Josh Green responds to my criticisms. He concedes that the motive for the big extra oil company tax was petty resentments and populist opportunism – which makes his thesis even less persuasive. It amounts to a fantasy, in my view, that Palin could ever have run as a good government reformer, since she was neither motivated by those goals nor had any serious record to point to, apart from a big tax increase on oil companies. Nonetheless, the McCain campaign tried very hard to make this image the primary one – it was the gist of their announcement – and it failed miserably compared with the rest of this delusinoal fanatic’s record and character and lack of basic knowledge. More to the point: how do you win over a Tea Party base, when your sole achievement is raising taxes to spread the wealth around in a socialist state? Surely Josh would find that a hard premise for his case. He continues:
I remember having a blog spat with Andrew a year or so ago, when the overheated fantasy most popular among Palin critics was that she’d run for president and communicate only through Facebook and Twitter, thereby outwitting us dupes in the national press corps, who would then be complicit in her terrifying reign. How ridiculous does that seem today? I’m all for honest appraisals of Palin and have delivered my own. It’s always worth reading what her smartest critics have to say. But they’d be a lot more convincing if they’d adjust their worldview to match reality, ratchet down the threat level, and accept that her status is much diminished.
Since Palin dodged any real accountability from the MSM in the actual 2008 campaign, was the first vice-presidential candidate in modern times never to have had an open press conference, and has since relied solely on Facebook, Twitter and Fox to communicate, and only on friendly states to sell her books, I don’t see why such a possible strategy in 2012 is somehow “ridiculous.” Let alone self-evidently so. Yes, her status is much diminished, especially since her grotesquely inappropriate response to the attempted assassination of Gabby Giffords. But no threat level?
Josh testifies to her performative power, and to the depth of her support in the pro-life base. He’s right to. She has and always has had raw talent. Moreover, though she currently polls in the second tier of candidates, the field is extremely weak. The two leaders – Romney and Huckabee – are beset by policy records that will be anathema to the GOP base in its current mood. And Palin has already innoculated herself by demonizing the press, which, in Josh’s case, has led to an attempt to reclaim her legitimacy as a choice for the vice-presidential nomination – despite the fact that her own backers in that misbegotten nightmare have a far more critical view of Palin than Josh does.
Establishment Washington wants to reassert that it made no fantastic error in selecting her and is saddened by her refusal to be a serious candidate, which renders her future political career a non-starter. That’s a story line that serves them well. I hope they’re right. But encouraging pieces like Josh’s may tempt her to prove him wrong. In my view, she’s almost certainly running and will be much harder to beat than many now think. And as with all my views, it may be proven wrong. But not because buried within Palin is a Barack Obama yearning to break out.