By now most of you have heard the recent musings by veteran beltway pundits Charles Krauthammer and George Will. In summary, both don’t want her to run for the nomination because, they assure us, she can’t win. We will all be much better off, evidently, if we nominate the flip-flopping Mitt Romney, the cadaverous Mitch "VAT" Daniels (George Will’s latest flavor of the month), or someone of similar ilk. None of this is surprising, of course, as we were warned two months ago that once the mid-terms were concluded, the GOP establishment and their lap dogs in the "conservative" beltway punditocracy would concentrate on preventing a Palin candidacy in 2012.
Their first attempt to discredit Governor Palin was a concentrated attempt by myriad GOP "insiders" to convince us that the GOP failure to take the Senate was Governor Palin’s fault. This, of course, was utter nonsense and that claim faded away with noticeable alacrity when people actually considered how ludicrous it was. The most recent narrative is perhaps even more hilarious. I’ve read several pundits claim that in 2012, the Republican silver bullet against Obama will be to nominate someone who doubles as a cure for insomnia because voters will best respond to someone without charisma since Obama is charismatic or something. This, as they say, is something too profoundly silly to make up. George Will, in endorsing Mitch Daniels, provides the latest example of this nonsense:
“I think that Americans often vote for the opposite of what has disappointed them,” Will said when asked about the potential candidacy of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2012. “If they’re disappointed with Mr. Obama, then a short, balding, unimpressive, uncharismatic competent governor might be just the thing for them.”
Eh? Whatever you say, George. They’re grasping at straws, folks, and there aren’t many left. What really continues to amaze me is that these pundits don’t even want her to compete for the nomination, and that they come up with inanities such as this to dissuade her from running. I can see the bumper stickers and yard signs now:
Vote for Mitch, He’s Boring
Inspiring, isn’t it?
Wouldn’t the conservative movement be best served by having the largest and most diverse set of candidates competing for our votes? Why reduce the potential pool of candidates? Will, Krauthammer, and others of their ilk would tell us, I suspect, that competition for the nomination is good…as long as one of the competitors is not Governor Palin. Their reasoning for this untenable and contradictory position is that she could win the nomination but then lose the general election to Obama. In other words, mere Republican voters can’t be trusted with selecting their own nominee and should allow their betters in Washington to make that choice. I’ve heard or read this meme in one form or another from multiple establishment types over the past couple months.
On its face, of course, this justification for limiting the candidates deemed acceptable to run for the nomination is ludicrous and, ultimately, self-defeating. The GOP nomination process will begin in earnest in a few short months, although in some respects it’s already underway. Mitt Romney has been running for president since the day he was elected Governor of Massachusetts (who can forget his transparent after-the-fact endorsements of candidates who already won their primaries last summer and fall?). The nomination will be decided after a long (some would say interminable) progression of local and national interviews, debates, primaries, and caucuses held over many months. If Governor Palin is, shall we say, as out of her element as Will, Krauthammer, and their cronies assure us, won’t this become apparent during that process?
The answer, I submit, is self-evident, and for them to suggest that Republican Primary voters are not smart enough to make their own determination is, dare I say it, elitist. My guess is that if Governor Palin runs, she will demolish her competitors in the Republican field and win the nomination easily. This has been the pattern throughout her political career. For whatever reason, the good old boys against whom she runs invariably underestimate her and she ends up wiping the floor with them. I suspect this will also be the case in the general election. For all the talk of Palin’s unelectability by beltway Republicans with ulterior motives, there can be no doubt that November’s mid-term was a contest by proxy between Obama and Palin, and the result wasn’t even close.
And yet they ignore this in their "expert" analysis. Will, for his part, frets that she can’t win in the Philadelphia or Chicago suburbs:
“There is one person, high in the polls, Sarah Palin, who cannot be elected president because she cannot compete where elections are decided. In the collar counties outside Chicago, Montgomery County outside of Philadelphia — just can’t compete there.”
So, according to George Will, Mitch Daniels should be the nominee because not only is he boring, but he would win Pennsylvania and Obama’s home state, Illinois. Really? I’m not aware of any credible electoral calculus that counts Pennsylvania and Illinois in the GOP column, although Pat Toomey said yesterday that Governor Palin could win in PA. But Illinois? If Illinois, a state dominated by the corrupt Democrat machine in Chicago (likely run by Rahm Emmanuel in 2012), is even in play, the GOP will be poised to win an historical landslide even if Mickey Mouse is their standard bearer.
Indeed, the arguments Will and Krauthammer make simply don’t stand up to rigorous scrutiny and, for that reason, I believe are a smokescreen for something else. Both Will and Krauthammer decried McCain’s selection of Palin as his running mate from the very beginning. She was, they lectured us, "inexperienced", her resume was "thin", she had never been on Meet The Press, etc., etc. That the practical political and executive experience of the VP candidate on the Republican ticket dwarfed that of the Presidential candidate on the Democrat ticket was, apparently, irrelevant. She, after all, didn’t attend Harvard.
Both Will and Krauthammer have much vested in the failure of a Palin candidacy. If she runs and wins, all of their pronouncements over the past two plus years will be exposed as the poppycock they are, and they will lose face in the eyes of their beltway brethren. This can’t be allowed to occur. If she doesn’t run, they can avoid this embarrassment. While these two veteran beltway pundits are bright guys, and I enjoy reading their articles on policy analysis, political prognosticators they are not.
They have lived their entire adult lives ensconced in their Washington cocoons, and have nothing in common with the overwhelming majority of voters who live outside their parochial comfort zone. The candidates they support have been part of the power structure that has ruled the country for at least a generation. And, yes, even the Republicans in that power structure are to blame for the mess we’re in. And yet they would have us believe that the way out of the aforementioned mess is to elect another from the culture that helped create it. I disagree.
Update: (h/t SL) Here’s George Will, in 2006, urging an even less experienced Barack Obama to run for president.