Way to Lose Your (2012) Presidential Bid

Everybody needs a little time away,”
I heard her say,
“from each other…”

So, Governor Mark Sanford has decided it would be best to go missing for a while and it seems clear that the Governor’s family and staff are not at all worried. Neither does this seem to be a new thing for the Governor: sneaking away from his security duty. I certainly hope the Governor is as safe as the impression we are left with.

But hoping is hardly enough for the people of South Carolina. I think it should go without saying to anyone over the age of sixteen that their whereabouts are important to those who depend on them; you hardly need to be a governor for this to be true.

So does this type of behavior come back to haunt Governor Sanford in 2011? I think it should have to. Presidents don’t really have the option to simply slip past their security details, of course. But if Americans are willing to give a second thought to a septuagenarian president out of concern for his health, I’d say it’s fair to wonder about the sense of responsibility of a chief executive of a state who skates on his responsibilities.


The Quayle Effect

Count Josh Marshall among the throngs of liberals who are agape at the idea that Republicans would want to run a presidential candidate like Sarah Palin in 2012.  After the disasterous campaign of John McCain – much of whose demise was either accellerated by or fueled by Sarah Palin’s presence at the second bannana position – many of us would have thought her career ended at this point.  At least, we certainly wouldn’t have expected to hear from her on the presidential level.  But for many reasons, I find her potential nomination to be – if in concept while not necessarily in practice – to be an entirely predictable one.  And for many reasons, I think that nomination is doomed as well.

Beginning with the most basic and short-term of reasons, Republicans lost the election.  Now is not the time for rational thought or effective planning.  Now is the time when we usually find ourselves clinging to the silliest of spars in the sea; to whit, Sarah Palin.  I recall insisting that Al Gore and John Kerry would have made great presidents, even though I’d spent most of those two Presidential election seasons with a knot in my stomach because I really didn’t believe it.  What the reality of the situation is does not matter.  To what extent either of my two emotions towards the Dem tickets was justified is not germane to the discussion: what matters here is the contradiction that comes when you’re licking your wounds and wishing things were different.

But beyond that, there is a larger truth of Republican politics that cannot be ignored: the Republican power structure adores pretty, ineffectual figureheads in executive positions.  From Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush (and notably skipping over George the Elder), what Republicans really want for a president is someone who looks good and evokes love from the general public to take center stage.  They can then fill the void left by a basically clueless figurehead with lots of people behind the scenes whom the public rarely if ever gets to meet.  Here in Rochester, I would in many ways count Maggie Brooks among the popular figureheads of Republican power politics.


Path to the White House

Now that Sarah Palin has announced her intention to run for president at the next available opportunity, it’s worth a pause to consider how, exactly, she’s going to do that.  It’s worth considering how other Republicans have made their way to the White House.

It is generally agreed that the Republican base was not happy with John McCain going into the Republican Primaries.  Well, who did support him?  Crucially in the early primary states, it was the independent voter.  Many of those early primaries are held in states where anyone can vote in either primary, Democrat or Republican.  Those independents who lean Republican voted for McCain en mass, they’re now leaving him behind, and it’s partially due to McCain’s pick of the unqualified Sarah Palin for the veep role.  As I mentioned a couple days ago, John McCain is now ironically doing rallies filled with people who never supported him.

Mike Huckabee found out about losing the independent voter.  Mitt Romney learned about losing the independent voter.  The independent voter is currently teaching a continuing education class on their role in American politics.  The test is four days away.  Will this be another educational opportunity lost for Miss Sarah?