Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sarah Palin: Late to the 'Party'?


Not being in the business of predicting the future, I would never presume to suggest that Sarah Palin is deluded if she thinks God is going to open the door to the presidency for her to just "plow through." Alright, maybe I would presume precisely that. The much bigger question, however, is whether she represents a constituency among Republicans that possesses the wherewithal to continue to vie for the soul of the Party.

At the moment, the GOP seems fractured on the matter of Palin's potential, just as they seem fractured on which platform will accede to its ideological throne, the country club diehards or the Sam's club up-and-comers.

There are some who are convinced Palin's brand of conservatism is so out of touch (myself included) that if she were to run for president in four years she would announce Ann Coulter to be her Secretary of State, Rush Limbaugh her chief of staff, and Pastor John Hagee her National Security Advisor - assuming they all haven't imploded by then. And yet there are those who seem to believe she can put the circus that was her run at the vice presidency behind her and morph into a viable 2012 contender. The reality likely is that the only way a Palin candidacy could achieve viability is if she morphs into something she clearly is not at the moment: a moderate conservative who understands that for the Republican party to regain its luster it must diversify its political portfolio. At the moment, without an expansive ideological wardrobe makeover, Palin appears destined to go the way of the dinosaur. But talk of the next presidential election is a bit premature - one would think.

In selecting Palin as his running mate, John McCain appeared to appoint a younger more idealized version of himself. This may have been his fatal mistake. Instead of attempting to reclaim the conservative wing to push him across the finish line, McCain should have ventured toward the center. A Bobby Jindal (Governor of Louisiana) or Tim Pawlenty (Minnesota Governor) would, in hindsight, have probably been much better choices. Moreover, McCain ignored the latter part of the time-tested adage, "run to your wing to get the nomination; run to the center to win the general election."

Other than offering her a speaking role at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Miami last week, the RGA afforded no role for Palin in announcing their leadership slate for the coming year. Her address was widely panned even by Republican insiders as being laced with election rhetoric rehash going so far as to grant a sixteenth minute of fame to Joe the plumber mentioning him four times. Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capeheart stated simply, "She needs to stop."

Sarah Palin seems to want to enlist as a mercenary soldier in the culture wars. The problem is that the fighting is just about over and the only thing left to do is bring home the troops. In other words, grab what's left of your dignity and call it a day. The Republican Party is too sophisticated a machine not to understand that retooling must be next on its agenda. The question is: does Sarah Palin possess the wherewithal to realize this?

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