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Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Saturday, November 01, 2008

What Would "Worse" Look Like?

No, this isn't speculation on how a McCain administration would turn out, although partisan bloodbath certainly seems like a reasonable answer to that question. Instead I'm thinking about a meme I've been hearing a lot lately, including from the usually sensible Eugene Robinson and Michelle Bernard, that says Palin has been "getting better" on the campaign trail. Really? REALLY?

How's this for a better explanation for the illusion that she's getting better. No frickin' interviews! Zero press conferences! After all, the media swooned over her convo speech just as they now talk up how "electric" she is on the stump. Well no shit. She's throwing red meat into the pit bull pen. Floating butterflies in a loony bin. Tossing a negro into a Klan rally. You get the point. In the old days, we called this "demagoguery," and, yeah, it tends to be "electric." And nobody gets to ask questions. So no opportunities for Evita P. Agnew ("Spirita Peron"?) to humiliate herself by not being able to name a single newspaper. I also get annoyed with the whole "liberals need to take her charisma seriously" rap from Robinson, et al. Dude, we take her seriously. We know she's got Napoleonic ambitions in her addled snakes-on-a-brain. That's why we MOCK her. The best way to avoid underestimating her dangerousness is to turn her into a national joke. She is dumb, and she is vicious, and she is corrupt. We need to set that narrative in stone, and I mean now.


At 8:46 AM, Blogger Paul said...

What horrible thing did the discipline of epigraphy ever do to warrant being associated with Palin?

At 8:01 AM, Blogger Number Three said...

Paul's comment must be an isider joke for the epigraphers out there.

But as to TMcD's rage-fueled rant (RFR):

At any given time, the media narrative on any candidate is either that the candidate is "getting better" or "getting worse." That's why there's so much over-interpretation of statistical noise this last week about "the polls tightening."

Palin had fallen so low that her coverage was bound to get better. It's like Broder predicting a Bush comeback when his numbers had hit historic lows. (NOTE that there is no Bush narrative now that it's clear his numbers are static. If he can't go lower, and he isn't moving up, then he disappears.)

TMcD is right about the effects of no interviews etc. But it's also just in the nature of things that Palin was likely to get slightly better coverage down the stretch.

I actually think Palin is done after this election. She won't have a national platform from which to wage a media campaign post-November 4, and she will have a hell of a time carving out a media niche. (She doesn't have any policy expertise and she lives in a remote state in a later than EST time zone. The U.S. media world still lives on New York time, folks.)

If there's one thing that American politics has taught me, it is that Americans don't respect a loser.

Sure you can argue that it's different for Republicans, that Faux News will celebrate Palin even as it casts McCain into the abyss of loserdom. Maybe.

But Palin doesn't get to vote against Obama's legislative proposals; she won't get interviewed off the floor during marathon "first 100 days" sessions; she faces reelection in 2 years and will have to put her own house in order. That AK reelection race might get some attention, especially if she faces a realistic challenge. But that can't help her national aspirations any.

If I had to guess, my guess would be that the next GOP contender emerges out of the House or Senate. Someone has to become the visible and vocal leader of the Opposition. And it's not likely to be the governor of a nowhere state.

Who this person is likely to be, I have no idea. The likely candidates are so lacking in charm that the mind reels. House: Pence? Cantor? Putnam? Senate: Kyl? Cornyn?

But I think that the action is going to shift to D.C., and GOP wannabes not in D.C. the next four years are going to fade: Palin, Romney, Jindal. They're not in the big leagues starting January 20.

At 9:17 AM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

I disagree on this last point. The opposition leader for Pres rarely comes from Congress, and the GOP will look for a governor. Plus, the GOP is a royalist party. They ALWAYS give it to the next old white guy in line. That means the Mittster, I'm afraid. The battle will be between the establishment money-cons and the populist crazy-cons. Since Palin will have to battle with Huck for the latter, and since the money-cons have, well, $$$$, Mitt will come out on top.

As much as I hate to say this, Mitt, as serpentine as he is, is preferable to "Bible Spice." But she's still in the mix, and she'll get lots of buzz thanks to FOX, Rush, etc.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Number Three said...

We'll see. The last candidate to secure a major party nomination AFTER having been a failed veep candidate was Bob Dole in 1996, and that was 20 years after the election in which he was on the losing end; his nomination was based on his Senate service and the
weak (Powell-less) GOP field in '96. Dole was a Senate leader, leader of the GOP opposition to Clinton. Of course, Gingrich had presidential ambitions, too.

The last candidate to win the presidency having served as an unsuccessful veep nominee?

FDR. He was Cox's running mate in 1920. He wasn't nominated for 12 years, years that included polio and winning the governorship of New York, a major state.

So the failed veep slot is hardly a position that lends itself to greatness in the United States.

I'm not sure about the governor point. It's true that that has been the trend, but I'm not sure that the trend is to pick governors of western states. Reagan is the great exception here, but California is a major state.

2000-04: Texas* (Southern)
1992-96: Arkansas (Southern)
1980-84: California
1984: Massachusetts (the Duke)
1976-80: Georgia (Southern)
1944-48: New York (Dewey)
1932-44: New York

*Texas was a Confederate state, so it is properly Southern not western.

Now, it's true that the population of the United States has moved progressively westward; but that process has been ongoing for a very long time.

Westerners on national tickets:
McCain and Palin**
Warren (1948 veep nominee)

*Note that this is the first national ticket made up of two westerners (counting Alaska as a western state).

I think that being from Alaska is a monumental barrier to national ticket-level prominence. The record is clear that few nominees for pres or veep come from the western United States. Palin's selection as veep, which was a fluke of historic proportions, is the only reason we are talking about her.

So for her to stay in the limelight she has to overcome the effects of losing (assuming that the polls are correct) and location.

Romney was a northeastern governor, but I don't think he is the direction the party will go. I don't know where it will go, but not there. This was his chance and he lost.

At 11:03 AM, Blogger Number Three said...

Let me add Cheney in 200-04 as a westerner on a national ticket, and you can add Nixon as veep in 1952-56. But then Nixon makes up a large percentage of the westerners on national tickets (1952, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972).


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