PALIN: The Reagan Effect?

Regarding Palin as “the future of The Republican Party,” as the current meme describes her, my first reaction is: “WTG! Hooray!! She’s such a polarizing figure, such an airheaded ideologue, plainly incompetent, almost as plainly incapable of ever becoming competent, I hope the Republicans make her the poster-girl for ALL of their future campaigns” etc.

But you know what? Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, that was what I hoped would happen with Reagan. “Yeah, give me a choice like that, and not an echo, put the ideologies into high relief, and the voters will elect a yellow dog before electing this cornball hack…”

Needless to say, I overestimated the American voters’ affinity for liberalism, which still seems unpopular, even at the height of Obama’s political standing. So, as inconceivable as it may seem to liberals that Palin could ever get votes beyond the under-40% hardcore Republican base, could wishing the Pubbies cling to Palin like a four-year-old clings to her dolly backfire?

Assuming McCain loses, and that Palin spends the next three years working on her foriegn-policy cred, and all her other perceived weaknesses, runs around the country in 2010 giving “You betcha” and “Goshdarn this awful socialism” speeches for the Pubbie congressional candidates, winking like a popcorn-popper, do you see her as a credible Presidential candidate? Or should liberals contribute $$$ to her candidacy, hoping she’s our pinata?

Sure. But there’s a difference between credible and viable. She won’t be the latter unless she can learn to reach out to the masses beyond her base, or, as Reagan did so successfully, bring the masses to her.

She appeals to the base of the Republican party as it is today, but the GOP is going to go through some major changes before the next election. I think they will reject the social and religious conservatives and return to their roots as the party of small goverment, lower taxes and spending cuts. If that occurs, Palin will have a much smaller constituency.

There are two GOPs - some of the membership belongs to both parties…

There is the fiscal conservatives, small government, low taxes, pro-business.

There are the social conservatives.

I’m not sure which GOP will win out in the end - or if they will manage to continue their alliance. Palin looks like she exposes the cracks in that partnership more effectively than any other politician has on a national scale. If Clinton were going into office, I’d think the fiscal conservatives might abandon the party to the social conservatives - but Obama won’t be a fiscal conservative - at least not when it comes to being pro-business.

My hope is also that the social conservatives wither away to insignificance. The GOP needs to dump them and try to become a reasonable alternative for conservative Democrats and independents.

Could someone translate the op into english please ?

You folks outside of the GOP continually mis-characterize or mis-identify the factions within the GOP. The GOP is not divided into “small government, low taxes, pro business” and “social conservatives.” By and large, the “social conservatives” are in the “small gov’t, low taxes, pro biz” camp. You perceive the social conservatives are pro big-gov’t because you subjectively believe that they are into all kinds of government meddling in people’s lives. This is a perception that may or may not be true, but it colors how you see the factions in the GOP.

The GOP is, in fact, separated into two factions, but not as you believe. The two factions are the “social conservatives/joe six-pack/low taxes/small government/pro SMALL business” group, and the “Rockefeller Republicans” who are generally pro big business, somewhat “progressive” and in favor of government intervention to achieve their objectives, whatever they are. These are typically “moderate” Republicans (who social conservatives tend to derisively call “RINOs” - Republicans In Name Only), who are very wealthy, and to whom the economy is the primary issue in any election. These Republicans also have a distaste in their mouths for the “populist” wing of the GOP. This entire election cycle, for the GOP, has been about whether the populists or the Rockefellers would control the party and its future. If it is painfully obvious that McCain, arguably the “choice” of the Rockefeller crowd, could not win this election without the populists, then the uneasy alliance will continue, but not without strain that will eventually boil up. If McCain loses, then that dichotomy will create an “identity crisis” within the GOP almost immediately, with the populists screaming that the Rockefellers didn’t run a candidate who was conservative enough, and with the Rockefellers screaming that the populist presence poisoned McCain’s chances.

