Let’s see if I understand this correctly.
On November 2 Republicans won their biggest Congressional victory in 72 years, picking up at least 64 seats in the House of Representatives and winning 65 percent of their races for the Senate, where they will add six seats. In 2011 the GOP will hold more seats in state legislatures than at any time since 1928, and, since these legislators will control Congressional redistricting, Republicans will have the opportunity to strengthen their control of Congress over the next decade. In addition, at least 29, and possibly as many as 31 state governors will be Republican.
And party insiders and “conservative” pundits are blaming Sarah Palin for such a poor showing?
I don’t find this to be particularly surprising. A Politico story published on Halloween Day revealed that as soon as the 2010 elections were over, Republican elites were planning to turn their attention to the “urgent” task of stopping Palin.
And, sure enough, right after the election the attacks started. It was almost as if someone pressed a button or issued a secret order.
First, an unnamed source leaks the information that former President George W. Bush has told friends he doesn’t believe Sarah Palin is qualified to be President. On the same day former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan calls Palin a “nincompoop”.
Then, still on the same day, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson blames Palin (and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint) for GOP losses in Nevada and Delaware (I deal with some of Gerson’s idiotic ramblings here.)
This meme is picked up by big-government, big-spending Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus, who tells an audience at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in his Alabama district that “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) chimes in with essentially the same theme, and soon it is being repeated by pundits, talking heads and campaign strategists, including Joe Scarborough, Mark McKinnon, Margaret Carlson and Kathleen Parker.
What is interesting about all this is that they are all saying exactly the same thing, and what they are saying is so easily shown to be false.
Republicans will hold 47 seats in the new Senate. This is regardless of the outcome of the vote count in Alaska, because both candidates have said they will caucus with the Republicans. Anyone who can do second-grade arithmetic can tell you that the GOP would have had to have won four more seats to control the Senate.
Where would those four seats have come from? Delaware, Nevada and Alaska are the states Palin has been most often blamed for losing. But Alaska has already been counted in the Republican column, so that leaves two states Palin supposedly “lost”. In Delaware she endorsed Christine O’Donnell less than a week before the election. Furthermore, exit polling there showed that the establishment candidate, Rep. Mike Castle, might have lost anyway (Delaware is one of the few states where President Obama still has high approval ratings).
That leaves Nevada. As I pointed out here, Palin did not endorse anyone in the Nevada GOP primary. In fact, she did not endorse Sharron Angle until more than two months after the primary. Like Palin’s critics, I believe this seat could have been won by a Republican. Unlike Palin’s critics, I believe that, but for the incompetence and procrastination of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the seat could have been won by Sharron Angle.
All the other Palin-endorsed Senate candidates either won their races, or were not endorsed by Palin until after their respective primaries, or, like Carly Fiorina, were establishment Republicans.
It doesn’t take a great deal of research to find this information. In fact, Gerson and Parker had only to look in their own newspaper.
Quite apart from the fact that these people are all spouting the same party line, I find it rather interesting that they are all Bushies — people who either worked for or were supporters of George W. Bush.
What is it about Sarah Palin that gets the Republican elites so worked up? It’s got to be something more than a fear that she can’t win. Reuters’ columnist James Pethokoukis offered a clue in a column Friday titled “Why Wall Street should fear Sarah Palin”. Citing Palin’s critques of “crony capitalism”, he wrote:
Palinomics, embryonic as it is, seems to be rooted in “free-market populism,” a version of conservative thinking that is pro-market rather than pro-business. It says the role of government is to help markets function more fairly and efficiently for everyone, encouraging competition and “creative destruction” (which Palin specifically mentioned in her book). Pro-business policies, by contrast, can end up subsidizing favored companies, raising barriers to entry and otherwise entrenching the status quo.
Republicans, no less than Democrats, have been in the business of picking winners and losers, of making side deals to benefit favored industries and corporations. When someone comes along — especially someone who could possibly become President — and talks about dismantling this system from which the elites in both parties have profited so handsomely, is it any wonder that they are scared?