GOP strategist who likes Palin personally urges her not to run

(Note, 7:30 p.m.: See comment on Mark McKinnon’s highly dubious background.)

If Palin runs, I think the entire Republican primary process will be hijacked.
— Mark McKinnon

The article appears in The Daily Beast:

Don’t Run Sarah!

Mark McKinnon finds Sarah Palin a captivating figure. He’s also dead-set against her seeking the White House in 2012. The ex-Bush adviser on why Palin would lose—and damage her party.

I spent only a few hours with the former governor, helping to prepare her for the vice presidential debate in October 2008. And during that brief window, I saw Palin at one of her most vulnerable moments, when any result other than a complete train wreck seemed impossible. And yet I also saw a determined woman buckle down, recover her confidence and then storm the national stage where she more than held her own against a seven-term senator.

Did she face some tough slogging to reach her remarkable perch? Sure, you betcha. I admire her tenacity, her verve, her moxie, and her pluck. As she releases what’s sure to be another bestseller, America by Heart, I think it’s phenomenal how Palin has been able to leverage her moment in the spotlight. I marvel at her masterful manipulation of the media, and her ability to redirect the national debate with merely a tweet. Most of all, I like the way she defies conventional wisdom and does things her own way: She doesn’t retreat, she reloads. And without Palin and the Tea Party backing Republican candidates, I doubt the crimson tide would have risen so high Nov. 2.

Palin’s appeal completely befuddles metro-intellectuals. They scoff at her “experience,” holding the one-time city manager, mayor, oil and gas commission chair, governor, and vice presidential nominee to a different standard than candidate Obama. A marathon runner, mother of five, and grandmother to one, she has no qualms about smacking a slimy halibut—or an oil and gas company—upside the head. And don’t be fooled, underneath that “prom hair” is a brilliant populist.

Yet I find myself continually goaded into denigrating her, saying things like “she’s reached her sell-by date,” “her stock is going down,” and “if she’s smart, she won’t run for president.” And I was going to go on TV recently and say, “It’s rare you hear quantitative easing and Sarah Palin in the same sentence,” until I realized that she did a hell of a lot better job explaining the complex concept than I could.

Though she is rightfully suspicious of advice from outside Team Palin, and she certainly doesn’t care what I think, it is my strong opinion that she should not run. Not just because I don’t agree with her positions or her politics, but because the coming political fight is about more than the future of Sarah Palin. It’s about the future of the country.

All the fun, the money, the power will only be diminished if she runs. Because I don’t care how you cut it, in the end she will lose.

President Obama’s approval rating is now just 39 percent, and he is statistically tied in a direct matchup with Palin according to a new Zogby poll. And according to Quinnipiac, American voters believe that Obama does not deserve a second term by a margin of 49 to 43 percent. But Palin is viewed unfavorable by 51 percent of voters. And among independents, the key swing voting bloc, her negative is at 54 percent. She is not the right candidate right now.

Framing the presidential contest ahead, Mona Charen put it well: “Voters chose a novice with plenty of star power in 2008 and will be inclined to swing strongly in the other direction in 2012. Americans will be looking for sober competence, managerial skill, and maturity, not sizzle and flash.”

If Palin runs, I think the entire Republican primary process will be hijacked. With ardent fans and a rabid media, it will become Palin-palooza. A celebrity fest will follow with even more amplitude than the adulation and adoration that surrounded Barack Obama, who was so revered he was sometimes referred to in biblical proportions as “The One.” An all-consuming super nova, Palin will suck the oxygen out of every room, everywhere she goes. And one of two things will happen. Discerning conservative voters in early primary states will be offended by the circus-like atmosphere and the presumption that they could so easily fall for a “cult of personality.” And they will vote against her. And she will lose. Or, Republican voters will be completely swept up in the mania and nominate her as the GOP standard bearer to go up against President Obama. And she will lose—perhaps the only Republican nominee who could lose in 2012.

But I also think she shouldn’t run for her sake. How could life get any better? She has more power, money, control, and influence than she could have ever possibly imagined. Two bestselling books, almost 2.5 million Facebook fans, a record-breaking cable TV show, and a daughter who made it to the finals on another TV show—not because of her abilities, but because she’s Sarah Palin’s daughter, and by god, the Palinistas out there defiantly come to her rescue week after week.

