Green Room

Heart and Soul of the Right

posted at 11:47 am on May 14, 2010 by

Public Policy Polling released a poll of possible Republican presidential contenders yesterday, putting Sarah Palin in fourth place behind Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and even Newt Gingrich.  All four are within a few points of each other, and the data comes from the same outfit which assured us Doug Hoffman would sweep New York’s 23rd district by double digits, so the poll should be taken with a grain of salt.  Unfortunately, the government says we can’t have salt anymore, so I guess we’ll have to take it seriously.

To a Palin admirer, it seems strange she would be in fourth place.  She’s been locked in a steel cage match with the Administration since the day after Obama was inaugurated, while Romney, Huckabee, and Gingrich have been quietly watching the show and hoping she doesn’t tap them in.  Why would a significant percentage of Republican voters choose one of the others over her?

Part of the answer lies in the concept of electability, which Republican voters tend to judge by how easily they think the media can scare independents away from the candidate.  Over two years out from the election, every prospective GOP candidate is running against the evil twin voters imagine is growing in a pod behind the offices of CBS News.  Mitt Romney stands beneath the anvil of Massachusetts health care, suspended over his head by a badly fraying rope.  Huckabee conjures images of secular voters running in terror from a giant church revival tent.  The media can barely keep from giggling as they fondle the doorknob of the closet containing Newt Gingrich’s skeletons.

Palin has a mob of character assassins following her around and sharpening their knives.  Her evil twin is particularly scary to Republican voters, because they’ve already seen it burst from its pod and do a couple of turns on Saturday Night Live. There is also the matter of her resignation from the governorship of Alaska.  In the long run, this wouldn’t be fatal to her prospects with either Republicans or the larger electorate, in a “neener-neener she’s-a-quitter” sense… although she had better be prepared to deal with that meme.  There’s another reason why the resignation hurts Palin, even with Republican voters who are generally well disposed toward her.

Other politicians, including the current President, resigned from their positions too, breaking loud promises to the contrary.  They quit in order to satisfy their ambitions for higher office, which caused the resignations to deal less political damage.  Many voters saw Palin resigning from politics, not merely the governor’s office.  She’s moved into the media, becoming an author and commentator.

This doesn’t matter much to those who have followed her adventures over the past year closely, and seen her decimate the Administration with a deft slash of her Facebook page.  It doesn’t matter at all to those already eager to vote for her.  It does matter to a party that still sings mournful songs of Fred the Grey, who fell asleep and tumbled off the bridge of Moria before the Balrog even showed up.  The election of 2012 will be a savage battle, and all the arrows coming at Palin will be dipped in poison.  The Republican electorate would like to see some x-rays of the fire in her belly before they get behind her.

Some of the softness in Palin’s support is probably sympathetic.  She’s doing great work for the conservative cause as a private citizen, and enjoying an incredibly successful career.  Her quest for the White House would be a roller coaster leading into a meat grinder.  There’s a quivering lunatic in a tattered lab coat hanging around the loading platform, mumbling something about discovering the real mother of her son.  Is she ready to strap her family into that ride again?  Would anyone blame her for deciding not to?

Personally, I hope she does.  The Anchoress touches on an important reason why, in the course of expressing her reservations about Palin’s more energetic supporters:

But Palin’s base needs to calm down a little, and realize that when they act like the rightwing version of gaga-eyed Obamabots, they’re not helping their candidate. There is no such thing as a “perfect” person, certainly no such thing as a “perfect” politician, and when I hear someone refer to Palin as “my Sarah,” or I get an email from someone for daring to criticize “our Sarah,” I frankly want to puke. Such emails do not convince me to “love” Sarah Palin, they actually make me distrust her political viability all the more, because I distrust emotionalism in politics.

I share her distrust for emotionalism.  I’ve said before that a large government is, by definition, more emotional than rational.  The problem is that dismantling such a government will require passion. The project must rest upon a sound, logical foundation, but there is simply no way to succeed without engaging Big Government on its own emotional terms.

The path to American renewal will be extremely difficult to follow.  The morale of our citizens will be a serious concern.  Regardless of how awful a president Barack Obama has been, the media will present his defeat in 2012 as a tragedy, bordering on a national sin.  They’ll push that meme harder as his failures pile up.  We need leadership that combines good cheer, fiery determination, and intelligent mastery of the issues.

Mitt Romney is cut from polished wood, and Newt Gingrich is origami folded from a thousand position papers, blotted with ugly scozzafava stains that may never come out.  At this moment in time, Sarah Palin is the heart and soul of the Right.  I can understand why many Republican voters might be reluctant to go into the next election with their hearts on their sleeves, but that’s the only way to win… and achieve the mandate necessary to do what needs to be done.  If she formally declares for office, some of those reluctant Republican hearts will grow stout, and the next salt-encrusted poll from PPP might look quite a bit different.

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Contrary to the belief many conservatives seem to hold, reason and passion are not necessarily mutually exclusive things. One can fuel the other, and when combined they can become an unstoppable force…particularly in the political arena.

Cylor on May 14, 2010 at 12:10 PM

Touchdown, Doc. Six points. Plus, you made the two-point conversion.

victor82 on May 14, 2010 at 1:14 PM

Public Policy Polling released a poll of possible Republican presidential contenders yesterday, putting Sarah Palin in fourth place behind Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and even Newt Gingrich.

