Monday, March 30, 2009

Frontrunner, or also-ran?


Much was made over the weekend regarding Sen. John McCain's refusal to give an absolute endorsement to his former running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for the 2012 presidential race. In fact, too much was made of it. So much can change between now and the next presidential vote, and McCain is wise to keep his options open. But McCain also probably recognizes that Palin, while energizing the GOP base, was pretty much a drag on his candidacy last year. The vast majority of the people who were ga-ga over Palin were going to vote for McCain anyway, but McCain's selection of Palin surely drove away some people who were on the fence. It was a horrible choice, one I'm sure that McCain wishes he could do over. That said, Palin remains a contender for the 2012 nomination. She's beloved by social conservatives and by other folks who are charmed by her folksy manner. But to have any chance, she's going to have to bone up on current events; you know, issues on which presidents should have a firm grasp. Her ability to see Russia from an island in the Bering Strait isn't going to suffice in terms of foreign policy expertise. And it's not like she's going to sweep to the nomination unopposed. Despite some recent rough sledding, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is still a solid contender. And some of the 2008 challengers for the nomination - Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee - aren't going anywhere. Also in the mix are Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a contender for the VP slot that went to Palin, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. And does anybody remember a fellow by the name of Jeb Bush? A recent straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference saw Romney at the head of the pack with 20 percent of the support. Jindal was second at 14 percent, and Palin was tied with Paul at 13 percent. It's pretty clear that the field is wide open, and Palin has her work cut out for her.

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30 Comments:

Blogger PRIguy said...

I just can't believe that we're not even 100 days into this presidency and the campaigning has begun for the next round. I'm a little punch drunk from the last one to worry about who's even running, let alone who's already in the lead. Either way, yeah, Ms. Palin does indeed have her work cut out for her. Perhaps she could hire the guy who ran Obama's campaign...

March 30, 2009 at 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I've said on here before, if the Republicans nominate Palin in '12, she would be to the GOP what George McGovern was to the Democrats in '72 - someone who appeals to the most vocal and vociferous wing of the party, but would be an almost-certain loser in a general election.

OK, she might win more than one state and DC, which was all McGovern mustered 36 years ago, but it would probably just be a handful of states in the West and the South. I don't see how she would win any of the states Gore or Kerry won, and, with that, she would have to win both Ohio and Florida, and I don't think she'd be able to pull that off.

--Brad Hundt

March 30, 2009 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

She's still kind of hot, though.

March 30, 2009 at 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Hundt, three years is a lifetime in politics. If Obama continues to be unable to focus, almost anyone will have the ability to defeat him.
He must prove to those outside the media that he is more than another Jimmy Carter.
So far, his never ending daily agenda changes and additions have caused his policies to lag in Congress.
He must realize that he has to get SOMETHING passed other than more spending for pork. Congress will always do that regardless of party.
He also must come up with a realistic energy policy, a real budget to pay for health care, and more. So far he is failing.

March 30, 2009 at 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And she is still hot

March 30, 2009 at 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stand by my original analysis. I don't think the fire-breathing, far-right wing of the Republican Party is going to be able to pull off any more national election wins running on God, guns and gays, and even if Obama is in a tough spot in '12, I'd be willing to bet that voters in the middle will not view Sarah Palin as an acceptable alternative. Mitt Romney, maybe, or Jon Hunstman, the governor of Utah, but not the Tina Fey lookalike.

Also, I think it's fair to say that Obama is a bit more politically adroit than Jimmy Carter, and has become president at a moment when the political winds are shifting towards a more activist government. Carter became president at the point when America's rightward swing was gathering momentum.

-- Brad Hundt

March 30, 2009 at 4:04 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I can't wait for the top 10 lists to start up again... you know... top 10 core principles of the conservative party... It would be uber-refreshing to see one that appears designed to be INCLUSIVE as opposed to appearing to be a list of reasons why "you" aren't a real american... the "you", of course, is the oft-marginalized other...

March 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Dawn Keller said...

I think fewer people would have voted for McCain if she wasn't on the ticket. She solidified the religious base for him - he didn't have that base before her nomination. I think some of them would have stayed at home if they didn't like Palin so much. Maybe a different candidate would have brought more independents to his candidacy. We'll never know ...
That being said, I don't see why anyone is being asked who they endorse for the next presidency when we are not even six months into Obama's term.

March 30, 2009 at 5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think all you guys who are saying Palin is hot have damn poor taste.

March 30, 2009 at 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually Mr. Hundt, when Carter won, NO ONE thought the right was on the rise, but instead was in decline. It was Reagan that was not supposed to have a chance who won BECAUSE of the Carter administration.
Conservatives were in retreat until a real one arose. Reagan was consider too conservative to be a candidate that matter, yet he won.

Carter was not considered so weak either at the start, Obama's skills BEYOND speaking need to be tested.

