We learned from Greg Sargent’s blog The Plum Line that Democrat strategists have plans to increasingly elevate Gov. Sarah Palin as a leader in much the same way they have done with Rush Limbaugh in recent weeks.
Sargeant reveals that James Carville, who mapped out the Limbaugh strategy, told him that Dems will be increasingly elevating Palin, because she’s “an identifiable person who has a hook,” unlike GOP Congressional leaders such as Rep. Eric Cantor and Sen. Mitch McConnell.
This strategy could turn out to be self-defeating for several reasons:
1. Immediately after the recent White House attacks on Rush, his ratings went up significantly, even doubling in some markets and among certain demographic groups. “Elevating” Gov. Palin in the same manner will only serve to help establish her as the front runner for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, saving her the work of having to beat out other Republican contenders such as Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal and Mark Sanford. If the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats cannot solve the country’s problems, voters will be more inclined to give the GOP another chance to fix things, so this strategy by the Dems may help create the “monster” that could defeat them.
2. If the aim of the strategy is to drive down Palin’s numbers among independents, it could backfire on the Democrats. A Pew Research poll conducted last fall found that 41 percent of independents said that they thought the press had been too tough on the governor. Now that President Obama’s approval numbers are slipping, especially among independents, that key group could perceive the Democrat’s attacks on Palin the same way they saw the media attacks. If they think the Democrats are unfairly dissing Palin, there’s just no win there for the Dems.
3. In much the same manner, attacking a woman has a high degree of risk associated with it. If she is perceived as being attacked because of her gender, there is no way this strategy can help the Dems. It will likely result in Palin being perceived as a sympathetic figure, especially among women.
4. The Democrats are still behaving as if they were the minority party. They are now in control of all three branches of government. The American people are expecting results out of them, not constant attacks on the opposition. It may well be perceived by voters as the Dems making excuses for a failure to solve the nation’s problems by continuing to blame the opposition instead of actually fixing things.
It’s risky business all right, and the donkey party could very well come to regret going down this particular road. Time will tell. If the strategy fails, Mr. Carville may find a much smaller market for his services.