One of the more interesting aftermaths of the election has been the well spring of vitriol directed toward Sarah Palin from the ranks of her own party. While it’s nothing short of damned amusing, it does make you wonder why it’s all going on. While one or two rogue sources of these sorts of accusations could be dismissed as sour grapes from staffers with nothing left to lose, there are too many accusers emerging for this to be considered anything less than a coordinated attack against Palin. On the one hand, it’s possible that these accusations of almost unconscionable ignorance are all true. Which basically means that the GOP engineered an orchestra of lies and cover-ups to keep the truth from the voters during the campaign. On the other hand, perhaps these are all fabrications. But that would mean that these same people are lying now, rather than then. Either way, Sarah’s accusers are basically saying they are liars. This seems an unwise strategy from a party that just took a thumping and badly needs to restore the trust of its members. There has to be a larger objective here. Something more important to them in the short term.
It seems to me that this is likely the initial volley in what will emerge as a battle for control of the GOP. I think the GOP recognizes that it has lost control of Joe the Plumber, and it needs that back. You see, for the last three decades the GOP has been perfecting a strategy whereby every election cycle it dons its blue collar, picks up its hunting rifle and bible, and heads off on the campaign trail. It spews rhetoric which resonates with the “[insert name] the [insert occupation]” crowd, who tend to respond because they’ve basically been ignoring politics since the last election cycle. And once the GOP folks are safely ensconced in office, the electorate goes back into the hibernation of its work-a-day world and fails to recognize that the people they elected are enacting policy which is crushing the very life they are struggling to lead.
This year, in an effort to rally the base, the GOP anointed Sarah Palin. She was enormously appealing to the very people who’s loyalty they desperately needed to win. From that perspective, the move was a huge success. The only trouble was, Palin was not in on the joke. She wasn’t just playing the role for the crowd, she actually was a God fearing hockey mom and moose hunter. Unwittingly, the GOP had crowned the queen of their base without first assuring her allegiance to their greater agenda.
Today, the GOP finds that the base they are courting, the base they need in order to reemerge in 2010, is beholden to their new queen. The traditional power behind the party has discovered that it has propped up a puppet that it no longer controls, and she is stealing their show. They want it back. And the tactic to reacquire the hive is to first destroy their queen.
The trouble is, I’m not sure their approach is working. Those of us who already believed Palin was not remotely qualified to lead the country are only getting confirmation of our reasons for doubting her. But her fierce supporters are only viewing this as additional unwarranted assassination attempts against their leader. Remember, these people are the ones for whom a leader is someone most like themselves. And frankly, most of the so-called base also could not explain the Bush Doctrine, name the countries in NAFTA, or find Turkmenistan on a map. Palin’s alleged ignorance is only further evidence to the GOP base that she is just like them, and therefore qualified to lead.
The GOP Pandora has opened the box. Ironically, the only thing remaining inside is hope. Good luck with that.