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.