Palin has, as I’ve written before, all the right political instincts, a love of country and a practical understanding of foreign and domestic affairs that the ostensible sophisticates in the newsrooms and in the galleries of officialdom sorely and demonstrably lack. And she has the common touch. She does not fly over flyover country; she connects with the people who live there, often dismissed by their supposed betters as rustics and “clingers.” She is, to put it succinctly, down to earth.
Lest I’m beginning to sound like a hagiographer, let me assure my readers that I’m only trying to set the record straight. Does she have flaws? As the saying goes, you betcha. Does anyone else on the Washington conveyor belt have character flaws? You double betcha. Is there anyone today among the political actors we know and read about who is without blemish? The fact is, nary a one. To single out and denounce Palin for her personal beliefs or for aspects of her conduct, whatever these might be, while letting so many others off the hook, is the epitome of bad faith. And besides, would we really want the Dalai Lama for president?
The reason, then, that Palin may appear “dicey,” a long shot for the White House and unconvincing as a savvy political player is owing not to any calamitous personal deficiencies—after all, she has succeeded brilliantly in most of her undertakings—but to the well-coordinated offensive launched against her by the media, the special interest groups and the entrenched Beltway power brokers. That is, she has been targeted for extinction by the 30% minority who control the levers of power and influence. They have her in their “crosshairs.”
But this is to ignore the 70% majority of center and center-right Americans, many of whom have become more and more skeptical of the press and who are correspondingly fed up with the techniques of character assassination employed by the agencies of the generic left. Paradoxically, Palin’s electability can be reckoned as an inverse function of the virulent campaign intent on her delegitimation. The “war against Sarah” is a clear indication of the feasibility of her candidacy for the presidency. The greater the fury and bluster and dissembling she is met with, the greater the likelihood that she poses a genuine threat. One does not raise a mallet to crush an ant. The hatred meter going off the charts registers a force not easily dealt with or pragmatically resisted.
Nothing, of course, is guaranteed. As Myra Adams, who served on the McCain Ad Council, suggests, electoral calculations at the primary level require stringent caution and militate against nominating what she calls “Kamikaze Republicans” or “doctrinaire conservatives,” who could well lose in key states like Pennsylvania or Florida. Her warning is certainly opportune.
Echoing Adams, Nichole Hungerford, in a closely reasoned survey for FrontPage, points out that recent polls tend to favor Palin’s twiblings Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, but also indicate that neither Romney nor Huckabee poses a viable challenge to a resurgent Obama, whose “favorability level” currently exceeds theirs. This may very well be the case, but we should keep in mind that there are still two years to go—a millennium in politics—which Palin can use to convey her message, foreground her character and build up a solid and authoritative presence on the national tableau.
It won’t be a cakewalk. As received wisdom has it, the public is notoriously fickle and uninformed. Still, the plurality of the disaffected may prove otherwise and a large if amorphous majority may gradually trump the chicanery of a tenacious and concentrated minority.
Obviously, there is no reliable way to predict the vicissitudes of electoral politics. Were one foolish enough to prognosticate seriously as of this moment, one would probably give the nod to Romney for the Republican nomination. But signs and portents do exist to form the basis of a tentative hypothesis. And the hypothesis I am proposing is this. Given the inescapable mutability of the political world, the former governor may yet be able to count on the 70% solution.
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