Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beyond the Pale?

From today's blogs:

"...there is an emerging debate—one with the potential to last for a long time about the role of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

One school—including syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker and Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal—called her a drag on the ticket and implicitly rebuked McCain’s judgment in picking her. Another school believes she is the future of the party, a view backed by Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard: “Whether they know it or not, Republicans have a huge stake in Palin. If, after the election, they let her slip into political obscurity, they’ll be making a huge mistake.”"

Why is any of this even surprising? Of Course she's the future of the Republican party. The last eight years, whether you like the policies of the Bush adminstration or not, left the Republican party hollowed out. Who was going to lead them in the post Bush-Cheney era? Every credible moderate was excommunicated from the party. Who is left? Rick Santorum? Gone. Tom Delay? Too toxic, and gone as well. Huckabee? perhaps, but events have proven him to be Palin Lite. He doesn't come close to her in terms of pull. No one expected Caribou Barbie, but she is here, and let's face it, she inspires the faithful like no one since Reagan. Win or lose, Palin IS the face of the GOP for the next several years, at least.

For any liberals out there recoiling at the thought, take some solace in this: If Sarah Palin indeed becomes the face of the GOP, the GOP will in turn become a minority party for many years. Saying that she is by far their most likely future presidential candidate, does not mean she is likely to win. The Republicans began transformation thirty or more years ago, when they adopted the "Southern Strategy", appealing to the worst instincts of beleaguered working-class whites in the heartland. That process initially looked like a winner, because it secured the votes to keep them in power most of the past three decades. But the Joe Sixpacks they invited into the tent took over the party. The old elites that ran the party are gone.

It has long been an axiom that you have to tack right to win the GOP nomination, then tack to the center to win the election. The Republicans probably have any number of potential candidates who could win the presidency any given election. Unfortunately, those candidates will never win the primaries, and the GOP will become a purely reactionary, theocratic party. It makes for great rallies but is not much of a strategy. So take heart: we will have to put up with Palin for a long time, and she will probably be the next GOP nominee for President, but as long as people don't lose their minds, she will never BE president. A third party is more likely to form before that happens.

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