Archive for November 9th, 2008

November 9, 2008

James Joyner, elitist?

It ill behooves any graduate of Jacksonville (Ala.) State University to join up with the snob brigade against Sarah Palin, but at least my good buddy isn’t vicious about it. If the other anti-Palinites were as mild and reasonable as Dr. Joyner, maybe I wouldn’t want to punch them in the nose — or sic Charlie Martin on them. Among other things, James says:

[C]onservatives ought to take the criticisms of more centrist Republicans to heart rather than making support for Palin some sort of litmus test. . .

Very good. I don’t make it a litmus test — Quin Hillyer is a conservative, a friend and a Palin critic — and don’t want anyone else to make it a litmus test. My objection is to the tone and content of specific criticisms, and particularly to any attempt to make her the scapegoat whose alleged defects exempts others from blame.

[T]he idea that she didn’t know much about foreign policy or the broader swath of national issues grew steadily starting from Team McCain’s decision to shelter her from the press and then blossomed into full force with horrible performances in the Katie Couric and Charles Gibson interviews.

Agreed. The problem was the “decision to shelter her from the press,” which raised the stakes in the big one-on-one interviews. It is easier for a politician to dodge, or dismiss, a “gotcha” question in a press conference than in a one-on-one. The person at the lectern has more control at a press conference than does the subject of a one-on-one interview, who is really at the mercy of the questioner — and the producers at the editing console.

I stressed, though — drawing comparison with Harriet Miers . . . that her résumé was thin for the office by recent standards.

The “recent standards” being Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Dan Quayle and George H.W. Bush, four names that take us back to 1981. In three of four of those instances (Cheney, Gore, Bush 41) the idea was to get a Washington establishment type to balance the “outsider” candidate (Bush 41, Clinton, Reagan). Quayle was a “movement” conservative intended to balance the un-conservative Bush. We can argue elsewhere the intent and meaning of the Palin pick, but Joyner’s comparison of Palin to Miers is most unfortunate. What made Miers unacceptable was the phalanx of resistance from the Federalist Society, who are our conservative go-to guys for judicial selections. If a Republican appointee to the appelate courts doesn’t pass muster with the Federalist Society, think, “Souter.” Unacceptable.

[Palin supporter Bill Dyer is] much more of a populist and I’m much more of an elitist in terms of credentialing and expertise. . . .
I saw little evidence, though, that she’s very interested in foreign policy or most issues of American domestic policy.

These are certainly legitimate criticisms. Joyner is a specialist in defense policy, and I note that most of Palin’s foes tend to come from the defense/foreign-policy sectors of the conservative — or, as the vogue is, “center-right” — coalition. But given that the GOP foreign policy establishment spent all of 2002 and 2003 up until the first strike on Baghdad telling us that the invasion of Iraq was an emergency imperative, that Saddam’s WMD programs were an eminent danger to vital U.S. interests, I am certainly not the only conservative who now has a jaded view of the “Vulcans” and their vaunted expertise.

Furthermore, and I’m not sure I’ve argued this explicitly elsewhere before, I think it generally a political mistake to make foreign policy such an overwhelming emphasis in conservative politics as was the case after 9/11. Wars end, alliances shift, new threats emerge, but except in emergencies, it is difficult to get American voters to concentrate on foreign policy.

We saw how the conservative consensus of the Reagan years fell apart once the Soviet threat crumbled (and after Bush 41’s tax hike and minimum wage increase caused a recession), and we’ve seen something similar during the Bush 43 presidency. In 2002 and 2004, Republicans made the fight against terrorism the fulcrum of the campaign, and succeeded. But by 2006, the trick didn’t work any more, and it is possible to see the nomination of the war hero McCain this year as another failed attempt to re-run the “patriot hawks” vs. “traitor doves” game. If nothing else, people grow bored with that message eventually.

Domestic politics is permanent. The economy is always relevant. The ceaseless growth of the Washington bureaucracy continues to intrude into the lives of ordinary Americans. The Department of Education is still an unconstitutional travesty that ought to be abolished. Social Security is still a disastrous Ponzi scheme. The entitlement mentality is still an insult to the Tocquevillean spirit of the nation. These arguments may not be as popular in the short term as pointing at a mustachioed foreign dictator and screaming “Hitler!” but they have the basic virtue of being true.

