry helps explain one of last week’s other big stories, which is how both the Dems and the GOP have really bad brand loyalty these days. In its most recent survey of political self-identification, Gallup found that the Dems were at their lowest point in 22 years and that the GOP remains stuck below the one-third mark. The affiliation that has the highest marks for the past couple of decades on average and is growing now is independent. Faced with the way that the major parties and their partisans try to bend every news story, trend, box office hit or bomb, you name it, whether truly horrific (as Saturday’s shooting was) or totally banal, is it any wonder that fewer people want to be affiliated with the Dems and Reps? This is a long-term trend. Indeed, Harris Poll numbers that stretch back to the late ’60s show the same trend: Fewer and few folks want to view themselves as Democrats and the GOP has never been popular (even though far more people consider themselves “conservative” than “liberal”). And note what Gallup are Harris are talking about there is not party registration. It’s identification and self-affiliation; how you see yourself. It’s a cultural identity.
At 2:00 a.m. on Saturday—about eight hours before he allegedly killed six people and wounded 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), in Tucson—Jared Lee Loughner phoned an old and close friend with whom he had gone to high school and college. The friend, Bryce Tierney, was up late watching TV, but he didn’t answer the call. When he later checked his voice mail, he heard a simple message from Loughner: “Hey man, it’s Jared. Me and you had good times. Peace out. Later.”
That was it. But later in the day, when Tierney first heard about the Tucson massacre, he had a sickening feeling: “They hadn’t released the name, but I said, ‘Holy shit, I think it’s Jared that did it.'” Tierney tells Mother Jones in an exclusive interview that Loughner held a years-long grudge against Giffords and had repeatedly derided her as a “fake.” Loughner’s animus toward Giffords intensified after he attended one of her campaign events and she did not, in his view, sufficiently answer a question he had posed, Tierney says. He also describes Loughner as being obsessed with “lucid dreaming”—that is, the idea that conscious dreams are an alternative reality that a person can inhabit and control—and says Loughner became “more interested in this world than our reality.” Tierney adds, “I saw his dream journal once. That’s the golden piece of evidence. You want to know what goes on in Jared Loughner’s mind, there’s a dream journal that will tell you everything.”
Liberals should stop acting like the Tea Party is guilty of inciting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting until proven innocent. That’s unfair. If someone finds evidence that violent anti-government, or anti-democratic, rhetoric helped trigger Jared Lee Loughner’s shooting spree, then the people making those statements should pay with their political careers. But so far, at least, there is no such evidence. Of course, Sarah Palin should stop using hunting metaphors to discuss her political opponents. She should stop doing that, and a dozen other idiotic things. But just as Tea Partiers are wrong to promiscuously throw around terms like “communist” and “death panels,” liberals should avoid promiscuously accusing people of being accessories to attempted murder. That’s too serious a charge to throw around unless you have the goods. I want Barack Obama to derail the congressional Republicans as much as anyone. But not this way.
The Giffords shooting doesn’t prove that Sarah Palin has blood on her hands. What it does prove is that when it comes to terrorism, people like Sarah Palin have a serious blind spot. On the political right, and at times even the political center, there is a casual assumption—so taken for granted that it is rarely even spoken—that the only terrorist threat America faces is from jihadist Islam. There was a lot of talk a couple of weeks back, you’ll remember, about a terrorist attack during the holiday season. And there’s been a lot of talk in the last couple of years about the threat of homegrown terrorists. Well, we’ve just experienced a terrorist attack over the holiday season, and it was indeed homegrown. Had the shooters’ name been Abdul Mohammed, you’d be hearing the familiar drumbeat about the need for profiling and the pathologies of Islam. But since his name was Jared Lee Loughner, he gets called “mentally unstable”; the word “terrorist” rarely comes up. When are we going to acknowledge that good old-fashioned white Americans are every bit as capable of killing civilians for a political cause as people with brown skin who pray to Allah? There’s a tradition here. Historically, American elites, especially conservative American elites, have tended to reserve the term “terrorism” for political violence committed by foreigners. In the early 20th century, for instance, there was enormous fear, even hysteria, about the terrorist threat from anarchist and communist immigrants from Eastern or Southern Europe, people like Sacco and Vanzetti. In the aftermath of World War I, large numbers of immigrant radicals were arrested and deported. Nothing similar happened to members of the white, protestant Ku Klux Klan, even though its violence was more widespread.
