Now the good professor, in an opinion piece for CNN -- a news outlet which has been harshly critical of the GOP's first female vice presidential candidate -- argues that if Gov. Palin had jumped into the Republican presiential primary scrum, she would not only have the nomination all wrapped up at this point, but she would also be running neck and neck with President Obama in the opinion polls:
What have proved to be problems for the top three candidates wouldn't have been problems for Palin. For starters, she has none of Newt Gingrich's intellectual hubris. There's no way Palin would have promised to put a mine on the moon or suggest arresting judges who make decisions that are too liberal. Her conservatism is far more domestic and down-to-Earth.In his Palin profile of last May, Stanley tried to explain the former Alaska governor's appeal to everyday Americans as a cultural phenomenon:
She's also more disciplined than Santorum. Although we'll probably be talking about them into the next century, Palin's only two serious public gaffes in 2008 happened when she was unable to name a newspaper and was stumped by the Bush doctrine, both slips a product of ignorance. Santorum, on the other hand, is guilty of knowing his own mind all too well, offering unwelcome opinions on everything from the evils of hard-core pornography to the racial politics of the Trayvon Martin tragedy.
Compare the response Palin gave to questions about her attitude toward evolution -- "I think it should be taught as an accepted principle, and I say that also as the daughter of a schoolteacher" -- with Santorum's claim that Satan ... has attacked America.
It's Palin who seems to have a better sense of the limited role that faith should play in politics and a better idea of when to keep her mouth shut. Moreover, she would never tell a journalist that he was talking "bull***t," even if she did congratulate Rick Santorum for doing so. Contrary to the media narrative, even at her most accident-prone, Palin has always been a classy, well-choreographed performer.
Lacking the foibles of Gingrich and Santorum, Palin would have been a far more effective anti-Romney candidate because her strengths accentuated Romney's weaknesses. Romney is known as the Etch A Sketch candidate; Palin is aggressively authentic. Romney is seen by many as a moneyed elitist; Palin is the conservative class warrior, happy to slam the "crony capitalism" that benefits both big labor and big business. Romney's limitations have been revealed, one by one, in the course of the primary campaign; Palin was well-vetted by the press in 2008 and has nothing left to say or do that would surprise us.
Love her or loathe her, we all know who Palin is. Her weaknesses, being old news, wouldn't have dominated the primary narrative like Bain Capital or Seamus the dog, made famous by his terrifying ride atop Romney's car. Palin would have spent the past three months attacking her opponents. Then she would have turned her guns on the president.
She connects with people in a way that has nothing to do with words; it is all about nods and winks and an intimate gaze. Some of it is about hitting applause lines; some of it is about evoking feelings through noise and visuals. The media is tone deaf to this stuff because it can’t be communicated second-hand or explained through punditry. It is borderline mystical.It is that uncanny ability that the Mana Grizzly has to connect with an American middle class struggling in the Obama economy, observes Stanley, that makes her the antithesis of Mitt Romney, whose perceived lack of compassion and authenticity denies him the enthusiasm the eventual GOP nominee will need from voters to unseat the president. We last saw this cultural connection expressed during the 2010 midterm elections, but were not likely to see it again, he predicts, until the 2016 election cycle.