First let me start off by saying that I think Sarah Palin has done a lot for the 2010 elections, while waking up some of the GOP. Plus, she is a good fundraiser. She can fire up a crowd with her speeches like nobody’s business. That said, I think it is a huge mistake to even consider her as a GOP candidate for 2012. Here is why.
1) Palin is a divider not a uniter.
The fiscal conservatives of the GOP cannot win a presidential election alone. The moderates of the GOP cannot win by themselves. The neo-cons cannot win by themselves. The social cons/Christian right-wing cannot win alone. The libertarians of the GOP cannot win. The independents can’t win. You get the picture. Each of these groups usually share some common ground, but their priorities are all placed differently and therefore party purity will never exist.
Purging the party of any of these groups is a big mistake. Pragmatism must prevail.
Palin has a problem helping and/or endorsing candidates with whom she is not ideologically equal. There is a reason that Palin isn’t out stumping for Carly Fiorina (R-CA) to defeat Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in the Senate race. [Yes, I know she endorsed Carly.] She doesn’t want to have that bite her later with her pro-life base. Plus, Fiorina wouldn’t benefit substantially in a more moderate-voting California, by having a Palin endorsement. Do you think Susan Collins (R-ME) would welcome the support of Palin? No, of course not. As a female Republican voter, I find this trend to be disturbing.
At a time when the majority of female voters leans toward the Democrats, it is imperative for the GOP to gain ground with women voters – YES, even the pro-life and/or pro-choice voters. [DISCLOSURE: I’m vehemently pro-life and have substantial creds on this subject. ] I am not a big fan of Republicans who are pro-choice, but I’m a realist and believe they have to have a place in the “big tent.” Don’t you think that Collins, Snowe, Fiorina, etc… would vote for a Supreme Court nominee that may hold pro-life views among others? They have and they will. Despite their occasional abhorrent votes on other issues, that does not make them unworthy of a united front by the GOP, including Sarah Palin’s support.
Naturally, I support a more conservative candidate (i.e., Rubio (R-FL) to claim victory over a less conservative Republican, but ONLY when that candidate is viable (and not down double-digits). I frown on tossing away a possibility at a majority vote and the right to drive an agenda, just for the sake of party purity. Anyone who doubts this logic need only look at the historic numbers achieved by the best Republican uniter, Ronald Reagan. Palin is no Reagan.
2) Palin is not strong enough to lead the GOP in the ousting of Obama.
Why? Because like it or not, Obama is just better at the fluff speeches. The reason we have Obama is because so many independents and moderates bought into the hope/change/dreams lines from Obama’s idiot boards. Palin can give some entertaining speeches too, but not as well as Obama. And because she can’t seem to unite the factions of the GOP, she will struggle gaining the confidence of the independents and moderates, no matter how well she throws out the one-liners to bait them.
The incumbent has the advantage. [Also at play are Obama picking Hilary Clinton as his new VP running mate and an economy that may not recover while the Republicans have control of the Congress between 2010 and election day of 2012.] While Obama doesn’t do well in interviews and debates, neither does Palin. Again, she’s weaker when pressed in those ‘gotcha moments’ and the media isn’t going to start doing her any favors. Obama was their golden child and they will work hard to push him, especially if Palin is his 2012 opponent.
3) Palin will be slaughtered in the GOP primary.
You think that Obama and the media will be hard on Palin, just wait until she has to go head to head with the other GOP possibilities. Can you imagine her in a debate with Huckabee, Romney, Barbour and Daniels (just to name a few)? They are all governors who never QUIT their job. They will nail her on that. Palin can hit the pulse of the talking points (reduced government, lower taxes, strong defense, secure borders, etc…), but when it comes to substance, she is going to struggle against the credentials of the aforementioned candidates. She will have to come prepared to not only defend her record but also bring appealing ideological solutions beyond the catch phrases.
4) Palin is sexy, but I think America is getting weary of sexy.
Maybe I’m jumping the gun on this one and giving voters more credit than they deserve. But I’m tired of the only candidates that seem electable are the ones who look good. I’d rather have a chunky Haley or a comb-over Daniels because they can bring real solutions to the table. They can bring more than just looking good in a suit (or pumps) and flashing a million dollar smile. Are we really this shallow? Haven’t we learned this lesson enough times? I think all the protests over the last few years suggest that we are tired of slogans and pretty faces and want substance. My concern is that Palin may not be able to offer the latter.
5) The whole “I’m just like you” meme is part of Palin’s charm, but also a flaw.
I’m a female Republican, so naturally it is exciting for me to have a candidate with whom I can identify. I liked Palin on McCain’s ticket because of that very reason, and because she brought executive experience. Also, she complimented McCain’s weaknesses on energy and immigration policies. However, I don’t want a president who is just like me. I want someone better than me. I want someone smarter than me. I want someone who can communicate better than me. I do not want a victim, because I’m not one. Palin does occasionally take the “I’m a victim of media slant and establishment criticism” road and I am not impressed by that. While it is probably true, she doesn’t need to remind us of this fact. Very few Republicans get a fair shake in the media. Suck it up, girlfriend. Our nominee doesn’t have to be a Yale or Harvard graduate, but I can say I went to fewer colleges than Palin to get my undergraduate degree. Remember, I expect more. We don’t want a snob or an elitist, but I think she will struggle with her credentials against some of the others who can also pull off the “I’m like you” too — Mike Huckabee comes to mind here.
I believe the GOP will need a candidate that can appeal to all of the GOP groups, not just the Tea Partiers, in order to defeat Obama. I will certainly support Palin if she is the GOP nominee, but I am admitting now that I will be disappointed if that is the best we can do and will be more than skeptical of her chances to beat Obama.