Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Palin and history

I was in the 6th grade in the fall of 1964, the year incumbent (but unelected) Pres. Lyndon Johnson was running against Republican challenger Barry Goldwater. Our class had a debate and as in many debates, you don’t know which side you’ll end up on until it starts. So you have to know something about both sides. I got picked to take Goldwater. I have no recollection of what I said or how my team did.

I didn’t have much of a clue about either one at the time but probably felt more comfortable with Goldwater since he was a Repub. and my extended family had some issues with Kennedy and Dems. – Maybe it was the Catholic thing. I don’t know but where I grew up I didn’t even meet a Catholic until I was in High school.

Digression – I did know something about Johnson. He was from Texas after all. My earliest memory of him was a rumor that some of the people who had voted for him in earlier state elections were dead. Not having died but dead when they voted. Something to do with compiling voter registration rolls while strolling through a cemetary. This practice came along before the ‘vote early, vote often’ mantra.

But this is not about Johnson or Goldwater but rather Sarah Palin.

I said it last summer and I’ll say it again. McCain’s choice of her as his running mate was inspired – he wasn’t going to win anyway and this was one more desperate effort to tip the scales. It didn’t work. That may or may not have been her fault. One other thing I said then was that her handlers weren’t handling her properly. They should have let her be herself – warts and all rather than coaching her to be something she isn’t/wasn’t. Based on what I hear about her book and her interview on Oprah (I watched) this seems to be partly true.

So where does that put us and by us I mean your average middle-America-Republicans? To hear the MSM talk, there are none of us. All of us are far right extremists who are willing to support a so-called populist like Palin.

I don’t know how people like me can get recognized by the media – that Rush, Palin, Beck et al do not speak for me all the time. Are they right some of the time – I should have said correct some of the time? Of course. But even Obama and his people are correct some of the time.

Before we draw too many comparisons, the race between Johnson and Goldwater wasn’t even a race. The Arizona man carried only 6 states and a whopping 52 electoral votes, making it one of the most lopsided races of all time. Johnson will not go down as one of our better or favorite Presidents and it needs to be noted that in less than 4 years, he was so out of favor that he decided not to run again, even though he could have. His decision no doubt brought us to Richard Nixon and we all know what that brought. I digress again.

Where am I going with this 45-year-old piece of trivia? If the GOP ends up nominating Palin in 2012, we’ll see another landslide like the one in 1964. On a personal level I like her but I don’t think she is Presidential. I didn’t know if she was Vice-idential last summer but it was worth the shot. But for deeper and fuller disclosure of where my head and heart were (and possibly still are), I wasn’t crazy about McCain. It reminded me of Clinton v. Dole a few years back. No excitement at the top. You can parse Obama a million ways but one thing he had going for him was excitement.

If the GOP intends to somehow anoint Palin for 2012 then we need to start planning for who will run against Hillary in 2016. My guess by then maybe the GOP will have been smart enough (I can hope!) to recruit some bright young Hispanics for House seats and one of them will have risen enough in experience and stature to be suitable for a run.

The days of old white southern men as President are over.

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