Similarly today, the media spends the Christmas season worrying how another attack by radical Muslims might undermine President Obama’s national-security credentials. But when Jared Lee Loughner shoots 20 people at a Safeway, barely anyone even comments on what it says about the president’s anti-terror bona fides. And yet Loughner’s attack is, to a significant degree, what American terror looks like. Obviously, jihadists have committed their share of terrorism on American soil in the last couple of decades—from the attempted bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 to the 9/11 attacks to Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan’s murder of 13 people at Fort Hood in 2009. But there have been at least as many attacks by white Americans angry at their own government or society. For almost two decades, culminating in 1995, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski sent mail bombs to people he considered complicit in industrial America’s assault on nature. (A surprising amount of recent American terrorism comes from militant environmentalists.) That same year, Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the second-largest recent terrorist attack on U.S. soil after 9/11. In 1996, Eric Rudolph bombed the Atlanta Olympics to protest abortion and international socialism. According to the FBI, opposition to abortion also played a role in the 2001 anthrax attacks (you know, the ones Dick Cheney were sure had been masterminded by Saddam Hussein). In 2009, Wichita, Kansas, abortion doctor George Tiller was murdered. (He had already been shot once, and his clinic had been bombed.) That same year octogenarian neo-Nazi James Wenneker von Brunn shot a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Last February, a man angry at the federal government flew a small plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas.
None of this, of course, will ease the suffering of Giffords or her family, nor of any of the other individuals and families directly affected by this morning’s slaughter. For them, the process of grieving and recovering has barely begun. Loughner’s shooting might’ve been motivated by mental illness, but the people in that parking lot were motivated by democracy: It was a meeting between a congressional representative and those she represents. They were attacked for being good citizens, and nothing can ever put that right.
But one way that people might pay tribute is to follow their example and attend the next meeting held by their representative. It is so easy and safe to participate in the American political system that we sometimes take doing so for granted. Today was a horrifying look into a world in which that isn’t so, and it should leave us with renewed appreciation for, and determination to protect, the world we have. On this, Giffords was way ahead of us: When the 112th session of the House of Representatives convened to read the Constitution earlier this week, she chose to read the section guaranteeing Americans the right “peaceably to assemble.”
It was nothing more than a two-minute self-promotional spot, a campaign-style production that any candidate with a little cash and a capable consultant could splice together, yet Sarah Palin’s newly-released video managed to drive cable news television chatter and blazed across the blogosphere Thursday.
It was a remarkable display of force—and one that almost no one else in American political life can replicate.
The spot, scored with upbeat music designed to underscore Palin’s message of conservative female empowerment and the idea of a grassroots awakening, may not be enough to rehabilitate her polarizing profile in time for a 2012 presidential bid.
But the effect reinforced the notion that she remains perhaps the most electric force in the Republican Party, and suggested she is taking steps to professionalize her approach and solidify her role as the conservative movement’s most prized endorser and fundraiser.
Sarah Palin’s political action committee, Sarah PAC, has produced its first web video of the season, called “Mama Grizzlies.” As a rule, this column does not generally notice web videos, but this one is special. It’s … well, an advertisement, if you will, for brand Sarah, and the variant of brand Sarah that’s gaining currency in the Tea Party heartlands, her fiercely independent, common-sense conservative, not-gonna-let-the-government-win Mama Grizzlies. It’s a movement now. The video features Palin and women, and signs about Palin and women (Moms Against Mandates) and is set against the narration from a speech Palin gave in Washington last month.
Palin’s preoration is about November, 2010, but it is hard to read this video as anything but a test of a much larger potential operation. Incidentally, for those who wonder about whether Palin is actually laying the groundwork for a 2012 run, like Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty, the answer is: it’s hard to tell. She’s not recruiting fundraisers, so far as we know … she’s not signing up field activists in Iowa … she’s definitely building a list, and she’s definitely making strategic endorsement choices in some key states, and she’s showing up with regularity in South Carolina and Nevada …
Here’s Sarah Palin’s new ad. Lots of images of the former governor speaking to adoring crowds, meeting admirers, encountering women and children.
But here’s the remarkable thing. Republicans normally work hard to ensure that their ads feature non-white faces, to present an image of welcome and inclusion.
In Palin’s ad — not one. Now listen carefully to the audio, which twice warns of a “fundamental transformation of America,” twice emphasizes a threat to children and grandchildren from malign unnamed forces.
