Is Palin Now the 2012 Front-Runner?

September 16th, 2010 at 11:03 am David Frum | 76 Comments |

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I haven’t wanted to believe this … but Paul Mirengoff is looking prophetic today.

[I]f Sarah Palin seeks the presidential nomination, it will be quite plausible to view her not as one of many or even “first among equals,” but as the clear front-runner.

If TARP is a deal killer, then Romney is finished. If it’s unacceptable to acknowledge climate change, then Pawlenty is done. Many of my friends are rallying to Mitch Daniels. I like and admire Daniels too, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that he is the Bruce Babbitt of the GOP: the best nominee we never had.

That 1964 feeling is settling upon the GOP…

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76 Comments so far ↓

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Annie Margaret: I don’t think O’Donnell even has the mental equipment to teach in a Sunday School, especially a catholic one. I mean, have you seen the you-tube videos of her Politically Incorrect appearance in ’98? Even my catholic friends are horrified at her brand of repressive orthodoxy. (They affirm the principals of Vatican-II, whereas she very obviously does not.) Say what you want about the Catholic Church (I loathe it), but they do offer quality education.

    I have a near-fool proof test for determining a person’s catholic bona fides: ask them if they’ve read any of the works of Evelyn Waugh. If the answer is no, then they’re probably a dumb ass and not even seriously religious. I highly doubt that O’Donnell even heard of Waugh. (Unlike my man William F. Buckley, a sincere Catholic if there ever was one.)

    To O’Donnell’s credit, however, it seems she is less Palinite than Palin herself: she’s actually giving press conferences and doing appearances on the Lamestream Media (ABC’s GMA). She’s even letting reporters ask her (semi-) serious questions. (Her answers are, as you’d expect, puerile and stupid, but at least she’s trying to act like a serious candidate.)

  • jg bennet

    Well well the puppet master is tugging at the “fabric” of the Tea Party

  • anniemargret

    WaStateUrbanGOPer: I graduated from 12 years of Catholic School. You are correct. Most Catholic schools are tough academically. “Repressive orthodoxy’ is a wonderful descriptive term.

    I really wish all politicans would stop all manner of God-talk. Not because I don’t respect people’s views on God and religions (or no religion or God if an atheist), but because it’s divisive! They need to stick to the issues and if they need to preach or want to be preached to, there is a church on nearly every corner of America.

    Eveleyn Waugh was terrific. I had a nice conversation online once with Buckley’s son – he was warm and intelligently funny. But I cannot imagine Bill Buckley would find all this nonsense emanating from the GOP tasteful or productive .

    Sorry… I’m a liberal Democratic. But I want to respect a Republican’s choice. I’m still waiting for that to happen.

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Annie M:

    Congrats on the conversation w/ Chris Buckley. I’d (almost) die for the opportunity. And yes, Waugh is terrific– the novels and stories, that is, not the man. Evelyn Waugh is surely one of the more disturbed as well as disturbing people in the history of western culture. Every other detail of his adult life causes me to shudder. And yet the man , for all his morbidity and even gruesomeness, will nevery cease to fascinate.

    And you’re spot on about WFB not liking the current trends on the Ameican Right. He had a testy exchange with Norman Podhoretz on an NR cruise back in ’07 that well exemplifies this. He called Norman O. out on the utopian foolishness of the neo-con’s foreign policy agenda and the way they use Israel to pander to the religious right rabble. Podhoretz blew his stack, and Buckley had to have his microphone turned off.

    It’s a shame WFB isn’t around to help put a halt to all the Tea-Party-cum-Focus-on-the-Family Palin nonsense. The prevaling forces on right are in no way conservative, and he would not let them get away with claiming to be so. What a shame that the magazine he founded, which once boasted contributions from intellectual giants like Whittaker Chamer and Richard Weaver, is now abetting the career of a woman who can’t even tell a reporter what she reads.

    [I forgot to mention that it was Buckley who gave the John Birch Society (and all other cultivators of Richard Hofstadter's "paranoid style") their orders to exit the political scene in the 60s. His efforts helped make the Right and the GOP acceptable to the American mainstream, and enabled the likes of Reagan and the first Bush to govern competently. People like David Frum and Andrew Sullivan are trying damned hard to do something similar today, and they deserve alot of respect and credit for it.]

