Palin 2012 begins

With McCain and Palin feuding, speculation about 2012 commences.

By Thomas Schaller
Published October 27, 2008 2:25PM (EDT)

As Ben Smith of the Politico reported over the weekend, the McCain wing of the McCain-Palin ticket is now feuding privately (or not so privately, given that it's making headlines) with the Palin wing of the ticket.

All this feuding naturally turns into speculation about motives, with the most obvious motive being that Palin can read the handwriting on the wall for 2008, knows she has little chance of becoming the next vice president of the United States and is thus angling for a presidential bid of her own in 2012. For more discussion on Palin 2012, Dan Amira of New York magazine has a nice roundup of speculation thus far from the likes of the New Republic's Jon Chait and Noam Scheiber to the Atlantic's Ross Douthat and Andrew Sullivan, among others.

Palin 2012.

Has a real nice to ring to it, actually -- but especially for Democrats and liberals, who must be pinching themselves at the very thought of it.

Think about it, indeed: Since George W. Bush's reelection in 2004, the national and even state political news has been almost uniformly bad for Republicans and/or good for Democrats, even if it has often come at the expense of the country: the colossal failure of Bush's Social Security privatization scheme; the administration's bungling of Hurricane Katrina; stagnating wages alongside rising healthcare and gasoline and housing costs; the Abramoff lobbying scandal, the U.S. attorneys political scandal, and the Foley and Craig sex scandals; the president's persistently dismal approval ratings; the lackluster GOP presidential primary field; and the feckless disorientation of the winner of that primary, who proceeded to create Palin, who may turn out to be an unstoppable phenomenon.

The base loves Sarah, the media loves covering Sarah, and Sarah loves the attention from both. She got a little taste of the political catnip this autumn but may not be satisfied yet. If Palin runs for president in 2012 and wins the nomination -- and given the GOP's rather thin bench right now, it's not so ridiculous an idea, is it? -- it would be the next great blessing from the political gods.

Update: Oops, she did it again -- McCain staffers are not happy about Palin going off-script with remarks "not ... sent to her plane" regarding her expensive, RNC-funded wardrobe.

Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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2008 Elections John Mccain R-ariz. Sarah Palin