I don’t know if Palin can generate another “Reagan effect,” but I do know that the potential spectre of a very conservative but highly popular politician in the vein of ol’ RayGun scares the pure shit out of some of you folks…

Palin is no Reagan.

I may doubt that she has any real national future but I wouldn’t write off the GOP core so easily. They aint dead yet. Don’t let the swing of the middle to the Dems this particular cycle fool you - the basics are still the basics. Fairly equally divided. 40s% reliable Dem 40s% reliable GOP and up to 20% who can be swung by a throw the bums out mentality or other transient circumstances including a sense of character and charm.

The core of that GOP 40s% are reliable voters. She may be able to keep them coming out. To win she just needs the Dem side to slide back into a less reliable turnout in a few states, just a few, while being able to split the middle.

I do not see any GOP candidate winning without those voters.

And how does this thesis differ from the OP? That’s almost exactly what I was expressing, the fear I have that a hardcore conservative Republican can appeal to a broader base than some liberals think possible.

It’s almost impossible for a candidate from the right to be too ignorant, too uncurious, too narrow and simplistic and too purely appealing to nostalgia, patriotism, and economic greed to be electable. Sometimes I think that if the Pubbie platform were “Life in the Womb Again–Safe, Carefree, Secure, the Way it used to be!” that would suffice. All Palin needs to do to broaden her appeal, I think, is to become an “expert” on some foreign policy issue, allowing her supporters to say “Hey, maybe way back in 2008 she was a little weak there, but now that she’s written a 64-page children’s book ‘Nukular Policy and You!’ she’s got enough cred there to suit me.” Hell, in three years, anyone can bolster a weakness, at least to the satisfaction of the average undecided voter, and I think that kind of superficial damage control will elevate her to a surprising strength in Pubbie circles. From there, who knows what can happen?

“Governer, I served with Ronald Reagan, I knew Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine. Ma’am, you are no Ronald Reagan.”

“Goshdarnit, that was really uncalled for!”

(That’s the way it plays out in my head, anyway.)


It’s not a matter of subjective belief; it’s a matter of historical fact. And, thus, it’s not a “perception,” it’s a reality.

Your head needs spellcheck. :wink:

I don’t believe Palin represents anything other than a calculated Republican move to effectively create a cult of personality to rival the current Obama-mania stuff. Obviously, it hasn’t worked - but that’s a function of poor candidate selection.

If Palin does run for the Presidency in '12, she’ll be subject to all the same criticism she is right now, but won’t have the novelty value she did as a “rags-to-riches” story.

Also, during the primaries, the GOP-friendly media outlets won’t necessarily favor her over any of the other Republican contenders, so she’ll have less maneuvering room to retreat into her plastic bubble.

I’m not so sure about that. There aren’t a lot of viable contenders on the horizon for the Republicans. We now know that the Republican base won’t go for a Mormon or a pro-choice candidate, so Romney and Guiliani are out. Tim Pawlenty gets a mention every now and then, but nobody knows who he is, which is fine for a VP but not so good for a President. Charlie Crist is considered a panderer even by his own party, and unless something amazing happens, he’ll probably be the governor who flushed Florida’s economy down the toilet (fairly or unfairly).

I think it’ll come down to Bobby Jindal and maybe Mark Sanford or someone like that, but I think Palin will have Rush and Faux News, et al on her side. Bullshit artists they may be, but they’re very good at staying on message and ensuring that they’re keeping the muck off one candidate. With all the traction they got out of “Obama’s secretly a Muslim” I can’t believe there won’t be a few people going “Jindal’s a secret Hindu!”

Reagan was a professional actor with many, many! years of experience. He knew how to speak and look and act “presidential” which swung over many voters. He knew how to deliver a speech, and he knew how to behave in an ad lib situation (and how to limit the ad lib situations where he had to say something substantive.) IMHO, there’s no comparison here.

And the 2012 election will probably be a write-off candidate anyway, assuming Obama maintains some popularity, it’s hard to unseat an incumbent.

