The XX Factor

GOP Establishment to Sarah and Michele: Thanks, but No Thanks

Politico ’s Mike Allen and Molly Ball have a piece about the GOP establishment saying that the “2012 field is set.” Right below it, on the Politico home page as I write this, is a piece by Roger Simon headlined “The Republican Freak Show.” When you see the juxtaposition, you can understand why the GOP establishment might be wanting to put out a bouncer and a velvet rope to let the outsiders know that, no, they are not welcome.

Granted, the sources quoted (largely anonymous, except for former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie), aren’t trying to exclude anyone. They’re just predicting that, with Mitch Daniels out, the money and support that would have gone to him will now be divided among Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Jon Huntsman.

But while Allen and Ball run through a whole list of unlikely-to-run candidates-including Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Rick Perry-the message from the GOP heavyweights is subtle but clear: No thanks, Sarah and Michele.

All three of the legitimate contenders for the GOP have their pros and cons. Romney’s business sense will be welcome if the economy is still struggling next year (if he can overcome the Romneycare issue );  Pawlenty had a successful run as governor and his modest background (his father was a milk truck driver) will appeal to middle class voters; Huntsman’s stint as ambassador to China would undoubtedly help him navigate that important relationship.

But the most important attribute they all share is that … none of them is crazy. They don’t campaign solely via Facebook or Twitter, they don’t have reality shows. A Google search for “Mitt Romney” returns his Wikipedia bio, news articles, some campaign sites, etc. For Michele Bachmann, three separate results on the first page are “The Craziest Thing Michele Bachmann Has Ever Said (PHOTOS),” “The 10 Craziest Michelle Bachmann Quotes,” and “Incredible Michele Bachmann Speech Gets Every Historical Fact Wrong.”

Toward the end of Allen and Ball’s article, an anonymous source sees a legitimate upside in a Palin or Bachmann candidacy:  Such a run would help Mitt Romney by scaring voters straight. And, in regards to Palin, one source says “”She’ll be defeated, and we’ll be done with her.”

It’s tempting to think that way. On the other hand, the more attention lavished on Palin and Bachmann, the more likely it is that people will start to think all Republicans are crazy. One of the knocks on Pawlenty is that he’s boring (a charge that he has responded to by overcompensating with fiery speeches and   even more fiery ads ).  At this point, boring looks just fine.