Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Republican Head and Heart: Romney and Palin

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 10/21/09

Cited on a variety of internet shops like The AtlanticWire, Newser and Lara Ebke’s Red State Eclectic yesterday is a quote from Matt Lewis, writer, blogger and commentator from Alexandria, Virginia. He writes in Politics Daily: “If recent elections are any guide, the Republicans' heads will tell them to choose Mitt Romney. Their hearts whisper something else. Is ‘Sarah’ the name of this siren song?”

W. McCahill at Newser says: “No matter what kind of gains Republicans make in the midterm elections next year, it’s going to be tough to unseat President Obama—and that’s why the GOP is going to choose Sarah Palin, its heart’s preferred candidate, over Mitt Romney, its head’s favorite.”

Mike Huckabee, who leads the others in a recent poll by a wide margin, registers in these commentaries as neither head nor heart.

As has been widely reported, Sarah Palin will appear on the Oprah show on November 16, a day before the publication of her book, Going Rogue: An American Life. This is significant because Oprah is a threshold. Appearing on her show is a “rite of entry” for anyone and everything opening to the mainstream of American culture. And standing in line at the grocery store yesterday I couldn’t help but notice that David Letterman, looking plaintiff and adrift, had made the tabloids. This, a “rite of exit.” Mainstream is coming out of Palin Denial.

With little other information available, the titles of Romney’s book and Palin’s are telling. Romney’s book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness will be available on March 2, 2010. It is not the best title. There is hubris and a kind of conspicuous arrogance to it which he asks us to wear with our chests out. Romney’s title suggests a full endorsement of the Bush II paradigm without a moment’s introspection. It looks to the past to continue the past. It would be what he is good at, but I think it is off the mark and most Americans are getting beyond it and ready for a new turning. Going Rogue, however, suggests a new direction, a new adventure, something just ahead there in the great unknown. It is a very good title and speaks in essence to the frontier spirit of those who venture beyond the Hudson River or the Beltway. Rugged individualism; going alone – Emerson and Goldwater – is suggested. It opens to the future. As was said here at the very first, Palin and family suggest a new era ahead; a new century which awakens the free spirit of the American heartland much as Andrew Jackson did in the mid-1800s.

In the most recent Rassmusen poll when asked who they would vote for in 2012, 29% of Republican voters nationwide say Huckabee, while 24% prefer Romney and 18% Palin.

The Huckabee figure may be good news for Palin. Who will Huckabee’s 29% vote for if Huckabee drops out? Huckabee’s following tends to be culturally conservative and regional. Two things they may not like about Romney: He was governor of Massachusetts and advanced a model of health insurance there similar to Obama’s. And he is a Mormon. Down the road this constituency could head toward Palin.