The photo below is being passed around Facebook and it struck me on two levels.
First, the caption is funny. I don’t think anyone really believes the President “shoots skeet all the time”. It’s a phrase he never should have uttered, and once printed only caused the media to question it. This in turn put the President in the no-win situation of either walking back the statement or providing proof. He did the latter (kind of) by releasing an awkward photo, only to take a good ribbing from his political opponents for it. So the meme around social media is expected and warranted. You get what you ask for, Mr. President.
But the second thing that struck me was the picture itself. I’m not sure exactly when it was made, but I believe it represents where Republicans went wrong. Sarah Palin, placed squarely in the center of Republican heroes? Really?
I assume this was painted at the height of her celebrity, which was only a few years ago. Her fall from relevance in this short time only proves why this picture fails. Efforts to force candidates into an alliance with political heroes of the past is dangerous.
Reagan, Eisenhower, Bush, Lincoln…..and Palin? I don’t think so. Sarah Palin playing cards with Barry Goldwater would be a more accurate portrayal of her historical significance.
In fact, Palin represents the movement within the Republican party that many (including me) feel is the primary cause for Obama’s election and subsequent reelection. McCain’s move to choose her was the tipping point in my decision to vote non-republican for the first time in my life. It was her wing of the party that most recently spawned the likes of Michelle Bachman and Herman Cain. Their presence in the primaries pushed electable people like Jon Hunstman and Tim Pawlenty out of the picture far too early, and eventually became a drag on Romney he could not overcome.
This is not to say that the ideas of the far right are not genuine feelings. I have many friends who honestly subscribe to a Tea Party philosophy because they genuinely believe it’s best for the country. The ideas deserve a place in the discussion, especially on economic matters. I believe we need a government, but acknowledge it is bloated and inefficient. I appreciate the Tea Party as a reality check on ideas, but don’t completely subscribe to their philosophy. I, for one, look forward to a “return to normalcy” in the Republican party. I’ve sat out the last two elections as far as the Republican party goes; voting Democrat once and, most recently, Libertarian. I’d like to see Huntsman remain relevant, I would like to see more of Pawlenty, and I’s sure there are others out there.