Wednesday, 1 April 2009

So long Sarah?

It is with great sadness that the Heresiarch has to announce the death, after a prolonged illness, of Sarah Palin's political career. Possibly - though spiritualists predict that she's likely to come back as a ghost, and require repeated exorcisms.

It was all going so well. Just two weeks ago, as I reported, the "Draft Sarah" website was attracting worldwide interest and numerous pledges of support. Her political action committee, co-ordinating "Brand Sarah" in Washington, was keeping her profile as high as her cheekbones. She had got rid of an embarrassing potential son-in-law with a minimum of fuss (and if that left daughter Bristol holding the baby alone - well, there must be a surfeit of good-looking, rich young Republican boys out there). Best of all, she had scooped one of the Republican Party's hottest dates, being invited to deliver the keynote address at the main Congressional fundraising dinner in June.

Now, I learn, she has been unceremoniously dumped. In her place, the reanimated corpse of Newt Gingrich. Officially, Sarah is unable to make the occasion due to diary commitments. The official statement from the GOP leadership stressed that "We completely understand and respect Governor Palin’s focus on her official state business". Pointedly, though, they blamed her team for "initially confirming her acceptance" - and then rubbed salt in the wounds by praising Gingrich - who successfully derailed the Clinton presidency in the early Nineties - as "one of the Republican party's finest minds". Not a description that even her strongest supporters would apply to Sarah Palin, I suspect.

Fox News - in this instance, probably a reliable source, since it has given her more airtime (and certainly more sympathetic coverage) than all the other stations put together - is in little doubt as to the magnitude of the snub. Under the headline "Republicans Disinvite Palin to Major Fundraiser", the report asserts that Congressional leaders "decided to ditch" the Alaska governor. Republican noses had been severely put out by the muddled response of Palin's press office when the invitation was first announced - apparently unaware of it, her people had issued a holding statement denying that anything had been confirmed. "She was a disaster," one Republican source told FOX News. "We had confirmation."

Not "it was a disaster", note. "She was a disaster".

But surely they would have put the mix-up behind them if they really wanted her to come and speak, wouldn't they? It strikes me as a convenient excuse. However embarrassing it must have been to have their big announcement spoiled by the lack of co-ordination between Palin's separate operations in Washington and Alaska, it could easily have been smoothed over. Make no mistake - the Republican bigwigs have more or less ostracised her. And this comes just days after her former champion John McCain - the man, in fact, responsible for people like me having heard of La Palin at all - conspicuously failed to back her notional claim on the presidency in 2012. (On the other hand, Sarah has attracted the backing of an actress/model named Angie Harmon, who tells Fox that her opponents are just "afraid of her and her morals, ethics and values".)

The other week it must have seemed like a good idea to invite one of the few Republicans who retains a wide public following, or at least recognition, to headline the annual bash, despite Palin's rather checkered history of gaffes, her shaky performance in interviews, not to mention her rather idiosyncratic way of speaking also. The presidential campaign had been a steep learning curve, after all: surely she would have put the problems behind her and emerged as a more serious and polished public performer. But recently there have been a whole series of blunders, both personal and political, including:

- Her friendship with a leading Scientologist, and former Clinton cheerleader, John Coale (and his TV presenter wife Greeta Van Susteren) which has raised some eyebrows. Republican insiders are said to be mystified as to why an anti-abortion rights conservative who ran against Washington elites is turning to a pair of Democrat political networkers for advice. A "former Palin ally" quoted by Politico blames the couple for her recent difficulties, though many would say the trouble started during the campaign.

- Her refusal of billions of dollars in federal stimulus funding - which won her some applause from a few of the more principled small state Republicans but went down rather badly with most Alaskans.

- Her sudden and unexplained withdrawal from the high-profile Conservative Political Action Committee meeting in February. Disappointed delegates had to make do with Rush Limbaugh and a 13 year-old boy.

- Allowing Van Susteren to record an exclusive interview with Bristol Palin, who took the opportunity to describe abstinence-only sex education (as championed by her mother) as "not realistic at all". And she should know.

A report on Politico cites


Interviews with Alaska and Washington-based GOP political professionals who are familiar with the Palin operation describe the governor’s team as a gang that couldn’t shoot straight, a staff whose failure to execute basic political maneuvers too often entangles the governor in awkward and embarrassing situations that could have easily been avoided.


Such as, for example, setting her up as a plausible presidential candidate?

By ruthlessly cutting Palin down to size - humiliating her, indeed - Republican leaders would seem to be demonstrating a renewed seriousness of purpose. But will it be enough to see the back of her?

4 comments:

david cameron's forehead said...

Repugs are really suffering, & I won't pretend to be upset.

It is my belief that even if the halo comes off Obama & he loses popularity, they won't benefit. What do weaklings like Steele, fakes like Joe the Plumber, talking head nonentities like Jindal & all the maniacs have to say? I read their alternative "budget" & it was a sick joke.

But this will, in my view, be a good process. As Obama begins to really go too far (which he hasn't done yet) the demand will emerge for a free-market, libertarian party to oppose him. The Religious Right will at this point be blown out of the water by the top brass in the GOP, few if any of whom ever agreed with its objectives.

They will accept that evolution happened & there's nothing wrong with being gay. They will also accept much of Obama's socially tolerant agenda (although I have had to revise my estimate downwards re: how much we can get in terms of sanity on drugs etc, there is still hope because he is clearly at least slightly more pro-science & a follower of evidence than his predecessor).

It will take a long time for Republicans to sort themselves out. I hold that a revival in 2010 or 2012 wouldn't help them in the long term as they really need a Reagan-esque transformation. Obama is very skilfully wrongfooting those who may incarnate such a change, such as Sanford in South Carolina: he is nothing if not a politician, & knows how to neutralise them. But it will happen sooner or later. They will need to appeal to the young & all ethnicities, & they will be able to. Didn't Reagan carry the youth vote & educated professionals? They were abandoned by Rove's deal with the devil, but once that shite is turned away from we'll see that Dem strength among "minorities" is not inevitable.

The prospect of a sane, secularist right-wing party in America is one we should all be welcoming.

david cameron's forehead said...

Re: Repug present strength, I base it on opinion polls. They gloatingly link to evidence of Obama's popularity slipping, while omitting to mention that the self-same polls prove as they themselves are almost universally hated (deservedly).

There is also the matter of the NY-20 special election, which is extremely close. It was won by a conservative Democrat last time, in the midst of the enthusiasm for Obama, so surely now if people were turning against him (in an essentially right-wing area, whose nature is proven by its history & demographics) you'd expect a surging Repug victory, which did not take place.

Excuse me for going on & that. But I hope you see why I am enthusasitic about sanity's prospects if the GOP changes. & I'm not even right-wing.

valdemar squelch said...

Yes, thought you'd spot that one. Cowardly of all those grey men to dump her, but predictable. Grey men don't like colourful women. Look at the senior Tories' attitude to Thatcher, before she gelded most of them. But it would have been such fun to see SP in debates with, er, BO. She might even have perfected the art of talking in sentences by 2012.

Anonymous said...

I see that Bristol and Todd have split and that Todd is now telling the world that he and Bristol had been having quite a lot of sex before the pregnancy (i.e. not a one off) and that Sarah P probably knew this.