Palin’s Paradox

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James, you’re right — what an irony that, in her new book, she complains about the McCain staff, but appears to have swallowed everything they spoon-fed her.

Phyllis Schlafly, the most astute observer in the pro-family movement, had it right — as always. Although she praised Palin – “She’s likable, like Hillary isn’t” – she saw the fatal flaw when Palin cancelled her meeting with pro-lifers at the GOP convention and met all day behind locked doors with AIPAC instead. The fix was in.

A few years ago, Schlafly urged pro-family conservatives to consider themselves a “third force,” unbound from any fatal attachment to the GOP. This has come to pass, as we watch the percentage of voters willing to identify themselves as Republicans dwindle to about 20%, even as the percentage of the population that identifies itself as pro-life has risen to as much as fifty percent.

The consequences for the GOP are dire: to win the nomination in 2012, a candidate must please that dwindling “rump remnant” in the GOP, a majority of whom still praise Bush 43 and Cheney! I doubt that independent conservatives will rally en masse to any candidate who can win the nomination under those circumstances.

A telling detail, seldom noticed: conservative groups still live or die on direct mail. Even during the height of Bush 43’s popularity, many of the groups I know well could NOT mail on the Iraq war issue at all — apart from the social issues (their bread and butter), they might talk about China, about Panama, even about immigration – but if they supported Bush on Iraq — or opposed him, for that matter — it would split their donor base right down the middle.

So they just didn’t write about it at all. Like GOP members of congress, they just cringed when it came up and tried to change the subject.

In brief, to win the Republican nomination in 2012, Palin has to please that pro-war rump of GOP primary voters. But by doing so, she risks making herself unelectable in the general election.

Yes, a lot can happen. Look at how the GOP is screaming about Fort Hood — which was a deplorable mass murder, to be sure — and the KSM trial, currently scheduled for NYC. The GOP will try to outdo Cheney in blaming Obama for every ill that comes to pass regarding the issue of “terrorism,” broad-brush. That they will adroitly avoid every mention of the historical provenance of the disasters under Bush is also a slam dunk.

9:09 am on November 18, 2009