You may have guessed that the Redstate contributing editors have had a few discussions about the selection of 2012 POTUS candidates from the GOP. Interestingly (and perhaps not surprisingly), few of us have strong opinions on any particular candidate. I believe there's a reason for that: the field of candidates seems weak, and no one candidate stands out from the rest. And as Gallup points out, this is a rather unusual situation. Right now it doesn't look like things are likely to improve, and if the Gallup article is correct, a late-bloomer candidate likely will not appear.
What do we need in a good candidate? There are some who say that executive experience is key to a candidate's viability. Others believe that a strong conservative record is the most important attribute. And others think that "toughness", a "fighting spirit" and a "confrontational manner" is what we need in the White House, in order to beat up the Left, promote the conservative cause and bring the nation back out of the ditch. Problem is: the current GOP field seems to be devoid of candidates that simultaneously possess all of the key attributes.
Here's a key problem: At a time when gas prices are topping $4/gallon and headed even higher, when unemployment is still in the 9% range, the housing market is still in the dumper, inflation fears are heating up, and President Barack Obama's approval ratings are as low as ever: Obama still polls ahead of every single (anticipated) GOP candidate. Now this should be considered in light of the data that Moe wrote about earlier today - the majority of Americans don't even know who might be running on the GOP side. There are two possibilities here: 1) they don't care, or 2) they list isn't exciting enough to get their interest...I lean towards 2), since Donald Trump is rocketing to the top of the awareness list already; a guy like him would tend to get some interest.
Barack Obama will have the incumbent's advantage in November, 2012. Of course we haven't the slightest idea what will happen between now and then. It is a fairly safe assumption that the economy won't get a whole lot worse than it is now, so we can't expect that will help the GOP cause too much. Obama is a failure on foreign policy, so it's quite possible that Libya or some screwup-to-be-named-later could tank his approval even more, but his ratings are unlikely to drop too far below 40%, as the core Democrat constituency will approve of his job performance no matter what he does. Therefore, barring a yet-to-occur catastrophe, he's unlikely to mess things up much worse. Given the near-bottom for his approval and the lackluster GOP candidate crop, Obama's chances of winning are not bad.
So what do we do?
With the low odds of a knight in shining armor appearing to save the GOP, I am inclined to support a candidate who is most likely to make the Democrats squirm and who is most likely to expose the Left's true colors of hate and divisiveness. Who might that be? Which candidate can do the most damage to the Left?
I came to this realization today, following the utterly disgusting diary on Wonkette (sorry, you'll have to find it yourself - I'm not going to feed them hits) that targeted Trig Palin. It was one of the most repulsive things I've read on the Interwebz, and that's saying something, considering what has appeared from the likes of Kos, Andrew Sullivan and the rest of the LeftHate crowd. A tidbit of trash from the Wonkette "article", as it refers to Trig Palin:
What’s he dreaming about? Nothing. He’s retarded.
The writing of this "person" illustrate how Sarah Palin makes the Left absolutely insane. The subhuman piece of excrement who authored this must be consumed with hate and rage about Palin and her family to stoop to mocking a Down's Syndrome child in that manner.
In 2012 we need to kick the Left in the groin and bring them down. A candidate like Sarah Palin, who drives them to such extremes, is the perfect one to administer said kick. No other Republican since George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan has attracted the kind of bile and hate that Palin does. We must leverage this to our advantage.
Back to the WaPo head-to-head polling from this week - Palin polls nearly as well against Obama as any of the other GOP front-runners. As the campaign progresses, many of the GOP candidates will mature and hone their message, and that applies equally to Palin. Assuming that Palin's relative performance remains even with the other candidates, why NOT her? One caveat - her polling numbers do seem to have taken a hit in recent weeks...the emergence of Rep. Michele Bachmann as a potential GOP candidate seems to have shaved a few poll points from Palin, but Palin still remains in the upper tier of the field.
As an opponent to Obama, Palin can be expected to fight - hard. She has pulled no punches in her criticisms of Obama since he took office. Palin is fantastic at getting under the skin of the Left with her communication. Her coining of the term "Death Panels" was a brilliant display of political communication. We need a candidate that can connect with common people...that doesn't happen by asking voters if they know what Whole Foods charges for arugula or by babbling incessantly about windmills or by condescendingly suggesting that potential voters should sell their minivans to buy a non-existent hybrid van. No, connecting with people happens by distilling complex issues into words that people understand and relate to. Palin's speeches, and even her essays on Facebook, connect with people.
There are plenty of objections to Sarah Palin, and we've heard plenty of 'em here on Redstate. You can find several of them in the comments on this recent post, which actually documents another watershed event for Palin - her speech this past weekend at a Tea Party event in Madison, WI.
This was a classic example of Palin's ability to communicate...and of how she is willing to step directly into a hotbed of hate and face it head on.
Has she made mistakes? Most definitely. For example, by many standards, her early resignation as Alaska's governor was unwise and to some it demonstrated a(n apparent) lack of courage and willingness to endure a tough situation. To this day I do not believe we have a full appreciation and understanding of what happened there. There are also varying opinions on Palin's effectiveness as Alaska's governor. But there is little question that in that role she gained experience how to lead and govern - that "executive experience" that many insist upon in a candidate.
Despite her missteps, Sarah Palin remains a viable and valuable candidate. In 2008, she lit a fire under the McCain campaign. Several days after Palin was chosen as the VP nominee, she made a campaign appearance with John McCain here in my community. Thousands showed up. They did not come to see John McCain - they came to see Sarah Palin. If not for Palin, John McCain would have done far worse than he did (and that wasn't great). Palin has not lost that charisma that garnered so much attention in the 2008 election. When Palin speaks - the world listens...and the Left mocks. And that is what makes her an effective weapon for the GOP.
I work in sales. In my business, if I can't defeat the competition, I want to make them bleed so badly that they will be weakened and less able to compete in the future. If the GOP cannot produce a candidate who is strong enough to defeat Barack Obama, we must nominate one that can bleed them until they are too weak to succeed in the future. Sarah Palin has the ability to draw out the worst of the Left, expose their weaknesses and demonstrate their hate. She will be an unwavering conservative voice at a time when we have had our fill of weak, unprincipled leadership from Republicans in DC.
Can Palin win? At this point she would likely fare as well as anyone else in the field, and she most certainly can make the Left and their media sycophants look horrible. If she were to win, would she be an effective President? I don't know - but I do know that we were asking very similar questions when a certain governor and ex-actor ran for POTUS in 1980.
All things considered, and barring a late entrance from someone like Chris Christie or Mike Pence, I'll take Sarah Palin and her ability to damage and expose the Left for who they really are.
(Disclaimer: This is not an official Redstate endorsement. It's just Bill's opinion, intended to provoke thought and discussion, and not even necessarily to make my own personal endorsement...)
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Epilogue: Regarding the strength of the GOP field, I found this piece from Investor's Business Daily to be reassuring. This was particularly good:
We think the GOP field is quite strong and that even the least of the possible candidates has more experience than a former community organizer who became Illinois state senator, then a half-term U.S. senator who spent most of his time running for president.
The biggest thing the GOP contenders demonstrate is that, unlike the incumbent, they have a clue about what's going on in the country and world and what they intend to do about it. Many are or have been governors and have balanced budgets and signed paychecks rather than just make speeches.
Obama was a strong candidate, but we've seen that strong candidates can produce weak presidents. The one we were waiting for rivals our worst president, Jimmy Carter. Now he has a record he must defend. No more "hope and change" rhetorical flourishes read from a teleprompter. We've been there and done that.
We have indeed.