October 6th, 2011

Thoughts on Palin’s non-candidacy and the reaction to it

Regular readers of this blog probably know that Sarah Palin wasn’t my preferred candidate for the Republican nomination in 2012. So I greet her announcement that she isn’t going to run for president without much emotion either way.

But I’ve always been her champion in other ways, right from the start. If you look at the entries here under the category “Palin” on the right sidebar, you’ll see article after article in which, stunned by the vitriol directed at her, I try to puzzle out its origins.

One of my first efforts was called, “It’s the class war, stupid.” A number of my posts were about how and why Palin drew special ire from women on the left, especially feminists (see this and this, for example). Then there was her non-Ivy education.

Here was one of my efforts to sum it all up:

Palin-hatred has mysterious irrational aspects, but it also has explicable and indentifiable ones. And although no single one of them is sufficient to account for the phenomenon, together they have a powerful synergistic effect. You might say that Palin-hated represents the perfect storm, the confluence of flashpoints regarding class, education, beauty, sexuality, Christianity (don’t discount the latter…

So, will the press have Sarah Palin to kick around any more? I think so. She remains an influential figure in the Republican Party and especially the conservative movement, and I see no indication she plans to return to private life, although she could be forgiven for wanting to. She’s still very young (47), and could run in the future.

But I’ve been astounded once more (although I know; I shouldn’t be) by the petty and unjustified venom and contempt directed at her even now, when she’s out of the fray. Not atypical is this one in the Guardian that begins like this:

Long past the time many had ceased caring, Sarah Palin announced on Wednesday night that she was not running for the presidency in 2012. Fox News alone of America’s cable networks thought her announcement was more significant than the death of Steve Jobs. Everyone else reacted with a quick shrug and moved on.

It had become obvious that Palin was not going to be a candidate. The reality is that Palin didn’t stand a chance, so badly has she squandered her political capital within the Republican party over the past year with cheap stunts, such as an on-again, off-again grandiose national bus tour. Her career in national politics as a candidate is over.

But the most shameful piece I’ve seen is by David Frum, supposed Republican conservative. I’ll let his words speak for themselves. They tell us far less about Sarah Palin than they do about David Frum:

Sarah Palin’s political voice had dwindled well before she announced her decision not to run. Now it will sink altogether into inaudibility. She will be no kind of force in future national discussions. She will have no sway over party debates. She will retain some starpower for a little while longer. She may for another cycle or two be able to help certain candidates for certain political offices raise some money. Even that will fade within two more years or four. Her political career was brief, bizarre, and sordid. But now at least it is definitively finished.

Palin will never become a party elder stateswoman. Over the past three years, it became apparent to all but a handful of cultists that her only interests were money and celebrity. She had no concept of public service, and no capacity to serve even if she had wished to do so. Soon even those last cultists will quietly abandon the argument. We talk often these days about makers and takers. Sarah Palin was the ultimate taker. She abandoned her post as governor of Alaska to cash in on lectures and TV. She squeezed her supporters for political donations and spent the money on herself. To adapt an old phrase, she seen her opportunities and she took ‘em.

In the end, she exploited, abused, or embarrassed almost everyone who had believed in her. Most embarrassing of all: she was never even a very good con artist. Everything that was false and petty and unqualified in her was visible within the first minutes of encountering her. The people she fooled were people who passionately wished to be fooled. To that extent, what was important in her story was not the faults and failings of Sarah Palin. There have always been grifters in politics. What was important in her story was the revelation of conservatism’s lack of antibodies against somebody with the faults and failings of Sarah Palin. That’s the story that should trouble us still.

What’s particularly interesting about the Frum piece is how well the last paragraph (with one change: substitute “the US voters’” for the word “convervatism’s”) applies to President Obama. That someone like Frum doesn’t seem to see that should trouble us still.

I would say in closing that reports of Sarah Palin’s political death are greatly exaggerated.

45 Responses to “Thoughts on Palin’s non-candidacy and the reaction to it”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    I am particularly struck by his phrase “There have always been grifters in politics. ”

    Really, Frum? Well, if anyone should know.

  2. Occam's Beard Says:

    What’s particularly interesting about the Frum piece is how well the last paragraph (with one change: substitute “the US voters’” for the word “convervatism’s”) applies to President Obama.

    I was thinking exactly the same thing on reading that last paragraph. In the first two paragraphs Frum entertains us with selections from his “Whistling Past the Graveyard” album, soon to be released.

    Such venom directed at Palin! (And in this case, by a soi-disant “conservative,” no less.) What is it about this woman that so drives Reds crazy?

  3. Occam's Beard Says:

    I especially like the phrase “Long past the time many had ceased caring” with which the Guardian opened the seven trillionth article about Palin in the leftist press.

    If we could tax the Reds for each word they write about Palin, we could wipe out the deficit in a few weeks.

  4. nyght Says:

    About that Frum bit… I was thinking the entire time I was reading it, “this from the guy who knew Obama would be president because of the crease on his pants…”

    I’ll admit, I was kind of sad about her announcement, but I understand it. Had she run, I would not be surprised if someone went after her (like Bobby Kennedy) or after her kids if she gained any momentum. From that aspect, I totally understand her decision.

