Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Is Palin the next Reagan?
If Obama wins -- and I join the big and increasing crowd of guessers who thinks he will -- what fortune awaits Sarah Palin? Her future is very bright, according to this blog post in the New Republic. I nod at all the points that are made. Palin is a political animal, she is a quick study and she has that je ne c'est quoi quality. But is she a 21st century Reagan?
I say no -- at this point. Palin, for all her formal gifts, remains too aligned to, too imprisonend by, her GOP base. Reagan was no one's prisoner. He and his LA-based advisers knew where they wanted to take the Republican Party. It was not with a Goldwater road map.
In her campaign speeches, Palin is talking the standard line of the GOP base -- when she should be at least giving some hints of where she would take the party post-2008 (after the Obama victory).
A Rovian culture war won't make it. Too many people -- too many people who are supposed to be in the vanguard of the GOP faithful, like the socially conservative working class -- are being so ground down by the economy.
Look at Joe the (Non-) Plumber. McCain and the GOP tried to make him into a hero fighting against Democratic tax policies. Joe says Obama's tax policies would penalize him if he carries out his dream of buying the plumbing firm where he works and makes more than $250,000 a year. But in metro Toledo, Ohio, where Joe lives, the central issue is not how to make $250,000+ a year and avoid taxes. It's people already unemployed, the under-employed or the likely to be without a job soon as the auto industry continues to downsize. Most working families make under $40,000 a year. While Joe is talking economic fantasy -- making the kind of money that only 2% of Americans make -- thousands of Toledo area residents, even those who are employed, are struggling to buy groceries, pay for health care and cope with foreclosure.
Palin addresses none of these issues in her speeches or statements. As the economy goes deeper into recession, Toledo area workers and their families will suffer even more. Joe-the-(non)- Plumber tropes, even if they're delivered by an accomplished public speaker like Paylin, will not increase their salaries or find them jobs.