One good thing about President Obama’s re-election: It seems to have prompted some sober thinking by Republican Party leaders and allies. Oh sure, there’s been some loose talk of secession, but mostly what you’ve found is top GOP leaders trying to figure out how to broaden the GOP’s appeal and shed its reputation for anti-intellectualism while staying true to their conservative values. This is a good thing.
One sure way for Republicans to blow it: If Sarah Palin runs for president.
You might’ve thought Palin’s political career pretty much ended when she decided not to run for president against a week GOP primary field in 2012. Her supporters were certainly eager to see her run, and the other candidates were clearly terrified that she’d jump in. But she stayed out, made frequent appearances on Fox News, and that seemed that.
Until Sunday, that is, when conservative writer Charlotte Allen took to the pages of the Los Angeles Times and urged Palin to run in 2016.
Why? Well, because unlike boring old Mitt Romney, apparently, Sarah Palin won’t try to appeal to voters on the basis of issues. She’s a good old-fashioned demagogue. She’ll appeal to their hearts, and their penises.
Romney failed to take into account the fact that large segments of the electorate neither know nor care much about serious economic and political issues. What they — a group sometimes euphemistically called ‘uninformed voters’ — do know and care about are the tugs on their emotions, fears, revulsions and heart strings provided by hours and hours of uninterrupted television watching.
Obama basically twisted voters’ emotions against Romney, Allen writes, and Palin can play that game as well as anyone.
Palin can more than keep up with the Democrats in appealing to voters’ emotions. Hardly anyone could be more blue collar than Palin, out on the fishing boat with her hunky blue-collar husband, Todd. Palin is “View”-ready, she’s “Ellen”-ready, she’s Kelly-and-Michael-ready.
Oh, yeah, and the penises:
Furthermore, looks count in politics, and Palin at age 48, has it all over her possible competition, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, who will be 69 by election day 2016 and who let someone talk her into adopting the flowing blond locks of a college student, making her look like Brunnhilde in a small-town Wagner production. Men love Sarah Palin, and she loves men.
Forget Allen’s tired, sexist “Hillary’s a hag!” routine. Otherwise, the comparison between Sarah Palin Hillary Clinton is instructive, because Hillary has one thing that Palin hasn’t bothered with, even after more than four years in the national spotlight: A resumé.
Yes, Palin was elected governor of Alaska. She also resigned before completing a single term, because A) she couldn’t handle the heat or B) wanted to start making money from TV reality shows and Fox News appearances. She offers almost zero evidence she’s spent the last four years overcoming a shallowness on the issues that was so fatal to her candidacy in 2008.
Clinton rose to prominence thanks to her husband, yes, but she’s built her own impressive stream of accomplishments. She was elected to the Senate, twice, and by all accounts refused to coast on her fame, but instead put her head down, did her homework, formed alliances, and got stuff done. And when she left the Senate, it wasn’t in order to cash in—but rather to take a job as President Obama’s Secretary of State. You can argue that Clinton has been imperfect in those roles (or as a failed 2008 candidate for president) but you can’t argue that she’s unprepared.
Comparing the two women, in fact, is really a huge disservice to Clinton. In fact, when you get down to it, the Democrat that Sarah Palin most resembles is … John Edwards. Good looking, bit of a dilettante, able to produce emotional reactions, and never quite good enough to win.
Allen’s right about one thing, though: Palin does stir voters’ emotions. Lots of them really don’t like her.
Republicans appear ready to use their 2012 loss to do a little housecleaning in their party. It’s a healthy process, and even if it comes to full fruition there’s still plenty of things they stand for that liberals will oppose. But they can’t get very far by parading Sarah Palin—who represents much of what is ugly, bad, and even occasionally stupid about the GOP—as a potential standard bearer. It’s time for Republicans, and America, to move on.