Friday, November 6, 2009

Sarah Palin Says "Jump," Republican Leadership Says "How High"

Today, Sarah Palin, the blogger from Alaska, will speak at a Right to Life event in Wisconsin. Running true to form, no press will be allowed, and to add to the bizarreness of the event, according to Mike Tate, Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman, no one entering the venue will be allowed to bring in a cell phone, camera, laptop, or any kind of recording device. Think she might be worried some of her insightful comments might make it out onto the intertubes?

Earlier in the week it was reported that she was asking $100,000 for an appearance in Iowa, a claim that her aides denied and it was later reported that she was asking only $75,000 and three first-class airline tickets. There is no doubt that she is seriously considering a run for the presidential nomination in 2012, especially after inserting herself into the NY-23 campaign and attempting to insert herself into the Virginia and New Jersey Republican campaigns (they declined, although they allow her to record robo-calls, minus any identifiers which unfortunately, run afoul of campaign law).

It is apparent that the GOP rather than move to the center in an effort to win back seats, has decided that ideological purity is the answer and so is investing its energy into tea parties and other extremist activities. Yesterday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was in her glory as the GOP leadership joined her on the Capital steps, for the first time giving institutional approval to her - and by extension - Fox News's more radical and extreme astroturfing ideas.

What is fascinating about this endeavor by the GOP is that less than 20% of Americans now identify themselves as Republican. Fox News and the fringe of the Republican Party in the form of Michele Bachmann inflame the extremists and most radical libertarians - the ones that boo the Republican leadership at town hall meetings as often as the Democratic - and when faced with endorsing a moderate Republican (Scozzafava) or a wacko Conservative Party candidate (Hoffman) in New York, they choose Hoffman. Even losing a seat in Congress for the first time since before the Civil War is still a win in their eyes as they have removed someone from the party who is not pure enough to represent them. To them, it isn't about winning elections (and thus gaining seats), it's about shaping the ideology of the party and thus shaping the ideology of the country as a whole, forgetting that is just ain't gonna happen.

They know they cannot win elections without independents, but party purity is more important than winning elections. Isn't that what political parties are all about? Weird.

It doesn't matter who is in power. It doesn't matter what laws they write. It doesn't matter who has the money. There will always be liberals and progressives and libertarians. There will also always be wackos and extremists and people balancing on the edge who when riled up, will take up their guns and their bombs and use them and won't care if the government who riled them is Republican or Democratic.

I digress. In the past year since losing her bid to become vice president, Sarah Palin has snubbed the Republican Party more often than not. She has engaged where she should have ignored, and ignored when she should have engaged. When she should have taken the high road and acted like a politician and demonstrated that thick skin she claimed to have, she threatened lawsuits. At this point, I was going to say that when she was mistreated, but couldn't think of any examples. So, moving on.

Sarah Palin has never felt it necessary to fulfill her obligations, keep her promises, or apply laws and ethical rules to herself. For some reason, she retains a great following. She remains very popular in some circles and is able to attract large crowds. What she seems unable to do is recognize that those large crowds aren't big enough to elect her dogcatcher. She doesn't seem to understand that were she to run again for City Council in Wasilla, she would most likely lose. Her book hasn't even been released yet, but is available for purchase for less than ten dollars and in some places, less than five if you order a magazine. Most people would take this as a clue and begin to wonder if they should re-examine their career path. Sarah Palin's dictionary seems to be missing self-reflection or self-awareness.

It is apparent that Sarah Palin believes that she can chart her own course and that she does not think she needs the Republican Party. It is true that she has a niche that she appeals to and will likely retain their votes no matter what truths Levi reveals. It is apparent that the Republican Party, at least this week, is following Sarah Palin (and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck) rather than the reverse, but at some point, they will have to start reading the polls.

In a recent CNN poll, Sarah Palin's favorability rating was at 42% and her unfavorability rating was 15 points higher than Mike Huckabee's which is saying something. Seventy percent of Americans and 50% of Republicans do not think she is qualified to be president, and from where I sit, nothing she is doing is going to change that in the next two years.

We progressives and Democrats shouldn't sit back and stop worrying though. Obama and the Democratic Party won because of grassroots support and the turnout of young people, none of which showed up this week. Off year elections typically don't get much notice, but neither do the mid-terms even though they are as important to the President as the general election. Right now, astroturfed or not, the Tea Baggers are energized and truly hate Obama and the Democratic Party. Lies or not, they believe what they hear on Fox News. They won't listen to reason and don't want to be confused with the facts. To most of them, it is a holy war which makes it scarier than ever.

If grassroots is what won in 2008, it is also what will win in 2010 and 2012, and regardless of how unpopular the Republican Party is at this time, groundswells - even if generated by hate - have a habit of growing.

Sarah Palin isn't going away unless some one of the remaining ethics charges filed against her or -gates is actually found to have merit, and accompanied by enough evidence to force her to face criminal charges. In the meantime, for all who tell me to get over it, she's no threat, I think she is. The numbers may be small, but in NY-23, when she said "jump," the entire Republican leadership said "how high." That deserves our attention.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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