TEASER

Posted in Election 2008 on March 24th, 2009 by Ed

Mike linked this Portfolio article by Joe McGinniss last week. It's about Sarah Palin's complete lack of interest in doing her job (hard to get excited about playing in the minors after a few weeks in The Show!) and the growing bipartisan, statewide consensus among Alaskans that she is a sociopath. Highly recommended reading.

It has emboldened me to make a prediction for 2010: Sarah Palin is going to lose her re-election bid if the Democrats can run anyone better than Mickey Mouse. She'll probably have a challenger in her own primary. People in the sticks love nothing more than when one of their own Makes It. And they hate nothing more than when their Superstar decides she is too good for them anymore. Oddly enough, I find the potential trainwreck ending of her political career sad. If anything it's a sign of the utter ineptitude of the GOP leadership and specifically the d-bags who were in charge of the RNC last year. The party had something in Palin; they had something and they blew it.

When was the first time you heard Barack Obama speak? If you're like most people, even his fellow Illinoisians, it was his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. At the time I thought it was sad, a pitiful sign of how bad things were for the Democrats – a guy who hadn't even been elected to the Senate yet was their keynote. But it was strategic and it worked.

What happened was simple: Obama's Senate run in Illinois provided the first opportunity for a lot of the national Democratic leadership to meet him. And they met him. And they said "Holy shit, this guy is going places. We've got a hot prospect; let's make sure we develop him correctly." So rather than ramming him onto the Kerry ticket like idiots in an effort to save a failed campaign, they gave America a 30-minute preview of the future at the Convention. Then what happened? He disappeared. Being a Senator he obviously wasn't totally anonymous, but he faded into the background. He didn't become the leader of his party or the explicit Future and Savior. He went to the Senate and toiled for a few years, and all most Americans remembered was "Wow, who was that guy from the convention? With the goofy name?" It's the oldest marketing trick in the book. Give 'em a teaser, then make 'em wait. Let some excitement build. Let voters who were disheartened about the Democratic Party think, "Maybe next time will be different…"

Palin's Convention speech was the high point of her political career. Being good in controlled settings (i.e., reading a prompter) she created an almost universally positive impression. Republicans practically shit themselves. Democrats were terrified that this new weapon was going destroy them. But the GOP wasted the great opportunity she represented.

If they were smart – and let's be emphatic about the fact that they weren't – they would have said "Here's this rube, this inexperienced, ambitious young candidate with camera skills. She doesn't know her ass from a hole in the ground, but we can teach her." They could have had her give that speech and then disappear for four years, back to the void of Alaska, while they taught her how to sound like she isn't retarded in response to basic campaign questions. She would have left on a high note and then let the buzz build. By 2012…well, to be honest she probably would have been a formidable candidate if the coaches and strategists succeeded in teaching her anything.

Instead they saw a glimmer of potential and immediately foisted her on McCain in an effort to save an absolutely moribund campaign. Not only did McCain not want her but she was nowhere close to ready. She couldn't answer basic questions coherently. She knew almost nothing about politics that weren't Alaska politics. But rather than having four years to learn it they tried to cram it into her overtaxed brain in a matter of days. The result was an unmitigated disaster. They turned the GOP's Next Big Thing into what is likely to be, when all is said and done, one of the biggest disasters in the history of presidential campaigning.

I don't like Sarah Palin but I recognize potential when I see it. She could have been everything to the GOP that Obama was to the Democrats. Now she's in free fall and the only way she'll win the 2012 nomination is if the GOP decides that Obama is unbeatable and no one wants to run. The party is short a savior and Palin is on her way to becoming a combination of a footnote and a punchline. It didn't have to be that way.