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Guest Thinkers

Sarah (Palin) We Hardly Knew You

This New Republic author shares with us abundant evidence that Republican leaders of various kinds have turned on Sarah Palin.  It’s true enough that many were seduced by the promise of a fresh face with a fascinating personal story, a big family, religious faith, and a cool “First Dude.”  And certainly some, such as me, assumed that the McCain campaign knew what it was doing, and that she had been secretly prepped for months for her VP candidacy.  Even now it’s hard to believe that she really and truly had only had four days’ notice.

After her 2008 campaign, during which she was unevenly spunky but rather consistently underprepared, Palin could have started to get herself ready for a serious presidential bid.  She ain’t stupid, after all.

But it’s become clearer and clearer, of course, that she’s been going the really-rich-and-famous-performance-artist route.  Who could take either the Reality Show or all that shameless “look-at-me” Twittering seriously?  She’s narrowed the distance between herself and Charlie Sheen and Lady Gaga and Ashton Kutcher way too much to be a credible presiential candidate.  That’s not to say she doesn’t still have lots of fans.  She’s become a celebrity, not a political leader.  Even Donald Trump has a lot more to say about the issues. To be fair, compared to, say, Charlie or Britney, she’s a very disciplined performance artist, and only a fool couldn’t see how savvy she is at media manipulation. She’s handled herself admirably in some ways, if far from all.

Palin’s “Jumping the Shark” is mainly bad news for the Mainstream Media and Democrats.  The MSM has repeadtedly turned to her as THE Republican rather shamelessly, and Democrats know that she’s the one candidate our president would certainly trounce. One noteworthy Republican recently told me that he likes her because she drives Democrats crazy.  But she doesn’t really. At this point she drives responsible Republicans crazy.  She lost me completely, from a political view, when she resigned as governor, although I’m very sympathetic to her personal and financial reasons for doing so.  A future president would have fulfilled her responsibilities under her state’s constitutution.

While I have your attention, I would also say that Mike Huckabee, a man of enormous talent and rather authentic intentions, has also become too much the entertainer (often a pretty good one) to suddenly become presidential.  Newt Gingrich’s attacks on our president have become too personal, and he has too much “baggage” of various kinds.  Newt also hasn’t had a real job for quite a long time. I find Tim Pawlenty annoying and am not that sure he was such a good governor. There’s reason to think Mitt Romney might be a good president, but he doesn’t “resonate” with Republican pimary voters and especially Tea Partiers. The  most able Republican members of the House–such as Pence and Ryan–ought to stay leaders there.  I don’t see any presidential contenders among the Republican senators.

To beat the president (which will be tough but not impossible), the Republican candidate needs to combine both COMPETENCE and IDEOLOGY.  Republicans have displayed their competence and ability to turn principle into effective policy as governors.  I would especially recommend that you look closely at Mitch Daniels of Indiana.  Jeb Bush of Florida, if he could just change his last name but still retain his reputation, also has a record worth examining.


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