Now, James can like or dislike Palin as a potential 2012 presidential candidate and it makes no difference to me. We can discuss that in mid-2011. But what some of Palin’s other Republican critics are clearly and most objectionably trying to do is (a) make her the too-convenient scapegoat for the 2008 defeat, and (b) so damage her as to assure that she is not viable for 2012.
There is a difference between merely being mistaken and consciously doing evil. James and I and Bill Dyer can argue about Palin’s merits and demerits, and any of us may be mistaken in our judgments, but the smear-mongers sabotaging Palin from inside the McCain campaign have engaged in something else entirely.

November 9, 2008

Losing Althouse

Ann Althouse offers a very interesting confirmation of my assertion — the subject of a much-criticized American Spectator column Oct. 7 — that it was his Sept. 24 bailout stunt that cost McCain the election:

September24: . . . After hearing from Obama, I view McCain as having pulled a stunt, a stunt that he should have seen would be ineffective.
September 25: I find Palin’s interview with Katie Couric “Painful. Terrible.” Yet McCain wants the VP debate to go first. She’s not ready, and he’s throwing out impulsive, erratic ideas.
September 25, a little later: I’m impressed by Mickey Kaus’s mockery of McCain’s stunt. . . .

Now, Althouse is a law professor who can hardly be taken as representative of “swing” voters in general, but there is something important going on here. While she originally thought McCain’s stunt was clever, she changed her mind once she saw Obama’s reaction. Which is to say that it was the contrast between the two men that was decisive.

Notice also how the disastrous Couric interview with Palin (arranged by the worse-than-useless Nicolle Devenish Wallace) aired almost contemporaneously with the bailout stunt, so that the effect of the two events cannot be disentangled in the ultimate chain of causation. (This disaster is “over-determined” to borrow social-science jargon from Rich Lowry.)

The Blame Sarah First crowd would have you believe that Palin exercised a negative effect independent of Maverick’s own shaky performance, a negative effect that had more to do with her objective qualifications (or lack thereof) than with Team Maverick’s thorough botch of her press relations.

Althouse, who was sympathetic to Obama from the start, was pushed toward the GOP ticket by Palin’s nomination, even though she remained steadily turned-off by McCain’s incoherence. (See her entry for Sept. 7.) As much as she disliked the Couric-Palin interview (thanks again, Nicolle!), it was really McCain’s bailout stunt, symptomatic of his general incoherence, that provided the decisive shift. Her reaction to McCain’s debate performance is entirely negative.

Non-partisan likeability
This all goes back to what I’ve been saying for weeks. If you are a genuinely independent voter — an “Ordinary American,” someone who in all honesty might vote for a candidate of either party — then ultimately you are going to vote on your general impression of the candidates. Before the 2004 election, I wrote an article (available only in PDF) for the moderate Republican journal Ripon Forum, in which I pointed out the “likeability” factor as trumping the sort of demographic microanalysis favored by pundits:

The big picture is left out of this microscopic calculus: Head to head, side by side, which one of these men does the electorate actually like?
Whatever his failings, Mr. Bush is basically likeable. This was a key factor in 2000, and is prominent again in 2004. His basic likeability is now giving Democrats nightmares. When the infamous Iowa “scream” derailed the energetic Howard Dean’s Democratic primary campaign, esablishment Democrats quickly jumped aboard the John Kerry bandwagon. But once Mr. Kerry secured his party’s nomination, Democrats were dismayed to note that they faced a repeat of the 2000 election: A stiff, pompous, boring Democrat competing with the aw-shucks charm of a smiling Texan.

That “aw-shucks charm” seems to have passed its sell-by date shortly after Bush’s re-election, but the basic point remains sound: Independent voters, who ultimately decide presidential elections and “swing” the swing states, really do act on the entirely irrational belief that by watching a man talk on TV, they can judge his fitness for the presidency. To the eternal consternation of pundits and policy wonks, the fine details of policy that motivate intellectuals and ideologues have little to do with persuading undecided, independent “swing” voters.

This is what has frustrated me about the McCain candidacy since the primaries. (Some) Republicans and (some) ideologues viewed his candidacy through rose-colored glasses: McCain was a heroic patriot whose POW biography would rally conservatives, while his “Maverick” image would sufficiently distance him from the Bush-damaged Republican brand. In hindsight, everybody seems to realize that this view was mistaken, without realizing why it was mistaken.

