Thursday, October 6, 2011

Palin Out

The 1972 Democratic National Convention was, by all reports, chaotic. George McGovern had a solid delegate lead coming into the convention, but didn't seal the deal until he won a couple of hotly contested test votes at the convention. He then turned to the question of a running mate, only to be rebuffed by his first choice -- Ted Kennedy -- and at least a couple of other choices. Eventually, he settled on Missouri Senator Tom Eagleton; it was hardly a carefully vetted selection and it soon turned into a fiasco, but again McGovern was operating in relatively difficult circumstances. Also in McGovern's defense: Eagleton went on to continue to have a perfectly respectable Senate career. As near as I can tell, he retired with an excellent reputation.

In 2008, John McCain basically won the nomination on Super Tuesday, which was February 5, but Mike Huckabee fought all the way to March 4, when he withdrew and McCain clinched it. The deadline for selecting a running mate was the Republican National Convention, scheduled for September 1. Oh, sure, perhaps you would want the veepstakes to be concluded at least a few days before the convention, but the hard deadline was September 1.

Which means that McCain's campaign had almost all of March to select and vet a running mate. And all of April. And all of May. And all of June. And all of July. And all of August.

And they -- and he -- selected someone who, whatever her many, many, many other flaws, was currently under an ethics investigation in her state. I mean, how do you do that? It's really hard to believe the level of irresponsibility, and really I don't see how Republicans have ever forgiven McCain for it.

The other's been clear for some time, of course, that Palin wasn't really capable for whatever reason of running a proper campaign, and it's certainly possible she never had any intention of contesting the primaries, but by my standards I'm still going to say that she (like Christie, and Barbour, and the rest) ran and lost. Pending further reporting, we'll never know for sure what her goals have been these last three years, but when you're the recent VP candidate and you spend your time doing things that presidential candidates do, then in my book you're a presidential candidate. Just, in this case, a spectacularly inept one.

At least this simplifies things a bit. I've been saying for a while that the field is set, but hadn't quite wanted to definitely rule a Palin nomination seemed increasingly unlikely, but I didn't know exactly where to draw the line between unlikely and entirely implausible. At least that's done with now. It's gonna be Rick Perry or Mitt Romney, unless something wildly implausible happens. Hey, for Republicans, it certainly could have been a whole lot worse -- I doubt if either of them will embarrass the party as badly as John McCain did, and they both would probably be much better presidents than George W. Bush. My line for a while has been that the GOP is increasingly unlikely to nominate someone crazy, but is increasingly certain to nominate someone who has had to say crazy things to get the nod, and that's pretty much how it's turning out.


  1. Some background on the Palin selection:

    The McCain camp had all that time to vet, but didn't really start the process until the summer. They started with 50 names around the time the Democratic nomination race was winding and gradually whittled it down.

    Here are some thoughts from Rick Davis (of the McCain campaign) in 2009.

  2. Care to expand on why you think Perry would be a much better President than W.?

  3. Seconding Ron's question -- I found that surprising.

  4. JB, come on. It is pretty cleaer that Palin is in it for book sales and PR. I think you are ingorning how lucrative it is becoming ot run for PResident. NB: book sales dont' make anyone rich. WHy are they giving out $1M contracts? How many copies of HRC's book were sold again?

  5. Absent Palin in 2008, I'd say McCain would have lost by another 2-3 points minimum. She was the only consideration that might have made me vote for McCain, for example, but it wasn't enough.

    Amusing that the Palin Derangement Syndrome is still alive and well though. ;-)

    And I suspect Palin is still gonna be vexing folks in presidential politics. She will be an unspoken threat to run a 3rd party candidacy, and any R nominee knows it, and knows he/she better not stumble into apostasy, else the Saracuddah jumps in and peels off her 3-10 share of the electorate, and punishes the apostate.

    The Saracudda blew it when she resigned as governor of Alaska. If she ever had dreams of high office, they ended that day. Doesn't mean she won't have influence on high office selections, however. She will.

  6. She will be an unspoken threat to run a 3rd party candidacy, and any R nominee knows it, and knows he/she better not stumble into apostasy, else the Saracuddah jumps in and peels off her 3-10 share of the electorate, and punishes the apostate.

