21 October 2008
If McCain loses what will Sarah Palin do?
If John McCain loses the election in two weeks time it is quite likely that Sarah Palin will return to Alaska and start preparing herself for a run at the presidency in 2012. If she does decide to make a run then she already has three factors that will stand her in good stead and might just be enough to ensure that she gets the Republican nomination for 2012.
The first is that she has a network of very powerful and influential friends in Washington DC. Sarah may present herself as the outsider, but most of those people are very much in the inside when it comes to the Beltway. The Weekly Standard is the conservative movement's house journal and Sarah has been in contact with such senior figures from it as William Kristol and Fred Barnes ever since they visited her in Alaska in 2007. Shortly after that visit, a senior group of National Review writers arrived in Juneau, the Alaskan state capital, and went away as bowled over by her as the Weekly Standard's men had been.
It was thanks to their influence that Sarah got McCain's nod for the vice-presidential spot on the ticket. He had originally wanted Joe Lieberman, but Lieberman is pro-abortion and it was made plain to McCain that choosing him would almost certainly have led to a revolt by the party's rank and file on the convention floor. Sarah was then put forward by her insider friends as the perfect compromise who could energise the socially conservative heartland base.
Secondly Sarah has already begun to distance herself from the McCain campaign by taking up policy positions of her own. Yesterday she disagreed with the McCain line on homosexual marriages by supporting the idea of a constitutional amendment that would outlaw them. The fact that she did that in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network was just an added touch to connect with her base. She also differs with Mccain on such conservative touchstones as stem-cell research and drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.
She started staking out her own positions as early as the 4th October when she pleaded to be allowed to campaign in Michigan. At the time we thought that this was all part of a clever election ploy by McCain; instead it was the first sign that his campaign was going off the rails. However, because of this and other differences, Sarah is now well placed to distance herself from any defeat. She knew what to do and it is not her fault that the campaign did not listen to her.
Thirdly, it is her support for drilling in Alaska that should make her very popular with the oil and natural gas companies that will be expected to dig deep to finance any campaign she mounts for the Republican Party's nomination for president. At the same time, her support for conservative social policy will make her very popular with just the type of small town conservative who votes in Republican primary elections.
All of this will become moot if McCain wins the election. However, if he doesn't, then what we are seeing at the moment is a very astute politician who is positioning herself to take her party's nomination for 2012.
Say what you like about Sarah Palin, but stupid she isn't.