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The improbable President Palin scenario

Covering the world of politics requires having a fertile imagination. Figuring out all the angles and scenarios means you'll never be surprised when what was thought impossible actually occurs. But John Heilemann, the super-smart and colleagial co-author of Game Change, takes this skill to an extreme in his New York magazine cover story "2012: How Sarah Barracuda becomes President."

Republican Establishment types are freaked because Mama Grizzly Sarah Palin is using the enthusiasm of her Tea Party base to endorse candidates across the country, raise barrels of cash for Sarah PAC and lay the foundation for a presidential run in 2012. Add to that her name recognition and ability to drive the political press corps wild with 140 characters, and the half-term governor of Alaska and 2008 vice presidential nominee is almost unstoppable. Emphasis on almost.

President Palin.jpg

A Palin romp through early Republican primaries coupled with enduring unpopularity for President Obama, Heilemann believes, would also give rise to an "Isn't there anyone else out there who can save us?" And this is where Heilemann's political imagination runs wild. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg would spend up to $3 billion to make an independent bid for the White House. The multi-billionaire has shown a willingness to spend his own money to win three very expensive campaigns for City Hall. Bloomberg reached into his own pocket not to send a message to the Big Apple through his runs, but to win. And having worked for the guy as a policy adviser on his first campaign, I'm extremely confident that Bloomberg would not get into a presidential race if he did not see a clear path to victory. There isn't one, which Heilemann recognizes.

But a Bloomberg entry is key to Palin securing the White House. Obama, Palin and Bloomberg would split the vote roughly in thirds. Thus denying the president the 270 electoral votes needed to win a second-term. What would happen next would make the 2000 elections look like a model of civility and order. The vote would then be thrown to the House of Representatives, which one week from tonight could have a Republican majority. On partisan lines alone, Obama would be sunk. As an independent, Bloomberg would have no one in the House to vote for him. All rise for President Palin.

Heilemann acknowledges that his scenario is predicated on "a lot of ifs." Big ifs, if you ask me.

Despite her country crisscrossing, Palin is still held in low regard by the American people. As time goes along, the view of her worsens. After more than two years in the political spotlight, Palin shows neither the inclination nor the desire to do the hard work needed to secure the baseline knowledge needed to run and lead the most important enterprise on the planet. And other potential Republican candidates are not just going to sit back and let her take the nomination. I don't buy the argument that they won't attack Palin for fear of ticking off the base. To borrow a phrase from Mama, they will reload as many times as it takes to kill her candidacy.

Former Minnesota Rep. Vin Weber had the key quote in the New York magazine piece:

"I think she's a smart person, and she knows she's in a position now where she has the most to lose by running," says Weber. "If Tim Pawlenty runs and doesn't make it, he'll still become a national figure, his standing will be enhanced. But she is now the leader of the conservative movement, one of the most important leaders of the Republican Party, and if she gets beat out there, she will lose her standing. And that could affect her politically -- and financially."

I remain convinced that ultimately for Palin, a former public servant making $125,000 who is now a multimillionaire, it's all about the Benjamins.

By Jonathan Capehart  | October 26, 2010; 8:54 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Improbable? Impossible is more like it. But then again, I didn't think Barack had a chance, but I was proven wrong.

Posted by: forgetthis | October 26, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Sarah the Quitter, 2012!

Posted by: HillRat | October 26, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Interesting and not much of a chance but clearly not impossible.

I have less faith in Michael Bloomberg seeing that a nearly impossible race is one he shouldn't enter. Here is a very smart man, some would call him brilliant, with an ultra huge ego. Most likely well deserved based on his success in busines and politics, but non-the-less one that could get him into a race.

He was a Democrat, conveniently became a Republican to win the Mayoralty, then became an Independent because he thought that looked better. He bought and paid for a third term because his ego said no one else could be as good a Mayor as he is.

I wouldn't put it past him to get into the Presidential race. I admire his abilities and his chutzpah. Being the first Jewish President may appeal to him and his ego.

Posted by: peterdc | October 26, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

She resigned July 2009 and October 2010 she's the head of the conservative movement. Holy crap , that's a political tsunami. And with a crushing Dem defeat in these elections, and a new book and book tour, along with an 8 week TV special, Obama will be lucky to get any front page coverage. Unlike Obama, she's earned her Benjamins. Soros can attest to that.

Posted by: sodakhic | October 26, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I am always amazed by the lack of understanding by supposed political insiders. So many people assume that Palin could not beat Obama in a two-person race. That is just absurd. The 2012 election will be a referendum on Obama. Who the Republican candidate will be is irrelevant. If unemployment is 10 percent in 2012, then Obama loses, with Palin or anyone else as the Republican nominee. If the economy is perceived as doing well by 2012, then he wins, again, regardless of who the Republicans nominate. It's simple.

Posted by: woocane | October 26, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"As time goes along, the view of her worsens."