John McCain is not likeable, not by the standards of telegenic likeability that have prevailed since the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debate. I have friends who’ve met the senator (a distant relative I call “Crazy Cousin John”) and genuinely like the man. But he is old and bald and comes across on TV as grumpy. This is why, much to horror of my True Believer conservative friends, I ultimately favored Mitt Romney in the GOP primaries. In politics, ceteris parabus, tall, rich and handsome beats old, bald and grumpy any day of the week.

This is not to say that policy and ideology are irrelevant, but the party and the movement whose icon is the amiable erstwhile movie cowboy Ronald Reagan ought never to discount the importance of having persuasive, likeable spokesmen — and spokeswomen, too, which is why I’m so big on Sarah Palin.

Our Sarah didn’t fare too well with independent voters in 2008 (if you believe the polls, which no True Believer ever does), but then again, Reagan wasn’t exactly a darling of the “swing” voters in 1976. And, yes, the True Believers are shuddering in rage at the audacity of comparing Palin to Reagan, but they should reserve their rage for those who compare Obama to Reagan. Don’t pretend we don’t know which comparison Reagan would find more insulting.

If Palin lacks (or seems to lack) the kind of sturdy intellectual commitments that Reagan possessed — another hindsight judgment that few would have granted the Gipper in ’76 — it cannot be denied that she possesses in great measure his down-to-earth likeability. Having excoriated McCain and Schmidt and the rest of Team Maverick for their boneheaded blunders, I yet give them full credit for seeing Palin’s natural political talent.

God-given talent
When I was a sportswriter in North Georgia in the late ’80s, Calhoun High School football coach Johnny Gulledge remarked that “you can’t coach a 4.4 forty.” That is to say, the kind of speed that can run 40 yards in 4.4 seconds is a God-given talent for which a winning coach gets credit when the speedster is his starting running back, but for which he gets blamed when that speed is on the other team. (Gulledge’s teams were plagued by a shortage of speed in those years.)

My American Spectator colleague Quin Hillyer has joined others in asserting that Palin’s electric effect on the Republican base was essentially a fluke, that any good running-mate pick would have excited the conservative grassroots in this otherwise bleak season for the GOP. With all due respect, I disagree. What some call a fluke, I see as . . . well, something else. (Perhaps you’re familiar with the Veggie Tales episode where Pa Grape’s niece saves them from the Island of Perpetual Tickling. Perhaps not.) Sneer at “populism” all you want, but I know what I believe.

For such a time as this, you might say, Palin’s choice was hardly a fluke. She was the Miracle Worker, the Sweetheart of the Heartland, and if you were not there in Shippensburg to see those people standing in that cold wind, you can be forgiven if you don’t get it. But let them that have eyes see:

November 9, 2008

What do you mean ‘we,’ Kemosabe?

P.J. O’Rourke ruminates on “our” failure, applying the first person plural to what “conservatives” did, or did not do. Many of his criticisms are fair, and many of his jokes are funny, but O’Rourke suffers as badly as anyone from the common confusion over who and what is meant by “conservative.” His paragraph on immigration is an example:

Our attitude toward immigration has been repulsive. Are we not pro-life? Are not immigrants alive? Unfortunately, no, a lot of them aren’t after attempting to cross our borders. Conservative immigration policies are as stupid as conservative attitudes are gross. Fence the border and give a huge boost to the Mexican ladder industry. Put the National Guard on the Rio Grande and know that U.S. troops are standing between you and yard care. George W. Bush, at his most beneficent, said if illegal immigrants wanted citizenship they would have to do three things: Pay taxes, learn English, and work in a meaningful job.

When was a policy of border security seriously undertaken by the federal government? Under Reagan? Bush 41? Bush 43? So “conservatives” are blamed for a supposedly unworkable policy that has never even been attempted. And the idiocy of the Bush proposal to turn illegals into citizens is that people who don’t obey immigration laws are not likely to obey naturalization laws.

Behold the incoherence of conservative discourse, with O’Rourke bashing a cartoon stereotype of Buchananite policy proposals (policies that, to repeat, have never actually been attempted nor even proposed by any Republican administration) in a magazine that would never publish anything by Pat Buchanan himself. And meanwhile, over at The American Conservative, they’re bashing away at cartoon stereotypes of neoconservative foreign policy.

This epic battle of factional strawmen has been going on for years, with purges and counter-purges and ex-communications until conservatism looks like the Sharks and Jets going at it in West Side Story. (I’ve sometimes thought I should write a memoir entitled First They Came for Mel Bradford: Neo, Paleo, Me-o, but I don’t know that enough people would get the joke to justify publication.)