    I think she is a far better leader and person than most ever gave her credit for, and maybe that’s part of why the press went after her and her family like that (based on what I heard and read about her before McCain picked her), but one thing I will say… They did their job well. I’ve never experienced a political assassination on a scale or scope that the press did on her. It’s something I actually find quite frightening.

  5. nohype Says:

    I disagree with your last paragraph. President Obama is an exceptional con artist–far better than guys like John Edwards, who was also little more than a con man.

  6. gcotharn Says:

    Frum is a murF.

    To the synergistic accumulation of reasons for Palin hatred, I want to add one more: the left’s desperate need for a right side person upon whom to focus, to blame, and to destroy.

    Until recently, I routinely engaged inside the comment sections of left side blogs (sometimes self described as moderate blogs). Originally, I wanted to make certain I was not missing anything re what the left side take on issues. I am no longer concerned about missing anything.

    I have learned, and relearned and relearned and relearned: the left are poor at arguing their own philosophy. I believe I can more effectively argue the left’s philosophy than 99% of the left. Most left persons do not understand why they believe their own philosophy. Most of the left believe their philosophy b/c everyone with whom they identify also believes their philosophy. Most of the left believe their philosophy b/c they are dancing the circle dance.

    This is why the left are constantly desperate for a right side person upon whom to focus, blame, and destroy. The left have nothing else: they do not fully grasp their own economic and governing philosophies, and therefore cannot effectively argue their own philosophies.

    What the left can do is focus on one person: blame and destroy one person. The left can employ Alinsky’s Rule 12:
    RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

    The left blogs – Kos, Media Matters, et al, even send out easy peasy Rule 12 prompts for the left blogs and commenters to latch onto and to coalesce around.

    All of this is especially effective b/c the typical left person blog commenter wants to believe he or she is “making a difference in the world”, and rationalizes that blog commenting is making an important difference in the world; that supporting left side politics is making an important difference in the world. They might be living on relief from the state and from local churches, yet, if they are commenting on blogs, then they can rationalize that they are important persons doing virtuous work; belong to a higher strata of humanity than the troglodytes who work middle income jobs and support their families.

    So, anyway: such left persons NEED a conservative to demonize. This is why they have been constantly asking, for two years: “Who is the leader of the Tea Party?” They do not know how to argue against the philosophy of the tea parties, yet they damn sure know how to attack any person who emerges as a leader.

    For a couple of years: who has been the leader of conservative America? McConnell is bland; is difficult to attack. Boehner is bland; difficult to attack. Attacking both Limbaugh and Fox News is somewhat unsatisfying. The left needs a person! NEEDS NEEDS NEEDS a person person person!!! Ergo, Sarah Palin: “the perfect storm, the confluence of flashpoints regarding class, education, beauty, sexuality, Christianity….”

  7. T Says:

    I think that Frum and others write Palin off at their own peril.

    I am reminded of the movie “The Outlaw Josie Wales” where, when barricading themselves in the house, “Granny” asks why Clint Eastwood is out in the brush and isn’t there with them. Chief Dan George replies, he knows he can do more out there on his own from the back of a horse.

    IMO Palin falls into the same category. She has proven herself a “kingmaker” with the influence to provide substantial help to conservative candidates. By being out there, on her own, she doesn’t infect other conservatives with criticism directed toward her and she may even retain the ability to draw the most virulent criticism away from conservative candidates.

    This is a thankless task, but can it be any worse than how the press has already attempted to eviscerate her? They’ve already impugned her mothering, her husband, her children, her intellect her administration and her education. What’s next, the family dog? And besides, while she’s doing this, she gets to laugh all the way to the bank. Good for her!

  8. gs Says:

    1. My opinion of Palin has been rising with the cogent speeches she’s given. Could she implement what she advocates? The question remains open. If she were a sitting, emphatically reelected governor, IMHO she’s be the likely nominee and probable winner, after a vicious struggle, in November 2012.

    If Palin is pursuing a nontraditional career in politics, I wish her well. If she still has her eye on the Presidency, afaic her resignation was a grievous blunder from which I don’t see a recovery path.

    2. I’m not sure whether Palin resigned to make money, but what’s so terrible if she did? Few object when a politician grabs for more power seeks higher office–while retaining an existing, full-time position.

  9. gcotharn Says:

    re Outlaw Josey Wales:

    video of media and left pursuing Todd and Sarah Palin
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1KW-IkHXnQ

  10. T Says:

    gs,

    My understanding of Palin’s resignation (at least the “common wisdom”) was that defending herself from the numerous lawsuits pending against her was interfering with her ability to act as governor.

    If true, this was a no win situation for her; remain as governor, allow the lawsuits to impede her administration and later be critized for being a poor governor, or conversely, resign from the position so as to insulate the state and later being admonished for being a “quitter.”

  11. T Says:

    gcotharn,

    LOL

  12. T Says:

    gcotharn,

    On second thought, how dare you demean noble Native Americans by equating them with the lecherous members of that fetid sewer we call “the media.”

