Will Sarah Palin get elected? I hope not, but looking at history, it’s entirely plausible. In contrast with Tea Party extremism, Obama has acted like the adult in the room, improving his chances of reelection. The right has been taken over by fanatics like Michele Bachmann- and Sarah Palin. While this should be cause for giddiness, the Democrats should hold off on the cartwheels.
They should be careful to avoid the traps that have undermined Democrats in recent history. The liberal establishment has played this Abbott and Costello act from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. The Democrats act like academic know-it-alls, while the Republicans do the slapstick lovable stooge far removed from Washington. This plays well in the toss-up states, where voters already distrust Washington. And America moves further to the right because of this.
Media pundits like Ed Shultz and Rachel Maddow cannot use restraint or composure whenever Palin or Bachmann are mentioned. Some go completely over the top, like Chris Matthews, who called Bachmann a “balloon head.”
These left-wing pundits mock every erroneous statement in their broadcasts and op-eds, quoting constitutional scholars and lecturing on historical events. This style may appeal to the liberal elite in New York and Washington, but it turns off many swing voters who are annoyed by partisan politics.
Still, comics will be recession-proof as long as Bachmann and Palin continue in politics. They both have been a standup comedian’s dream, creating a revival for late night host David Letterman and providing “Saturday Night Live” with materials for enough skits to last for a generation. But whether you love them or hate them, Palin and Bachmann are the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor of politics. America’s fascination with polarizing figures makes them unique. And the power of uniqueness should not be underestimated.
John F. Kennedy once said “Do you realize the responsibility I carry? I’m the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House.”
Barack Obama is facing the same responsibility with the far-right extremists. And there are reasons why someone like Palin or Bachmann could actually win the White House.
The American People: While other countries such as Egypt have revolutions to overthrow the party in power, we have ballot boxes. While our elections are civilized, Americans have a talent for voting against their own interests. It would help if they were better informed but Americans spend more time researching who Snooki is making out with than the presidential election.
Memory Loss: America’s attention span is miniscule- the reason Obama’s election was exciting was because everyone felt like they were part of history. But once he became president, the Tea Party became the next big thing because being anti–government was the new fad. Now that the midterms are over, Bachmann and Palin are the media darlings. They have TV shows, fundraisers, speaking engagements and book deals worth millions.
News Misinformation: With the advent of Fox News, fair and objective news went the way of eight-track tapes. No longer is there accurate news reporting. Instead you get commentary by a leggy blonde or a pundit with opinions that are slanted to their audience. The only news worth watching is Comedy Central and Al Jazeera. Whenever Palin and Bachmann need interviews, Sean Hannity and Fox News are there to throw softball questions. Press conferences and tough questions from reporters never catch up in the 24-hour spin cycle.