Ordinary American voters can be forgiven their confusion that resulted in, inter alia, 54% of Catholics voting for Obama. “Conservatives” speak in a self-contradictory cacophony, the ideological label applied willy-nilly to politicians and policies, to include at various times Chuck Hagel and Joe Lieberman, Tamar Jacoby and Peter Brimelow, Chris Cox and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Doug Kmeic and Judie Brown.

Average voters don’t pay enough attention to politics to differentiate among the Baskin-Robbins 31 flavors of conservatism. One survey found that 41% of CNN viewers don’t know that Democrats hold a majority in Congress. Anecdotes from focus groups indicate that voters hold wildly inaccurate perceptions about politics. But pretty much everybody knows George W. Bush is a Republican, and they overwhelmingly hate him.

The problem with conservative intellectuals (and O’Rourke would qualify as such) is that they presume a far more informed electorate than actually exists. They therefore look at elections and imagine that voters are rejecting specific policy positions with which voters are, in fact, entirely unfamiliar.

Talk to any genuine independent voter and you will always hear them say they “vote for the man, not the party.” So when independent voters swing sharply against the grumpy old bald guy, this cannot be viewed as a referendum on conservatism so much as it is a referendum on grumpy old bald guys. (Which is why the idiots who backed Rudy Giuliani in the primaries were . . . well, idiots. Giuliani is slightly less grumpy than McCain, but equally bald and almost as old.)

Republican “brand damage” or “Bush fatigue” — the two phenomena are related, if not entirely coterminous — translates to a relatively slight marginal difference in the partisan loyalties of voters. A few million people who used to be solid Republicans now call themselves “independent,” and a few million former independents now call themselves Democrats. So the electorate goes from 51% Republican to 46% Republican in the space of four years.

This shift, however, cannot be blamed on conservatives if, by “conservative,” you mean the average Rush Limbaugh listener. Limbaugh didn’t tell Tom DeLay, Bob Ney and Ralph Reed to crawl into bed with Jack Abramoff. Limbaugh didn’t tell Mark Foley to send e-mails to House pages. Limbaugh didn’t tell Larry Craig to play footsie with that Minneapolis airport cop. Limbaugh adamantly opposed John McCain’s nomination, and Limbaugh wasn’t the one who advised McCain to suspend his campaign and endorse the bailout.

There is a hugely unjust process by which influential “conservatives” are scapegoating others for their own policies — the likes of “Cakewalk Ken” Adelman and “Bailout Ben” Bernanke endorsing Obama, for example. Those whose ideas caused the Republican disaster exempt themselves from responsibility by casting aspersions on critics who opposed their disastrous ideas, so that Steve Schmidt points the finger at House Republicans who voted against a $700 bailout that Schmidt insisted McCain must endorse — even though polls clearly showed voters disapproved of the bailout!

Conservatism has suffered mainly from an ideological inferiority complex, one that Ronald Reagan alluded to in 1964:

Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we are denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we are always “against” things, never “for” anything. Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.

Exactly. Conservatism can be defined adequately as “opposition to liberalism,” both in terms of general philosophy and specific policy proposals. To be against “the schemes of the do-gooders” ought to count as sufficient wisdom for conservatives, given that (a) the schemes will do no good, and (b) the “good” is subject to dispute anyway.

Conservatives don’t need a global-warming plan, or a poverty plan, or a health-care plan. We ought to be arguing instead that the problems liberals now “plan” to solve are either non-existent (e.g., global warming) or else are largely the result of the last generation’s liberal “plan.” But the inferiority complex of conservative intellectuals requires that they offer up plans of their own to address these problems — problems that have nothing to do with the just powers of a constitutionally limited government, the true meaning of the Constitution being the main thing we conservatives ought to be trying to conserve!

Instead of arguing over what a massive, expensive, insolvent government with unlimited powers should be doing, why don’t we instead argue that the government is too big, too expensive and too powerful? That was what I signed up for. What about you?

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden responds to O’Rourke:

He makes some points, but seems to suffer from the very Democratic view that everything should be knowable in advance, executed with judicious hindsight, denounced if it encountered problems, and subject to ideological purity standards, especially where Republicans are concerned. And that northeastern elites should keep their country cousins off the nice furniture.