  13. Occam's Beard Says:

    My understanding of Palin’s resignation (at least the “common wisdom”) was that defending herself from the numerous lawsuits pending against her was interfering with her ability to act as governor.

    And who orchestrated all of the bogus ethics charges (all of them now debunked, IIRC) against Palin?

    Must think, must think.

    Maybe the charges represented a spontaneous, totally grassroots reaction from a concerned citizenry.

    Nah.

  14. Occam's Beard Says:

    Summary of “ethics” charges against Palin, and their disposition here.

    My favorites: the one filed anonymously in the name of a British soap opera character, and the one alleging conflict of interest because Palin wore Arctic Cat (her husband’s sponsor) logo gear during the Tesoro Iron Dog snowmobile race.

    C’mon, comrades, you can do better than that. And why did all these charges suddenly materialize once she became a VP candidate? Were all these concerned citizens in a coma before that?

  15. gs Says:

    T Says:

    My understanding of Palin’s resignation (at least the “common wisdom”) was that defending herself from the numerous lawsuits pending against her was interfering with her ability to act as governor.

    T, my discussions with Palinistas about the resignation have been time-consuming and unproductive, so please excuse my bad form for not providing links to support the following assertions:

    1. According to Palin’s own resignation speech, the harassment was enabled by an ethics law that she had championed.

    2. After the resignation, the Palin-appointed acting attorney general declared that, if they were cleared of an ethics charge, Alaskan officials could be reimbursed for expenses incurred. Legislative action was not necessary. Iirc there was a mechanism for the legislature to object to the policy; it did not.

  16. kolnai Says:

    What happened to the Palin thread from yesterday? It’s not here anymore when I open the webpage.

    Did I miss some reason it had to be purged?

  17. Susanamantha Says:

    David Frum’s political voice had dwindled well before Palin announced her decision not to run. Now it will sink altogether into inaudibility. He will be no kind of force in future national discussions. He will have no sway over party debates. He will retain some starpower for a little while longer. He may for another cycle or two be able to help certain candidates for certain political offices raise some money. Even that will fade within two more years or four. His political pundit career was brief, bizarre, and sordid. But now at least it is definitively finished.

    Just a few edits.

  18. Occam's Beard Says:

    I suspect that one sources of the Left’s psychotic hatred of Palin is their visceral belief that they own glitz and starpower, and here comes this usurper with dazzling glitz candlepower.

    “Hey, that’s our schtick! Republicans are supposed to be grey old white men who bore everyone with talk about deficits and other boring stuff. We’ve got the cool candidates who play the saxophone, shoot baskets, and such.”

  19. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Whatever the reason for the Palinhate, it certainly made its practitioners look vile and mean and small and hateful.
    As a general rule, if somebody hates Palin, don’t let him or her babysit your pet rock, don’t give them your address or tell them where your kids go to school.
    Serious Palinhate is a symptom of something really, really wrong.

  20. gs Says:

    Occam’s Beard Says:

    “Hey, that’s our schtick! Republicans are supposed to be grey old white men…”

    Tsk, OB. You left out “racists”, “sexist oppressors” and “the rich”.

    Come to think of it, to enlightened ears, “white men” is a synonym.

    Nevermind.

  21. neo-neocon Says:

    kolnai: that’s a good question. I hadn’t noticed it until you mentioned it, but yesterday’s Palin thread has disappeared. I’ve never had that happen before. My best guess is that I did something that deleted it without my realizing it. Strange.

  22. neo-neocon Says:

    nyght: the Obama-with-the-perfectly-creased-pants pundit was actually not David Frum, but another David—Brooks, of the NY Times.

  23. Donald Douglas Says:

    David Frum’s a world class a-hole and perfect idiot.

  24. rickl Says:

    I noticed the missing Palin thread, too (or rather, noticed its absence). That’s a shame, because kolnai’s takedown of Romney was epic.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    To everyone who misses kolnai’s comment about Romney:

    The earlier Palin thread and its comments have accidentally disappeared from public view, but I still have access to the comments through another conduit. So here, back by popular demand, I will install a copy of kolnai’s Romney comment from that thread (and by the way, I don’t happen to agree with kolnai here, although I don’t have time to respond in depth right now. Perhaps I will later):

    Chuck and rickl – Bingo was his name-o.

    Everything will hinge on Congress ramming repeal down Romney’s throat, and ginning up enough support among the public to make it seem safe to sign it.

    If Paul Ryan wants to redeem himself for crawling into his little Congressional shell when he was most needed as a speaker to the nation, he should spearhead the effort and never let Romney backslide or equivocate.

    And rickl, you are correct, unfortunately. If Obamacare is a done deal, it is, indeed, “all over.” The Constitution is a dead letter. Meaningless. We will officially live in a dictatorship – perhaps not in practice, at least initially, but certainly in principle. And for America to lose its principle means America is no longer America. We are a country built on a principle. We are a country that collapses when the principle does.

    This is why Romney is just about the worst person we could field as a candidate. He wins…. then what? All we’ll have is a vain prayer that he can be browbeaten into doing his duty. Emphasis, I fear, on “vain.”

