Rollins Versus Palin


Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has been gearing up for a presidential run, and recently hired tough-talking political pro Ed Rollins to run her campaign.  He decided to level some of his tough talk at Sarah Palin in a radio appearance today.

“Sarah has not been serious over the last couple of years,” Rollins declared.  “She got the vice-presidential thing handed to her.” 

For those who lack Rollins’ encyclopedic knowledge of political history: prior to 2008, the Republican vice-presidential nomination was decided through single combat inside a dome-shaped metal cage.  The contestants were suspended from the top with elastic harnesses, while various deadly weapons were hung from the sides of the cage.  This difficult trial was waived in the case of the lightweight Palin, who was simply invited onto the ticket by presidential candidate John McCain.

“She didn’t go to work in the sense of trying to gain more substance,” Rollins snorted about the woman who has written several best-selling books since the 2008 election, and offered detailed policy critiques of everything from socialized medicine to quantitative easing.  Nearly all of her criticisms have been proved accurate, producing a series of very pained “Sarah Palin Was Right” headlines.  Have you heard Ed Rollins’ detailed critique of quantitative easing?  Don’t feel bad, neither has anyone else.

“You know, I think Michele Bachmann and others have worked hard,” continued Rollins.  “She has been a leader of the Tea Party, which is a very important element here.  She’s an attorney, done extraordinary things with family values and what have you, so I think she will connect.  She’s a great, great communicator.” 

That’s actually a pretty lame description of Bachmann, who deserves a better summary of her resume than “family values and what have you.”  Maybe Rollins should spend more time studying his own candidate, and less time obsessing about Sarah Palin.

All of those things, aside from the “attorney” part, are equally true of Palin, which is the problem here.  Rollins has obviously concluded that Bachmann and Palin will be fighting for market share if they both enter the race.  It’s understandable that he wants to give his candidate a leg up, but all of these hired campaign pit bulls should be a little more careful about using the preferred narrative of the Left to club each others’ candidates.  A healthy primary is a vigorous contest that produces a strong candidate, not a political bloodbath whose sole survivor limps, mortally wounded, into the general election.

It seems like an odd tactical mistake to try appealing to people who like both Bachmann and Palin by trashing Palin.  I would imagine some of them will view that as a species of contempt, as if their own support for Palin were not based on sound matters of policy.  If a Palin supporter is going to gravitate to Bachmann, it will happen because they view her as a superior champion of the causes they believe in, or because Palin doesn’t enter the race.  The Rollins approach implies that Palin’s supporters are as unserious as he claims Palin is.

Personally, I hope Bachmann and Palin both get into the race and fight like the dickens for the voters they share.  I hold the same hope for all of the other presidential candidates.  I could do with a bit less ankle-biting from the hired guns.  Obama will have plenty of paid operatives and media volunteers peddling his campaign narrative in 2012.  He doesn’t need any free help from GOP consultants.