For several decades, it has been an article of faith among politicians and political analysts that no candidate can win a U.S. presidential election unless he can dominate the broad center of the spectrum, that all candidates on the edges of the left or right are doomed. Barry Goldwater’s “extremism . . . is no vice” campaign of 1964 provides the classic evidence, reinforced by George McGovern’s 1972 defeat in 49 out of 50 states. And since G.O.P. Front Runner Sarah Palin relies upon a base of support that is on the far right wing of the Republican Party, some experts have long declared that if she wins the nomination, the G.O.P. would simply be repeating the suicidal Goldwater campaign.
National opinion polls continue to show Obama leading Palin by an apparently comfortable margin of about 25%. They also show that more moderate Republicans like Romney would run better against the President. This suggests that Palin is not the strongest G.O.P. choice for the 2012 election and that she clearly faces an uphill battle.
If popular unhappiness with domestic and world problems finally comes to rest at Obama’s doorstep, voters may begin to see all sorts of previously invisible virtues in Sarah Palin.
Palin cannot hope to win, however, unless she moves beyond the hard-line conservative base that has sustained her since she first appeared on the national political scene as a spokesman for McCain himself. She has no experience in Washington politics or foreign affairs. Both Congress and the federal bureaucracy are as unfathomable to her as they were to Obama. Indeed one of Palin’s major supporters in the Senate notes that the Alaskan is uncomfortable even visiting Washington.
Worse perhaps than the verbal gaffe is Palin’s relentlessly simple-minded discussion of complex problems.
Full disclosure: I may have changed a few names here and there. It’s not actually Gov. Palin this Time Magazine article’s talking about here, but Ronald Reagan. Yes, the Gipper was really running 25 points behind Carter as late as March 1980 – a mere eight months before the election. Simple statements, no experience in DC politics or foreign affairs, supported only by the rightwing fringe – completely unelectable, that Reagan fellow, wasn’t he?
Read the whole thing here.