TRANSLATION: "As time goes along, the Ruling Elites have had more time to denigrate her."

Frankly, I find Sarah's world view a little too NeoCon for my tastes. But anyone who can drive the Ruling Elites into such foaming-at-the-mouth paroxysms of fear & rage can't be all bad.

Posted by: pmendez | October 26, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Why are you writing about Palin? Where is your usual mindless worship of the half-black nitwit?

Posted by: mgrantham2 | October 26, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree--I think Palin has no desire to run for president. She's pulling in too much $ for herself without the grief of running for president, and she has carved out a niche for herself politically, one of somewhat substantial clout.

I'm a Republican but would not support Palin. Interesting column without too much bias, refreshing for the Post.

Posted by: CJArlington | October 26, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm...interesting thought here. It seems, that we have shorter and shorter memories all of the time. For instance, the folks that currently are "Tea Party Members?" "Tea-o-crats?" have pretty much the same political stance as George Wallace voters in 1972 - no, not the 1968 version of George Wallace voters - that was about racisim, or at least more about that than the 1972 George model. In 1972, Wallace ran on the Democratic ticket, and won several primaries. If you look back to what the folks that supported Wallace were saying the viewpoint is remarkably similar to the Tea Partiers of today. George was going "send those pointy headed beauracrats a message" Any how.

I point this out to remind people that in 1972, there were probably less than 10% of our citizens that felt that Ronald Reagan could EVER become president in this country. Many folks saw him as the chuckle headed California governor, he reacted to student unrest and rioting at California's colleges somewhat like the old man next door telling the kids to "get off my danged lawn". Yeah Ronald Reagan - RIGHT - 8 years later he was president.

Now, when you compare President Reagan to Sarah Palin, things are a little different. While I was unhappy when President Reagan was elected, I can look back and say that he was a man that America needed at the team as a leader. His economic policies were fairly silly, and it was under Reagan's administration that we really started running signifcant deficits, however he was the man that the country needed at the time.

And the fact of the matter, is this: America's great national temper tantrum, The Tea Party, is starting to influence those folks that don't hold as strong a conservative belief as the Tea Partiers. I can see Governor Palin running, and giving President Obama a run for his money.

I can at least respect President Reagan for having thought out views; I can't say the same about Governor Palin. She's the lady that you elected the president of the PTA because she just wouldn't shut up, and you realized only later the power that you'd given her.

And remember, Tea Parties are for little girls.

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | October 26, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"half-black nitwit"

The tea partiers continue to insist they're not racist. But when they hide behind online anonymity, the gloves are off and the sheets are on.

Posted by: StevenDolley | October 26, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Here's what I have learned as an American voter:

A.) Never trust a Democrat when they try to convince you who is an electable Republican. That results in John McCain or Bob Dole.

B.) Pay close attention to who the media and the opposition obsess over, for it is they who are making the real difference and that they are terrified of.

C.) Always be suspicious when liberals are willing to defend great conservatives of the past like Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher when they are compared to Palin.

D.) When you have the type of Carteresque flop in the White House as we do now, they choice is ours in regards to who we want. The Democrats are never interested in who's "moderate" when it's their turns to ram legislation or candidates down our throats in years their voters are more energized than ours. They couldn't care less what we think. If we want Palin, it will be Palin. It might be Christie.

But the fact is they know Barack Obama has failed. So they can call us racists and ride that as far as it takes them, but never again will we conservatives be buffaloed in selecting candidates they approve of.

You gave us Obama. Palin couldn't do any worse if she tried.

Posted by: sflesher2002 | October 26, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I would just like to point out that you, and I and the every other commentator, knows absolutely nothing about the House that would, in this theory, choose the President. They have not been elected yet, and they won't be for another two years. (It is the Congress that was elected in 2012 that officially counts the Electoral College votes, and, therfore, that would choose the new President.) We have very little idea how the political climate will change in the next two years, and thus how the composition of the House will change. Until we have some idea, it seems foolish to speculate on how this House might actually vote.

Posted by: ReidMK | October 26, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Let's just sell Alaska back to Russia. We can use the money to help the federal budget. It's win-win for the other 49 states.

Posted by: blankspace | October 26, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

to all,

how many more times do you have to be told? - Sarah Palin is NOT running for POTUS in 2012/2016, as it would cause her to lose $$$$$$$.
(the FACT that she's about TWICE as SMART as this DIM-witted, arrogant, little weakling that currently occupies the WH is beside the point.)

otoh, watch out for Senator Jim DeMint of SC to announce as a candidate (and as a PROUD member of THE TEA PARTY) not long after Christmas. = IF he does, he will "wipe the floor" with BHO (IF Hillery doesn't beat him first in the DIMocRATS primary). - in any case, we TEA PARTIERS will find someone to "wipe the floor with" whomever the DIMocRATS finally run.

to ALL: IF you are as didgusted as our members are with the MESS that BHO & the DIMocRATS have made of our government, come join your local TEA PARTY group & GET INVOLVED. you will be WARMLY welcomed & "put to work" to DUMP the ELITISTS (who see themselves as "our betters" and as "our rulers") return our government to the people of the USA

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | October 26, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

She doesn't drive the ruling elites crazy, Corporate American (aka who is really running the country) can't wait for her to be in charge. Who do you think funds her campaigns? Talk is cheap, and this lady hired a lobbyist for a town that isn't even 10,000 people. She didn't mind using government money then. How about her use of eminent domain in Wasilla? Before you go calling me names, I am not happy with what is going on in the capital now either.

