Eight post-election predictions
1. Gov. Sarah Palin will not be the Republican nominee for president in 2012, despite her popularity with conservatives—or maybe because of it. Losing Veep candidates seldom move on to the big prize. Besides, with the sexism and general nastiness that descended on her family, why would she—or any woman—want to go through a national campaign any time soon?
Sarah has two ways forward:
A. Go for the bucks. She could transition first into being an author and, after her term is up, a TV host as Gov. Huckabee has done. She’s attractive, articulate and has a devoted following. And she makes the left spit tacks, always a good credential for being in the conservative media. Being the female Bill O’Reilly will give her influence with a lot less grief than having lefties Photoshop your head onto nude bodies, attack your children and circulate forged documents about you on the net. And the financial rewards would be great.
B. Go for the clout. Assuming Ted Stevens is expelled, she would be the front runner for the senate in a special election. Mrs. Palin goes to Washington. But she can’t run for president in 2012. With only four years in the senate, the media would kill her on lack of experience and moving too fast—they won’t give her the pass that President-elect Obama got, with the same amount of experience. She should work hard as a senator, keep a low profile at first, help Republican candidates around the country, build donor contacts and build a reputation for knowledge in some useful areas. In 2016, she’ll only be 52, if she really wants the big prize. If not, well, being a senator is nice--you get to work indoors and there’s no heavy lifting.
Of course, she could just say to hell with it and go home to raise kids, fish and hunt caribou.
2. President-elect Obama will have little time to enjoy his victory. Neither the economy nor the jihadists will give him much slack. On the economy, many of the things he’s promised aren’t doable without great pain. Increased trade barriers, increased capital gains taxes and even increasing the death tax, as he’s promised, are anti-growth. I can’t wait to hear what the "President of Canada," who Obama promised to call to modify NAFTA, has to say.
He either breaks those promises, as he did on campaign financing, ticking off the unions and the left, or keeps them and worsens the economy, not a good route to high poll numbers. His toughest promise was for a tax cut/welfare check for 95% of the people, but can he borrow the money to redeem his pledge? The people in the top 5%, those making over $153k, already pay 60% of the taxes. There’s not enough blood in the turnip to quench the thirst for it that he’s created.
Presidents in our age are basically nailed anyway. They have to appeal to the far left/far right to get the votes, money and volunteers to win their party’s nomination, then move to the center where elections are won, as Obama deftly did. But then they have to govern.
If President Obama governs from the left, the majority of people who are in the center will soon be disgusted with his policies. If he governs from the center, the left and the media will be disillusioned and baying for blood. Jessie Jackson won’t be the only one wanting to do surgery on the Obama Treasurers. This will be fun to watch.
3. Hillary Clinton will never be president. By 2016, she’ll be so yesterday. If Obama crashes and burns, she could challenge him in 2012, but serious internal party challenges usually hand the White House to the other party. She may decide being an influential senator is enough. See above about heavy lifting.
Watch Bill, though. Will he be satisfied to be an aging roué, bringing in bucks on the speaking circuit, with ever-dwindling relevance? Or will he start putting the knife in Obama, just because he can? See above, about being fun to watch.
4. Public financing of campaigns is dead, murdered by President-elect Obama. From now on, winners will have heavy hitting fund raising machines in place. If a candidate takes public bucks, write him off.
5. Obama’s promise to send a "tax refund" check to the 40% of the public who don’t pay taxes was brilliant. If he can borrow enough money to do it, and the people who sold their votes for a check are happy, look for Democrat primaries for the next few elections to become bidding wars, as Democrat candidates out bid each other on taking money from the most productive to buy votes from the least productive. You might as well hold them on eBay. Republicans will want to do the same thing, of course, but can’t afford to tick off the fiscal conservative base more than it already is. Obama has changed the Democrats’ paradigm.
6. Watch for corruption scandals. Democrats will have more opportunity now, the Charlie Rangels and William Jeffersons of the Democratic Party will be unleashed, and Obama is a child of the Daley machine in Chicago. This will help Republicans. Think of it as change we can believe in. And a disillusioned press corps will remember their function and turn on him. See above about being fun to watch.
7. Republicans, having fallen this far, will get serious. Watch for Congressional Republicans to start this spring recruiting attractive, fresh candidates for the House and Senate, and building a funding and PR apparatus. There should be enough disillusionment with Obama to make 2010 a Republican year, if they can recruit and fund the right candidates. Right now, Congress’s approval rating is below Bush’s, but I bet 35% of the voters think the Republicans still run it. After January, there will be few Republicans to blame, though they’ll blame Bush for a year or two.
You’ll know the Republicans are serious if they create a new "Contract with America," that includes zero tolerance for corruption within the Republican caucus, and a commitment to zero earmarks by Republicans. The latter will be tough. But they need to be more than just Country Club Democrats to win.
8. Newt Gingrich in 2012. You read it here first.