Being a media celebrity, even a best-selling poseur and prayer warrior, provides no great path to winning office. In fact, ex-sports stars far outperform faux populist pundits at the polls. Without achievements in this world, mere opinions, strident or otherwise, don't garner votes. Having peaked before quitting as governor, Sarah Palin's plunge is well underway, magnified by proving herself no Senate kingmaker. Au contraire: what her Tea Party ragtags managed in fringe primaries is mangle the opportunity of a generation, forcing unelectable candidates into key races, thus neutering an even more mammoth Republican advance.
That worked well, didn't it, Tundra Torpedo? Every time since the 1930's, until now, the Senate matched the House when party control was reversed. Way to go, Tea Party, miraculously transforming demoralized Democrats into a surfeit of comeback kids. Palin critics, like Karl Rove, W., and Lindsay Graham, did not leave this curious betrayal unnoticed, yet no one skewers Palin like that devilish eastern elitist, Peggy Noonan.
Cut from merely "unqualified," the Wasilla Whiner drops to "nincompoop" for wearing the Lord Reagan mantle. The nerve! "Ignorant even for Mrs. Palin," hisses Noonan, for Reagan showed "you have to earn your way into politics" with "a string of accomplishments" and "actual talent to bring people in and along. You can't just bully them, you can't just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade." Bullying, for sure, but Palin gets truly eviscerated for palin' around with extremist picks, thus committing the worse political sin -- forgetting it's the messenger, not just the message, that counts.
A String of Mama Grisly Losers
All in all, Palin's delusions answer perfectly to Groucho Marx's terrific definition of politics as "the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies"? Game, set, match. Let us tabulate Palin's "back-assward," Tea Party "remedies" just with conspicuous Senate losers -- Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, John Raese, Joe Miller, Linda McMahon, Carly Fiorina, and Ken Buck. Wow. No GOP winner, except maybe Kelly Ayott (but not Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mark Kirk, or Ron Johnson) wouldn't have won anyway. Palin's revealing, radical picks, like CO's racist Tom Tancredo, also stumbled, though none matched O'Donnell, so appalling an offspring she confirmed mama grizzly as either boob or barefaced montebank. Do I hear the peanut gallery, yelling "why not both"?
In no close Senate race -- not Pennsylvania, Illinois, Washington State, even Alaska -- can Palin's Tea Party claim mastery, except as disruption. Her own Alaskan backyard redounded worst of all: the hated Sen. Murkowski humiliated Palin with a write-in triumph. Only in deep red states did Palin's shriek arguably help fringe House or gubernatorial winners, but many would have won anyway. I can't find one federal contest, beyond early GOP primaries in small states, where Palin elected an otherwise losing Tea Partier?
Talk about jumping the shark: for every million dollars she banks, Palin dissipates her political power. Curiously timed, the conservative NY Daily News just reported what Republican "friends" of W. repeat: "Naming Palin makes Bush think less of McCain as a man," plus "McCain ran a lousy campaign with an unqualified running mate and destroyed any chance of winning by picking Palin." Yeah, W. to the rescue.
Will Palin Make Obama Lucky?
For all her sound and fury, where's any star-maker leverage beyond her insular psalm singers. More Alaskans (54%) in fact disapprove of the grisly mama grizzly than they do Obama. Ouch. By the numbers, the whole mama grizzly facade flopped: this Congress was the first in 30 years NOT to elect more women, nor did female voters flock to fringe women. Support for abortion holds firm, no doubt because Tea Party extremists insisted rape or incest victims be forced to give birth.
By ruining Senate chances, Palin and her Tea Party lost ground, demonstrating electoral weakness while incurring new enemies, not just in the GOP ranks. Further, Palin's latest self-destructive "campaign" tactic is assaulting the media, even non-partisan sites reporting the obvious: establishment Republicans can't abide her. Hypocrisy rules as she decries unidentified sources, while repeatedly using this tactic herself in '08. As David Pfouffe, Obama's campaign wizard, quipped about facing Palin, "I doubt we'll get that lucky."
Money Wasn't King Either
Can anyone recall a more dramatic, readily achievable blown opportunity in modern politics? Had dinosaurs no brighter than John McCain been nominated, they'd won favor in Delaware, Nevada, and Colorado, perhaps West Virginia and Washington State, too. Though Democrats galore face 2012 Senate battles, general election bloodbaths are far rarer than low turnout mid-terms. Thanks mainly to Palin, the GOP blew an easy shot, with historic repercussions.
Equally heartening is how huge coffers, both private fortunes and corporate money, did NOT buy elections, even in Colorado, Nevada, California, Washington State, Delaware or West Virginia where attack ads were thicker than flies. Money gaps impacted Illinois and Pennsylvania, but upstart Joe Sestak was wounded by intraparty issues, having humiliated a (White House approved) stalwart.
Despite success, the Tea Party looks increasingly divided, both within and against GOP leadership. What's its sustaining narrative, beyond the contradiction of reducing deficits but not raising taxes or cutting the Pentagon? Without national leverage, how will this Republican sideshow survive in the next rounds when millions of Democrats vote? Demographics doom this public relations meteor -- white, aging, small-town reactionaries (on Medicare) -- silent when W. caused huge overruns, but now wanting their cake and eat it, too.
New Guys Snatching Defeat from Victory
For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)
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