Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What are you afraid of?

My conservative friend and sparring partner, Karol Markowicz, gave an interview with AM New York today urging Sarah Palin to skip NYC during her book tour.

Needless to say, Karol and I disagree strongly about Sarah Palin. (Karol once described her as her "homegirl." I describe her more as a schlemile. The back and forth on the comments section of Karol's article are worth reading.)

And I sort of see Karol's point. Sarah Palin probably isn't going to win many converts over here, and (if I were her) I probably wouldn't want the tsuris of having to deal with a bunch of people who hate me.

But there is one comment I would like to make:

If Palin really wants a future in the GOP, she has to broaden her appeal.

The Karl Rove theory of drumming up the base for victory worked on exactly one occasion: 2004. (Supreme Court decision or not, Bush still lost the popular vote in 2000.) And I would argue that it only worked under an extremely unusual set of circumstances. (Wake of 9/11; Iraq war; terrible campaign of John Kerry; etc.)

Ronald Reagan might have been a right wing radical who was wildly loathed by people on the left (including me), but he was an avuncular sort of radical who was greatly loved by most people in the center. There were things about Reagan that appealed to voters not just in Texas and Wyoming, but in New York and Massachusetts (all of which he won handily in 1980 and 1984.)

If Sarah Palin wants to simply play to the choir, she has a decent chance of winning the GOP nomination, and an all but certain chance of getting crushed in the general election.

Moreover, Palin's greatest problem is that nobody takes her seriously. Part of the reason people don't take her seriously is because she seems so detached from the intellectual underpinnings of her radicalism. A strong thinker should be able to stand up against a challenge. If you put Barack Obama in a debate with just about anybody else on the planet, 99 times out of 100 he'll win the debate. (He might not convince the person he's debating -- but he'll probably sway a neutral observer.)

Sarah Palin can't even stand up against that intellectual powerhouse Katie Couric, for chrissakes!

But I invite Sarah Palin to come to New York and convince me otherwise.