In the Republican crack up following their loss on November 6, conservative pundits have tossed out innumerable arguments about how to win next time. It was inevitable that someone would come up with the worst possible idea. And, sure enough, someone has. Writing in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, conservative pundit Charlotte Allen declares, “I’ve got a suggestion for cutting short the GOP angst: Sarah Palin for president in 2016.”
Reading Allen’s piece is interesting because of what it shows about the mindset of some conservatives: that pundits who think as Allen does have no respect for policy, no seriousness about governance and no respect for the American voter.
Allen hails from one of the more intellectually serious and respectable corners of the conservative media. Her author bio on Townhall.com, a conservative magazine website for which she has written, reads: “Charlotte Allen is a contributing editor for the Manhattan Institute’s Minding the Campus website. She writes regularly for the Weekly Standard and is a frequent contributor of opinion pieces to the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.” The Manhattan Institute is a think tank that served as the idea factory for Rudy Giuliani’s mayoralty. Allen contributes to its academia-focused blog. The Weekly Standard is one of the most influential magazines among the DC Republican elite. (Vice President Dick Cheney would send someone to personally fetch thirty copies of it upon publication every week.) It features some of the best writers in conservative journalism, such as Andrew Ferguson, Christopher Caldwell and Matt Labash. So it is not as if analyzing Allen’s is the same as, say, unfairly picking on some random person with his own blog.
Allen’s argument is purely electoral. She does not actually suggest that the former half-term governor of Alaska is actually qualified to run the country, much less that Palin would be good at doing so. Such questions do not seem to interest her at all. Allen does not directly confront the revelations of Palin’s startling ignorance of global affairs, either as a substantive or a political concern.
Most remarkable is the condescending view Allen holds of voters whom the GOP must win over. Allen seems to fall into the camp of pundits who realize Republicans must do better among certain demographics, such as single women. But her reasons for thinking Palin is the candidate best equipped to do so presume that voters care about nothing but shallow identity politics. Allen writes:
A Palin “war against women”? Hah! Not only is she a woman, she’s got a single-mom daughter, Bristol, to help with the swelling single-mom demographic….
If she were smart, Palin would recruit a member of her impressive gay fanboy base — yes, she has one — to help run her campaign…. Palin’s son Track is an Iraq war veteran, so she can be proudly patriotic without being labeled another George W. Bush, looking to do aggressive nation-building.