Glad that Crittenden recognized O’Rourke’s digs at the “country cousins,” which I had not targeted because I didn’t want to draw the accusation of special pleading. But it certainly is worth observing that most of these cri de coeurs about the failure of conservatism are not coming from people who live in places where Republicans actually won.

Politically (as opposed to philosophically) the conservative center of gravity has always resided in the South and West, and among people pissed off at the Washington establishment. One can trace this theme from Barry Goldwater to Howard Jarvis to Jerry Falwell to Rush Limbaugh to Jim Gilchrist.

The Southern and Western political brawn of the conservative movement, however, has tended to empower a class of conservative intellectuals who have nothing in common with — and who act as if they are embarrassed by — the actual voters who make possible conservative governance. (Yes, David Brooks, I’m talking about you.)

This disconnect between conservative voters and conservative elites is deeply implicated in the incoherence that has come to typify the movement over the past 20 years. The people whose votes elect Republicans are never allowed to speak for the Republican Party. Stan Evans famously observed of conservative politicians in Washington that, by the time any of “our people” get into a position to do any good, they’re not our people anymore. But regarding the contemporary class of intellectual conservatives, I’m not sure that they were ever our people to begin with.

UPDATE II: A big thank you to Kathy Shaidle and Sondrak for the linkage.

UPDATE III: LGF — which lately has been trying to purge Pam Geller as a Nazi (!) sympathizer — doesn’t mind saying “we blew it.” And I argee: You blew it. And in fact, you still blow. Purge-happy partisan fanatics! Purge the Buchananites! Purge the libertarians! Purge the creationists! Purge the pro-lifers! Bobby Jindal is “political suicide!”

Purge, purge, purge, until the Republican Party is only you, and then maybe people will understand that this was your objective from the very beginning, you intolerant assholes. I am reminded of Bob Barr’s description of the more fanatical Libertarian purists — they don’t want to belong to the Libertarian Party, they want to belong to the Libertarian Club.

Let these purging purists have their way, and you can plan to hold the 2012 Republican convention in Charles Johnson’s living room. And I’ll vote Libertarian again.

November 9, 2008

Hurricane Britney hits Louisiana

Been neglecting the celebrity news lately, but here’s something interesting:

Britney Spears arrived Friday in Louisiana with her sons for a family visit to her hometown in Kentwood.
It was the first time the 26-year-old singer was allowed to take Preston, 3, and Jayden, 2, out of California since losing all custody rights earlier this year to ex-husband Kevin Federline.
“This is a terrific indication of the progress she’s made, and the growing trust between the two parents,” says a source close to Spears. “It was arranged cooperatively between Kevin and the lawyers.”
Reports that Britney spent Saturday night passed out drunk in a trailer park could not be confirmed.

Maybe I made up that last part.

November 9, 2008

WaPo admits pro-Obama bias

The Washington Post (Pravda on the Potomac) has never been as liberal as the New York Times (Ivestia on the Hudson), but it is liberal, and Deborah Howell is OK with that.

November 9, 2008

Ironic news of the day

Warren Buffett, who backed Obama for president, has seen his Berkshire Hathaway profits decline 77 percent in the third quarter. His reward? Named to Obama’s economic advisory board.

November 9, 2008

Mayor becomes ugly woman mayor

A change you can believe in:

The first time Stu Rasmussen was elected mayor of Silverton, Ore., he wore shirts and pants. This time around, after a landslide victory, he will be stepping into office donning a dress and makeup.
Rasmussen was recently elected as America’s first transgender mayor. . . .
My primary platform was low growth,” he said, referring to his support for keeping the town small. “We had other issues I thought were not being properly addressed.”

Let’s be honest: With a face like that, the chances of Mayor It being involved in a sex scandal are practically zero. Then again, that’s what they said about Eliot Spitzer . . .

November 9, 2008

Palin the assassin?

Tim Shipman’s secondhand reporting twists a nothing of a story into a scary headline:

Sarah Palin blamed by the US Secret Service over death threats against Barack Obama

But you read down into the story and there’s nothing to support the lede except:

The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin’s attacks. . . .
The revelations, contained in a Newsweek history of the campaign, are likely to further damage Mrs Palin’s credentials as a future presidential candidate. She is already a frontrunner, with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, to take on Mr Obama in four years time.

“Revelations,” eh? Let’s take a look at what that Newsweek story actually says, shall we?