  • anniemargret

    But WaStateUrbanGOPer…. do you think – truly – that WFB could do anything now? I feel that the climate has changed, for the worse, in this country. I agree that what passes off for conservatism is not. I have a feeling that all the intelligent conservatives this country has ever produced could not stop the tide of ‘as stupid as I wanna be’ drive that has taken over the GOP .

    I happen to really care about this. It is important for both parties to offer up their best and brightest . We would do no less or care no less if we were talking about our schools and organizations and businesses. When did this country now feel it is appropriate to just put any fool in there, no matter if they can speak or articulate any sense?

    Sad, sad, and bad, bad for this country. Our children’s and grandchildren’s generations deserve better.

  • anniemargret

    I can only speak for myself and not other Dems. However, if the Democrats were to put up a Palinesque figure I would be leaving the party, and registering as an Independent. I would no way support a person just for the sake of the party, if I truly felt that person was underqualified or in any way an embarrassment on the national scene. I get the feeling Republicans don’t give a hoot who they put up there, even someone that can be easily mocked or ridiculed, as long as it gets votes.

    Yes…I know that’s ‘politics.’ But at some level, with the pressing problems our country is now facing, we owe it to our children to rise above third-grade discourse and petty one-upmanship.

  • anniemargret

    btw…. I did not mean to disparage all Catholic schools or churches. There are many good and intelligent and decent people in the Church, as I well know because I was once a big part of it. But O’Donnell represents extremism. It can come from anywhere, anytime, and it is always wrong, and it is always divisive . We need healers, not dividers.

    OK…enough ranting for the night!

  • chriscurrey

    I can easily see a way for her to win the primary. Iowa is pretty conservative. She can easily win there. Then she would come close in NH. Once is SC and NV, she would sweep those 2. Then it is the big enchilada. If she slips the states on that day (she win GA, NC, FL, AL, MS, MI and so on), i think she is in. After that, she can choose O’Donnell or Buchman as a VP and both of them will lose in a freaking landslide.

    But i think the dark horse that no one is talking about is John Thune. Haley Barber has way too many skeletons in the closet from his days as lobbyist.

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    In alot of ways, yes, I’m doubtful that WFB could have much influence in today’s political culture. The anti-intellectualism animating the right won’t be swayed by rational discourse– that’s the tricky thing about anti-intellectualism and, moreover, all populist movements. The defining characteristics of the tea partiers are not their beliefs about economics, fiscal policy, limited government, etc, but rather demographic discomfort and an unbelievably rabid cultural resentment. American Society is undergoing some massive and rapid changes, and they can’t adapt. The current governing class seem comfortable amidst all the current chaos; it is made up of people who have education, hail from trendy urban centers, and just seem to have a better time of it in this world. And so the Tea Partiers react. The contents of their beliefs are totally beside the point here.

    The real irony with the Tea Partiers is that they’re a reincarnation of some pretty leftwing movements: Bryanism, the Huey Long-style populism of the 30s, to name a few. Populism, left or right, is based on an appeal to the emotions of the mob, primarily envy and resentment. Their is nothing conservative (or even libertarian) about Populism. I listen to the tea partiers whine about “Elitism” and I seriously wonder if they came up through the Saul ALinsky school of politics. (Rules for Radicals is a book, after all, so I’d have to give them credit for this.)

    Yes, AnnieM, the more I think about it, you’re absolutely correct– Buckley probably wouldn’t have much success reasoning with these people. First, he was born in Mexico; he spoke Spanish before he did English; he went to Yale; HE LECTURED ON SPANISH AT YALE; and he divided his time between Stamford CT (my hometown, by the way) and Manhattan Island. The tea partiers would positively revile him.

