Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Scarborough slams Palin

Far be it from me to heap any praise on Joe Scarborough -- I generally consider him a slimy creep -- but sometimes, you gotta admit, he's right:

Republicans have a problem. The most-talked-about figure in the GOP is a reality show star who cannot be elected. And yet the same leaders who fret that Sarah Palin could devastate their party in 2012 are too scared to say in public what they all complain about in private.

Enough. It's time for the GOP to man up.

I hate the phrase "man up," but otherwise this is a solid assessment of the current state of the GOP. For all the anti-Obama obstructionism and right-wing ideology, it's basically the party of Sarah Palin (and "Sarah Palin"). She's become the de facto leader of the party, and, while I do think some of us (yes, I include myself) spend too much time on her, it's important not to give her, or her party, a free pass.

And, actually, I would prefer that she remain a prominent, if not the most prominent, Republican -- because I think Scarborough is right. She could very well "devastate" the party. I still don't think she'll run for president, but even being a prominent player -- a kingmaker, of sorts, the one will anoint the 2012 nominee -- could be enough to derail the party (as if its extremism isn't enough).

This is the woman, after all, who backed such utterly un-electable candidates this year as Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell, not to mention Joe Miller and John Raese. Some of her chosen candidates won, like Rand Paul, but they probably would have won anyway. Her record, simply, has been poor, largely because she gravitates towards those like her, bitter, resentful, extremist outsiders who resonate with the Tea Party but not so much with the GOP establishment, let alone with independents or conservative Democrats.

Anyway, Jonathan Chait is right to note that some Republicans have already challenged/criticized Palin: Karl Rove, Peggy Noonan, Barbara Bush (for what that's worth), and The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash. The "manning up," in other words, has already begun. Other than Rep. Spencer Bachus, though, who blamed the Republicans not winning the Senate on Palin (which is a bit of a stretch, but not much), "elected Republicans, and especially Republican presidential candidates, have shied away from attacking Palin on the record." That presumably was part of Scarborough's point.

And as long as Palin remains so popular with Republicans, specifically with the two main components of the base -- social conservatives and teabaggers -- elected Republicans, particularly those in the House who may want her endorsement in 2012 (whether she runs or not) and those eyeing the presidency, won't dare come out against her in any significant way. Her wrath, channelled through Facebook and Fox News, is enough to scare any self-regarding Republican into submission.

And there, if you're a Republican who actually cares about the future of your party as something other than a repository of right-wing insanity, is the problem.

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