Palin – a turning point for the GOP?

It is no secret that we are not fans of Sarah Palin. During the 2008 election, she felt like a distraction from the serious business of selecting a President. But, there were some saying she was the fresh face of the Republican Party – youthful, direct with the people, and popular. This Monday, when Palin is on ‘Oprah‘, I think we’ll find out whether she is, indeed, the new look of the Grand Old Party.

Will Palin be rude, particularly towards Oprah who was, and is, quite vocal in her support of the current President? Or, will we see a more stateswoman-like style? Without the McCain minders watching and controlling her every move, will we see the attack-dog-Palin, or a gracious, charming, diplomatic Palin? Given the recent harshness of the tea-baggers, the shrill criticism of anything the President does by Beck/Hannity/Rush/etc, and the dis-ingeneous lies being bandied about my some GOP Congressmen and women, Palin’s behavior may be a breath of fresh air. I think she needs us to like her!

If Palin is trying sell her book, then I suspect much of the show will be about her. Sarah as a journalism major, Sarah as a small-town mayor, Sarah as a mother-in-law, Sarah as a mis-treated part of the McCain campaign, Sarah as symbol of Alaska and Sarah as the future politician. While all that might be fun for day-time television, I am intrigued to see whether she will talk about the future of the country, about how we should recover the crushing impact of two wars and an economic downturn. Can Palin be an inspirational figure, or will she resort to her aw-shucks routine?

Somehow I doubt we’ll learn much about her decision to resign as Governor of Alaska, much as I doubt whether we’ll hear about why so many corruption charges were leveled against her while Governor. I hope that we don’t hear sugar-coating about the difficulties her family (Levi, Bristol, and Tripp) have faced. It was an embarrassment during the last campaign, and it could well be an embarrassment in any future one. Honesty would be preferable to pretending they are one happy lot. Likewise, I’d really appreciate hearing some straight-shooting about the Republican party.

Game over, pal

After nearly eight months, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has finally acceded to the will of the Minnesota public. He certified the results of the election that will seat Al Franken as the junior senior.

Why the delay? All round grumpy person, Norm Coleman had filed a legal complaint. Turns out he didn’t have a strong legal case, after all. He, and his fellow Republicans, filed thousands of pages of legal documents, cost everyone millions of dollars, and had left many ordinary Minnesotans weary.

The only winners were the Republican legal team, certainly not the Republican party in Minnesota (and elsewhere). It has left them not only with egg on their face, but facing claims of obstructionism and of failing to recognize they lost.

Both claims are increasingly being leveled at Republicans at the national level. They’ve become the party of ‘No’. This is not an effective political strategy, nor is it good governance. An effective minority party needs to not only point out the faults of the administration but also to present a viable alternative. That is, don’t just say things are wrong but explain why they are the wrong way to proceed and what a better approach might look like. Otherwise, it just feels like you’re a sore loser, having taken your bat and ball and gone home.