It's been very interesting to watch the dynamic of the Republican party over the past six or seven months, ever since losing the 2008 election in a landslide.
For example, the intramural backstabbing is beginning in earnest on the one person who probably stood the best strategic chance of reuniting the party quickly, Sarah Palin:
What is remarkable is the contempt Palin has engendered within her own party and the fact that so many of her GOP detractors are willing, even eager, to express it publicly -- even with Palin an early front-runner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.Some admit their preference that she stay in Alaska and forget about any national ambitions."I am of the strong opinion that, at present day, she is not ready to be the leading voice of the GOP," said Todd Harris, a party strategist who likened Palin to the hopelessly dated "Miami Vice" -- something once cool that people regard years later with puzzlement and laughter. "It's not even that she hasn't paid her dues. I personally don't think she's ready to be commander in chief."
And Harris was polite, compared to some of the vitriol!
What I find most interesting is that this is the precise venom spewed by the conservatives and Republicans for the past sixteen years as they held sway over, first, Congress, then the Presidency and finally the Supreme Court. Liberals and Democrats were not only attacked, they were mutilated.
Having seen a country grow tired of these divisive tactics and having seen their power slip like an ice cube down a glacier on a sunny day, Republicans have not learned to put the flame-throwers down, instead finding the one target left that they can legitimately hose down.
It is more than cruel sport, this picking apart of Alaska's departing chief executive. The sniping reflects a serious split within the Republican Party between its professional ranks and some of its most ardent followers, which threatens not only to undermine Palin's White House ambitions -- if, indeed, she harbors them -- but to complicate the party's search for a way back to power in Washington.
There's the power brokers on the one hand, the rank-and-file on the other hand. The brokers know how to get things done. The rank-and-file knows how to get people nominated. Palin stood a chance at pushing the rope that is the Republican party towards unity. Her massive appeal with the masses would have put her in good stead with the powers that be if she learned to be a bit more flexible in how she is being handled.
Indeed, I suspect part of the problem the GOP has now, and perhaps the problem the Democrats finally shed with Barack Obama, is the need to micromanage even their candidate for President (nominally the party leader). The Republican party has been the slave to a formula laid down in the 1980s by Lee Atwater, reinforced by Newt Gingrich, and then set in stone by Karl Rove, a strategy of attack without mercy, propose with as little detail as possible, and spin, spin, spin.
And as the last twenty five years have shown, it works. For a while.
It didn't hurt the GOP that the Democrats threw candidates against the wall men who had no business running...Michael DUKAKIS?!?!?! John Kerry????...which only reinforced the general notion (which they then incorporated) that the GOP was invincible. It also didn't hurt the GOP that demographics were on their side, as manufacturing jobs, generally held by more conservative elements of society, fled the bluer states into the redder states, replacing dying agricultural jobs.
Now that those jobs are being offshored, it's left conservative men and women angry, but has also marginalized the GOP as a regional powerhouse and nothing else.
Hard to say where this ends. My suspicion is the Republican party will cleave open and a third party will emerge, which will pretty much guarantee a Democratic hegemony for a decade easily, and perhaps two, until a candidate emerges for either of the two fractions of the GOP that can heal the wounds and attract followers from the other party.
Perhaps this is Palin's ultimate goal.