My read is basically the same as Ross's:
What's very, very hard, though, is to see how a primary campaign fought and won along those lines would put Palin in a position to actually win the White House - assuming, that is, that Barack Obama doesn't completely fall on his face in the next four years. Not because Obama won't be beatable in 2012 even if his Presidency isn't a disaster, mind you, but because the Sarah Palin whom the base loves at the moment just isn't a candidate who could beat him. Given the way she's presented herself on the campaign trail and/or been used by the McCain campaign, and given the media narrative surrounding her candidacy at the moment, for Palin to be elected President of the United States would require an image makeover even more substantial than the one Hillary Clinton underwent between the late 1990s and this year. (That was the substance of my argument in this post from three weeks ago, and I think it holds true in spades right now.) Such a makeover is by no means impossible - this is America! nothing's impossible! - but running as the candidate of Rush and James Dobson in 2012 isn't going to get her there.
Part of the problem that Palin's "pro-America America" is shrinking everyday? If you want to be on losing end of demographics she seems like a good pick. This doesn't mean that conservatism, in and of itself, is a losing proposition. In other words, I don't think the whole pro-gun, pro-life, anti-taxes, pro-small government, hawkish foreign policy, pro-business etc. platform is the problem. Perhaps turning that platform into a kind of essentialism is the problem.
I was watching some clips of Reagan inveighing against San Fransisco hippies in the late 60s last night. He was doing that whole "look like Tarzan, walk like Jane" bit, and I was thinking how much things have changed. These cats have to find a new way to sell the package. If you can't otherize the black guy whose middle name is Hussien, who can you otherize? Too many of us look like Tarzan, now. Too many of us have people who were born walking like Jane.
It's worth admitting my own optimism, here. Frankly--and I know this sounds weird--an inclusive conservative party is important to me. Somehow, I think that they day a black conservative can credibly run out, say, Harlem, and not be seen as a dude in bed with the people who brought us Obama-bucks, will be a good day for us all. Take that for what it's worth, given my Muslim socialist status. I have no idea why I feel that way.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.