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Andrew Malcolm: Something to Ponder for 2012

Posted by Dr. Fay on February 17, 2010

Andrew Malcolm from Top of the Ticket at the Los Angeles Times made some interesting observations about Governor Palin’s prospects for 2012:

One candidacy giveaway: new books. Palin’s came out last fall. Mitt Romney’s next month. And in April, Fred Thompson’s. (We’re not counting Karl Rove’s, Dick Cheney’s or Bush’s.)

Palin also has other apparent qualifiers for the GOP 2012 race: she is not of Washington and doesn’t currently hold an elective office, having resigned the Alaska governor’s job last summer.

A surprise move that drew considerable criticism at the time, since largely overlooked, her lucrative unemployment provides ample time now for priceless regular media exposure on Fox News and to rouse her base, as she did 11 days ago at the National Tea Party Convention, the next day in Texas and last Sunday to cheering thousands at NASCAR’s Daytona 500.

What base does anyone see coalescing around other potential GOP competitors?

While vocal Palin-haters reveled in her awful recent national poll numbers about presidential qualifications, they missed a fact: if she decides to run for anything, the first goal is to become the GOP nominee. And the voters Palin needs to convince about that are state-by-state Republicans, 69% of whom still see her favorably.

Anyone who’s talked to her GOP supporters in recent weeks or watched her work a crowd comes away with a powerful sense of the Palin fervor. The more she’s derided by others or in the media, the more convinced her fans are that she is like them — a regular person derided by so-called elites, often unfairly. Translating such energy ultimately into votes is the key.

And by an impressive coincidence two political experts with wise eyes and decades of experience studying and observing American politics and its transient characters have recently tapped out favorable reviews of this self-defined political rogue who unexpectedly overthrew the entrenched GOP establishment in Alaska when none of the regulars gave her a chance.

The veteran Jules Whitcover of the Baltimore Sun wrote a column this week headlined: “Sarah Palin as GOP nominee in 2012? Don’t laugh it off.”

“Sarah Palin may come off as a bit ditzy,” he said, “but stupid she is not.”

Whitcover noted that polls show the highest voter anger or dissatisfaction with the federal government in a decade (about two-thirds).

Then, he recalled another political outsider who followed a one-term Democrat, Ronald Reagan, once also derided as a mere entertainer, who “30 years ago successfully rode a similar dissatisfaction with Washington by promising to ‘clean out the swamp’ there.”

And no less a respected authority than David Broder of the Washington Post last week praised Palin’s “pitch-perfect populism” in recent speeches and “the skill with which she drew a self-portrait that fit not just the wishes of the immediate audience but the mood of a significant slice of the broader electorate.”

Broder said populism doesn’t always win, but he was particularly impressed by Palin’s goals:

I want to speak up for the American people and say: ‘No, we really do have some good common-sense solutions.’ I can be a messenger for that.

First and foremost, I want to be a good mom, and I want to raise happy, healthy, independent children. And I want them to be good citizens of this great country.

And then I do want to be a voice for some common-sense solutions. I’m never going to pretend like I know more than the next person. I’m not going to pretend to be an elitist. In fact, I’m going to fight the elitist, because for too often and for too long now, I think the elitists have tried to make people like me and people in the heartland of America feel like we just don’t get it, and big government’s just going to have to take care of us.

Finally, the veteran Washington watcher warned against deriding the unorthodox Palin. “The lady is good,” he said.

We’ll see exactly how good she is in coming months. What is certain right now is that as good as Obama was at ultimately reaping $750 million and winning the White House, no one was paying this kind of attention — positive or negative — to him this far ahead of his 2008 nomination or election.

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