Hard or not, the next President is going to be digging its way out of an awfully big hole. I question whether anyone is going to be able to fix the country in four years, and you can only blame it on the other side for so long.

The question, for me, is whether looking like you’re trying to fix it will be enough for Obama, as it was for FDR. On balance, I think it might be; I do believe that his first two years will swing a lot of Republicans and conservative independents to his side, once they realize that he hasn’t started building mosques with public funds or inviting Omar Bakri to White House luncheons, etc.

The big unknown is how Obama and the Democrats govern. If they overreach and try to turn America in a socialist paradise, there will be a backlash, and a straight-talking conservative politician will find a lot of traction.

Anyway, characterizing Palin as an extreme social conservative isn’t going to fly in the long run, because she isn’t. She may be personally deeply religious, but then so are Biden and Obama. The fact is, she’s governed as a moderate. Before she was chosen as VP, she had a 70% approval rating among Democrats in Alaska. She’s never pushed any kind of social conservative agenda as governor.

Her biggest liability right now is that she appears to not have the gravitas and depth of knowledge to be President. That’s what she’ll have to work on for the next four years. If she does that and comes back with the same personality and star power, but with more substance, she’ll be an effective candidate.

And let’s not forget that Palin has a huge ability to raise money. That alone makes her the front runner for 2012. Politicians like Bobby Jindal don’t move the grassroots like she does.

“Socialist paradise?” I think you’ll find that if they turn the country into any sort of paradise, they’ll get reelected. Back in reality, it won’t be any more socialist than it was during those halcyon days of the American Soviet under… Clinton.

I’m not sure that Alaskan Democrats are entirely representative of Democrats at large- I suspect they’re much more into populism and much less into social liberalism, although Mike Gravell suggests otherwise.

That said, her record as governor, which I agree is relatively moderate, is not nearly as important to the electorate as her stated policy positions. People are constantly hearing how Candidate X voted against supporting the troops or feeding kittens or whatever and for the most part, they know that these datapoints are usually gross mischaracterizations… and her stated policy positions are mostly very conservative.

I also don’t believe she can develop the sort of gravitas you’re talking about. Her skillset, maybe, but no matter what she does, the second she opens her mouth people think, “Fargo!”

Has she raised a lot of money? I’ve heard consistently that the McCain campaign is lagging way behind on fundraising.

Clinton is exactly who I was thinking about. He overreached in his first two years, and his party got spanked badly in the midterm election. That caused him to govern as a moderate for the next six years. We’ll have to see if Obama can avoid that trap.

Both Republicans and Democrats in Alaska tend to be more Libertarian. They don’t want heavy-handed social conservatism, or really any kind of social conservatism. This is the state that legalized marijuana. Gov. Murkowski re-criminalized it, I believe, but I don’t think the law was enforced. Republicans in the state wanted Palin to continue with that and crack down on Marijuana use, and her response was that she wasn’t interested in fighting the drug war as governor. Not your typical social conservative response.

Yes and no. I’ve heard a lot of fiscal conservatism from her - low taxes, low regulations, government is the problem, not the solution. But that’s exactly what Reagan ran on. But I agree - she has to find the right tone as a Presidential candidate, and it’s not the tone she has now. But then, right now he role is the VP role, which means she’s the attack dog and the one designated to appeal to the ‘base’. I suspect you’ll see quite a different tone if she comes back as her own woman.

I don’t think the accent matters. I think she has to watch the contractions and “You betchas”, though. Something I’m sure she can manage if she wants to. The reason the accent matters now is that it’s part of the image being painted of her as a redneck dunce. If she can come across sounding intelligent, the accent won’t matter.

It is, because Obama’s campaign is a juggernaut. Nonetheless, McCain fundraising took a huge jump after the Palin pick. She’s drawing crowds of 10,000 to 20,000 people in the midwest. Anyone who can pull that many people in a campaign stop has huge fundraising capability.