Michael Steele to anonymous Palin critics: Shut up

Skip ahead to 4:30 for the key bit. Most HA commenters have seemed, shall we say, lukewarm thus far to the prospect of him running for reelection as RNC chair, but will that still hold if/when Palin endorses him? Because I’d bet that that’s coming. Remember, she’s already said she thinks he’s done a, er, great job.

As for today’s big Politico piece, I have to ask: Isn’t its worst sin the fact that the 2012 “establishment vs. Palin” dynamic has already been painfully obvious for a long, long time? How many times have I bored you guys with posts about that over the past year or so? If even a dummy like me can see it coming from a mile away, I’m hard-pressed to call this “news.” Here’s a bit from a post written 10 months ago:

Virtually every primary poll taken thus far shows her, Huck, and Mitt bunched up in the low 20s, which means in all likelihood that the threshold for victory will be exceedingly low if the 2012 primaries have as many candidates running as the 2008 primaries did. (That’s how McCain won, after all.) That’s why I think if she jumps in, Beltway Republicans will try to head her off by uniting behind a single anti-Palin candidate: They simply can’t afford to see the vote split three or four ways or else her devoted supporters will carry her to victory, especially with evangelical-heavy states like Iowa and social-con strongholds like South Carolina early in the primary schedule.

Here’s a little more from February about the developing “Palin vs. anti-Palin” contest; here’s something from July about how the establishment’s favorite will have to be very careful in the tone they take with her; and here’s something from just last week about how Karl Rove’s sniping at her may be aimed at building support for an anti-Palin alternative in the primary. As my pal Karol says of Politico’s alleged blockbuster:

What I don’t understand about the outrage is that isn’t this what Palinistas/Tea Partiers/conservatives have been saying all along? That is, that the establishment/elitists/old guard don’t want to tamper with the status quo and find this new movement, with Palin as its unelected leader, unsettling?

The anger at Politico for publishing the story seems odd too. Sure using anonymous sources is cheap, but, again, it’s not like anything in the story is a great surprise.

Quite so. In fact, one of the core arguments among Palin supporters all along has been that the establishment fears her because, if elected, she’ll “shake things up” and purge the Rove-ian fatcats and RINOs, etc. Could be — although as I recall, The One promised he was going to do that too and then instantly stocked his cabinet with Clinton retreads, started granting waivers to lobbyists, and stayed nice and cuddly with all his union cronies like Stern and Trumka. I think the greater establishment fear here, given polls like this, is that nominating her would either produce a replay of LBJ vs. Goldwater if the economy starts to turn around (none other than George Will has used that analogy) or make Obama competitive in an election where he’d otherwise be crushed if the economy doesn’t turn around. Either way, is it any surprise that people who make a living on Republicans being in power want the “safest” nominee possible? If not, then Politico’s piece ain’t much of a scoop.

Both Romney and Tim Pawlenty have denounced the story, which is also perfectly predictable of course: They’ll each need Palin’s base to turn out for them against The One if they’re the nominee, and given the level of devotion to her among her strongest supporters, there’s a risk that that won’t happen if things turn nasty in the primary. So expect plenty of public ass-kissing coupled with lots of anonymous sniping for the bulk of next year, before the race gets going. (In fact, there’s already a bit more of it at WaPo this afternoon.) Says Politico editor Jim VandeHei, “None of these Republicans would speak on the record for obvious reasons: they fear the backlash from Palin and her very passionate supporters around the country.” I’ll bet they do; see this very sharp old post by Erick Erickson for more on that. The question is, how are we going to get through a primary two years from now without either the Palin fans walking away in disgust if she isn’t the nominee and some establishment types walking away if she is?

Exit question: If, as they so often claim, Democrats are hoping to face Palin in 2012, then wins tomorrow by Joe Miller, Sharron Angle, and — especially — Christine O’Donnell should carry a bright silver lining for them, no? If we’re seeing that kind of tea-party wave for “outside the box” candidates, no one could blame Team Sarah for thinking the time is right for a shot at the big prize.