March 31, 2009 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I think you're mistaken there, anonymous. Before Carter, we had had eight years of Republicans in the White House - Nixon and then Ford - and despite all the scandal related to Nixon and the great controversy over Ford's pardon of him, Carter won by a gnat's eyelash. His victory was a trickle-down effect from Watergate, an anomaly. And after Carter, we had eight years of Reagan and four years of Bush Sr. So, clearly, Carter was just a blip amid a prosperous period for Republicans, and their rise was occurring well before Carter popped onto the scene. In 1980, Reagan certainly was in the right place at the right time, because Jesse Helms probably could have defeated Carter that year.

March 31, 2009 at 7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First that was not the impression at the time.
Second, Nixon and Ford were not "conservatives" compared to the modern def. or the Goldwater crowd at the time (which came to define Reagan conservatives).
One of the shames of history is that even those that lived it forget the impressions of the time and color it with their viewpoints from now.
Hence the same reason that Sandy Koufax named Ralph Kiner as one of the hardest men to strike out DURING his playing time. After he left and Kiner became a symbol of sports writers wrath and Enis Slaughter's also, did Koufax's list change.
Ford was not elected btw. So the actual progression was Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter (one Republican amongst three Democrats).
Carter emerged on a platform of change overcoming more experienced Dems like Mo Udall. He achieved change and it was a drastic mistake.

March 31, 2009 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Regan wasn't really all that conservative either... I mean, from a purely mathematical viewpoint...

March 31, 2009 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Anonymous, you conveniently ignore the fact that Nixon was elected twice and that Carter was followed by two terms of Reagan and one of Bush the Elder. If you insist on going backward, you should note that Kennedy and Johnson combined for two terms, but before that we had eight years of Eisenhower. In other words, we can package this any way we want, depending on how we want to frame our timetable. By the way, I thought Nixon was a good president, despite his well-documented paranoia and vindictiveness. And I think the Republican Party would do itself a favor if it would quit talking about a "big tent" and actually cast a wider net for supporters. In other words, the party, if it wants to avoid being cast into the dustbin or history, needs to stop casting aside people just because they fail to toe the line on any single issue (see abortion, gay rights). Rockefeller Republicans could do well in our current political climate: moderate on social issues and conservative on fiscal matters. The Republicans, if they press their current course and hitch their wagon to someone like Palin, have a chance of losing significant ground to the Libertarians, an organization I'm finding myself drawn to more and more.

March 31, 2009 at 9:49 AM  
Anonymous nomen nescio said...

I think the two of you need to decide if you are arguing over the dominance of conservatism in American politics or the party dominance. I think most modern Republicans define themselves as conservative, but conservative ideology has always dominated American politics.

I would also argue that there are differences between the Goldwater conservatives and present day conservatives in that Goldwater conservatives were against big government, which modern conservatives, obviously, are not. Goldwater conservatives were also almost libretarian when it came to government intervention into personal lives, while present day conservatives believe that government policy should be influenced by religious teachings.

March 31, 2009 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

You are absolutely right, Nomen, and that is why I think the current Republican leaders should be looking at the Goldwater/Rockefeller model (or, in present-day terms, the Specter-Snowe-Collins model) as their future.

March 31, 2009 at 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a look at how America shifted to the right in the 1970s and 1980s, I'd recommend a couple of books to "Anonymous" -- "Nixonland" by Rick Perlstein, and "The Age of Reagan, 1974-2008" by Sean Wilentz.

--Brad Hundt

March 31, 2009 at 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brant the very fact that you said "Goldwater/Rockefeller" mold proves my point. These two men were opposed in the party, not together on the issues of the time.
Today they seem closer, but today is not yesterday.

I love your blog and look forward to it every day btw even though I almost always disagree with you buddy

Freedom First

March 31, 2009 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Frankly, I'm having a little difficulty keeping track of which anonymous poster is posting what.

I would have voted Libertarian in every election since Reagan, but since there's not too much support for that party, unfortunately I felt my vote would matter more elsewhere.

I don't remember all of the fine points of administrations of the past even though I lived through all of them since Kennedy. However, I do know that Carter did incredible damage to the way other countries perceive the United States. He was and is a horse's ass and was the worst president we've had. Until Jan. 20 2009.

Bad taste or not, Palin is hot. But then I have a little thing for Britney Spears too!

March 31, 2009 at 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But today is not yesterday" --

Yes, that's exactly a point that's trying to be made here -- you can't keep running Ronald Reagan forever, and it's not like his brand of conservatism is going to be salable in election after election. And the same idea applies to Sarah Palin: running on resentment of "elites" and culture-war issues isn't a winning strategy for the GOP anymore, and that appears to be what Palin is hitching her wagon to.

