Bush's Third Term

Josh Green reads favorables:

Palin's poll numbers are nearly as horrible as George W. Bush's--but only one of them launched two wars and destroyed the economy. That's remarkable. But what's more remarkable, in light of this, is that the idea of George W. Bush running for another term (were such a thing possible) would be greeted by gales of laughter from the political cognoscenti, while the prospect of a Palin presidential campaign is taken seriously.

Again, I sure hope Josh is right and from a purely rational perspective, he is. He knows much more about the machinery of electoral politics than I do. But has he noticed that the GOP base isn't behaving exactly rationally lately? As the base shrinks and becomes more extreme and paranoid, the cultural and symbolic appeal of Palin is enormous. And she has an amazing talent for the performance art and hallucinatory version of reality that the tea partiers crave. She is both a religious and a secular fundamentalist, a walking slogan for the tea-partiers and a warrior princess armed with a child with Down Syndrome for the Christianists.

Romney's unfavorables? 33 percent. Huckabee's? 30 percent. But they have not been as exposed as Palin and her favorables are higher than either of them; she has 34 percent to Romney's 32.5 and Huckabee's 29. In primaries, favorables among the base are more salient than unfavorables among the broader population.

The other factor is, of course, the economy and the war. In normal times, she would be a joke. But in an era of high unemployment, growing populism, intensifying secular and religious fundamentalism, and the collapse of an adversarial mass media, all bets are off.