I think she’s talking about healthcare. I hope so. But she never does say so.
UPDATE: I stand corrected by Twitter follower SJ Duffield: an Indian-American woman is visible in background at 45 seconds.
We have good reason to expect that the 2012 Republican field will be large and support will once again be fairly evenly divided. This might give Palin a better chance than she would have otherwise, but many of her likely rivals are going to be going after the same voters who view Palin favorably. For that matter, she is not favorably viewed by all Republicans. That leaves a huge opening for a more credible, electable candidate to pull together some fraction of conservatives together with the primary anti-Palin vote. As it is, she has just 66% favorability with self-identified Tea Party supporters, and she is supposed to be one of their political heroes. If she can’t even consolidate all of the Tea Party’s approximately 18% of the vote, why does anyone think she can win at least a third of the vote in primaries that she will need to get the nomination?
If she did somehow pull it off, Democrats would spend most of the summer and fall of 2012 rubbing their eyes in disbelief at their good fortune. Even in a fairly polarized national electorate where McCain/Palin could manage to get 47% of the vote in the midst of a financial meltdown at the tail end of the second term of one of the three most unpopular postwar Presidents, a ticket headed by Palin would be hard-pressed to break 40%. Palin as the nominee would probably make 2012 the most lopsided election victory for the incumbent President since 1984.
But the example of ’84 is worth looking a little closer at, because it shows how Palin — or a candidate as potentially disastrous as her — could theoretically manage to win the Republican nomination.
In hindsight, nominating Walter Mondale was political suicide for the Democrats. He had been the loyal vice-president in the administration that voters had drummed out of office just four years earlier in a 44-state landslide. And with his decades in Washington and subservience to his party’s labor union base, he personified the governing culture that the Reagan “revolution” sought to overthrow.
By making Mondale their standard-bearer, Democrats handed Reagan’s media team the opponent of their dreams. With Mondale, the brutal last line of the famous “Morning in America” ad literally wrote itself: “Why would we ever want to go back to where we were less than four short years ago?” In the end, only a slim 3,000-vote victory in his home state of Minnesota spared Mondale the indignity of losing all 50 states.
To understand why Democrats ever picked Mondale, you have to understand where the party — and where the country — was in 1982 and 1983, when the nation’s verdict on Reagan and his policies was far less positive. In those days, with unemployment surging over 10 percent and the president’s popularity slipping to sub-Carter levels, Democrats mistakenly assumed that the ’80 election had been a mirage. The electorate, they figured, had acted in haste and was rapidly returning to its senses. The results of the 1982 midterms, when Republicans (who had begun the cycle with claims that they’d win back the House) lost 26 House seats, only encouraged this thinking. To these Democrats, putting up Mondale made all the sense in the world.
Of course, there were voices in the Democratic Party calling for reform — the “Atari Democrats” of the early ’80s (Gary Hart, Bill Bradley, Paul Tsongas and so on). But in the wake of the ’82 midterms, they were a minority voice in the party. Hart ended up running for president in ’84 and nearly tripped Mondale up. By the summer of ’84, it was clear that Hart would fare better — much better — against Reagan than Mondale. The same polls that had Mondale losing by nearly 20 points showed Hart trailing by single digits. But Mondale had too much establishment weight behind him at that point and held off Hart’s late push at the convention.
The relevance to Palin is obvious: Like Mondale in ’84, she would represent to the general election audience of 2012 just about everything they’d rejected in 2008 (and 2006). In nominating her, Republicans would be saying to the country, “We have learned nothing these last four years. We have changed nothing.” Moreover, today’s GOP calls to mind the Democratic Party of ’82 and ’83: an aggrieved, resurgent base asserting itself after an electoral drubbing, believing with all its might that inevitable midterm blues facing the new president mean more than they actually do. That is the environment that produced Walter Mondale in 1984. And it’s the environment that could produce a similar debacle for Republicans in 2012.
Indeed, they have learned nothing during the last four years, and they haven’t really changed much of anything, so Palin would be a good fit with the party’s leaders and activists for that reason, but I remain skeptical that they are really prepared to go down in flames out of little more than pride and spite. I won’t rehearse all of the reasons I have given before why I doubt the GOP would be so self-destructive as to nominate Palin, but there still seem to be too many structural reasons why someone occupying Palin’s political space cannot succeed in a Republican primary contest. The comparison with Mondale is instructive. Palin and Mondale are alike in that they represent the face of the party as it was when it was defeated, but they are quite different in their sources of support. Mondale was the candidate of the party establishment and important interest groups, and Palin has made a point of aligning herself with every possible anti-establishment, insurgent campaign she can find.
