Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Trump, Palin and not understanding America
We didn't understand America back in 1776 and we're not very good at it now. If gun laws are clear evidence of that, the popularity of Sarah Palin is even better evidence.
The woman who did more than anyone else, apart from Barack Obama, to ruin John McCain's chances of the presidency in 2008 is back as a political cheerleader-cum-would-be-office-holder. And for Donald Trump, possibly the nearest male equivalent to her own brand of populist, anti-establishment, celebrity-seeking, not always sense-making political showmanship.
Trump's campaign is still largely focussed on outmanouevring his closest and most sinister rival for the Republican nomination, Ted Cruz, a man hated equally by everyone who he works with, whether left or right. And he's done it again. Trump's original anti-Muslim comment was designed to outflank Cruz, and receiving the endorsement of Palin is another humdinger that must be rankling with the Texas senator. (In fact, we know it does because a Cruz staffer had a go at Palin hours before her much anticipated endorsement of Trump, causing a minor twitterstorm generated by Bristol Palin who attacked Cruz back. It's all fun and games and mutual love in the Christian vote-seeking Republican camp).
Palin is still a crowd-puller amongst Tea Party conservatives and the fundamentalist Christian base which Cruz appeals to so much, as the Telegraph's David Lawlor shows in his rolling pieces on the Iowa meeting. It speaks volumes about Republican grassroots' political sensibilities that she is. After torpedoing the McCain bid in 2008 she promptly left elective politics, resigning as Governor of Alaska (from where you can see Russia, as she memorably reminded everyone when asked to give evidence of her foreign policy expertise) to pursue a more lucrative career as a media celebrity. She must still rank as one of the most proudly stupid and ignorant people to ever seek elective office, and her rambling endorsement of Trump was filled again with her own string of bizarre and meaningless catch-phrases ("We're not gonna chill, we're gonna drill, baby, drill"; they're replacing the safety nets with hammocks"; and lots of "Doggone....").
But Palin has energised the Trump campaign as the Iowa vote approaches on Feb 1st., and if her endorsement swings enough of that mid-western state's conservative base towards the Donald such that he beats the hitherto-favourite Cruz, well then his bid for the eventual Republican nomination is looking stronger than anyone - including probably Donald himself - might have ever believed.
I love the Republican race. I just don't want any of them to be president.