11/7/08

This Is Not the End

As the dust from this groundbreaking election continues to settle, the Republican party's gaze is turning inward. As was to be expected, thoughtful conservatives are doing some serious soul-searching, while the less thoughtful are simply licking their wounds; all of them, however, are asking what comes next? While, for some, this means a reevaluation of tactics and for others a return to core principles, everyone is on the look-out for new leaders. As eyes cast about for fresh faces, they must be wondering what to do with the elephant in the room. It appears that a hit-squad has already been unleashed to ensure the Sarah Palin doesn't get any big ideas; McCain aides have been leaking an alarming amount of good gossip. The Los Angeles Times writes:
The miscommunication and quarrels between the two camps lasted into Tuesday night, said McCain aides familiar with the situation. Palin arrived at the Arizona Biltmore planning to deliver a speech before McCain's concession speech, they said, but was told by senior McCain aides Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter that it would not be appropriate.

Fox News reported Wednesday that Palin's lack of knowledge on some topics also strained relations. Carl Cameron reported that campaign sources told him Palin had resisted coaching before her faltering Katie Couric interviews; did not understand that Africa was a continent rather than a country; and could not name the three nations that are part of the North American Free Trade Agreement -- the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Here is the Fox News clip the Times article refers to. (Hat tip: Super Collide)

These things don't just happen. Someone, somewhere must have determined to take Palin out. But is she just a shooting star on the way down? Not by a long shot. Palin may have lost McCain a few votes, but she struck a deep chord with the radicals that the Republican party has long been courting. Despite her lackluster performance on the national stage, certain neoconservative pundits are still enamored of her. Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard, writes,
there was one special highlight of this year's race: the selection by McCain of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. From her first public appearance with McCain, Palin was a star. Only one other Republican can match her stage presence, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since he's foreign-born, he can't serve as president. She can.
The McCain camp may have created something they can't control. There's at least one way that Palin could remain in a position of real power.

Not to be outdone by the election of the first black president, Republicans may have made history on November 4th as well. Despite his seven felony convictions, Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska is currently, though narrowly, leading in his re-election bid. If he wins, he would be the first felon to be elected to the Senate. It is possible that Stevens would refuse to resign--after all, he did have the audacity to run after first being indicted and then convicted of "failing to report gifts and donations," which is a polite way of saying he accepted bribes. If he does relinquish his seat, though, and he might have to, Palin would be all but a shoo-in. The New York Times reports that if Stevens steps down or is expelled, a special election would be held to replace him, adding, "Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, has called on Mr. Stevens to resign."

It isn't all that hard to imagine a scenario in which Palin takes Stevens' Senate seat and acquires the experience she was so clearly lacking in this campaign. After four-to-eight years in Washington, she returns to the national stage older and wiser. Meanwhile, a democratic congress bullies a president, still wet behind the ears, into passing a host of ill-conceived policies and bloated budgets. With a moderate in the VP slot to make her particularly hard-edged Republicanism more palatable, Palin again invigorates the base and wins back an electorate tired of "change."

This is not the only scenario in which the far-right of the Republican party remains in power, but it is perhaps the most likely. Maybe that's why moderates, mere days after the election, are trying to put Palin to bed. Let's hope our new democratic majority governs wisely so that we can all let sleeping Palins lie.

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