“I’m worried,” Gregory Craig said to a NEWSWEEK reporter in mid-October. He was concerned that the frenzied atmosphere at the Palin rallies would encourage someone to do something violent toward Obama. He was not the only one in the Obama campaign thinking the unthinkable. The campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and very disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October. Michelle was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. “Why would they try to make people hate us?” she asked Valerie Jarrett.

Except for the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy, there is no reason to connect (a) Sarah Palin with (b) assassination threats against Obama. You’ve got Democratic operative Craig (whom we remember from the Clinton impeachment) who’s worried about the “atmosphere” at Palin rallies. Then you’ve got a post-Labor Day increase in threats against Obama. And . . . that’s it?

That all death threats are made by subnormal mouth-breathers, I take as a given. (If you really want to assassinate somebody, you don’t make threats. Sirhan Sirhan — to whom Bill Ayers dedicated a book — didn’t make threats.) The only threat against Obama that actually led to arrests was made by a couple 0f teenage losers in Memphis, Tenn., a place where Sarah Palin never campaigned. There was nothing Sarah Palin said or did that was responsible for threats against Obama. If the threats spiked up after Labor Day, it was only because subnormal mouth-breathers don’t pay attention to elections until after Labor Day.

Newsweek clearly is trying to peddle a disgusting smear by the Obama camp, and in the process take out a potential future rival. Tim Shipman merely makes explicit what Newsweek implied, but it’s like Oakland — there’s no “there” there. The Secret Service did not — repeat, did not — blame Sarah Palin for threats against Obama, and Shipman’s story is thus a lie.

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

November 9, 2008

Not a sore loser, just a loser

McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt explains that it’s not his fault:

The moment that I will look back at as the moment deep in my gut that I knew, was September 29, when I was flying on a plane with Governor Palin to Sedona for debate prep, watching the split screen on the TVs . . . and it showed the stock market down seven, eight hundred points; it showed the Congress voting down the bailout package on the other side, and then, House Republicans went out and told the world that the reason that they voted against this legislation, allowed the stock market to crash, allowed the economy to be so injured, was because Nancy Pelosi had given a mean and partisan speech on the floor. And this was their response. And I just viewed it as beyond devastating, and thought that at that moment running with an “R” next to your name, in this year, was probably lethal.

Got that? House Republicans “allowed the stock market to crash,” and that’s why John McCain lost, rather than because of Schmidt’s insistence on Sept. 24 that the candidate suspend the campaign, call for a postponement of the debate, and fly to Washington to push for the unpopular $700 billion bailout. Classic.

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

November 9, 2008

Why Palin won’t wait

At the Corner and at Politico, campaign staffers fight the smears against Sarah Palin. Allahpundit rounds it up with a long exit question suggesting (a) “social issues” won’t matter in 2012, and (b) there’s no reason why Palin can’t wait until 2016, or later, to take her shot at the Big One.

OK, I’ll bite. Regarding (a), we have no idea what the political landscape will look like in 2012. Nobody in 2004 — except, perhaps, Barack Obama — imagined how off-message and unpopular the GOP would be in 2008. I have never thought of Palin as a one-dimensional social conservative. She describes herself as a fiscal conservative and, considering what the Democrats are likely to do with Obama in the White House, a reformist governor with a strong fiscal-conservative message running as an “outsider” looks like a smart bet for 2012. (Yes, that could also describe Bobby Jindal.)

Regarding (b), recall that in Bill Clinton wasn’t on anybody’s radar screen in 1990. But a lot of Democratic contenders were scared out of the race when Bush’s popularity zoomed during Desert Storm, so that Clinton won the nomination against a relatively weak field. Likewise, in 2006, the possibility that Obama could challenge and beat Hillary Clinton for the 2008 nomination seemed remote, And, more recently, in July 2007, John McCain’s campaign was bankrupt and people were writing his political obituary.

When you get your shot, you take your shot. It’s obvious Palin has got a shot in 2012, and she’d be a fool to pass it up. Trying to conjure reasons why she shouldn’t take the shot isn’t going to keep her from taking it.

Of course, we’re getting way ahead of the game here. Starting Jan. 20, conservatives are going to have their hands full trying to stop the Obamafication of America. We’ll have a couple of years to watch the kind of moves Palin makes, she’ll have a couple of years to take a look at the situation, and around December 2010 — assuming that opposition to Obama is still legal — she’ll decide whether to greenlight a campaign for 2012. But I bet money she goes for it.