While there are some Washington pundits and journalists on the right that continue to take her seriously, she isn’t likely to have the insider support or backing from party leaders. That space is already being filled by Romney, who also enjoys the status of default frontrunner. Despite her positioning as a “populist” insurgent, she seems uninterested in building an organization to challenge better-funded, better-organized rivals, and she is quite unsuited to running as a party reformer brimming with innovative policy ideas. Her positioning as an insurgent puts her at a particular disadvantage in Republican primaries, which tend to favor runners-up and establishment favorites. Because of their overconfidence and their extremely low opinion of Obama, Republicans may end up nominating a Mondale-like candidate in 2012, but I still have a hard time seeing how Palin gets there. In many ways, Romney has a much easier path to the nomination, and he has just reminded everyone why he would be a spectacularly unsuccessful general election candidate.
I agree with Steve Kornacki that Sarah Palin would be a potentially disastrous candidate for the Republicans in 2012. People really don’t like her, and it’s difficult to see how that turns around; moreover, she gives every indication of being a massively subpar candidate, unable or unwilling to learn enough about public policy to avoid a new series of damaging gaffes.
Kornacki’s jump from there to Walter Mondale in 1984, however, doesn’t really work. Yes, Mondale got clobbered — but he was clobbered by a popular incumbent president boosted by a strong economy. Under those circumstances, it didn’t really matter who the Dems ran; when the electorate is happy with the incumbent, there’s not very much the out-party can do about it. In fact, I happen to have a tab open with a paper by Larry Bartels and John Zaller looking at the effects of economic and other variables on presidential election results, which shows not only that Reagan’s victory was exactly in line with the economic variables, but also that once all the objective variables are tossed in that Reagan actually slightly underperformed (see figures 3 and 4). Now, one of the variables included in their analysis is ideological extremism, and I don’t know how they coded Mondale; presumably, a more moderate candidate would have done somewhat better. However, the magnitude is pretty small; in the text, Baretls and Zaller single out Goldwater, McGovern, and Reagan (in 1980) as the three examples of ideologically extreme candidates, and estimate that such extremism costs about three percentage points. So just on ideological grounds shifting from Mondale to, say, Gary Hart, might have been worth one point or so, maybe.
The rest of it? Mondale was a perfectly fine candidate, in a year in which Democrats really had no chance.
I don’t disagree that ’84 was a completely unwinnable election for the Democrats and that the reason was the economy and Reagan’s personal popularity. This is the reason I’ve been making somanycomparisons between Obama’s ’12 prospects and the Reagan re-election campaign. Obama won’t be able to match Reagan’s 49-state landslide (it’s just not possible for a Democrat now), but if the economy rebounds in the next two years, voters will be eager to reward him — particularly so because of their personal affection for him. Under those conditions, it won’t matter if the GOP nominates Palin, Romney, Huckabee or anyone else: They will lose.
My point in invoking Mondale wasn’t that the Democrats of ’84 blew a chance at victory by nominating him. It was to explain the psychology that encouraged the party to field a candidate destined not just to lose, but to be eviscerated in a humiliating landslide. Remember: Without winning Minnesota, his home state, by a scant 3,761-vote margin, Mondale would have been the first and only major party nominee to lose all 50 states.
Bernstein suggests that Gary Hart, the main alternative to Mondale in the Democratic primaries, wouldn’t really have fared any differently. I disagree. No, Hart wouldn’t have won. And no, Hart wouldn’t have made it a nail-biter. But he would have done better. There are two reasons for this.
One is that Mondale was an unusually objectionable presidential nominee. To the Democratic base, he may have been a “perfectly fine” candidate, but not to swing voters. Mondale’s unfavorable scores with all voters — and with independent voters in particular — were alarmingly high. There were many reasons for this, but the simplest is that he reeked of Washington insiderdom and of the administration that voters had angrily tossed out four years earlier. His intimate and well-publicized ties to organized labor leaders, who had helped deliver him the nomination, didn’t help, either.
When, after a decent debate showing against a very wobbly Reagan, Mondale’s favorable score momentarily outpaced his unfavorable in polling, his campaign considered it a minor miracle.
