Has Palin Got Ahead of the Curve?

I wasn't someone who thought Sarah Palin was a joke after her nomination speech last year, as my multiple posts on her will attest. I made that mistake right at the start, then was quite taken, then shut up. I have gone off her lately, because I wasn't impressed by how she handled defeat and what she revealed of the things that drove her. She had, it seemed to me, more of Richard Nixon's vices than his strengths.

However--and the next week or so will illustrate this--I think that she has just put down a major marker as a player in the Republican Party by putting herself at the front of the destruction of Dede Scozzafava in New York. The former Governor has very smart political instincts, and you can buy the other things. I might also point out that a Governor of Alaska will already be well briefed on National Security--she would have been getting those SAC and CIA things every week, and she's had the sense to never trade on it.

Watch the GOP now move to try to find an 'anyone but Sarah' candidate for 2012. There's a long way to go and the establishment is just going to try and murder her politically now; but maybe she's like one of those women in Muslim or Indian or Phillipino parts of asia who just gathers to herself the discontented, even if it is all about her and not them, by being very smart at the sophisticated politics of homespun gestures and smart demagoguery.

I think the (dim) prospect of a serious Palin Independent candidacy has just retreated and a Palin Republican campaign has just been more than inched forward. America is in for a bad, grinding experience of either stagflation or deflation for many, but not for the media-political class; the energies and reforming energy and drive are going to be with conservatives and the populist right, whose self-styled spokesmen may be buffoons at the minute but who are going to be pushed aside in 2010.

Even if she's just in it for the money--the lowest common denominator--she's ran rings around Michael Steele and made Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty look stupid or behind the curve this week. Some women are just very good at politics and should not be treated with kid gloves.

What's going on is deeper than Palin though, which wouldn't be too hard. The left and the centre don't get it--but why is Chris Christie level-pegging in New Jersey, why is Hoffman going to win in New York, and why on earth are Democrats messing up signature issues in Congress, on the defensive in Virginia, flirting with Jerry Brown in California--god help them--and losing independents? They had a golden chance in 2008-9, and though it hasn't completely slipped, they are blowing it. Assuming that Palin is the caricature the media want her to be isn't going to get them anywhere.

Watch that space. It's perfectly possible that American politics are about to go West Asian in more ways than one....

UPDATE: Hoffman has lost in New York, albeit with some votes that could have been litigated had he chosen to, going against him. The Republicans have won in the gubernatorial races--an anti-Goldman Sachs revolt in New Jersey as much as anything else is being unsurprisngly underplayed by the American media--and Democrats have won in California. I think I'd still make the argument that I made above; Palin was ahead of the game, there is a great deal of anti-incumbent and anti-Democrat feeling around and populist right-wing politics still have a long way to run in the states. The interesting thing to me is how badly congressional Democrats have p**sed off independents, but I know that the 'Obama' coalition wasn't in play either, despite the president's campaigning. These are some interesting straws in the wind for 2010, and 2012. It'll get worse when they mess up healthcare and realise that declaring the recession over on the back of cash-for-clunkers does not make it so.

Comments

Martin

Good piece. Her prospects within the party may have "inched forward", but she needs a gamechanger that defies the fact that 70%+ view her as insufficiently experienced. Neither that or her negative approval ratings are necessarily the end of the game, after all Hillary had negative approval and how many people would have thought Obama had sufficient experience three years ago, but she needs to do something. The book and Oprah have to be the start but it will require much more heft than that.
Martin Meenagh said…
Many Thanks.

She's following a sort of populist underground strategy if she has one at all--she has good instincts. If she is serious she needs to use some of that money she is earning and hire some good advisers and make a few signature speeches to any policy crowd that will listen, over and over. The American media are awful and have their view set, but policy people need the right sort of publicity and will network with and look favourably on anyone who gives it to them.
There needs to be some discipline if she does want to progress, and to direct all the feeling out there. I'm not so sure that she is capable of it or that it would be a good thing if she did, but I can see the 'point' of her, if you like. my worry would be that she proceeded to the point where she was surfing popular angry and where she actually thought that simple solutions would work; every neocon huckster and efficient markets nebach around would then be riding her into the national debate, with the usual disastrous results.
Martin

As much as I hate to admit it, I do see a Goldwater-esque result if she wins the nomination. But it's still what she represents that I like - evidence that conservatism has a working class appeal.

I think she should head up a charity (preferably international). Downs syndrome is the obvious choice. But then charities tend to be a liberal lot and I'm not sure any would give her the job.
Martin Meenagh said…
That's a good idea; but would the rules allow her to raise money and 'be political', which she seems to have a need to do? There's more than a hint of slightly flakey narcissism about her, though that is common to the American political class. It'd be a shame if she became a Jerry brown or Denis Kuchinich for the right.
PJMULVEY said…
Martin: She is conservative and has feel of a second coming of Ronald Reagan - a Governor from the far West, conservative values, anti-government, etc. And, alas, Obama is starting to resemble Jimmy Carter as a one termer. Although I am not a supporter of Palin, watch the GOP establishment types (Karl Rove, etc.) jump on her bandwagon as a likely winner. My guess is that the GOP is so stupid that they will try to ram a white, bland, moderate and establishment governor to take her on reminiscent of Bush I in 1980. I think a run from the right outside the Republican establishment is the recipe for success in the primaries. The Left fears her like no one else on the horizon.