“I have that fire in my belly,” Sarah Palin told Fox this week. Apparently she is locked and loaded to defeat “Obama” for the presidency. Or maybe not. Who knows? How much money is in it? How much money is in not being in it?
It is easy to conclude that running for president, much less being president, is way too much work for the eternally bellyaching Palin. An 18-month slog on the campaign trail is potentially way too embarrassing (Is Turkey Asian or European or for Thanksgiving only?) and damaging to her brand (see Donald Trump). And it doesn’t pay all that great. Teasing the media while coaxing new donations from her easily duped minions seems a far more believable sled run for a woman who has already quit her actual government job for the riches of a TV somebody or other.
But what if….
The Republican Party has all but conceded the presidency to the Man who got Bin Laden? What if they realize, like Trump, Christie, Barbour, Jeb and Huckabee obviously have, that no matter whether it’s Romney or Daniels or Bachmann or Pawlenty who carries their Medicare-killing flag, a second term for President Obama looms virtually unavoidable?
There yet will remain a slew of down-ballot races: preserving the GOP House majority, taking the Senate, winning or losing state government majorities all over the nation. The GOKochs understand that all of this matters. Enormously.
And a flawed Romney who doesn’t ignite the GOP’s angry evangelical and Tea Party zealots could hand the House back to Democrats, who likely will turn out in desperate droves to stave off hell by reelecting the president. A bureaucratic Bush soldier like Mitch Daniels, who has spurned Grover Norquist’s “no taxes” pledge, would likely embed a similar ennui into the wild purists and could leave Harry Reid in charge of the Senate.
Enter the crazy conspiracy. Enter the Abominable Snow Snooki. She avoids the GOP dog & pony show for months and months, flinging barbs and “refudiations” from her million dollar throne on Fox. And then, when Romney or Daniels or the logo of Exxon or Anthem Blue Cross sews up the nomination, Palin swoops in as the first Tea Party candidate ever to run for president. She’d stride onto the big stage for an easy few months, spewing venom at President Obama and bathing in the adoration of Valentino blazers and her ardent devotees. Yes she’d lose. Yes it would be wildly fun and horrifying and entertaining. And yes she’d return to Fox more feisty and popular than ever.
So it might work famously for Palin, but a third party candidate? Wouldn’t that gift-wrap electoral college victories to President Obama in Georgia, Montana, perhaps even Texas? How could the Republican powerbrokers stand for it?
Because they know that she’ll electrify the zanies, Aynsteins, anti-taxers, secessionistas and Born Again Dominionists, who drawn to the booth to vote for their Alaskan Idol would likely then proceed to mark Xs for the regular GOP anti-abortion, Medicare killers elsewhere on the ballot. Even if she swiped 15% of the total from the top of the GOP ticket, all those extra Republican votes she draws to the polls could keep Boehner banging his giant gavel and install a couple more Scott Walkers, Rick Scotts and Dan Snyders in governor’s mansions across the land.
Yes, it’s a Democrat’s dream. President Obama would be safe to parry the extremists in the GOP for four more years. But if this double the GOP vote on the rest of ballot costs his party elsewhere, Sarah Palin could again prove to be every Democrat’s nauseating nightmare.
Maybe I shouldn’t give them any ideas. In the words of that other great SNL parodist, “Never mind.”
About Steve Weinstein
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