Yes, as the economy improved in 1983 and 1984, Reagan’s victory became a foregone conclusion. But Mondale made for a ridiculously easy mark for the GOP — the embodiment of everything voters had revolted against in 1980.
Palin is not going to be the GOP’s next presidential or vice presidential nominee. She’s not going to be the former because she can’t win the nomination; the combined weight of the Tea Party wing and the Love-struck Horndog faction is powerful within the GOP, but not that powerful. She won’t be the latter because she’ll end up being a drag on the ticket, as John McCain discovered to his misfortune last year.
However unqualified she might be for high office, Palin is smart enough to know this. Palin is not even running for high office. She is running to get very, very rich and in that endeavor she will be enormously successful.
Sarah Palin cranked up her 2012 presidential campaign another notch today, with the release of a campaign video aimed directly at women. The basic math is simple. If she gets half of the female primary voters and caucus attenders to support her, then she standing starts at roughly 25% of the total vote. Throw in a third of the male vote and she’s at roughly 40%. Forty percent wins the Iowa caucuses, handily.
Which then sets up New Hampshire as the place where the not-Sarah candidate emerges. In all likelihood, that will be former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who finished second in NH in 2008 and who will spend whatever it takes to win there in 2012.
Assuming that the race is then reduced to Palin and Romney, the next critical state primary is South Carolina. At that point, I don’t think the specifics really matter. The fact is that the Republican Party of 2012 is not going to nominate a Mormon as its standard bearer. And the more important fact is that the base of the Republican Party doesn’t just favor Sarah Palin, they love her. She is their standard bearer. And they will not — this time around — be denied.
As the Republican avalanche of 2010 builds — and I saw a poll the other day of a Democratic-leaning state Senate district on Long Island where the “right track” (8%)/”wrong direction” (83%) was unlike anything I had ever seen — Palin has smartly positioned herself as the champion of the conservative counter-revolution. By December, she will almost certainly be the de facto front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination.
By the time the Establishment GOP wakes up to this reality, it may be too late for them to do anything about it. Their view of Palin is that she’s useful to the party because she can help keep “the Tea Party types inside the tent.” And maybe she can serve coffee while she’s at it. Palin’s view is that (1) “the Tea Party types” are the party, (2) she is their standard bearer and (3) anyone who thinks “the Tea Party types” are there to lick envelopes and knock on doors should think again. They’re there, she asserts, to take back their party and to take back their country.
“She’s too stupid” is what the Establishment GOP really thinks about Sarah Palin. “Good-looking,” but a “ditz.” This is unfertile ground, since Palin can turn the argument on a dime and say: “They drive the country into bankruptcy, they underwrite Fannie and Freddie, they bail out Goldman Sachs, they fight wars they don’t want to win, they say enforcing the immigration laws is silly and they call me stupid! I’ll give you a choice: you can have their smarts or my stupidity, which one do you want?” A large number of GOP presidential primary voters will take Palin’s “stupidity” in a heartbeat.
Ellis links Palin’s fortunes to the midterm results just enough that his confident prediction of Palin’s future front-runner status depends to some extent on how much of a Republican “avalanche” there really ends up being. Let’s grant for the sake of argument that Palin has positioned herself as “the champion of the conservative counter-revolution.” What becomes of the so-called champion if the “counter-revolution” underperforms, falls short or otherwise does not live up to the hype? Barring a takeover of one or both houses of Congress, the midterm results will appear to be a fairly typical loss for the presidential party without much obvious significance. Given the ongoing unemployment woes, probable Republican gains of 25-30 seats will not seem all that extraordinary. Rejectionism on its own will come to be seen as insufficient, and the only reason to nominate Palin is to express unadulterated, unprincipled anti-Obama rejectionism.
Rather crucially, Ellis fails to consider the impact Huckabee could have if he chose to run again. Instead of Iowa serving as Palin’s springboard, Huckabee would suck up all of her oxygen in the caucuses, and he would continue to pull away evangelical and socially conservative voters all across the South. If Ellis is right that the GOP will not nominate a Mormon, which is a huge assumption, it isn’t obvious that Palin would be the beneficiary of Romney’s weakness. For his part, Huckabee seems appealing and congenial even to those who don’t care much for his politics, while Palin’s style grates on the nerves of everyone who doesn’t love her. He actually has vastly more credibility as a leader on social issues then she does, and he has mountains of executive experience in comparison to hers. Palin can’t outflank him by making small-town, working-class or religious appeals, because he matches her or has her beat when it comes to cultural symbolism and pseudo-populism, too.