    Everyone here knows that I despise him, and I’ve not hidden the reasons why. He’s a power-hungry, unprincipled snake-oiler who, if he is the nominee, will put every conservative in America in the position of either falling silent, temporizing or having to lie for him. That’s a scumbag thing to do, and he’s a scumbag for doing it.

    We are sorely mistaken if we think Romney will find it easy to weather the savage exposure of his lies and hypocrisies by the MSM during the general. Jon Stewart has already begun the campaign. It will only get worse.

    As I’ve remarked before, Romney is the kind of guy who the more one learns about him the less one likes or trusts him. He hasn’t been TOUCHED in the primaries – no one capable of ripping into him has entered the race (Newt could, but he refuses to engage in intra-primary polemics beyond a bare minimum).

    What’s he going to do when the MSM and Obama pull out the Gatling guns and proceed to eviscerate his Potemkin little image into vaporized ruins? The cipher of Romney will stand exposed, and the American people will be faced with not one but two human vacuums: to paraphrase Nietzsche, we will stare into the abysses, and the abysses will stare back. Even if the people opt for the Republican abyss, the Romney cipher, the war hasn’t even begun at that point. How to coax and cajole substance from a cipher will be the issue of the war: hopeless for Obama, it is barely less so for Romney.

    This election at bare minimum should have pitted substance against the cipher. At least then if we still chose the cipher we’d know that we’d collectively given up on ourselves as a nation. Now, however, there’s nothing. Cipher A versus Cipher B.

    I want us to really stop for a moment and consider this situation. Conservatism is supposedly “resurgent.” We cleaned house (and the House) in 2010. The Tea Party came within a hair’s breadth of killing Obamacare. The “national discussion” has supposedly been “changed” by the House Republicans’ hard bargaining on the budget.

    And the ultimate result of all this? Perhaps the least conservative nominee for President from the Republican party imaginable. Someone who is, in all essentials, a “blank screen” – just like Obama. Someone who has far LESS of a spine than Obama. Someone who is prepared to demagogue and cynically “position” himself on every conceivable issue. I’m not saying Romney is worse than Obama; I’m saying he might as well be at this moment. If this were 2008, then the story is different – in that case, there’s no stimulus, no Obamacare, no regulatory strangulation of the economy, no Dodd-Frank, and so forth. But it’s 2011, and those things, and the destruction they have already wrought are faits accomplis. Consequently, it doesn’t matter if Romney would pass such laws; it’s enough that he won’t get rid of them.

    The result possibly could be different. But everyone must admit that the odds are against it – it’s not, in other words, a safe bet. In effect, what we are betting on with Romney is that the Republicans will be the party that consolidates the progressive state, and thus presides over the end of America qua America. We do know that that is where our money is, regardless of where our mouths are, when we bet on Romney, right?

    Right?

    Anyway, I cannot fathom anything more absurd than the situation I’ve just depicted. I cannot fathom the absurdity of having the concocter and promoter of the law that was the very model of Obamacare speaking at the RNC, in the midst of an election that is first and foremost about repealing Obamacare.

    At least we never have to worry about losing our claim to the title of The Stupid Party ™.

    What are we conservatives going to do when we have to step up and defend Romney? Defend him from what? The Democrats don’t even have to lie to shred Romney – just point out the truth. So, are we to defend Romney from the truth? Are we to lie for him? How many conservatives are going to leap at that opportunity? It makes me sick just thinking about it.

    Dem. strategist: “Well, your candidate is actually the founding father of Obamacare – a great leader on universal health-care!”

    Me: “Nuh uh! He just… you know… like… the Tenth Amendment. Yeah. Waivers. So… take that!”

    (And if Obamacare is ruled constitutional, keep in mind, the Tenth Amendment argument loses what little force it has).

    I hope it doesn’t come to this. “Hope.” It’s all I have, and it’s based on nothing. Way to go Romney! You turned me into an Obamabot after all. All of us together now:

    “Hope and change!”

    We are so screwed.

  26. PCachu Says:

    So, it’s true: Sarah Palin is a job-killer!

    This must be so, because this announcement will surely mean the end of any prospects for the serial liar and deadbeat dad Levi Johnston.

  27. rickl Says:

    Thanks for reposting kolnai’s comment, neo.

    I was a little hot under the collar on that thread, and at first I thought you took it down because of something I said. But in that case, you could have just deleted the offending comment, not the whole thread. Anyway, I’m relieved that’s not the case.

    In effect, what we are betting on with Romney is that the Republicans will be the party that consolidates the progressive state, and thus presides over the end of America qua America.

    This is a perfect distillation of something I’ve commented on before. The Republican elites want to be like the “conservative” parties of Europe. They want to get their hands on the levers of power, but they have no intention whatsoever of reducing the size and scope of government, since that would necessarily reduce their power.

  28. SteveH Says:

    “”They want to get their hands on the levers of power, but they have no intention whatsoever of reducing the size and scope of government, since that would necessarily reduce their power.”"
    Rickl

    Which points out the real war isn’t even a political one at its core. It’s the moral vs the immoral. And they’re all intermingled in confusing and contradictory factions which get further confused by an immoral media.

  29. BurkeanBadger Says:

    Wow. Stunning.

