Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Palinization

First, give the Sage of Wasilla credit.  Right now, I don't know whether or not Joe Miller will actually knock off Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska primary, but even if he ultimately falls just short (and he's leading now, so it's at least just as likely that he'll prevail), Sarah Palin's reputation will surely be enhanced by his endorsement of an unknown insurgent against a sitting Senator.  Did she carefully and correctly assess Miller's chances of winning before she took to her usual combo of Facebook and Twitter, or was she just carrying on her personal feud with Murkowski's family?  Did her endorsement actually make any difference in the contest?  I have no idea the answer to either question, but in terms of her national reputation, neither matters: all that anyone is going to know is that she endorsed a nobody who either took down a sitting Senator or came close.  Maybe her endorsement mattered, but if not, figuring out which way the parade is headed and jumping out in front is an important political skill, and she at the very least seemed to have that working this time around. 

Second...no matter what the final result, but especially if Miller wins: these primaries are sending a very strong message to GOP pols about the dangers of ever allowing any space to develop between themselves and movement conservatives.  And that's true whether or not that's a message that Alaska's primary voters are intending to send (it may be, as I said last night, that the explanation for this election has more to do with the reputation of the Murkowski name in Alaska along with general voter discontent with the economy than it has to do with her actual actions in the Senate): the interpretation everyone's going to hear and believe is that ideological deviation, even very mild deviation, is extremely dangerous to one's electoral health.  Whether it's the New START treaty, or a compromise deal on the budget if the GOP controls at least one House of Congress next year, or any other issue, you can be sure that Republican pols who have to cast tough votes are going to remember Bob Bennett and Lisa Murkowski (and Arlen Specter, for that matter). 

5 comments:

  1. Yes, but... Don't you think Sarah Palin's word carries more weight in Alaska than in the rest of the country? It shouldn't surprise anyone that her fellow Alaskan voters would be influenced by what she has to say. I think we've yet to clearly see that influence transfer to the other forty-nine states.

    On another note, I'm curious how a Tea Party candidate like Joe Miller would view the the Alaska Permanent Fund... Not that it's relevant to the U.S. Senate, but he's been involved in state politics before, so he must have some position on it.

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  2. I really don't know if Alaska movement conservatives are more likely to listen to Palin than those in the rest of the nation. It could be that they love her; it could be that they're far more aware of her weaknesses than those who only know of her through Fox News. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a lot of AK conservatives consider her not a real conservative after all -- it's a pretty normal pattern for home state voters to think that they know the real, de-mystified truth about their national pols. So I just don't know, without further information.

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  3. Haven't a handful of her picks lost as well?

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  4. Really an innocent question - but is Joe Miller who we think he is? He bears a certain physical resemblance to Chuck Norris, and his shtick seems to be well within the Tea Party canon.

    OTOH, dude is a decorated combat veteran who, er, got his J.D. at Yale University.

    I've long suspected that the Tea Party is the type of movement that inevitably gets co-opted by the kind of forces against which Howard Beale railed in the film Network. Joe Miller as Yale lawyer turned Tea Party favorite seems like it might be an example of same. Does anyone know?

    (None of which is to take anything away from Palin, as JB rightly noted, she's quite good at jumping in front of the parade, which conclusion would not at all be mitigated if Miller turned out to be a populist imposter).

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  5. Sage of Wasilla? If you mean she's a Spice Girl.... yeah, OK, whatever.

    If you mean sage as in "possessing wisdom," you're just "plain silly."

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