The reality is—it’s possible

In reply to a reader who said she supports Palin, I said:

Notwithstanding my own statements that I don’t regard her as a plausible national leader, let alone as a genuine conservative leader, and that I wish the whole Palin phenomenon would go away, I acknowledge the possibility that she could be the next GOP nominee and the next president. Some Palin critics think it’s completely impossible for her to be elected. I don’t agree.

- end of initial entry -

I wrote to Paul Mulshine of the Newark Star-Ledger, an outspoken critic of Palin:

Apart from your own views on Palin, apart from whether you think she’s competent and plausible as a national leader, do you think it’s possible that she could be nominated and elected?

Paul Mulshine replies:

I think she would fall apart in the primary debates. But I certainly hope she runs. I’m almost positive Ron Paul will be running, so she will have to drop any claim to the paleo section of the party. Huckabee will take the “Cross of Gold” crowd. So it would be fun to see just where she would end up on the spectrum.

David B. writes:

I just saw your comment in which you say that it IS possible for Palin to be elected. I agree.

For years, Reagan was “too far to the right to be elected.” I recall Fred Barnes writing articles dismissing the chances of Bush 41 in 1988 and Bill Clinton in 1992. Has Barnes made a prediction on Sarah Palin? If he says she can’t win, it will probably mean she will.

Early in 2008, Ron Unz’s TAC ran an article declaring Barack Obama “couldn’t win. Not a few presidential candidates who “can’t win” end up doing so.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

One reason I’m convinced Palin will never be a credible conservative leader is that her supporters seem incapable of defending her except through either mindless invective or leftist rhetoric. The latest line, I gather, is that the crude jokes going around the leftist blogosphere about the notes written on her hand (don’t ask) are, wait for it, “misogynistic.” And “sexist.” Try pointing out to them that the jokes are simply signs of the degeneracy of people who comment at Democratic Underground, and that it’s a bad thing for conservatives to start mouthing left-wing rhetoric and acting as a mutated version of the PC Police, and they respond with unreasoning fury. Think of it. In the last week, we’ve seen Palin and her supporters call for a man’s job because of his casual use of the word “retarded,” we’ve seen her sticking up for McCain, and we’ve seen yet another instance of denouncing her detractors as sexist.

And this woman is leading a back-to-basics right-wing revolt? Hardly. I have been watching the TEA Party movement with interest, trying to gauge its seriousness. Palin turning up as the keynote speaker pretty much wrapped it up for me. These people are going to be co-opted by the left wing of the Republican Party, and they’re going to continue thinking of themselves and their beloved Sarah as fire-eating conservatives the entire way. Listening to them make ridiculous comments such as, “Unlike Obama, when Palin speaks, she really says something”—even as she mouths the most well-worn conservative cliches without a hint of concrete policy underpinning it—makes you wonder what sort of neurosis people are operating under. That’s not to say that her talk about limited government doesn’t have some real policy implications. But the reality is she’s not making serious proposals; it’s all very general, even if it’s somewhat less abstract than Obama’s otherworldly speeches (which sound as if they’ve been written by someone who isn’t quite sure what country he’s addressing but just wants to be sure it sounds good).

The Palin thing has “major crack-up” written all over it. I am going to go out on a limb right now and make a prediction. If Palin runs for president, and even if she loses the nomination, the Republicans will lose because she’ll divide the base and brand the party as the party of Sarah Palin, which really isn’t going to get it done in a Presidential race. She appeals to a very particular brand of conservative, a brand I happen to love—good people from Oklahoma with families, who know what they ought to believe, perhaps without entirely knowing why, because their hobbit-sense tells them so and because they weren’t miseducated in some leftist hell like Washington, DC. Something about Palin excites these folks, and that’s all right, I suppose. However, it’s not going to win us any general elections and it’s likely to demoralize the wider party in the end, just as McCain did.

LA replies:

I think you’re saying two things: that the silliness of her supporters indicates a candidacy that would be silly and that could not be taken seriously; and that this silliness means that she could not be nominated, or, that if she were nominated, she could not be elected.

James N. writes:

Sage makes a few good points, but my question to him is, “Where do you think this process is taking place? In the Agora? In Palmerston’s House of Commons? In the Virginia of 1786?”

Just look at who the process has been spitting out for the past 50 years. Just look at the current President of the United States, for heavens sake!

The question isn’t “can she win?” The question is, “Can she lose?”=

LA replies:

“Can she lose?” I don’t get it.

February 11

Ben W. writes:

Has Palin’s ubiquity and noise had any positive effect? According to an ABC-Washington Post poll (and most other polls), people still find her unqualified for the presidency:

“Fifty-five percent of Americans have unfavorable views of her, while the percentage holding favorable views has dipped to 37, a new low in Post-ABC polling.

There is a growing sense that the former Alaska governor is not qualified to serve as president, with more than seven in 10 Americans now saying she is unqualified, up from 60 percent in a November survey. Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House.”

LA replies:

But David Broder, the dean (though, as I’ve described him, the exhausted and brain-dead dean) of liberal Beltway opinion writers, in today’s Washington Post says she is at the top of her game and a force to be reckoned with.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 10, 2010 09:10 AM | Send

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