Over at the DailyKos the nomination of Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate has them running scared. One of their ‘diarists’ suggests that the Palin selection will be as divisive for the GOP as the competition between Obama and Clinton was for the Democrats and that the media will immediately leap on the situation and play up the disgruntled outrage of VP also-rans like Pawlenty and Romney. ‘Chumley’ writes:
Just run the same exact story next week, and substitute the names “Mitt Romney” and “Tim Pawlenty” for “Hillary Clinton.” Make that THE big story of the convention: how the Republican party is divided into factions that loathe each other, and how that schism severely endangers John McCain’s chances of winning in November…Easy, right? And unlike the Clinton story, this one is mostly TRUE.”
And this is followed by over 800 enthusiastic comments about how the Republican party is going to fall apart as a result of the Palin nomination and how the media is going to go to town on the GOP or alternately how they will be lap dogs for the GOP and not follow up this vital story of division and dissension.
If the DailyKos is any measure, the left seems to have forgotten the vital maxim “know your enemy,” because they clearly have no idea what the impact of the Palin nomination is going to be on the GOP. There’s no question that McCain consulted with and smoothed the feathers of Romney (future Secretary of Commerce) and Pawlenty (future Secretary of the Interior). He’s an experienced politician and knows how to build bridges and build unity. They’ll be at the convention, cheering and making speeches and giving Palin and McCain manly and supportive embraces on the podium. There also isn’t going to be some sort of rebellion, because unlike Hillary Clinton, Pawlenty has no followers at all and Romney’s followers are pragmatic and not all that fanatical.
In defiance of the hopes of the left, Palin’s effect in uniting the Republican Party will be dramatic.
The only figure in the GOP with fanatical followers who want to disrupt the convention is Rep. Ron Paul who is holding an alternative anti-convention in Minneapolis next week to promote his Campaign for Liberty. It may be a commentary on dissension in the party that the organizers of Paul’s rally are now having to give away tickets on the internet. About 150 Paul supporters are delegates to the Republican convention and they have certainly planned some sort of disruption, but the Palin nomination takes a lot of the wind out of their sails, because she’s basically one of them. She subscribes to the same belief in small government and individual liberty and reforming the Republican party and government in general which has been Ron Paul’s main appeal. She’s Ron Paul in a dress without the crazy look in his eyes and uncomfortable connections to Lew Rockwell and the John Birch Society.
The response has been very positive on renegade republican websites. On The Daily Paul ‘Fountainhead’ wrote:
“This is an absolutely monster smart move by the McCain campaign, something big has happened at the RNC I mean this is a major stunning 360. The fingerprints of true conservative Republicans is on this decision make no mistake about it and there is nothing but very positive feedback coming from the alternative media.”
This reaction seems typical, with a lot of the more reasonable Paul supporters feeling that they have won a victory and perhaps are seeing McCain move back towards his more libertarian roots with the alliance with Palin. This may make a big difference in states like Nevada where large enough numbers of disgruntled Paul supporters to throw the election to the Democrats feel that they have been abused and excluded by party insiders.
Palin doesn’t just appeal to paleoconservative Ron Paul supporters. Her bonafides on key family values issues are strong enough that she will also draw the religious right back into the fold and reassure them that McCain isn’t such a bad guy. She’s a lifetime member of the NRA, strongly pro-life and has even advocated teaching the story of creation in public schools, though apparently not as part of the science curriculum. That’s enough to reassure the evangelical right that McCain isn’t as hostile to them as they have feared.
As for moderates and secularists, who are a significant presence within the GOP even if they don’t get much attention, Palin may be a fundamentalist Christian, but she appears to be one who exercises her religion rationally and with a relatively open mind, and knows how to separate issues of faith from matters of policy. For example, on the issue of teaching creation she made a fairly rational argument when she said:
“Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information… Healthy debate is so important and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both. And you know, I say this too as the daughter of a science teacher. Growing up with being so privileged and blessed to be given a lot of information on, on both sides of the subject — creationism and evolution. It’s been a healthy foundation for me. But don’t be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides.”
Given the need to pander a bit to the religious right, that is the kind of rational approach to a contentious issue which ought to provide at least some reassurance. Palin even seems to have won over the Log Cabin Republicans whose President, Patrick Sammon wrote in a press release:
“Alaska Governor Sarah Palin can help Sen. McCain win this election by appealing to independent and young voters. She’s a mainstream Republican who will unite the Party and serve John McCain well as Vice President. Gov. Palin is an inclusive Republican who will help Sen. McCain appeal to gay and lesbian voters.”
Palin’s record on gay rights issues is mixed, but she has expressed support for their interests and as governor her first veto was issued to protect the right of state employees to partnership benefits.
Perhaps the most powerful unifying factor is that putting Palin on the ticket substantially increases the chance of victory, and nothing is more unifying than the restoral of hope in a situation which may have looked desperate. The Palin selection is so politically astute that it restores everyone’s confidence in McCain’s leadership ability and his ability to delivery victory, and that is ultimately what it is all about in politics. All of these factions within the GOP may have different agendas, but the one thing they can all agree on is that none of them will achieve any of their goals if they don’t win in November.