Washington: There is nothing surprising about the political marriage of Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. Indeed ever since Trump gave up flirting with a political career and joined the race it was almost inevitable.
The two populists occupy the same political space, exciting the angry white working and middle class base that has been most wounded by the economic upheavals of free trade agreements and great recession.
To do this they appeal to anxieties and even hatreds. It is a simple but effective trip.
In 2008 as Senator John McCain, an aging war hero and lion of the GOP, saw his campaign flag against young African American senator Barack Obama, he turned to Palin to harness the energy of this wing of his party.
It worked for a time too. Her introduction at the Republican convention in St Paul, Minnesota, was electrifying. But it turned out to be the best political speech she ever gave.
Soon her inexperience and plain ignorance of public affairs became impossible to hide.
But her charisma never faltered, and same sort of voters who are drawn to Trump for his blatant messages of intolerance – his calls for border walls, for mass deportations, for surveillance of Muslims – loved her for it.
In the end her campaign was seen as a stain on McCain’s and McCain’s own campaign chief, Steve Schmidt, who helped McCain select Palin as his running mate, has since said as much.
“For the last couple of years, we’ve had this wing of the party running roughshod over the rest of the party, tossing out terms like RINO [Republican in Name Only], saying we’re going to purge the moderates out of the party, that, you know, it’s all of the people that she’s attacking in her statement,” he told MSNBC in 2013.
He said that during the 2016 election he hoped Republican leaders would be able, “to take conservatism’s good name back from the freak show that’s been running wild for four years and I have deep regret in my part, certainly, in initiating [it].”
Instead the party is now facing the very real possibility that its primary campaign will be entirely dominated two candidates who most represent what he calls its “asinine” inclinations – Trump and Ted Cruz.
And to add insult to Schmidt’s injury, Trump has now reanimated Palin herself, and returned her to the national debate.
The flirtation between the two has been going on since Trump announced his campaign with a promise to seal the border and deport long-term residents.
“Mr. Trump should know he’s doing something right when the malcontents go ballistic in the press!” she tweeted in June.
“Thank you Sarah–Let’s have pizza in New York soon with you & your great family!” he trilled back.
The following month he said he would “love” to have her work in his administration, despite her demonstrated disinterest in working even in her own. After McCain’s presidential bid collapsed she quit her own office as governor of Alaska for more lucrative work commentating for Fox.
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