In the past week, two hit pieces have been written against Governor Palin. The first was the piece by Jonathan Martin that has been thoroughly debunked as "flat out lies" by practically every source he identified by name. This was followed yesterday by a second hit piece in the New York Daily News that, hilariously, claimed that it will be Governor Palin’s fault if the GOP doesn’t take back the Senate. Whitney discussed this silliness in a post last night. To Whitney’s analysis I would add that the GOP establishment has no idea how thin the ice is upon which they stand. They should be on their knees thanking their lucky stars that Governor Palin encouraged Tea Party candidates to remain in the GOP and not pursue the third party route. If Tea Party candidates had gone rogue and left the GOP, there would be no chance of even a House majority this November, much less a Senate majority.
Back to the two hit pieces. Other than the sources Jonathan Martin named (who have since unequivocally called him a liar as noted above), both pieces relied exclusively on the infamous anonymous Republican "insiders", "consultants", "party elders", etc. This brings up an interesting question. These so-called Republican geniuses are almost certainly aware of how critical this mid-term election is. Why then would they "leak" false stories designed to smear Governor Palin to left-wing "journalists" who obviously have an agenda to hurt the Republican Party? Why at this particular time? How does this help the Republicans in the upcoming election? The short answer is it doesn’t. Anything the Democrat Party and their allies at the Politico and other left-wing LSM outlets can do to cause division in Republican ranks will cause a decrease in Republican enthusiasm and thus harm Republican prospects on November 2nd.
Think about it. Barring some unforeseen October surprise, the House is already lost for the Democrat Party. The Senate was always going to be difficult, if not impossible, for Republicans to take in 2010 given the institutional dynamics such as number of seats at risk, etc. And yet it’s still a possibility. These Republican consultants, by their actions, are making it that much more difficult for Republicans to win back the upper chamber. The only explanation for this bizarre behavior is that they don’t really want Republicans to take back the Senate.
Why, you ask? Several reasons, some of which even make sense. First, given the rules of the Senate (e.g. the filibuster), it won’t make much difference in the greater scheme of things if the Republicans control 48 or 49 seats rather than 51. Unless you control the White House, a narrow majority in the Senate is more symbolic than substantive in terms of getting anything done: they would have the responsibilities of power without actually having any. To be sure, continued Democrat control will allow them to determine the Senate’s agenda, but assuming GOP control of the House, the Republicans will still be able to stop most, if not all, of Obama’s agenda. Although they can stop it, they will not be able to reverse it even if they do control the Senate. Unless they can count on 67 votes in the Senate (290 in the House), they will not be able to overrride a presidential veto on any legislation to repeal Obamacare, for example.
A second important point is that nominal Democrat control of the Senate may actually be good for Republican prospects in 2012. This will effectively strip Obama of a campaign issue as it will be much more difficult for him to run against the "evil Republican Congress" in 2012 as Clinton did in 1996 if the GOP only controls one chamber. Third, just as election cycle dynamics actually favored Senate Democrats in 2010 (under normal circumstances, that is), those same dynamics will favor Republicans in 2012 and 2014, making a Senate takeover likely then. Charlie Cook made this point on Tuesday:
…Democrats have twice as many seats at risk in 2012 and 2014 as Republicans. Whether the GOP captures a Senate majority this year or not, the odds are pretty good that they will have one in either two or four years.
These are all plausible reasons for these anonymous Republican insiders to be, at best, indifferent when it comes to a Republican takeover of the Senate this year. But they don’t explain the use of false smears against Governor Palin to undermine Republican electoral prospects. There is, however, another explanation which makes more sense: to discredit and minimize the enormous role Governor Palin has had in what will be a tremendous Republican victory on November 2nd. Stay with me for a moment.
These latest anonymous smears bear a striking resemblance to what we saw towards the end of the 2008 election when it became clear that McCain was going to lose. We all remember the "leaks" by various McCain campaign "insiders" as these paid political mercenaries quickly shifted into CYA mode and tried to blame Governor Palin for the shockingly incompetent campaign which they ran. There is little doubt these same gutless losers are behind the latest smear campaign.
Governor Palin has had an unprecedented track record with her endorsements. In many cases candidates that were way behind were propelled all the way to victory on the strength of her endorsement. An endorsement by her brings instant credibility and a surge in fundraising. Even Palin endorsees who lost didn’t do so by much. In short, no other individual in this election cycle is even in the same building as her in terms of power and influence. Rick Santorum made this point succinctly in June:
“Palin is the only endorsement anyone wants,” he laughs. “If you ask who the most influential endorsers are, Palin is numbers one, two, and three, with maybe Sen. Jim DeMint at four. Her endorsement is the only one that matters this year. Just look at what she did for Nikki Haley.”
What about Romney, the man Santorum supported in the 2008 presidential campaign? “No offense to Mitt, but he doesn’t carry the weight,” Santorum says. “Mitt can help you with some finance people, maybe in some small way, but his pull is insignificant compared to Palin’s.”
If Republicans do take back the Senate, Governor Palin will get the lion’s share of the credit, certainly more than any other potential 2012 candidate. This is key, I think, and can’t be sitting well with these other potential candidates. It’s clearly in their interest to minimize or discredit her success. Judging from these two hit pieces, the narrative being used by Republican consultants to accomplish this is twofold. First, paint her as an unorganized diva on a cross-country junket, her success due not to her efforts but rather in spite of them. According to this narrative, we’re presumably supposed to belive that she just happened to bumble her way into being in the right place at the right time to take credit but really doesn’t deserve it. Endorsements are nice but don’t really matter.
The second narrative, espoused in the New York Daily News piece, is that her incredible successes are really failures; that if the GOP comes close but doesn’t take the Senate, it’s her fault (never mind that, other than perhaps Barack Obama, she’s arguably the biggest reason the Republicans are even in a position such that they could take the Senate in 2010). This explains why these consultants, by leaking false stories to dampen Republican enthusiasm, are doing their best to sabotage Republican chances to win the Senate.
This brings us to the crux of the matter. Who has the most to gain by minimizing Governor Palin’s enormous role in the mid-term elections? Far be it from me, Dear Reader, to speculate on such things. I’ll leave that up to you. But as you contemplate this, there are a few salient questions to consider.
First, for whom do these mysterious "insiders" work (or want to work)? Keep in mind that Washington political consultants are basically parasites whose foremost goal is to suck as much money out of a campaign’s coffers as possible. But they first have to get hired by a campaign and, to do this, they must ingratiate themselves to the candidate. Most of these insiders know that Governor Palin will not play their game and, consequently, won’t hire their incompetent, backstabbing a*ses, so it’s undoubtedly in their financial interest that she not win the nomination. Sure, they’ll be able to find work on House and Senate campaigns, perhaps a campaign for the local dog catcher, but the real money is in the big show: the presidential election.
Second, which potential candidate benefits the most by a concerted effort to marginalize the Tea Party in general, and Governor Palin in particular? It would have to be an establishment candidate, of course. A candidate the Tea Party would never support. One who has taken positions that are, shall we say, anathema to the limited government principles espoused by Governor Palin and the Tea Party movement. A candidate whose position on, for example, government run health care is less than pristine.
Third, which candidate has consistently been promoted by Washington consultants and insiders as being the "inevitable" Republican candidate in 2012? Hmmmmm. And finally, who is willing and able to hire as many of these campaign advisors as it takes regardless of how much they cost? In other words, which candidate will result in the most financial gain for the community of mercenaries known as Washington political consultants?
These are just a few questions to ponder as you consider who is behind this latest attempt by anonymous Republican flunkies to discredit Governor Palin.