Election 2008 McCain Politics

Palin 2012

A liberal friend of mine thought it was preposterous that Sarah Palin could have a legitimate shot at the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. And if it was true, he thought it was a suicidal move.

He cited the fact that Palin was dragging McCain’s polling numbers down, her numerous Alaskan scandals, her constant flubs in interviews, and “speeches that could only impress a six-year old.”

I disagree with him on her speechmaking ability – in my opinion, her Republican convention speech was electrifying. It was a truly impressive performance – even without taking into account that this was her first time on the national stage. Her appearance certainly electrified the conservative base – and inspired Democrats to donate to Obama in heretofore unprecedented numbers.

Her issues interviewing I think can be fixed with some more time in the limelight and less “handling.” She was much better in the Charlie Gibson interview than in the Katie Couric one – even if her answers in both were similar content-wise – because she bs’ed with confidence to Gibson, even if everyone watching could tell.

But her ability to tell such shameless falsehoods with conviction – or perhaps, her lack of interest to know that she is telling lies – has helped to make her a star in the Republican party. She can really give it to Obama – she’s tough – they say. McCain usually seems somewhat ashamed of himself when he goes overboard. This shameless quality will help her in interviews later – as she polishes her style and continues to develop her political personality.

If she is seen as the person who brought McCain down – then that will hurt her. But if that sentiment can be pigeon-holed as merely what “the media” is saying – then the Right will be perfectly fine to right this off as more media bias against attractive Republican women.

As for her numerous Alaskan scandals – they say only two things can end a political career – a dead girl or a live boy. I’m not sure how that aphorism gets de-genderized to fit Palin – but none of her scandals fit. Plus – given the context of Alaskan politics, Palin’s dipping into state funds has been modest.

Which is why conservative strategist Patrick Ruffini is asking if Palin will be the Howard Dean of the Republican Party in the next few years – the unofficial leader of unabashed conservatism who will lead the party out of the wilderness. Marc Ambinder, politics reporter for The Atlantic, explains the many reasons Palin will be well-positioned come 2012 including this one – which is the strongest:

The Republicans are going to want someone willing to really go for Obama’s throat, and be able to do it with a smile.

Remember how hated Hillary Clinton was in 1994? In 1998 even? Yet, ten years later she was almost able to coast her way to inevitable victory – winning over, in the end, many of the same figures who had most hated her while she was First Lady.

Sarah Palin turns off liberals – and scares them. She invigorates Republicans. Independents loved her inititially, and then turned against her as she proved to be inept and shallow. But a few years will give her enough time to develop some gravitas.

I’m certainly not rooting for Palin – but it would be wise not to underestimate her.