Saturday, November 08, 2008

The audacity of hype

By J. Kingston Pierce

It can only be attributed to the Republicant’s’ dismal failures in this most recent election cycle, that they should think Sarah Palin would be their best hope of winning the Oval Office back from President Barack Obama in 2012. Increasingly marginalized, so desperate for new ideas and a new direction that it is soliciting public help in figuring out what to do next, and blind to the fact that its devastating losses this week resulted from its being too right-wing, rather than too moderate, the GOP is foundering on a national scale. Why its membership would think that Palin offers them their best lifeline is beyond me.

Yet, according to the polling firm Rasmussen Reports,

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republican voters say Alaska Governor Sarah Palin helped John McCain’s bid for the presidency, even as news reports surface that some McCain staffers think she was a liability.

Only 20% of GOP voters say Palin hurt the party’s ticket, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Six percent (6%) say she had no impact, and five percent (5%) are undecided.

Ninety-one percent (91%) of Republicans have a favorable view of Palin, including 65% who say their view is Very Favorable. Only eight percent (8%) have an unfavorable view of her, including three percent (3%) Very Unfavorable.

When asked to choose among some of the GOP’s top names for their choice for the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, 64% say Palin. The next closest contenders are two former governors and unsuccessful challengers for the presidential nomination this year--Mike Huckabee of Arkansas with 12% support and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts with 11%.

Three other sitting governors--Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Charlie Crist of Florida and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota--all pull low single-digit support.

Again, these numbers demonstrate how out of touch Republican’ts are with the feelings of the nation as a whole. Just prior to the November 4 election, a New York Times/CBS News poll found that 59 percent of voters surveyed said Palin wasn’t prepared for the job of vice president, much less president. Can her reputation be helped by the latest revelations, coming from FOX News and other GOP sources, that Palin didn’t know that Africa is a continent, rather than a country, and couldn’t name the three members of NAFTA (Canada, the United States, and Mexico)? There’s a chance that her right-wing Christianist fans, the folks in possession of today’s Republican’t Party, might continue to look on her favorably. But she couldn’t win in 2012 merely by appealing to that narrow base. Which is why Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are already currying favor with voters and backers they may need for a White House run four years from now. They’re banking on Palin’s star falling far in advance of the next presidential contest, and they hope to be there to pick up the pieces.

Meanwhile, conservative political columnist Robert Novak--who’s
in denial that Obama won a governing mandate this week--is already touting disgraced former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as the great white hope for GOPers in 2012. Writing in The Washington Post, Novak concedes that

Gingrich is far from a unanimous or even a consensus choice to run for president in 2012, but there is a strong feeling in Republican ranks that he is the only leader of their party who has shown the skill and energy to attempt a comeback quickly.

Even one of his strongest supporters for president in 2012 admits it is a “very risky choice.” But Republicans are in a desperate mood after the fiasco of John McCain's seemingly safe candidacy.

Republicans seem chastened by the failure of seeking moderate, independent and even Democratic votes. They are ready to try going back to the “old-time religion.”

One Republican critic of Gingrich concedes that he has an “unlimited” energy flow and a constant stream of ideas, an important commodity in a party that appears to have run short of ideas during the Bush years. But there is widespread concern about what is described in the party as deep “character flaws” of Gingrich’s that would be difficult to overcome in a presidential campaign.

Nobody in Republican ranks, however, matches Gingrich’s dynamism.

“Deep ‘character flaws.’” That’s an oblique way of recalling that Gingrich threw a temper tantrum when he was denied prime seating on Air Force One during President Bill Clinton’s time in office; that he presented his first wife (of three) with divorce demands while she was still in a hospital bed recovering from surgery for uterine cancer; and that he was so arrogant, he thought he could shut down the federal government in 1995 and cast the blame on Clinton, only to have the American public turn on him instead. As fellow Republican’t Hall of Shame member Tom DeLay recalled in his 2007 book, No Retreat, No Surrender, Gingrich “made the mistake of his life” in testing the patience of Americans by trying to undermine Clinton’s authority.

Perhaps in comparison with Gingrich, the stumbling Sarah Palin looks good as a candidate four years from now. But it’s pretty foolish of Novak or anyone else in the GOP to begin speculating on who might take up the Republican’t banner in 2012. First, they ought to consider whether that banner stands for anything anymore, and if so, what. In the absence of such soul searching, the GOP is just a party on autopilot.

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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  • Please, please, please Palin-Huckabee 2012.

    By Blogger ., at 8:29 PM  

  • Wow, wouldn't that be inviting a disaster of monumental proportions ...

    Sounds good!


    By Blogger J. Kingston Pierce, at 1:27 AM  

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