For that matter, there are only so many evangelicals and social conservative voters to go around, and with the introduction of one or two more real contenders, such as Mitch Daniels and Tim Pawlenty, this vote will be so divided that it could allow a Romney or someone like him to slip through. If the rules changes the RNC is contemplating prolong the process and make more primary contests relevant in determining the nomination, that will make it harder for someone like Palin or Huckabee to compete over the long haul in larger, more ideologically diverse primary electorates all across the country. While the prolonged process will prevent challengers from being wiped out early on, it could end up benefiting Romney by making religious and ideological opposition to his nomination less powerful.
P.S. It’s also telling for Palin’s actual chances that Ellis’ post is really just a roundabout way to justify a presidential campaign by Jeb Bush. Ellis probably doesn’t think Palin has a realistic chance of winning the nomination, but he evidently does want to use the fear of an improbable Palin nomination to get Republicans behind the preposterous idea of continuing the Bush presidential dynasty.
A new financial report filed Sunday evening showed Sarah Palin’s political action committee has taken its fundraising to a higher level – and suggests that she has begun building a more sophisticated political operation in place of a bare-bones organization powered mostly by her rock star status and scrappy on-line presence.
The report, filed with the Federal Election Commission, shows that Palin’s political action committee raised more money in the second quarter of this year – $866,000 – than it had in any previous three-month stretch since Palin formed the group in January 2009.
The committee, SarahPAC, also spent nearly twice as much – $742,000 – as it had in any previous quarter, the lion’s share of which went to the type of list-building and fundraising (including its first major direct-mail campaign) that typically undergird top-tier political committees. It also reported its biggest-ever round of donations to candidates – $87,500 – and its highest outlays for travel costs, including $17,000 on private jet fare to crisscross the country for high-profile political speaking gigs, and speechwriting. It also showed continued payments for that speechwriting as well as foreign and domestic policy consulting, and its first ever payments to a scheduler.
Sarah Palin’s PAC disclosure release has occasioned a new round of “Will she or won’t she?” If we take the dictum that one’s judgment is more easily interrogated than one’s motivation, we’re left with a simple answer: she’s seriously thinking about running for president. That’s because she’s said she’s seriously thinking about running for president. From there, we can ask a better question: given what Palin has been doing, are her preparations for a 2012 race likely to serve her well? Or are they likely to hurt her chances?
What Palin Has Been Doing
1. She’s been building the foundation for an online, grassroots-oriented national campaign. Her team won’t disclose the size of her Sarah PAC list, but it’s probably quite robust, even if it is padded by the mere curious. Her primary means of communication is via Facebook and Twitter, ways of bypassing the media filter, of course, but also of directly communicating with the cohort of Republican activists she’ll need to execute the type of campaign she’s creating.
2. She’s been traveling and meeting many, many Republicans across many states. This is obvious; she gives speeches, she shakes hands. But many, many more potential voters have some personal connection with her now than they did at the end of the 2008 campaign.
3. She’s brand-testing. The “Mama Grizzlies” web video is all about putting Palin’s stamp on an idea: that conservative women are fired up and ready to go and are the main force multipliers of the Tea Party movement. Palin will need to use her gender to attract women to the cause of declaring independence from the old GOP patriarchy in much the same way that Hillary Clinton sold her ability to be the first viable woman presidential candidate. And then there are the audiences she chooses to speak to — NRA conventions, pro-life conventions, bowling conventions, beer and wholesaler associations — which begin to fill in a picture of what a Palin cloth-coat coalition might look like.
4. She’s keeping her distance from Republicans in power.
5. She’s made strategic endorsements in Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada, and California.
What Palin Hasn’t Been Doing
1. She hasn’t been recruiting fundraisers, or staff members, or activists. Her inner circle could fit in a Federation runabout. A successful presidential candidate needs fundraisers, staffers, and activists. Then again, Barack Obama had almost no one manning his presidential aspirations at this point in 2006 even as his opponents prepared conventional campaigns. While Mitt Romney makes strategic endorsements in every state and Tim Pawlenty has created PACs to help candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire, Palin is not establishing the relationships she would need to establish in order to build political campaigns in these early states. That means that she might be attempting a different type of campaign, or that she has been given bad advice, or that she won’t run at all.