    I noticed the original thread had disappeared this morning and I assumed that my post about the inevitability of Romney might have (in part) sparked something. Looks like it did.

    I understand some of the frustration with Romney and some of the criticism is certainly justified, but I did not imagine such virtriol. Instead of offering an lengthy response I am going to reiterate a point that I think most of you realize is true (whether you like it or not): Romney is the only candidate who can defeat Obama. Therefore, it comes down to supporting Romney, however many his shortcomings, or tacitly conceding that Obama will be re-elected.

    Now, maybe some would prefer an Obama second term to nominating Romney. Kolnai certainly seems to have this opinion, and there are valid reasons for holding such a view. I strongly disagree with them, but I respect this view.

    However, to those who insist that Obama can be defeated by one of the other candidates, I ask: Who? We have had an agonizingly long vetting process of an endless parade of candidates, potential candidates and non-candidates vying to be “Not Romney”: Palin, Cain, Pawlenty, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Daniels, Christie, Ryan, and now (it would seem), Cain again. They’ve all declined to run, dropped out, or wilted under serious scrutiny. I don’t think Perry is quite finished just yet (not with his impressive war chest), but it would take a lot for him to reverse his slide.

    And for those who think Cain would actually be viable against Obama, see my earlier posts. Also, just step back and think about someone so politically inexperienced and not always careful to think before he speaks, going up against a billion dollar funded, well oiled, fine tuned juggernaut, strongly supported by 90% of the mainstream media (outside of FOX News), no matter how much they may protest that Obama has disappointed him.

    If a viable alternative to Mitt still emerges, I would be willing to give him or her serious consideration. The likelihood of this, however, diminishes with each passing day. Almost certainly, it is Mitt or four more years of Obama.

    Take your pick. I know where I stand.

  30. SteveH Says:

    I can’t say i despise Romney as much as Kolnai does but he is a sort of pathetic character. Mostly because he comes off as Mr Focus Group that mirrors an America that can’t stay focused.

  31. kolnai Says:

    BurkeanBadger -

    You’re post deserves a considered reply, so here goes.

    1) I actually agree with you on your main point. I have no illusions about the other candidates. I believe none of them have as good a chance to win as Romney (but I still don’t think Romney’s chances are as good as some seem to think they are). I’ve never said otherwise. In an earlier thread, I even admitted I’d have to support Romney in the primaries, at this point, because of how poor the alternatives are – I can’t do it, it turns out, but I’m clear-eyed enough to see that he has the clearest path to victory in the general.

    If Romney is the nominee, in short, I will vote for him. Just to be clear about that. I am in no way advocating voting third party or sitting out the election.

    2) My thoughts are more on the “meta-level.” I’m marveling, in a Swiftian sort of way, at the “modest proposal” of Romney for POTUS at this most significant moment in our national history. Even if we should vote for Romney if he is our only option against Obama – which, again, is a position I agree with – that does not require that we pretend this is any less absurd than it is in fact. It also doesn’t require that we pretend Romney is or will be something that he has shown no evidence of being, namely, any kind of a conservative.

    What I’m stressing is that if Romney does not repeal Obamacare, the damage to conservatism and the Republican party will be irreparable. I’m not at all sure that he and the Republican establishment understand that. And more importantly, as rickl noted, the damage to our country will be irreparable as well.

    We cannot kid ourselves that this is merely a bad choice we have – it is potentially catastrophic. The whole morass of Romney is that if we don’t go for him we will likely get a better conservative candidate but an Obama victory – i.e., relatively certain catastrophe; but if we go with Romney, we have better odds of beating Obama with a higher chance of catastrophe under a Republican President. Is it prudent to go with possible catastrophe over certain catastrophe? Yes. Is it anything like the choice we the people should have in 2012? No. It it even close? No. Is it a travesty? Yes. Granting these last points, the point about prudence still, of course, stands. But the latter points stand as well.

    3) As far as lying for him goes, it’s straightforward. Romney is the father of Romneycare. Romneycare is one of the main models for Obamacare. Romney will not repudiate his bill. Instead, he tries to say that what he did was somehow SUBSTANTIVELY – not just “constitutionally” – different, or, at least, better.

    I suppose one could think that that is true. I don’t, and I suspect most conservatives agree with me. So when we are faced with the charge that Romneycare is substantively not different from Obamacare, what exactly is our retort? Do we just spit out Romney’s ridiculous talking points, knowing in our hearts all the while that they’re so much stuff and nonsense? At the very least, there is a real conflict of conscience here, and that is not a small matter. It touches on the intangibles without which the tangibles don’t work.

    The bottom line is that whatever defense Romney finally settles on, it will not amount to a full-throated repudiation of the principles involved in Obamneycare. For instance, if the distinction rests on the Tenth Amendment, then if the SCOTUS says Obamacare is constitutional, that defense collapses. It’s simply no longer relevant – the thing is ratified under the commerce clause. Romney can then stick with his line about not liking one-size-fits-all solutions, or begin to attack the SCOTUS (which I think he’s smart enough to not do), and consequently hang onto his line about Romneycare being “right” for Massachusetts.