Palin is having fun. She decided governing Alaska was, well, just a pain. Too much work. A hassle. Whatever. Next. There I go again, denigrating. See, it’s just a reflex. It’s easy to discount her accomplishments, and to ignore the ludicrous opposition Palin faced in the courts and in the press on her return to office from the campaign trail. But my point is, all the fun, the money, the power will only be diminished if she runs. Because, I don’t care how you cut it, in the end she will lose. She is just too polarizing a figure at this point in her career to win a general election. And if the Republicans lose to a weakened President Obama, she will forever be blamed for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

But I know how these things go. First of all, as James Carville said, running for president is like sex. Once you’ve done it, it’s hard to stop. Second, once the drum beat starts, and all your friends and admirers start telling you, “For the sake of the Republic, it’s your duty to run,” it’s awfully hard not to let your ego get filled with a lot of helium. Next thing you know, you’re shivering at a diner in January in Iowa.

I know there are millions of conservative women and young grizzlettes out there who admire Sarah Palin. She inspires them; she is them. They know that beneath the sequined lapel pin roars the heart of a Mama Grizzly wronged. And they are offended when elites, the media, and smart asses like me dismiss her infectious optimism, her pitch-fork populism, and her love of family, faith and the flag.

In my view, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened to her as a political figure had she not been plucked too soon from obscurity, if she had been allowed to ripen on the vine for a couple of terms as governor of Alaska before emerging on the national scene. Alas, she was thrown onto the rocket sled of celebrity and has ridden to heights never before seen.

And if Palin doesn’t run for the top slot, she will very likely be on the short list again for vice president. Or certainly for a cabinet slot if the Republicans win.

Only one thing is for sure. Sarah Palin is going to be around for a very long time. She’s already had a few last laughs, and she’s likely to have a whole lot more before the closing credits roll. ‘Cause life as America’s sweetheart—and siren for the left—is “flippin’ fun.”

No matter what happens, whether she runs for president or not, Palin is going to be Pot Stirrer-in-Chief.

[end of article]

- end of initial entry -

December 2, 7:30 p.m.

Niles McCoy writes:

Mark McKinnon is the former Bushie and McCain campaign advisor who declared that he wouldn’t be part of the efforts to run effective ads against Obama in the 2008 election. “I would simply be uncomfortable being in a campaign that would be inevitably attacking Barack Obama,” said McCain adviser Mark McKinnon in an interview with NPR’s “All Things Considered.” “I think it would be uncomfortable for me, and I think it would be bad for the McCain campaign.”

All these pundits who keep throwing out detrimental polls published by news organizations with their own agendas that are detrimental to Sarah Palins chances on winning in 2012. She’s going to decide one way or another in the next six months, and the process that starts in Iowa and New Hampshire demands high levels of retail politics of candidates who want to be taken seriously. Retail politics usually works because it allows caucus and primary voters to scrutinize potential candidates for the Presidency.

LA replies:

Yes, I forgot about that. His name was vaguely familiar, but I didn’t place it. I posted about him during the 2008 campaign. So this man has zero credibility as a Republican.

Niles McCoy replies:

On the merits, McKinnon makes some good points, but his article is very likely the voice of certain Bush/Establishment Republicans. McKinnon has been attached to the Bushies at least as far back as George W.;s 1994 gubernatorial campaign. It’s not coincidental that these criticisms are coming out now, and not earlier before this year’s elections. The establishment was all to happy to propel Palin to the heights of her popularity—by one means or another—within the party, its grassroots activists, and the Tea party to help the party win many of the competitive seats in Congress. Now they are slowly building the criticism to abate her potential candidacy.

While I’ll be happy to support her, I do think Sarah Palin needs to demonstrate she can win some debates (which will start to happen this coming spring & summer) and organizational tests (the Iowa straw poll), as well as caucuses and primaries.

Alexis Zarkov writes:

Mark McKinnon writes, “President Obama’s approval rating is now just 39 percent, and he is statistically tied in a direct matchup with Palin according to a new Zogby poll.” I sent you an email on Zogby’s erroneous poll, which you posted. Obama’s current approval rating is 45 percent, not 39 percent, and has remained so since August. His approval rating is actually remarkable considering that unemployment seems stuck near 10 percent.

Will jobs come back before the 2012 election? Let’s look at unemployment over the last 40 years. In the figure below, we see the U.S. civilian unemployment rate with recession intervals shaded. Note that for the first three recessions unemployment tended to peak at about the end of a recession. But in the 1990 and 2000 recessions, we see unemployment peaking two years after the recession ended. It’s possible that current high unemployment rate will start to turn down about May 2011, well before the presidential election. If that happens, then I expect Obama’s approval will recover and exceed 50 percent by the time of the election. The Republicans need someone like New Jersey governor Christie or Senator-elect Rubio to have a fighting chance. Moreover the demographic engine will continue to grind away at the base of Republican support. Blacks, Hispanics, and women aged 18-45 will be an even greater fraction of the voters come 2012. Even if unemployment stays high, I expect Obama would defeat Palin. Currently independents might be dissatisfied with Obama, but that does not mean they would vote for Palin.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 02, 2010 06:29 AM | Send

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