John Batchelor gets it:
Is this [the circular firing squad] normal after a losing presidential campaign? No. Nor is this a normal year for the Republicans. Kristol and Schmidt and their cronies all know that the Republican brand that they depend upon for a job and for money, lots of money, has been wrecked to the point of no return. They are veterans of a lost cause with one wild adventure to try before history moves on—and the adventurer’s name is Sarah Palin.
What is going on right now in the Republican Party are the early scenes of the 2012 campaign for the presidency with Sarah Palin as the once and future hero. Like Joan of Arc, Catherine the Great, Elizabeth Regina and, skipping four centuries of quarrelsome princes, Margaret Thatcher, the Republican Party has already decided that the governor of Alaska will rescue the GOP from its ruination.
If you scoff at Palin for president, you are likely insufficiently cynical to work on a national campaign. Eight months after the election, the governor is as natural and gifted a presidential candidate as anyone since Huey Long. The farther she stays away from Washington and the longer she pushes away those sharpies clamoring for her to raise PAC money, to prepare gray-bearded policy positions, network at the barbecues in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina (well, maybe not South Carolina right now), the more box-office irresistible she will be to the Republican primary voters. What most recommends the Palin boom is that she is now, forty months to the election, as celebrated by the GOP right wing as she is reviled by the Democratic left wing.
Rather than a blow to a career, the Purdum piece in Vanity Fair is a spectacular tribute to a force of nature that became an “ineradicable” caricature before she became a household name. Tina Fey’s talent is a walking advertisement for presidential debates to come. Purdum employs his talent for disregard in order to collect a posse of anonymous tattle-tales, back-stabbers and snitches—many of them unsurprisingly males—to weave a political biography that is compelling in its improbability and breathtaking in its portrait of a young, deceitful, driven, unapologetic, spontaneous, and cunning scalawag. Purdum’s notion of a sober put-down is to quote the wooden fossil of a cigar store Indian, Governor Walter S. Hickel, who complains that after he helped Palin get elected governor, “She never called me after that.” The stories about Palin and her rambunctious daughters, her riveting special needs child, her cheerful parents, her innate affection for the strangeness of Alaska, and her magical romance with her rock-star attractive husband Todd are all a setup to learning that in the governor’s office she is Elmer Gantry in a skirt, as clannish, vengeful, petty, tireless, ill-read, pouty and manipulative as anyone Hollywood could dream up and play Mildred Pierce. The darkest revelations about Palin are that she didn’t like preparing for the tedious TV interviews; she treated the dull Biden debate as irrelevant; and she wanted to make her own concession speech on election night. In sum, the governor does not like losers, does not like to lose, and was liberated the moment she shed the burden of bootless John McCain.
This is an insight that I had not considered, but from the vantage point of July 3, 2009 seems to be true: the mid-rem elections are of little consequence. In fact, if Republicans do well, it could hurt Palin.
What Kristol and Schmidt know is that the only Republican candidate worth cutting each other up about is Sarah Palin. The governor certainly does not need either of them other than as stable hands for Joan of Arc’s replacement horses or as Joan Crawford’s makeup artists. In fact, the governor does not need much more than a ballot line from the aimless, tongue-tied, villain-rich GOP. She certainly does not need the GOP to do well in the congressional mid-terms in 2010; she does not need the party to improve its flabby polling on health care or trust; she does not even need the Republican Party to raise a voice to explain her positions on the burning controversies on Capitol Hill. Palin does not need to prove anything at all about wise government, because she appeals directly to the anti-authoritarian crowd that has been with us since Shay’s Rebellion in 1787. It is an accident of history, and of John McCain’s whimsy, that Sarah Palin caught Potomac Fever in September ‘08, and it will carry her either to the White House or to that place even rarer, where the Kingfisher dwells, called what-could’ve-been.
The deeper that Team Obama drives us into the swamp of socialism/fascism, the better Sarah Palin will do.