Why would conservatives want PPP to pick their candidates?

Jettison them all, and bring in new blood.

percysunshine on May 14, 2010 at 1:24 PM

If you want the best
Go Allen West
Been put to the test
Head and Shoulders above the rest

MB4 on May 14, 2010 at 1:32 PM

I get incensed when I hear some schmuck like say, Bill Maher or OlbyMan denigrating Palin and my first instinct is to defend her.

That being said. I most likely would not vote for her for the Presidency. Especially if two or more other qualified Republican candidates were in the running.

What Dr. Zero might not know is that my sentiment is common among Tea Party members and Conservatives like myself.

We see her as the one we can count one to expose the ridiculousness of the President’s policies, but we know she will match him in snarkyness. In snideness.

Let’s face it. Her debut speech as VP candidate was energizing and rose up the base and went after the “O” like no one had before it.

BUT… was peppered with snarky, snide, cutting, and sarcastic rips. And it has set the tone of her “arguments” ever since.

While we LOVE this, we also know this is what Obama and his ilk does as well. Gibbs does it. Rahm does it. Pelosi does it. And Obama does it.

And we all hate it. And we want them gone.

Seriously, ask yourself: do you want to here her tone everyday on the TV? You can be “tough” and “real” without the sniping she imposes. Just listen to the last video of Christie in New Jersey going after that reporter.

THAT is what we want and need. Notice the tone? The toughness, but clarity? The leadership? He CRUSHED that reporter without resorting to sniping, cutting, snarky, snippy comments.

I think Palin is a great anti Obama. But she does it by equaling his attitude, but from the other side of the aisle.

We do not want his equal. We want his OPPOSITE.

Opposite Day on May 14, 2010 at 1:36 PM

The Christie approach will be a litmus test. Not sure how long it will last, but it is viral now.

percysunshine on May 14, 2010 at 1:54 PM

Awesome piece DOC!!! How long until Salem moves you out of the Green Room? We need more counter balance to AP.

Opposite Day on May 14, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Your points are well taken, however, if you go back and watch her appearances and news conferences as Governor, etc you would not see “the tone” you are describing. What she is doing now is rallying the base and she can do it in this tone b/c she is a private citizen and does not hold any elected office.

Comparing her to Christie is like comparing apples and oranges right now. IF she declares her candidacy, you will see a marked difference in her tone and approach on serious issues.

davek70 on May 14, 2010 at 2:48 PM

I always click on your headlines, Doc. You’ve got a real talent for ’em.

Sarah Palin is the heart and soul of the Right


John the Libertarian on May 14, 2010 at 3:38 PM

How long until Salem moves you out of the Green Room?

davek70 on May 14, 2010 at 2:48 PM

It’s a completely different kind of writing AP and Ed do. He may not want to be so immediate.

John the Libertarian on May 14, 2010 at 3:40 PM

When Doc Zero moves, he slices like a frickin’ hammer!

Mr. Wednesday Night on May 14, 2010 at 4:14 PM

I share her distrust for emotionalism. I’ve said before that a large government is, by definition, more emotional than rational. The problem is that dismantling such a government will require passion. The project must rest upon a sound, logical foundation, but there is simply no way to succeed without engaging Big Government on its own emotional terms.

This is what I’ve been saying for months, but not as eloquently.

Once the intellectual foundation has been built, do you need to remain detached and analytical about the rest of the campaign? Of course you need passion, emotional motivation combined with intellectual reason to get done what you want done.

All the criticism of people who support Palin as being the identical clones of Obama’s drones is really unfounded.

There are sound reasons to support Palin’s efforts with emotional enthusiasm, and embrace the connection between yourself and someone you admire and want to see succeed.

The emotion and passion are treated as the antithesis to reason and thought by some people around here, and this is a worn out horse that won’t die.

You can use cold reason to reach a conclusion, then get very passionate about enacting the results of that reason, because you believe it to be right, after thoughtful consideration. At some point, the time for action arrives.

That time would be from now until this November, then we can enjoy the holidays knowing Queen Nancy the Phonyface I will be dethroned the following January. What a Christmas present to the country that would be!

Let’s make it happen, with feeling!

Brian1972 on May 14, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Opposite Day on May 14, 2010 at 1:36 PM

hate to break it to you but what christie did is no different than what Palin has been doing since aug 2008.

the tone is the same. christies made several snide remarks. “thin-skinned reporter” “or how the post admin did it” etc.

the only difference I see between the two besides weight is that one is a woman and the other a man. Maybe you have less a problem with a man saying snide remarks than a woman?

unseen on May 14, 2010 at 6:22 PM

Doc, I like her, and I wish her well in everything except for presidential politics. She is probably a very good person, but she is an intellectual lightweight, which she attempts to cover with run-on harrangues. These run-ons drive me up the f*$!!king wall.

Just after Obama was elected, I refused to watch his speeches. After 16 months of him as president, I like him no better, but I will listen to his drivel, but change channels when Palin is interviewed.

Listening to her is (to me) like fingers on a chalkboard. I can not and will not support her. And this is coming from a hard-core, life-long conservative. Even excluding the far left (which hates her passionately for some mysterious reason) I know I am not alone and may in fact be in the majority.

lionheart on May 14, 2010 at 7:03 PM

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Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

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