Tuesday, March 01, 2011

2012 - Romney v Palin? I'm picking Choice C.

I'm going to get some heat for this one. I'll start off with this. Of the two supposed "top tier" candidates jockeying, or potentially jockeying for position as frontrunner for 2012, Romney and Palin are two of the least electable. I'll call Romney's position none, and Palin's slim. If I had to vote for one with a gun to my head, I would cringe and vote for Palin because I trust her more than Romney. I prefer someone else. I much prefer "Choice C."

From National Review and Ramesh Ponnuru

A Romney vs. Palin match-up would, for one thing, be a straight-up power struggle between the tea parties and the Republican establishment. Romney has avoided association with the tea parties and Palin has courted them. In a Palin vs. Romney race, the party establishment would rally behind him because it regards her as a certain loser in November 2012 — and fears that she would lose big enough to do damage to Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidates.

Other presidential candidates could bridge this divide. Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, for example, might gain tea-party support because of his budget-cutting record, but also enjoys establishment support. Neither Palin nor Romney is likely to have the same breadth of appeal. Romney’s past liberal positions are likely to strike tea partiers as evidence that his conservative principles are insincere, and his championing of a health-care law in Massachusetts that strikingly resembles Obamacare will make them even more hostile. Palin, meanwhile, revels in the opposition of establishment figures. Their opposition is a key part of her strategy for mobilizing grassroots conservatives. Watching the party establishment line up behind Romney — and thus, from their point of view, behind Obamacare — would enrage the party’s populists.

That's only brushing it. A lot of the bitter infighting attacks in 2008 happened even before the election was over. You had some of Romney's national people, absorbed on McCain's staff, leaking stuff about Palin, anonymously to the press. They saw the polls, wrote off the election, went to trash Palin because if she goes down with the ship, Romney (who couldn't even beat McCain) wins for 2012. Many grassroots on the right united behind Palin because of those attacks. They see national elites trashing their person. There is a very bitter view between the Palin and Romney crowds over that. Harmfully, it's grown into a cult of personality, and those are never anything but harmful in politics, regardless of whose side it is. Celebrity politics needs to end.

Class is another increasingly uncomfortable fault line in the party (as Reihan Salam and I recently described in these pages). Romney’s supporters tend to be college-educated, while Palin draws her support from people who didn’t get college diplomas. In recent elections, upper-middle-class voters have left the Republican party in part because they regard it as dominated by yahoos and know-nothings. But other voters, particularly in the party’s base, resent what they see as a tendency to overestimate the importance of degrees from prestigious colleges. In the Delaware Senate race, populist candidate Christine O’Donnell started an ad by saying, “I didn’t go to Yale.” (Romney has two degrees from Harvard, Palin one from the University of Idaho.)
The 2008 presidential election was a festival of identity politics in both parties: upper-middle-class white women voted for Hillary Clinton, Mormons and rich people for Romney, evangelicals for Mike Huckabee, young and inexperienced voters for Barack Obama. If Romney and Palin are the top Republican contenders, the next presidential race could become even more tribal.

I only partially agree with this, and Pommuru is now generalizing a little too much. I agree with the "class" issues, in regards to social class. I disagree with education issues on this. I have two degrees, including a JD and I can not stand Romney. I have my issues with Palin as well, but if I was forced to chose between the two, I'd very reluctantly pick Palin who is less of a chameleon. Degrees have nothing to do with it. Can you do the job, or not?

What people don't like is what is commonly referred to as elitism. Elitism however doesn't mean "the best" when it comes to politics. It's sneering snobbishness that is both arrogant and ignorant of the real world. It's the attitude of "I have a Harvard degree so I am smarter than you. In addition, you are stupid and unable to govern yourself so we will do things for you." That's the attitude that people despise, and the attitude they see. Good ideas and good data supporting those ideas can stand on their own regardless of any "titles" somebody has. I don't care if someone's education level is PhD, MD, JD, MA, MS, BA, BS, Associates, High School, or 10th grade dropout. If it's good, it can stand on its own. I'll look at the data, and my own decision whether it is good. When it comes to running my life, I'll handle that, as I'm the expert who knows all the data - not government.

Now the problems with Romney and Palin:

1. Lost to McCain in the primary.
2. Many of the same base problems with McCain from his senate career also applies to Romney. However, then Romney was seen as lesser of the two evils. Today, Romneycare changes that. It was a minor issue in 2008. Not today.
3. Chameleon. He shifts his issues depending on where he is. That's a problem, even more so in the age of the internet.
4. Anti 2nd Amendment. He signed a gun ban. His record here is no different than Obama.
5. Little working class appeal.
6. Big government guy as governor.

1. She QUIT. This is what lost me. Yes, I know there was pressures from the lawsuits in Alaska, many of them are frivolous. However, as popular as Palin was with grassroots, she could have made that back easily on the speaker circuit, where she's worth millions. Palin was 3 years as a first termer as governor. She didn't finish out her contract. If she finished her term, that would be one thing. If she runs for president, will she quit two years in when the pressure mounts - pressure that will be unlike anything that happens in Anchorage.

2. Experience. Yes, I know Obama's experience qualifies him as fetching coffee in any major establishment, even compared to Palin. However, this isn't good enough.

3. Cult of personality. The most overrated issue in politics is charisma. I know she has a big following, but unless you are Reagan, Clinton, FDR, JFK, or possibly Teddy Roosevelt or William McKinley, you're not going to out charisma Obama. However, you can run against the charisma, against celebrity politics, and what comes with it. I'm real tired of the American Idolization of politics, and I don't think I'm the only one out there.

4. Problems with independents. Polls are speculation and a snapshot in time at best. However, Palin's negatives are extremely high, and that's not just in the Northeast, but most states. Can she change them? Maybe, but I can't count on that. I don't know exactly if it is due to the cult of personality, style, experience, or idiots who think what Tina Fey and Jon Stewart say are actually news. Regardless of the reasons, Palin would have a lot of ground to reverse.

If not Palin or Romney, then who? I'm also leaning strongly against any 2008 candidate.

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has all but announced his candidacy. Johnson's an interesting candidacy as a libertarian leaning republican. There's a lot I like about where he stands. Balanced budgets, use of the veto, and decriminalization are areas where I generally agree. I do have a major disagreement with his abortion stance, and I am a bit more conservative than he is on non-fiscal matters. I'd need to know who he supports as judges before I'd jump aboard that campaign.

Businessman, former senate candidate, and talk show host Herman Cain has announced. He's generally good on the issues, but how would he get traction in a campaign not holding political office. It's possible, and 2012 might be the year for a "nonpolitician."

I'm keeping an eye on Governors/recent Governor's Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, and Haley Barbour. I'm balancing my anti-08 leanings, my own views of electability, and ideology in this decision. I'll likely support one of these five over the two with the hype. We'll see what happens down the road.


kevins said...

I like your analysis. Don't always agree with it, but it's straightforward, clear and rational.

I notice you didn't mention Newt...what's your thought on him?

Also, what about Paul Ryan?

Dan said...

Thanks. I'd worry if everyone starting agreeing with everything I said.

I don't think Newt's running. He always "runs" the year before to get his name out there, but never seems to follow through and actually run.

I never thought about Paul Ryan running. Ryan's like Pat Toomey in that he knows how to win in difficult districts (part of Rock County and that SE area between Chicago/Milwaukee), so that alone makes him an interesting choice. I'd consider Ryan if he ran.