Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sarah Palin: The Elephant in the Room Full of Elephants

The Washington Post's George Will writes about "weirdness" in the field of potential Republican candidates for 2012, without once mentioning Sarah Palin:
If pessimism is not creeping on little cat's feet into Republicans' thinking about their 2012 presidential prospects, that is another reason for pessimism. This is because it indicates they do not understand that sensible Americans, who pay scant attention to presidential politics at this point in the electoral cycle, must nevertheless be detecting vibrations of weirdness emanating from people associated with the party.
He goes on to describe the strange obsession with Kenya of two of the potential nominees: Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. Gingrich seems to be "theatrically tiptoeing" toward candidacy while speculating that President Obama has a '"Kenyan, anti-colonial" mentality.' Huckabee claimed on a radio show that Obama grew up in Kenya, insulted the British by returning a bust of Winston Churchill, and that "he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists." Will writes of what Gingrich claims to be his "stunning insight," '"the most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama." Gingrich begins with a faux question: "What if he is so outside our comprehension" that he can be understood "only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior?" Then Gingrich says this is not just a question, it is "the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior."'

Will doesn't come right out and call Gingrich and Huckabee liars, but writes sarcastically, "The architects and administrators of the British Empire were imperialists? Perish the thought." He does, however, call Huckabee's spokesman, who said that Huckabee had "misspoken," a liar.

Will concludes:
Let us not mince words. There are at most five plausible Republican presidents on the horizon - Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

So the Republican winnowing process is far advanced. But the nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.

Sarah Palin wasn't mentioned; not once, even though she's certainly "careless, delusional," and "spotlight-chasing." George Will probably considers Palin done -- cooked elephant? -- and out of the picture; he has always considered her to be a lightweight. He may be stalking bigger game; once he takes down Gingrich and Huckabee, the list of potential nominees may be just those he has mentioned.

Recently, Palin said that Republicans' obsession with Obama's birthplace and demands to see his birth certificate were counter-productive. That isn't something she's said all along. In fact, her "enlightenment" came shortly after Karl Rove was critical of the "birthers."

These attempts to use insinuation and innuendo to smear a candidate have a long history. What is interesting about the attempts to smear President Obama is that they are coming from the candidates themselves. Karl Rove knows too well that such things are to be done on the sly, by low level party operatives. The Bush campaign's attempt to smear McCain, in South Carolina, in 2000, by claiming that his adopted daughter was his own child and African-American is a case in point.

"G.O.P.: Birthers are Evil, but a Necessary Evil," has some more information about the "birthers" and Palin's long-time association with them.

George Will's article is titled, "Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and the spotlight-chasing candidates of 2012." has "Born in the U.S.A.: The truth about Obama's birth certificate."


Joie Vouet said...

So, how did all these "kooks" become widely talked about candidates for the Republican nomination in 2012?

It may be that the mid-term defeat in 2006 and the loss of the presidency in 2008 so devastated the more mainstream Republicans that these fringe candidates were able to take the stage, after more mainstream candidates abandoned it in despair.

Of course, the 2010 mid-terms may have re-energized some Republicans, but their gains appear to have been made in a low turnout election and led by a lot of extremists who apparently see no value in government -- the "drown government in a bathtub" people. With time -- and it is a long time until the election, in most voters' view -- with time, it's likely to become more apparent that Obama is one of the few adults in the room. He is actually quite moderate, even Conservative -- with a capital C -- and he will probably be perceived that way in 2012 by the majority of voters.

Anonymous said...

There have always been a few nutball candidates around for election cycles. Seems to me the only thing that has changed in the last 5 years is the rise of Fox News as the voice of the right wing of the Republican party. Fox is giving these nutballs a louder and more sustained voice.