    Please, God, make this happen.

  7. Confused by two things JB:

    1) What are you referring to when you talk about how badly McCain embarrassed his party (i.e. choosing Palin, vote share, his record in the 2009-11 congress?)

    2) Seriously on what basis is Perry a better president than W.?

  8. The case for Rick Perry as a non-terrible President rests on his tenure in Texas, where (much like Reagan) he talks the talk of a seditionist, but governs like a standard red-state Republican governor. Shorter: talks like Jan Brewer, walks like Mitch Daniels.

    If the TEA movement is a coherent movement with a definite concrete agenda, then Perry won't be able to get away with governing (essentially) like Ronald Reagan. They will insist upon a battery of litmus tests, and mobilize whenever Perry goes back on his word. A successful Perry presidency would prove the contrary: that the TEA Party is nothing but a cultural identity movement, wholly mollified when someone they identify with regains the Presidency.

  9. I'm not convinced that the Tea Party, which demands the crazy talk, is the majority in the Republican party. The Republican party still doesn't know which way to go after the terrible fallout from Bush. The Tea Party faction is the loudest group, but I don't think they have a firm hold on the rudder. This primary season will definitely be instructive.

    I'm curious to see how well Romney does, and whether 75% of Republicans think he's a RINO, or more like 20-40%. I also wonder where Perry will go on big issues like Social Security, tax reform, and immigration. His talk so far has been that of a regional politician, not a national candidate, so some evolution may occur.

  10. It always seemed to me that Palin had cocooned herself among her supporters so thoroughly that she thought she'd be handed the nomination by acclamation. Especially considering the relative weakness of the GOP field, she probably thought that by now she'd be well ahead in the polls without having to do any campaigning, and people would be begging her to run. She clearly thinks of herself - not unreasonably - as the biggest star in the Republican Party.

    But it should be obvious to anyone who's followed her career that she will not do the hard work of campaigning if there's a strong likelihood of it all coming to nothing. The idea that she would mount a third-party campaign, with all the organizing and grunt work that would entail, especially one that would be overwhelmingly likely to lose - well, that's just silly.

  11. When considering the effect that Palin may have had on the ticket, I suspect 2008 was a unique case because not only was McCain very old, but there was a great deal of attention on the fact that he had survived cancer. I would argue that he came off as more frail than Reagan or Dole when they ran. The possibility that he would die in office was on many people's minds, giving more focus than usual to the vp selection.

  12. Third request to Jonathan to explain why he would expect Perry to be any better than GWB.

    GWB looked pretty good in 2000, if anything a bit smoother and more reasonable than Perry looks now. Basically two peas in a pod.

    Do we only expect Perry to be less bad because GWB was surprisingly bad? Was Bush surprisingly bad?

  13. If you really think that Palin was a candidate in any meaningful sense, you may want to revise those standards of yours. I'll grant that it's hard to believe that she played the will-she-won't-she game for something as mundane as getting her PAC to pay for her family's summer vacation, but by all appearances that's exactly what she did. (After all, Gingrich spent quite a bit of time on his own futile campaign shilling for his video business.)

  14. How's Ralph Nader doing on the speaker circuit? How much adulation is he getting? That's how much Palin wants to be the Nader of the Republican Party.

  15. Has any Republican governor been more popular with Democrats than Sarah Palin once was?

  16. Reading Palin against Jonathan's three tests posted above for basic presidenting -- interest in governing, and politicking; experience in governing and politicking; and ambition, she'd be at best a one-for-three. (Oh-for gets you Bush II.)

    We dodged a bullet.

  17. Like Huckabee, Palin has a devoted fan base, who would give her money even after it was clear, even to them, that she couldn't win the nomination. Like Huckabee in 2008, she could have stayed in until the end, racking up enough delegates to claim a second or third place win. I think that was her game plan, until her continued decline in the polls and the rise of Bachmann lengthened the odds.

  18. I hope those who are interested saw that I did a post in response to the question about Perry/Bush.

    On Palin, I'll just say that it's fun to speculate about her true motives and all (and I've done it too), but just remember that we don't actually know what she "really" has been up to. You can't get inside their heads -- often, they can't even get inside their own heads.


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