Thank You, Sarah Palin

In a disastrous night for Democrats, only the Momma Grizzlies provided some solace, helping them hold on to the Senate. If the GOP had nominated more plausible candidates than Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Linda McMahon in Connecticut, Sharron Angle in Nevada and Carly Fiorina in California, they might have swept both houses of Congress.

Judging from the wave of discontent otherwise, the White House can thank Sarah Palin for helping define the limits of crazy and clueless. Even in Alaska, Lisa Murkowski seems to have overcome a Palin vendetta with her write-in effort against Joe Miller.

Amid the wreckage, that may signify where the GOP is heading between now and 2012. Even a subdued John Boehner was walking on eggshells in his victory speech.

“We hope President Obama will now respect the will of the people, change course, and to commit to making changes that they are demanding. And to the extent that he’s willing to do that, we’re ready to work with him.”

After a “brief but pleasant” phone call from the President, the White House noted that “Leader Boehner said he’s always been straightforward and honest with the president in the past, and said that’s the way he’ll continue to be with the president in the future. They discussed working together to focus on the top priorities of the American people, which Boehner has identified as creating jobs and cutting spending.”

That may be pro forma Election Night boilerplate, but the House’s new GOP majority will have to placate its new Tea Party caucus to persuade voters that it is not bent on waging two more years of “no” to position itself for trying to retake the White House in 2012.

If Palin is seriously contemplating a run at the nomination then, yesterday was as much a wakeup call for her as for Democrats: Divisiveness can take you only so far in national politics.

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Author: ROBERT STEIN