2. She hasn’t been extending her brand. Republicans believe that Palin lacks the substantive chops to be president. This is not a creation of the lamestream media, even though the media’s 2008 coverage may have amplified those doubts. Palin’s friends who regularly Tweet about her doings seem to dismiss these complaints (that she isn’t smart enough, isn’t ready, isn’t developing policy chops) as stupid and uninformed. That said, given that independents’ central issue with Obama will be his failure to fix the economy, it is significant that other Republican presidential aspirants are preparing to run on competence — and Palin is not.
Just four states go to the polls Tuesday, but together they cast a long shadow.
It’s the biggest single-day primary so far in 2010, and the outcomes in a handful of key races will provide the clearest indication yet of the depth and intensity of the anti-incumbent fever that is shaping the midterm elections.
The western Pennsylvania-based special election for the seat of the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha, meanwhile, will provide a crucial barometer of the popularity of President Barack Obama’s ambitious Democratic agenda.
And that’s not all. The primary-day agenda also includes a slate of notable House primaries in Pennsylvania, while in Arkansas, where three of the state’s four congressmen are not seeking reelection, voters will select nominees in three open-seat races.
When it comes to politics, the media always prefer a big meta- story that includes controversy, consequences, and implications. It’s so much easier on the headline writers. So for Tuesday’s primaries, they’d like to see any of the following stories: “Unions Assert Muscle.” Or “Incumbents Thrown Overboard.” Or perhaps “Tea Party Wins Big,” and even “Obama Rebuked.”
It’s more likely to be some murkier mix. But even before the results are in, some trends and lessons are clearly evident.
• “I can win” is not a good message. Neither is “He can win.”
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter did something unheard of for a politician. He told the truth. He admitted the obvious when he switched parties. He didn’t say the party had left him. He didn’t say it was a matter of principle. He said the polls suggested he was more likely to get reelected if he became a Democrat. So he did. You could hear the subsequent collective groan from the political-consultant community. Specter may as well have printed bumper stickers that said, “It’s not about you. It’s about me.”
And then Team Obama did the same thing by endorsing Specter with a “He can win” strategy and message. Threw principle out the window because they thought Specter had a better shot to beat the Republican nominee Pat Toomey.
But now it appears Specter may be upset in the primary by Rep. Joe Sestak. Oops. Good chance Specter will pay the price for making the race about his hopes rather than the voters’.
Voter turnout is light in virtually all parts of the state, particularly in Philadelphia, the office of the Secretary of State confirms, developments that are likely to favor Joe Sestak.
Arlen Specter needs high turnout because his supporters are thought to be less enthusiastic, while Sestak’s are more motivated. Specter particularly is counting on high turnout in Philly.
But Charlie Young, a spokesman for the Secretary of State, says turnout in the state, where the weather is bad today, is low.
“It’s relatively light, with some higher concentrations out in the areas that have the special election for Murtha’s seat,” he says, referring to the battle for Pennsylvania’s 12th district in the southwestern part of the state.
Philadelphia’s turnout, he says, is even lighter. “There are no lines anywhere,” he says.
This is born out by an official with a major union backing Specter, who says union hands doing get-out-the-vote work are reporting back that “turnout is abysmal.”
“People aren’t fired up about Specter,” the official conceded. “It’s low statewide, and then in Philly it especially sucks.”
Democrats and Republicans say their early canvassing returns in Pennsylvania’s 12th CD show a very tight race, and that makes Republicans more anxious than Democrats. Democrats say they’re hitting their targets.
And they’re still sending out memos pointing to Republicans who say that the race ought to be a GOP win — something the Democrats would NOT do if they weren’t seeing the numbers. Remember, both parties have sophisticated boiler room operations and have volunteers checking voter lists in sample precincts … and they feed this data into a computer and out pops various projections of turnout.
Across Pennsylvania, it’s raining. Turnout, according to Democrats, is “abysmal” in Philadelphia, which is difficult news for Sen. Arlen Specter. Right now, Mayor Michael Nutter and Governor Ed Rendell are doing the TV/Radio rounds to try and open the floodgates.
At this point, both sides believe that Blanche Lincoln won’t have enough votes to avoid a run-off in Arkansas. The AP seems to be doing a better job of finding Bill Halter voters to quote, but that could be a function of their activist disposition. Lincoln has historically had a good, if understated ground game. But labor has imported a massive one.