--Brad Hundt

March 31, 2009 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

As you'll note, I never suggested that Rockefeller and Goldwater were political partners. They were, in fact, harsh rivals. They did differ on fiscal policy, but their similarity was their moderate, or perhaps libertarian, approach to social issues. Later in life, Goldwater attacked the religious right over its stances on abortion and gay rights, and he decried the right-wing-Christian hijacking of his party. And it is on these social issues where the future of the Republican Party lies. If the Republicans focus on issues such as a strong national defense and fiscal responsibility (which they're largely just given lip service to of late), that's a basis for success. These are issues on which most Americans can agree. But if the party leaders continue to insist that you can't be a good Republican, or more importantly a good Republican candidate for national office, without an unbending opposition to abortion and gay rights, they're on the road to irrelevancy. Their big tent will become a pup tent. Only zealots will remain inside. If Jesus Christ, himself, returned to Earth, one can only imagine the attack ads the current Karl Rovian GOP would run against him. From what I understand, he was a community organizer of some repute.

March 31, 2009 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

By the way, anonymous, I appreciate your support for the blog, and I enjoy "discussing" with you, too.

March 31, 2009 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

5 bucks says that the '12 GOP nod goes to either a woman, a "brown" man (not black), or an openly gay man.

2012 seems so far away...

March 31, 2009 at 3:08 PM  
Anonymous nomen nescio said...

I agree with you, Brant. I think that the John McCain from the 2000 election was more in the mold of a Goldwater, but he was smeared out of the election by Bush's team. I changed my registration to vote for him in the 2000 primary, but by the time Pennsylvania voted it was over. I was hoping he would select either Leiberman or Tom Ridge as his running mate in the 2008 election, because it would have forced the Dems to play a different ballgame rather than the two month Obamapalooza we ended up having to endure, but he chose the soundbite machine instead and the rest is history.

I hope the Republicans find their way back to reality. The system doesn't work when those on the fringe are making the most noise. To be honest, I would like to see at least two more parties with a realistic shot at holding office. Right now you can choose chicken or you can choose beef, I personally prefer fish.

BTW PRIguy, I can see how you might find Palin attractive, but everytime she opens her mouth it's like taking a cold shower.

March 31, 2009 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Agreed on Palin. I think Ridge would have been a great pick, but he's got that little pro-choice thing against him. I honestly think Sen. Olympia Snowe is a great untapped resource for the GOP. A daughter of a Greek immigrant father, she was orphaned at a young age but rose to success in politics. She is pro-business, tough on crime and pro-gun but also pro-choice and gay friendly. A little something for everyone.

March 31, 2009 at 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ellispes, I agree with your ideas for 2012 except it won't be a gay man.
Those people that are Pro-Life and conservative have to go somewhere and each party takes on groups under their umbrella. That is the two party system and keeps away third parties.

March 31, 2009 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Let's say that things go horribly wrong for Obama (and us) over the next couple of years and the Republicans hitch their wagon to someone like Palin. Could that possibly set the stage for the emergence of a third-party contender such as a Ross Perot (or Ron Paul)? Perot was clearly a loony in some regards, but he touched a nerve with people and was leading in the polls in 1992 before he put his campaign on ice temporarily and killed any momentum he might have built. Granted, Perot didn't win a state, but it could be different with a better, more polished candidate who has money to spend and a message that resonates with a populace looking for alternatives.

April 1, 2009 at 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlikely, a more polished candidate will move towards one of the two parties. It requires an underlying issue to create a third party as the Republicans were in the 1850's under Fremont. The Whigs spent years giving lip service to freeing the slaves, then finally people said enough and the Pathfinder move the growing group away. The Dems made the mistake of splintering at the wrong moment in the wake of a Whig split.
The resulting chaos lead to a third party victory and civil war.
Lincoln the man that could never win an election becomes President.
In addition, the national media will savage any third party alternative that appears. That is part of the problem. The internet is a growing force though that could transform things,but it is about two decades away from reaching that point and by then the government or the forces that mainstream media represent will have found a way towards dominance or control of it. There is probably about a four to eight year window when there is the possibility and my personal guess is 2040 it ends and 2032 it begins.

April 1, 2009 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

This all boils down to strategery... A successful third party candidate will probably START as a dem or rep (more likely republican)... be judged to moderate (or LIBERAL) by the base, and relaunch under a third party... it will require a perfect storm, of sorts... a super conservative bible banging baby loving xenophobic republican challenging an embroiled first term democratic incumbent (you see how I'm setting this up, right?).

The key is not to take enough votes from either party to "replace" one or the other, but to draw enough votes from both sides to usurp the establishment...

I would hesitate to pre-blame the media for the failure of a third party... as long as they are truly a viable candidate (McCain-'00 esque) the media could be a HUGE boon to them... but if you have even a hint of goofiness in you, watch out.

April 1, 2009 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

"too moderate" not "to moderate"

April 1, 2009 at 8:48 AM  

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