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Mitch Daniles might be the only candidate who could stop Palin. He may in fact be the only GOP candidate who can beat Obama. (I’m not infering an equivalence between Obama and Palin.) His fundamental contrast to both is simple: he’s unexciting but he’s competent. He’s not flashy, not a terribly voluble public speaker, but he can actually govern and get things done. No media-manufactured narratives pertaining to his biography or personality, but a down-to-earth and intelligent midwesterner who has done a good job governing a midsize American state for 8 years.

    The only hang-up I can see for a Daniels candidacy is his time as OMB. You know, during Bush’s spending spree, unfunded tax cuts, Medicare part-D, etc.

  • chriscurrey

    WaStateUrbanGOPer: Mitch Daniles can’t win Iowa or SC or NC, or MI, or FL and that puts him way behind in terms of delegates and fundraising. Moreover, the base right now of the GOP has been taken by the radicals. I don’t see a way for him to win the primaries.

    Thune has serious credentials with the radical base and yet he is not well know with the rest of the GOPers to be burned as a radical (though he is when you look at some of his statement).

    I will honest with you, anyone the GOP will nominate will lose to Obama in 2012. By then, the economy will come back and that’s it. The smart folks won’t be running in 2012. They will wait for 2016.

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  • CentristNYer

    I remain skeptical that Palin will run, in spite of her recent moves. I think this is all a big dance to seem relevant and direct the national conversation. She’s got a very cushy career, sitting on the sidelines, tweeting her little brains out, and once she throws her hat into the ring, the media starts to examine all the lies she’s told and the empty policy prescriptions she’s made for America. Why risk it? Especially since we know what she thinks of actually governing.

  • Posting From Fake America

    What’s really sad about the 2012 GOP contenders is that many of them have not held office in a long time. Come 2012, Romney, Gingrich, Palin, Huckabee, and even Pawlenty will have been out of office for years. The above candidates seem more interested in playing footsie with the media than serving in office.

  • Bonnie

    I can’t see her running for president, because what if she won? Then she’d have to be president. She seems much happier being a Fox News/Facebook/Twitter personality.

  • abj


    There simply is no frontrunner for the 2012 Republican nomination. 2012 will come more into focus after the dust settles in November, but for now, talk about who’s winning the presidential sweepstakes is highly speculative. None of us has any idea what the political landscape will look like in 2012, or who will emerge to lead the party.

    It is clear to me, though, that Palin’s trying to create a national network of conservatives. There can be only one reason for this.

  • LauraNo

    WaState, you’ve reminded me that I’ve been wondering why the GOP thinks they need a star? They’ve been going on like this since they saw how boring McCain is. But I’ve always thought one of the things the republicans had going for them was their reputation for being serious and sober and in such scary times I would think the electorate would look for that comforting feeling from a daddy-type figure. But they’ve gone over some invisible line and now think their politicians need be rock stars and say outrageous things and furthermore, BELIEVE outrageous things and look good but who cares if they can speak English? Even if we’re going to be putting them on the world stage to conduct foreign affairs?

  • WillyP

    “Is Palin Now the 2012 Front-Runner?”
    No, I think David Frum is the front runner! What a hero!

  • anniemargret

    LauraNo: I think it’s great. I just love when otherwise intelligent Repubicans feel forced to defend the indefensible (Palin and the Stepford Wife, O’Donnell).

    At this point, this defines who they are and what they are. No one is shocked anymore. The first time McCain brought out the Pitbull with Lipstick, it was all downhill from there. Bachmann, Palin, O’Donnell, Angle…. what’s with these silly Republican women?

  • easton

    WaStateUrbanGOPer and annie, great exchange.

    I agree with Chriscurry. 2016 will likely be a strong Republican year. Hillary won’t run then, she made that clear and Democrats have no one who can follow Obama besides her. I am pretty sure Jindal will be the VP that year, maybe it will be Hunt/Jindal.

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  • Candy83

    2012 Republican presidential nomination will go to the best-funded candidate who can also turn out most impressively the party’s base.

    Yeah, I think it could very well be ex-Gov. Sarah Palin [R-Alaska], who would become the first female presidential nominee.

  • Candy83

    David Frum writes: “That 1964 feeling is settling upon the GOP…”

    …More like 1972. The devastating election following a realignment [presidential] election.

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