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Monday, July 16, 2012

Why Mitt Romney desperately needs a Sarah Palin

Whether he does it or not - and he probably won't - the best thing Mitt Romney (M-I-double tizzle) can do when it comes to a running mate is follow the template the McCain campaign used in 2008. He might win by playing it safe but his odds of winning exponentially increase if he balances the ticket with someone who energizes the base, not someone who neutralizes it.

If someone tells you that Mitt Romney inspires them, they're lying. Honest people will say voting for Romney is all about defeating Obama. In that regard, it's the John McCain redux. The Republican Party establishment is convinced that it can ride anti-Obama sentiment - and little else - to the White House. Avoiding a fight with the media or the incumbent - save for a few jabs - is the inexplicably defensive strategy the establishment types at the RNC think is the best one.

Consequently, in a race where the Republican nominee should be up by ten or more percentage points, Romney is on defense in a neck and neck race. With the Democratic Party's proclivity for electoral hijinks, that's a recipe for failure.

The Republican primaries saw the Republican establishment do one thing much better than the Tea Party - pick one horse and ride it all the way to the nomination. The Tea Party picked several horses and diluted its votes (Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich). Had it been a two-man race between Romney and any one of those candidates, the former Massachusetts Governor would have been a landslide victim.

Flashback to 2008; John McCain was no more inspiring that Romney is today. Prior to selecting his running mate - Sarah Palin - the base was admittedly deflated. Once McCain selected the Alaska Governor, life was breathed back into that base. She then proceeded to steal the show at the Republican Convention. The media's collective mouth was agape as McCain / Palin actually pulled ahead of Obama / Biden. She had to be destroyed and McCain didn't let her fight.

It wasn't until the stock market crash in September - coupled with McCain's ill-fated and counterproductive plan to suspend his campaign and head back to Washington to create the optics that he was engaged in fixing the problem - that Obama pulled away for good. Yet, there is a delusional narrative afoot  among establishment types that Sarah Palin dragged John McCain down, that she prevented him from winning and that selecting her was a mistake.

The truth is that selecting Palin was the best thing McCain did. She prevented a shellacking and actually gave him a chance. She so electrified crowds that McCain never seemed to hit the stump without her. He knew better and would have been thoroughly embarrassed by the contrast in crowd numbers and energy.

In fact, had Palin been allowed to be the attack dog Vice Presidents are supposed to be, McCain may have pulled it out. Instead, Palin was told to avoid Obama's achilles heel - Jeremiah Wright. It wasn't until late in the contest that she was permitted to go after Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers. It proved too little, too late.

Obama's achilles heel in 2012 appears to be operation Fast and Furious. Yet, Mitt Romney's avoidance of it is palpable; it's the elephant in the foyer.

The Romney campaign is faced with two choices based on two realities - reality as it is and reality as his campaign wants it to be. A paradigm that says Palin prevented McCain from winning is delusional because the exact opposite is true; she almost dragged him across the finish line. The base didn't want McCain in 2008 and it doesn't want Romney in 2012, which is exactly why "M-I-double tizzle" should pick someone who would do for him this year what Palin did for McCain in 2008 - make people want to buy a Mitt Romney bumper sticker.

The very first test would involve an answer to the following question:
Who could Romney select that would unhinge the mainstream media and drive it out of its collective skull?
The ensuing list would be a good place to start. People like Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, and Condoleezza Rice wouldn't be on it.

People like Rep. Allen West (R-FL), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would be.

If Romney selects a 'Mini-Mitt (double, double tizzle), the establishment's paradigm would be torpedoed with a loss to Obama. Unfortunately, so might the nation.

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