When Sarah Palin declared that she would vote for presidential nominee Newt Gingrich in this week’s South Carolina Primary–prompting him to say that she could play a ‘major role’ in his administration if he became the next President of the United States, the rumor mill starting churning overtime with possible, political scenarios for what that major role might be. And to the disdain of many progressives and even a few conservatives, the possibility of Palin being asked to once again become a vice-presidential candidate just might not be as far out into left field as political wisdom would suggest, and Gingrich’s enthusiastic gesture for Palin’s ability to contribute politically appears to be the one and only catalyst for it. So, the question now becomes: is Sarah Palin destined to be the next Dan Quayle?
As vice-president, Dan Quayle served under the first President Bush and was not a very popular pick from the beginning. And unfortunately, his poor image only took more hits once he became the vice-president by liberals, Independents and even some conservatives. The late-night comedians and comedians abroad had numerous field days raking Quayle over the political coals, as he became a punch-line all to himself. His bloopers and gaffes made him legendary.
In fact, his one defining moment and the image that will probably last forever within the minds of all who were able to witness it was an incident that I like to call “Potato-gate,” where Quayle went toe-to-toe with a 12-year-old student named William Figueroa and overwhelmed the savvy youngster with his intellectual prowess. Sitting next to a blackboard, Figueroa had spelled the word potato correctly, but that wasn’t quite good enough for Quayle, as he demanded that Figueroa add the letter E to the end of it—making it read as ‘potatoe’ instead of potato. It was arguably one of the worst cases of misinformation of all-time perpetrated by a sitting vice-president, and no other politician reminds me of Quayle quite like Sarah Palin.
But despite Palin’s goofy persona, she is a fierce campaigner and a loyal foot-soldier to the cause. During the 2008 campaign against Barack Obama, Palin injected a high voltage of political enthusiasm into the tired, antiquated storyline of a dismal GOP, because John McCain was certainly no political Fabio. Now his decision to pick Palin as a running-mate was considered to be radical at the time, but in the end there were many Republicans who blamed the McCain team’s inability to properly utilize Palin’s assets as the number one reason why the McCain/Palin ticket was defeated by the Obama/Biden ticket, because Palin was able to set much of the right wing world on fire, which is the good news.
The bad news is that once Palin got beyond her exceptionalism of preaching to the right wing choir, she turned out to be just another one-trick-pony. Within the rhetorical confines of the conservative base, her Cinderella persona was like a Ronald Reagan, but once she stepped outside of those friendly barracks and the political clock struck midnight her ball carriage became a gaffe pumpkin, as she morphed back into Dan Quayle, and this is the dilemma that Gingrich will be faced with if he decides to make her his running-mate. Yes, she can rally and personify the anti-Romney base like no other, and yes she can attack President Obama insistently, but on the other hand she can’t make diddly-squat with Independents or Jon Huntsman-Democrats, and no she does not strike any real, political fear in the hearts and minds of the Democratic Party. Let’s face it. President Obama and Vice-President Biden won’t be up at 4:00 in the morning pacing the Oval Office floor over another challenge from the ‘hopey-changey,’ half-term governor.
By even mentioning Palin as a possible part of his administration, Gingrich is just pandering to his base by trying to corner the hardcore, conservative, anti-Romney vote, because Palin has been accused of a lot of unflattering charges like idiocracy and dishonesty, but the charge of being a Mitt Romney, Massachusetts moderate/liberal is not one of them, and Gingrich knows that. So if Palin can help Gingrich pull the anti-Romney upset in South Carolina and possibly beyond, don’t be surprised if she finds a way to weasel her way back into political contention through the Gingrich administration.
But think about this. When the first President Bush was in office, the only bipartisan theme was about how everyone hoped and prayed that he would always remain in good health without getting deathly ill through disease or violence, because no one, not even most conservatives, trusted Dan Quayle to be president or wanted Dan Quayle to be the president. And if the Gingrich/Palin ticket becomes a reality and wins the White House in November, history will repeat itself as those same concerns for the first President Bush will be front and center for Gingrich, as the world cringes at the mere thought of Sarah Palin assuming the duties of the presidency. So go ahead Gingrich—choose Sarah Palin as your running-mate and make my progressive day!