    Alright, let’s flesh that thought out. “Right” how? If he simply means that it’s what the people seemed to want in Massachusetts, fine. But that’s not, or not only, what he means. He’s clear about it: Romney believes that Romneycare worked, on the whole. That it was right as a matter of substantive policy. He says it, forthrightly, in every debate.

    See the problem there? If it’s so good as a matter of policy, then what’s wrong with having it elsewhere, in substantive terms? Romney can’t give a good answer to that question that is anything like persuasive.

    What is Romney’s real objection to a mandate, to community rating, and so forth? We can try to fall back now on the “people don’t want it elsewhere” democracy-argument; but then we’re right back with Romney’s substantive defense of the policy.

    Tick-tock – does it work or not? Romney says it does, so what’s the problem? If SCOTUS says it’s okay, there’s no constitutional problem (even though there is, this is the world we live in – what the SCOTUS says is considered “constitutional” by most people). The only problem seems to be that people elsewhere don’t know what’s good for them, or that somehow conditions are so MAGICAL in Massachusetts that a state socialist health care system works WONDERS there.

    Is that the principle we want to go into battle fighting for? That either people don’t know what’s good for them or that Massachusetts is magical? Well, those are the principles Romney is in fact defending – Romneycare is a fine policy, and the people of Massachusetts were wise enough to want it, but we’ll just have to wait for the rubes elsewhere to see what’s in their best interest (or we’ll have to explain why the magic of Massachusetts doesn’t exist in other states).

    This is a circle that cannot be squared, and we will of necessity have to tie ourselves in knots trying to rationalize it away.

    4) And what about repealing Obamacare? Romney has made noises about it in a very few places in some of his parchment proposals. But he refuses to SAY he will actually repeal it. What do we say, then? If Romney won’t give us the go-ahead to talk about repeal, all the Democrats have to do is say “Not even your candidate will commit to repealing health care reform!” What can we retort to that? It’s the truth! And we know it is.

    Is Romney just being cynical, trying to court moderates and not alienate anyone who might possibly vote for him, while all the while thinking he will definitely repeal Obamacare? Of course, it’s possible. My point is that we’re kidding ourselves if we think it’s probable.

    5) There’s a lot more, but I think my point is clear. I’m NOT advocating sitting out the election or voting third party. I’m advocating seeing clearly what is, in all likelihood, about to happen.

    I’m not saying “Stay home;” I’m saying “Brace yourselves.”

  32. Oblio Says:

    I wish that whatever happened to David Frum around 2006 hadn’t happened. David has a formidable intellect. All things being equal, I would rather have a brain like that working for us and not against us. I infer from talking to mutual friends that whatever it was involved a breakdown in personal relationships inside the Bush administration, perhaps some kind of breakdown in his relationship with the President.

    Poor fellow. He has dug himself into a hole, and he is too proud to stop digging.

    And Romney? In principle, I should like him: he’s a Country Club Republican, too. As it is, I worry that he is “wet” or “wobbly” or both. Will he stand up to the heat of the coming campaign? I have no idea. Will I send money if he is the nominee? Hell, yes. I would support Donald Duck if he were the Republican nominee.

  33. Oblio Says:

    You don’t have to be a moderate to win the independent vote. You just need to make it clear that you have a decent respect (as Jefferson phrased it) for traditional values, but you are not about to coerce people; that you are egalitarian in the sense of promoting opportunity and checking special interests; that you will defend American interests but not stir up trouble around the world. And reject all talk of American Declinism. This is the Jacksonian position, and it almost always wins.

    You can even say you tried some things that didn’t work (cough *Romneycare* cough), but you learned from your mistake and now you’re going to sort things out in a prudent way. Leaders may try things that don’t work; but good leaders don’t continue on a path that hasn’t worked and can’t work. Assertive leadership is needed now, and it will be welcomed.

  34. kolnai Says:

    I should add one more thing – I don’t mean to demean people who have a different take on Romney than I do. Much of my reaction to Romney is visceral and “gut-level,” and to that extent I suppose one could say it’s non-rational, if not irrational.

    Which is simply to say that I very well could be wrong, and I am man enough to admit it if it turns out that I am. Hopefully neo will provide a counterpoint that puts Romney in a better light. And hopefully Romney himself conclusively demolishes, through his actions, every nasty thing I’ve ever said about him.

    The benefits of being a pessimist… it’s a joy to be proven wrong.

  35. gs Says:

    1. Per kolnai, I have repeatedly cautioned that an incumbent President, no matter how incompetent, is very hard to dislodge.

    2. I expect that President Romney would govern like Read My Lips Bush and Mission Accomplished Bush, except, you know, competently. He’d probably give us a competently managed country-club corporatist administration. Unlike Reagan, and Gingrich and Palin (despite their flaws), Romney wouldn’t confront the Left philosophically.

    3. In 1988 candidate Bush accused Mike Dukakis of wanting to preside over an orderly American decline. That’s more or less what I’d expect from Romney. It’s still far better than the accelerated decline under Obama. Maybe Romney would grow in office in a manner that Obama hasn’t.

    4. And there’s the hope that, if our decline is gradual, a wild card will emerge to turn things around via a secular change. It’s happened before: on January 1, 2000 it appeared the world was entering the Second American Century. (Two failed Presidencies later, here we are.)

