Leader of the Pack: Reaction
Paul Mirengoff wrote a well reasoned article on Power Line regarding the Republican presidential race. This post adds a dimension to that thinking.
Mirengoff's postulation is that the nomination is Sarah Palin's to lose, assuming she wishes to run and the Tea Parties endorse her. The second assumption is not a home run. But it is anything but a safe bet that Palin will win the Primaries.
Palin has been given the dream job of collecting a great deal of money while she refines her positions and rhetoric in the political sphere. And perhaps she is moving to a more solidly conservative position more in line with the Tea Parties. But neither her record or her statements when she burst on the national scene indicate she began there. There is much evidence that the Tea Parties are well aware of that discrepancy. They may admire her ability to stand up to Progressives, as well as her ability to withstand the withering insults of the MSM, as we all do, but there is yet conclusive evidence that Palin's currently defined version of politics is in line with financial conservative prudence. Besides, despite the Right's respect for Sarah Palin, even Tea Partiers have noticed how quickly Palin can reach her depth in questions of foreign policy and economics.
In support of Mirengoff's assertion, Palin may be moving to the right as she absorbs both the political rhetoric inside the Beltway and the considered thoughts of past political figures. Her support for strongly conservative politicians (although there are a number of exceptions) bespeaks either a political savvy of a growing movement, or a hard right turn of her own accord. In Palin we are watching a national figure mature and develop her views while she is in the limelight. Not everyone obtains such a glorious opportunity. Whether she can or will convert that tremendous gift into political juice for the most powerful position in the world is still a question.
But it is Mirengoff's third assumption that Palin can comfortably get through the primaries that runs into trouble. That trouble is my first assumption.
Was it less than a decade ago when bloggers on the Internet conclusively and easily showed that Dan Rather's derogatory story about George Bush was built on forged documents? The story was well timed to shift momentum to Kerry and provide cover for the Democrats to win the election. What happened was the opposite; Bush went on to win the election and Rather's career was ruined.
The reaction by the MSM since then has been significant and prolonged and determined. The Rather event redefined political journalism. The gloves are now off. There is no longer any attempt by the MSM to be fair and balanced, or to appear to be so. In fact, given their generally Progressive stance, it can easily be argued their appeal to a minority of Americans is a significant factor in their decline and financial instability.
Nevertheless, the audience the MSM commands is buttressed by a brand image long in tradition, inertia and first mover advantage that the Right actually still reinforces. The MSM still drives the news and the narrative. The Right merely reacts. Talk radio is one long reactionary harangue. Right wing bloggers are much the same. There is no concerted attempt to either develop or display an agenda which even remotely supports the free market, much less explain it or build a solid, moral, empathetic platform around it.
Assuming that assumption, the landscape for the next Presidential election becomes clearer. Lately, we have seen the effectiveness of the President bashing Boehner and Bush and the MSM taking up his war cry with a concerted effort regardless of the irrationality of the attacks. The result is that Obama's favorability ratings have again moved in his favor. But this small barrage is nothing compared to the wall of sound and fury Republican nominees will face in the next election.
Without a firm and fresh approach to PR and news making, the MSM could choose the next Republican nominee. It is easily argued they did so with McCain in the last election, and then proceeded to publicly write him off as a well meaning but ultimately unworthy contender. Much of the Republican base was not even motivated to vote for him.
We can already see the beginnings of this strategy replaying itself. Gingrich, long viewed by the Left as a dangerous opponent perhaps because of his manhandling of Clinton, is already attracting a sustained barrage of negative reporting. Esquire published an interview with his ex-wife, Politics Daily is all over him, publishing several articles questioning his ethics and sometimes using conservatives as their weapons, and the Huffington Post is chiming in with determination. A Google search of 'Newt Gingrich' yields 10 pages in the Huffington Post in the last month alone.
Meanwhile, Palin is under almost a constant slow simmering level of negative static, and on the left her name is relegated to a joke. Image making is everything. On the Right, no one is talking about Hillary Clinton, who continues to position herself (why else take the Secretary of State position?) as a newer, smarter alternative to Obama. Never mind that she is every bit the Progressive that Obama is.
In summary, there is little evidence that Palin will be allowed by the MSM to take the nominee position for the Republican party. It is no coincidence that Palin attracts the highest unfavorable ratings for President by American voters. The Right has no avenue, no strategy, no demonstrated ability to withstand the agenda of the Left. The MSM has responded to the Internet with increased rhetoric and a concerted effort. Conservatives, especially in the media, speak from an inherently reactionary position. That is the minority position.
The next presidential election will be a war. Even the smears of the Tea Party are nothing compared to the withering storm the MSM will bring to the election. The MSM, JournoListers or not, are gearing up. The Right, as usual, will remain flat footed, unorganized and seemingly unable to voice their platform in a cogent and attractive manner.
Who will the Republican nominee for President be? The answer is simple; whoever the MSM deems beatable. They will begin long before the primaries. If indeed it is Palin, it will not be for the reasons Mirengoff suggests. It will be because the MSM and Progressives feel she is the weakest candidate. So far, that is exactly what Palin is.