Sarah Palin wants back into the spotlight – but only on the losing side

Sarah Palin has more to gain from losing.

“I think that with $17 million purchasing some ads and some false narrative it was very, very difficult for Newt Gingrich and the other candidates to counter that bombardment of advertisements,” Palin said Tuesday night on Fox News. Yes, Palin has been popping up on Facebook and the conservative media circuit again, touting the former speaker and slamming Mitt Romney at every available opportunity.

The Grizzly wants a piece of the action, apparently, having fallen so far out of the spotlight. Romney’s big win in Florida is just another excuse from the half-term former Alaskan governor to insert herself in the political circus once again. What’s in it for Palin?

The same thing that was always in it for her: the spotlight and the buckets of cash on the other side. Still, if you’d told me three years ago that Palin would be talking up Newt Gingrich I would have laughed or cried or something of that nature. I certainly wouldn’t have believed you. Palin’s star was rising long after Gingrich’s had already come crashing to its fiery demise.

Then again, she was never going to be president saying things like this:

“Whomever it is to allow for the process to continue … I still say competition breeds success for the U.S.,” Palin said. “As it stands obviously it’s Romney and Newt are closest to be the front-running candidate, and so I would continue to vote for whoever it is to allow the process, and at this point it looks like it still is Newt. You have to kind of continue to level the playing field with your vote.”

Now this is Palinesque – the Sarah Palin we knew and loved those many years ago, at the height of her infamy. I’m not sure what she’s saying here but I sure do get a kick out of hearing her say it.

Romney won tonight, and I suspect that Palin picked the losing team on purpose. She plays the underdog well. This way she can be in that seat regardless of whether its Romney or Obama in the White House next year. The perpetual underdog, forever whining at the margins. She’s shrewd enough to see what Newt’s campaign represents – the resurgent grassroots conservatism that is propping it up; the remnants of the anti-establishment Tea Party, or at least that sentiment. It’s a sentiment of loss – of preservation against all odds.

See, Palin doesn’t want to win. She doesn’t even want her guy to win or her cause to win. There’s more to gain from losing. That’s her entire shtick, and she knows it.

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Gingrich’s gift to the media: a primary bloodbath

"Mitt Romney would only cut the budget this much…"

Newt Gingrich isn’t going to stop, even if Romney beats him bloody in Florida. Don’t get me wrong, the former speaker is finished. He’s not going to topple the party establishment. He doesn’t represent the hope and change he pretends to represent. He’s no transformational figure at all.

The reason the GOP elites dislike Gingrich isn’t because he’s too conservative it’s because he’s a disgrace to the Republican Party. His personal life is an embarrassment and his lobbying for Fannie and Freddie is just one of many toxic items in his record. By comparison, Romney is squeaky clean even with a mini-Obamacare in his past. As far as we know he’s been a faithful husband and father. His Mormonism is problematic, and for some reason his tenure at Bain Capital has him on the defensive, but beyond that his main liability is that people just don’t like him that much. Well when it comes to favorability, Newt scores even worse.

John Heilemann thinks that in spite of all of this, Newt is just crazy enough to keep fighting through the convention:

Pledges to continue the fight unabated in the face of harsh and/or humiliating outcomes are staples of presidential campaigns. And they are also patently meaningless. (Please recall Jon Huntsman’s feigned brio on the night of the New Hampshire primary — and his departure from the race a few days later.) But in Gingrich’s case, he might be serious, so much has he come to despise Romney and the Republican Establishment that has brought down on him a twenty-ton shithammer in Florida, and so convinced is he of his own Churchillian greatness and world-historical destiny.

I suppose this depends largely on whether he can fund a losing campaign or not, in the face of all odds. Andrew Sullivan, no fan of Romney, notes:

I guess I’m biased as I really enjoy a good political bloodbath. And during this campaign, I’ve come to loathe Romney almost as much as his Republican peers do.

Kevin Drum adds:

But here’s the real question: if Romney builds up a big enough head of steam, he’ll declare victory and withdraw from future debates. Without Romney, no one will be much interested in airing the debates, and no one would watch them even if they were aired. So all three of the also-rans would have to keep up their campaigns even though they weren’t getting regular time to yak on national TV and the press corps was no longer taking the race seriously.

Therein lies the rub.

Gingrich’s gift to the media is a long fight – a bloodbath, as Sullivan put it – which keeps all of us pundits happy, and the broadcasters with a steady stream of news. If Santorum bows out and endorses Gingrich, we could see a pretty intense three-way race all the way to the convention. What a glorious bit of persistent news that would be.

It’s ironic, really, that the man who so scorns the media at every possible turn would be the one to give them such a lovely present this election season. Of course, if Romney does sit out the debates that changes the equation to some degree. Debates, however vapid they  may be, spark lots of news. They even change the outcome of races (see e.g. South Carolina.)

Then again, we could all be wrong. Gingrich could bow out suddenly and inexplicably after Florida. He could spin his antagonism toward Romney around 180 degrees and back the former Massachusetts governor. The GOP elites and the conservative movement elites could make nice and rally round the nominee.

How dreadfully boring this would be.

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