Thursday, May 27, 2010

Now Approaching Minute 15

It's looking more and more like we've come to the start of the long downward slide of the incomparable huckster of the North, Madam Sarah Palin. Recently we saw the smashing failure of her most recent choice for the Idaho House seat in the GOP Primary, as her pick Vaughn Ward lost by double digits to a local guy whom he outspent six times over. This follows on the heels of her jumping on board with the NY 23rd Candidate, Doug Hoffman, and leading that ship to defeat despite the district being consistently conservative. And hell, if you can't push a winner in the state where you went to at least 60% of the public universities, what does that say? The woman was classmates with half the state for chrissakes.

Moreover, recent polling from Alaska showed that even the people up there have had enough of her that 50% view her unfavorably, with more "very unfavorably" (37%) than "very favorably" (31%). What makes this especially remarkable is the fact that not long ago she was touting herself as the most popular Governor in the Universe, let alone the country. Hell, frostbite has a lower percentage of "very unfavorable" votes.

One of the more interesting elements of this Idaho story is the fact that in general, the majority of the Tea Party crowd/local lunatic community sided with the other guy as opposed to the former flag bearer for the organization. I'm not sure what this means for her ongoing relationship with this crowd. Clearly, they're not all working with a full deck, as you can figure out from a recent situation in Maine where a group of them vandalized an 8th Grade classroom and stole items they deemed unpatriotic, including copies of--wait for it-- the Constitution--because they had been donated by the ACLU. And yet some of these nuts seem to at least be sniffing the never ending stream of bullshit she's tossing out as Americana. Granted, it's like wondering about a smoky smell when you're standing outside a coal plant, but it's a start. They sure can't smell anything when they still had their heads up their asses. Well, something, but it wasn't smoke.

I digress. In reality we really shouldn't be surprised that the start of the end has come right about now. It's been about 2 years since she became a recognizable persona (albeit mainly for hokey phrases and a patent disregard for reality), and that's the basic arc of these situations. It's the same as Ross Perot a few years ago (and he wasn't half as crazy as he's made out to be and knew the issues waaayy better than she does). He popped up on the radar about a year before the 1992 election as a 3rd Party candidate mainly in opposition of the Republicans of the time, and ended up rallying that crew to a 19% share of the election. By 1994 he had really drifted out of the limelight, and by 1996 he was only able to get about 7% of the vote, campaigning with his own funds. Keep in mind that if Britney Spears funded her own campaign she could get about 10%.

The point of it all is that there's a lifespan to all these types of firebrand "man of the people" candidates that don't appeal to a broad enough spectrum, and it's about 30 months. All this stuff about being an outsider sounds great in the campaign, but the functionality of these would-be world changers really goes to hell when they have to do things like "actually make decisions without easy answers" and "read stuff." It seemed like a good idea to elect Jesse Ventura as Governor because he wasn't part of the establishment, but the establishment looked a hell of a lot better once everyone realized that Minnesota's budget problems couldn't be solved with a steel chair and a hidden razor blade.

Palin's legacy looks likely to eventually go a different direction than the garden variety overwhelmed ideologue because of her apparent willingness to chase a buck at any point. You can look at Ron Paul's period as a national player (basically 2007-2008; please don't even make the argument that he's a legitimate candidate nationally. He's just not.) and recognize that even though his candidacies never really went anywhere, he was at least had a point to make with regard to being opposed to the central government. I think he's nuts, but at least you can respect the guy for taking his stance, making a cogent argument in support of it, and sticking to it.

With Palin, you can't even determine what she's supporting, other than a big budget of handlers. It's small government except for when she wants the government to get heavily involved. It's low taxes but no cuts in the big ticket government items. She's all for self-reliance yet supports the Washington State candidate who's taken $275K in government dollars in agriculture subsidies while running a farm made possible only with New Deal-funded dams and irrigation systems.

Moving forward, these are the paradoxes that will become both more apparent and less defensible. Whether the economy picks up and Obama's riding high or if it slows and the Tea Party types push harder, she seems destined for the ice floe treatment from both sides. There's an Eskimo saying that goes, "You never really know your friends from your enemies until the ice breaks." For Palin, I suspect the cracks are sneaking up all too quickly.

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