Like I have said before none of the people in the political arena represent the average person. It is disgusting.....

Most people who I know that like Ms. Palin identify with her religious beliefs. They don't even know her or anything about her except what they read in her book. I don't believe for one minute most of our representatives are moral and don't even get me started on how we need to keep Church and State separate.

I don't want the bedroom police showing up at my house!!!!

Posted by: skoksvalley | October 26, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Palin is a perfect candidate.

1. She drives the Leftists and Liberals bonkers.

2. The media is obsessed with her.

3. She has personality, intelligence and is attractive to boot.

4. She is on the right side of the major issues of the day.

She would make a good leader at any level of government.

Posted by: chicago77 | October 26, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

"(the FACT that she's about TWICE as SMART as this DIM-witted, arrogant, little weakling that currently occupies the WH is beside the point.)"

I suppose when you play poker, a pair of threes beats a royal flush too.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | October 26, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

The Libs have written how many obituaries about her?

They're always wrong, she just gets stronger.

Who's smarter?

She'd be more qualified and a beter president than the boob we have in the White House now.

Posted by: buddy2105 | October 26, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Sarah the trailer trash queen! Only idiots would vote for this loser for Pres.

Posted by: Classic60 | October 26, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Sarah is the queen of the RepubiTurd party. All Repubs are her loser followers.

Posted by: Classic60 | October 26, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I can understand what he is saying but I don't think Michael Bloomberg would do that. Even though he has a huge ego and lots of money, I have to believe he cares more about his country than to throw us to the wolves which is where we would be with Palin as President. I shudder when I think of that woman as President. The voice -- can you imagine her at a World Leaders Summit?! She's street smart, arrogant, and a grifter but her learning curve has never improved. All you have to do is listen to her. Pretty scary! We would be the laughing stock of the world. Heck, the world laughs at her now. The Right may consider her cutesy but most people can see through her.

Posted by: sharronkm | October 26, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Obama is about as smart as W. Obama did not check the black people, that is, did not tell them that the blacks who don't take care of themselves have to emulate the many blacks who indeed are very capable of taking care of themselves. Then he could have said the samething to all other races, that you have to take care of yourself. All forms of welfare would be cut drastically to all peoples of all races. If you can procreate then you will have to be able to appropriate for your family. Had Obama done this, there would be no tea party, no Sarah Dumbell, and no one to save the little W idiots. But Obama chose to be politically correct. Look what has happened to our country!!!! This tidal wave or tseunami that will hit November 2 will not do anything to make things better. The deficit will explode even higher because entitlements to the lazy and corrupt will continue.

Posted by: bigedpape | October 26, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

She is no different than a Clinton or Obama were at this point in time, ie at 2-3 years from the election.
And I still laugh at all the "quitter" quips--even though Palin was driven from office by frivilous lawsuits, SHE HAS STILL QUIT FEWER! ELECTED POSITIONS THAN OBAMA............I love the sound of it: President Palin.

Posted by: merley1 | October 26, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

The improbable President Palin scenario
The impossible President Obama scenario

Palin's chances are still better than Reagan v/s Carter circa 1978. Libs can keep their advice for the captain of their sinking ship.

Posted by: NoWeCant | October 27, 2010 2:57 AM | Report abuse

Obama won because, in 2008, anyone could beat Bush (or his proxy, McCain). If 2012 is a referendum on Obama, the Repub wins, even Palin.

Best thing for Obama is that a GOP massacre next Tuesday forces him to the center and gives the GOP some responsibility for governing, ala Clinton in 1996 after Newt in '94. GOP House control gives him cover with Dem progressives, re-energizes the Dems.

Posted by: gbooksdc | October 27, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

By 2012, The National Popular Vote bill could guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn’t be about winning states. Every vote would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Article II, section 1 of the Constitution, stipulates that in the event of no candidate getting at least 270 electoral college votes, the House of Representatives decides who will be president.
With National Popular Vote this would never happen, because the compact always represents a bloc consisting of a majority of the electoral votes. Thus, an election for President would never be thrown into the House of Representatives (with each state casting one vote) and an election for Vice President would never be thrown into the Senate (with each Senator casting one vote).

The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), The District of Columbia (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington. These seven states possess 76 electoral votes—28% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


Posted by: mvymvy | October 27, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

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