    5. Regulation upon regulation upon regulation…people are trying to patent yoga postures, for pity’s sake…etc etc etc. Are we still enough of an open society to accommodate transformational change (I don’t mean the ‘green jobs’ centrally planned BS)? Maybe, maybe not.

  36. Gary Rosen Says:

    “What’s particularly interesting about the Frum piece is how well the last paragraph (with one change: substitute “the US voters’” for the word “convervatism’s”) applies to President Obama. That someone like Frum doesn’t seem to see that should trouble us still.”

    This explains the vehemence of those opposed to Palin. Nearly everything about her is in contrast to the corresponding quality in Obama: her gender, her race, her politics, her background – and that’s only the beginning. It is almost impossible to accept Palin without acknowledging the fraud of Obama.

  37. Beverly Says:

    I’m baffled by the defeatism this early on. Buck up, comrades! the fight hasn’t even begun!

    I keep thinking that we’re being herded into the same cattle chute, via the same arguments, that led to McCain’s selection (ugh: a real milquetoast in political combat who seems to have emptied his quiver in Nam).

    Remember how well that went? [cough]. So why on God’s green earth would it go any better this time? SRSLY, folks.

    A conservative who has the force of his convictions and who could take the fight to the enemy for a change would win this thing, and win it big. This is the best chance we’ve had in decades. Oblio is absolutely right about the Jacksonian position: it Does win.

    Sometimes I feel like getting conservatives to actually fight is as frustrating as putting a drunk to bed. (See Buster Keaton; Charlie Chaplin…)

    Be of good cheer, people. We haven’t yet begun to fight, and if we Do, why, we could mop up the floor with them.

  38. Beverly Says:

    Well, I had to Share this with you all: “Putting the Drunk to Bed,” with the immortal Buster Keaton.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1HVfTGf11A

    Lord, I needed that laugh.

  39. CZ Says:

    Sarah is the new age Phyllis Schlafly. The media will regularly use her as a punching bag, meaning her message will get even more national air time attention. Due to this, she makes more money. All of this is good.

  40. SteveH Says:

    “”I have no illusions about the other candidates. I believe none of them have as good a chance to win as Romney (but I still don’t think Romney’s chances are as good as some seem to think they are).”"
    Kolnai

    Wait a minute. 47% voted against no record Obama in 08 and now he’s unbeatable with his horrible record, unless we run a candidate who’s a little bit horrible like him? And all that after the mid term shellacking?

    This IS how we got milktoast McCain. We can’t stop buying into the conventional wisdom that’s been the leading cause of death for our country.

    If we simply have the faith that Obama is landslide defeatable by the cashier where we buy morning coffee if a groundswell got behind him, then we see we’ve never had such a wonderful opportunity to install genuine America loving Presidential material in the White House.

  41. kolnai Says:

    SteveH -

    1) I see what you’re saying, and believe me I’m sympathetic to it. I defer to no one in my distaste for Romney; indeed, I’ve written so much about my distaste here that I risk coming off as the first person afflicted with Romney Derangement Syndrome (RDS). It’s kind of funny how I seem to be the world’s premier Romney-loather, yet I’m ready to support him, while you admittedly do not dislike him as I do, yet you won’t support him. (That’s not a criticism, just an “aint life strange?” observation).

    All I can say to you is that I am inclined, despite my RDS, to be extremely risk-averse in 2012. I am by no means 100% confident that that is the wisest strategy, so what you say, again, resonates with me. My risk-aversion is simply proportionate to my horror at the thought of increasing Obama’s odds by any amount above baseline.

    2) My offering is merely that while I completely agree that we are ready to install “genuine America loving Presidential material” in the WH, we unfortunately do not have such material with both the skills and bona fides to get there. All of those potential candidates chose to tend their gardens. If we were going to take a risk as voters this election, we required some conservative leaders to take risks as well. They all – each and every one of them – declined. (But they did publish books and give a lot of high-profile speeches, so that’s something. *snark*)

    The conventional wisdom that you mention is both wrong and right. It is wrong because we are ready for a conservative President, as you said. It is right, however, because that hypothetical conservative must first be someone who has the ability to punch it home. Image, resume, perception, PR, etc. – all of that stuff is not just important, it is essential. Only Romney has demonstrated a consistent mastery of all facets of the prerequisites to victory. He lacks only substance.

    Such is our dilemma, as I see it: the winning horse has no substance; those with substance are all running with broken legs. Talk to me about a Christie, or a Ryan, or a Daniels, or a Rubio, or a West – these are fairly substantive guys who could match Romney’s odds in the general. But Bachmann, Cain, Paul, Santorum…? Another story entirely.

    I am, like many people, completely prepared to bet on a conservative who has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. McCain was a mistake in 2008. I agree with that. Unfortunately, I am not as sure that Romney would be, GIVEN what I’ve just recounted, the worst mistake we could make. Objectively, in other words, he is a disaster, and has no business being in any discussion for the Presidency. But in context, the only thing worse than Romney, in this field, is the Not Romneys we have. Not because they’re not conservatives, but because they’re not winners.

