Sunday, November 15, 2009

Palin the Destroyer: The End of the Republican Party as we Know it?

From the far northern wastes of Alaska came a politician like no other. Wild, beautiful, religiously conservative to the extreme, mavericky, roguey, pit-bully and a full on hockey mom with lipstick. She descended on the Republican Convention from out of nowhere as the newly minted vice-presidential candidate and delivered a tour de force of an acceptance speech. Verily, the halls of the DNC trembled at this woman who would be king by her own hand. But, and some would say luckily, the fates were not impressed, and she appeared to be vanquished.

But the fates sometimes work in mysterious ways.

The idea that Sarah Palin could destroy the Republican Party occurred to me shortly after the 2008 Presidential Election. I saw how many conservatives openly despised John McCain, apparently because he wasn't hot under the collar to check the content of a woman's womb and had some convictions of his own [campaign finance, for example]. But he was reliably conservative in just about every other way, not to mention he fit nicely into the militarism fetish so popular with conservative circles, and said everything right in his stump speeches about nominating strict constructionist conservative judges.

Yet Palin excited a certain sector of the GOP base so much that she eclipsed the top name on the ticket as a draw. People seemed to hang on her every [disingenuous] repetition that she said "Thanks, but no thanks" to the bridge to nowhere. The audiences got so fired up at her claims that Barack Obama was the BFF of a domestic terrorist that some began to believe Obama was a member of The Weather Underground, even though he was in grade school during their brief existence of radicalism.

I never thought my gut instinct would prove correct, and that Sarah would recede back to governing Alaska. She had, after all, cratered in the eyes of about 66% of the American populace after famously whiffing on softball questions tossed under-hand by the cream-puff journalist, Katie Couric. Seriously, if you can't give one newspaper you read, or one Supreme Court case you disagree with, you are not informed enough to be president. Sorry. She also made clear that she was challenged when it came to such other matters like forming cogent sentences or making sense when talking without a teleprompter.

And then Sarah quit her day job of being governor, saying it was done, and that she didn't want to be a lame duck with only the second half of her term to be completed. At this point I thought she was finished for good, that there was some Federal indictment waiting to be disclosed or that her soldier son was being discharged for violating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Boy, was I reading the tea leaves wrong. Somehow Ms. Palin inserted herself into the healthcare debate, notwithstanding the utter vapidity and stupidity of her "death panels" claims. But the Palinistas ate it up, happy to believe anything coming from between her lips.

Even though she was eventually rebuffed, and her strident assertions vitiated, Sarah Palin has not gone quietly into that good night. Most recently she has joined forces with the master astroturfer, Dick Armey, in the search for Republican Party purity.

Her first foray into witch hunting her fellow Republicans was in the 23rd Congressional District in New York, where a special election was held to fill a seat left vacant after Republican John McHugh was nominated to be Secretary of the Army in the Obama Administration. This seat has been reliably Republican since Reconstruction, or the 1870's for all of you who never studied American history. Enter Sarah Palin. Instead of backing the local GOP pick, Dede Scozzafava, she instead backed Doug Hoffman, a man who didn't even live in the district. Why? Because Scozzafava is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and was pro-stimulus bill. Aside from those considerations, she is a reliable Republican, pro-gun, pro-hunting, pro-small business. But Palin, as the pretty point-woman for her pals, labeled her a liberal and a RINO, and drove her from the race, giving the election to the Democrat, and thus creating the verb "to Scozzafava." While there is a late breaking recount in the district, which may eventually throw it to Hoffman after the absentee ballots are counted, the damage to party cohesion has been done. You can now count the number of national Republican officeholders in the northeast on one hand.

There is now a concerted effort by a significant quarter of the GOP to get more votes by enforcing party purity and moving the party even further to the right. When you think about this it becomes difficult to see the logic, but that's what's behind Sarah Palin's and Dick Armey's foray into the NY-23. We will surely see primary challenges to Republican incumbents deemed not sufficiently conservative in election cycles to come.

To kick off this silly notion, and to put a truly fine point on it, reliable conservative Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), listed as the 15th most conservative senator by the National Journal, has been Scozzafavaed in his home state. It was reported in the November 12, 2009 New York Times, Graham was censured by the Charleston County Republican Party "for many of the positions he has taken that do not represent the wishes of the people of South Carolina, such as: passing cap and trade energy bill, bailing out banks and granting amnesty for illegal aliens."
When conservatives like Graham, who are truly conservative yet also have integrity and intellect and an admirable ability to compromise, are driven from the party, the GOP will be an even more laughable shell of itself. The Party of Lincoln and the Party of Reagan will have become the know-nothing party of that wild, lawless barbarian politician from the northern wastes, Palin the Destroyer.

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