Frank Rich Annoints Palin the GOP’s 2012 Favorite
Rich is excellent as always today, but I think he misses the mark here.
She could well be their last presidential candidate standing. Such would-be competitors as Mark Sanford, John Ensign and Newt Gingrich are too carnally compromised for the un-Clinton party. Mike Huckabee is Palin-lite. Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal — really? That leaves the charisma-challenged Mitt Romney, precisely the kind of card-carrying Ivy League elitist Palinists loathe, no matter how hard he tries to cosmetically alter his history as a socially liberal fat-cat banker. Palin would crush him like a bug. She has the Teflon-coated stature among Republicans that Romney can only fantasize about.
I don’t think that’s right.
It’s important to remember that, before securing the nomination, McCain was despised by both the Christianists and the Limbaugh/Coulter wingnuts. Limbaugh railed against McCain, bellowing that he’d "destroy the Republican party" while Coulter mocked him as less conservative than Hillary — and both Limbaugh and Coulter openly campaigned against Huck. Didn’t matter. McCain had the backing of the GOP establishment and was the neocon favorite in what was thought to be a national security election, and Huck, on the backs of the Southern fundies, finished second. Teflon is overrated.
Palin not only has pissed off and embarrassed too many Village Republicans to make a serious run, it’s very difficult to imagine her besting Willard in states like Florida, California, Pennsylvania and New York — or even states like Michigan and Ohio where the economy will likely be the central issue. And it’s worth noting that Willard has a decent collection of nutters in his corner too, from K-Lo to Hugh Hewitt, and was Limbaugh’s candidate in ’08. That leaves Palin and Huck fighting over a lot of the same votes, and I wouldn’t underestimate Huck, a two-term governor who already has his own show.
Finally, there’s a managerial aspect to running a presidential campaign that seem to be well beyond Palin’s abilities and temperament. W. may not have known too much about anything, but he was an annoyingly disciplined campaigner and quite happy to let Karl and Dick run the show. Palin’s ego, as we know from the ’08 campaign, does not permit her to defer to anyone who knows what they’re doing and her erratic behavior is certain to blow up somewhere along the grueling, 18-24 month campaign.
If Palin couldn’t master a few interviews during a three-month campaign, just wait until she’s got to show up for a couple dozen primary debates. Can you see Palin deftly fending off Willard’s and Huck’s attacks over that long a haul? I can’t.