    3) Now, you are perfectly within bounds in seeing things differently, and since I’m no prophet (e.g., I predicted Christie would lose in NJ and Prosser would lose in WI), I have to concede that you could be right. My fondest wish is that you are right. The only recourse I have is just to say that I have to call ‘em like I sees ‘em, and I can’t find a way to view any of the Not Romneys as likely winners at this point. And it’s not just a matter of a slightly greater risk – I don’t see them as coming anywhere near Romney’s potential for victory.

    Accordingly, the key words in your post are

    “Obama is landslide beatable…if a groundswell got behind [our conservative candidate].”

    The trick is the groundswell. Independents are the key, whether we like it or not, and these are not “ABO” people. They are “make me feel secure” people. Independents are, quite frankly, the most superficial, shallow voters we have (there are exceptions, obviously – I’m speaking of the aggregate here). Think about it: how could any group go from groundswelling for Obama to groundswelling for some Republican a few years later? It isn’t ideology. It’s just that they don’t feel the buzz anymore.

    However, that does not automatically mean that they will flock to whoever the alternative is. Witness Sharron Angle. We floated her in Nevada because we assumed “the conventional wisdom is wrong” – but like I said, it is also right. Hence why Rubio and West won. They were not just conservative alternatives, they were conventionally viable conservative alternatives – if you will, they were guys with excellent conventional political skills and resumes who were at the same time unconventionally committed to conservative philosophy. Indeed, that’s what Reagan was.

    The ideology will only take us half-way to winning. It is the messenger who will get us over the hump. I don’t see (at this point, I stress) a messenger even close to as capable of winning as Romney.

    And you know it does not make me happy to state that. On the contrary.

  42. Pat Says:

    Governor Sarah Palin resigned from her post because she could no longer do the job she was elected to do. Her enemies had tied her and her administration in knots with frivolous lawsuits and FOI requests. Her family was going bankrupt and there was no prospect that the onslaught would cease. In my opinion, a contributing factor was that her governing coalition of centrist Democrats and renegade Republicans broke when the Democrats lined up behind the Obama administration. She resigned, handing off power to her Lieutenant Governor. In doing so, she knew full well that her political career might be over.

    Governor John Huntsman resigned as Governor of Utah to serve as President Obama’s ambassador to China. He had only served a few months of his second term before throwing his lot in with a then popular Democrat President. Huntsman was unpopular with the Tea Party folk in Utah and likely feared for his future, a fear confirmed when Senator Bob Bennett later lost his primary. Huntsman’s resignation smells of opportunism. Perhaps he believed serving Obama would burnish his credentials as a moderate.

    Illinois Senator Barack Obama arrived in the US Senate in January, 2005. After serving the first two years of his Senate term, he started a run for President. He effectively deserted the Senate from early in 2007 until he won the Presidency and resigned from the Senate. This graph, from GovTrack, shows how many Senate votes he missed.

    In effect, Senator Obama deserted his post as junior senator from Illinois while he ran. He should have resigned when it proved that running for President precluded him from carrying out his duties. Likewise, Hillary Clinton deserted her post for a similar period.

    I leave it to the reader to decide which politician chose the most honorable course.

  43. Donald Douglas Says:

    Linked: ‘David Frum Joining Asshat Erick Erickson as Political Analyst on CNN’.

  44. Oldflyer Says:

    I have not given Frum a license to speak for me. I feel neither exploited nor abused.

    I feel uplifted that we have a woman such as Sarah Palin carrying the standard for what we believe.

    I have expected, and half hoped, for some time that she would not run. I simply cringed to think of the hell that she and her family would have to traverse.

    If the writers in the Guardian really believe that she never had a chance, then they spend too much time on their intellectually incestous cocktail circuit, along with our own media poobahs and pundits.

    By the way, to digress a bit. Another woman who is written off by the experts, appeared on FNC Special Report last night. She sat down with their panel, consisting of Steve Hayes, Dan Balz (Washington Post), and Charles Krauthammer, and Bret Baier and answered question after question eloquently, and with some specificity; and with good humor. No notes, no stumbles, no idiotic statements. Well done, Michelle Bachmann.

  45. jms Says:

    I wonder if Herman Cain’s sudden boom is related to Sarah Palin’s decision not to run. This goes back to what she said a long time ago — that she was not going to immediately enter the race, but wait and only enter the race if she felt that there wasn’t a suitable candidate emerging.

    I’m a Palin supporter, and I’m disappointed that she has decided not to run. However, I am confident in her judgement, and given that she went the entire distance — the speaking tour, even going so far as to have her lawyers prepare paperwork for the first primaries, then decided not to run, I take that as a signal that in her mind, she believes that there is an appropriate candidate in the primary, and she doesn’t need to run.

    It’s no secret to her supporters that Palin is a great admirer of Cain, and although she hasn’t formally endorsed him as a candidate, I think that it’s no coincidence that she chose to announce her non-candidacy at the exact moment that Cain surged to the head of the pack.

    My instinct — as one of them — is that a large number of “Palin holdouts” — will now break for Cain. I wouldn’t be surprised, given the surprise 20% burst in the Zogby poll, if that hasn’t happened already.

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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