No one is seeing anything in Kentucky that would change minds about the expected outcome on the Republican side of the ledger.
As you probably know, Trey Grayson is running for Senate in Kentucky. What you might not know is that “Trey” isn’t actually his name. It’s just a handle given to the third in a line of Charles Merwin Graysons. Far from frowning on pseudonymous politicians, the Bluegrass State allows candidates to designate a nickname to run on the official ballot.
Our colleague Feifei Sun points me in the direction of the down-ballot candidate rolls and the fabulous treasure trove of monikers therein. The nicknames run the gamut from zoological — Dale “Frog” Ford for sheriff, Steve “Farm Dog” Farmer for magistrate, William “Turkey” Thomason for mayor and Shawn “Squid” Rye for county commissioner — to culinary — Jerry “Peanuts” Gaines for sheriff, TP “Puddin” Scott for magistrate, Eddie “Popcorn” Brown for constable and Jeff “Buttermilk” Mountjoy for jailer — and the outright bizarre — John “Hermanator” Kirk for sheriff, Ancel “Hard Rock” Smith for assemblyman and, perhaps tragically, Mike “Need Kidney” Sittason for surveyor.
Here’s a highlight of Purdum’s reporting: “More than once in my travels in Alaska, people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin’s extravagant self-regard. Several told me, independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–’a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy’–and thought it fit her perfectly.”
Is there any real chance that “several” Alaskans independently told Purdum that they had consulted the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? I don’t believe it for a moment. I’ve (for better or worse) moved in pretty well-educated circles in my life, and I’ve gone decades without “several” people telling me they had consulted the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Meanwhile, on the day Purdum’s piece hit the web (today), a journalist who had expressed suspicions in the past that elements of the McCain campaign had undercut Palin suddenly got a friendly e-mail from top McCain-Palin campaign strategist Steve Schmidt. This journalist hadn’t heard from Schmidt in months. Perhaps Steve was nervous someone would finger him for the Purdum piece. One reason people might do so is this passage in Purdum’s article: “All the while, Palin was coping not only with the crazed life of any national candidate on the road but also with the young children traveling with her. Some top aides worried about her mental state: was it possible that she was experiencing postpartum depression? (Palin’s youngest son was less than six months old.)” In fact, one aide who raised this possibility in the course of trashing Palin’s mental state to others in the McCain-Palin campaign was Steve Schmidt.
However, as Eric Boehlert of Media Matters points out, hell has frozen over because Boehlert agrees with Kristol. (Yes, you read that right.)
Don’t you love how Purdum zeroed in on how self-obsessed Palin is; how (clinically) narcissistic she is? I’d be curious to find out how many VF features in recent years about male politicians stopped to ponder the me-me-me tendencies of those powerful players.
To be clear, there are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and the elitist MSM’s contract-killer journalism against political figures with whom they disagree – which, more often than not means conservatives.
Purdum’s piece is an absolute classic of the genre, complete with a slew of juicy, negative quotes from insiders and a smoothly crafted narrative that demeans and diminishes Palin’s accomplishments and portrays her as an ignorant white trash whack job who stumbled her way into the governorship of Alaska through a combination of raw ambition and blind luck.
Sarah Palin is one of those rare figures who evokes acute emotions in a lot of people. I’m not one of them, so it’s always been hard for me to understand why those who didn’t even know her name before August 28 of last year could either fall so madly in love with her or be driven into such an absolute blind rage over her.
The Daily News article ends with part of the Vanity Fair article where a McCain staffer takes a swipe at Palin from the standpoint of early hopes that she was raw talent — and that his worst negative fears about Palin were confirmed after the election. In other words: it blasts her for her campaign and post campaign performance.
This piece will only likely add to Palin’s woes in the political imagery needed to perhaps not get the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination but win a national campaign. She is already the target of a slew of Sarah Palin jokes. Her admirers, on the other hand, see her as the wave of the conservative future and many are members of the talk radio political culture that’s highly influential in the GOP.
But the ongoing tensions between McCain staffers (as well as subtle and perhaps not so subtle hints from McCain himself that he thinks the GOP should shop around before choosing a 2012 Presidential candidate) underscore Palin’s failure to mend political fences on the most fundamental, basic scale: with her own running mate’s staff. Moreover, this split seems to have personal as well as ideological roots: although Palin is painted as a political diva it’s no secret McCain is less predictable politically than Palin and she seemed to be unhappy at some of his less conservative stands.