President Obama’s former chief of staff Bill Daley wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Sunday that the hot mess in the current GOP all goes back to the 2008 nomination of Sarah Palin for vice president.
Daley wrote that the selection of Palin set a “new standard” for the Republican Party, one that has rippled to the current presidential race, which features billionaire Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as frontrunners.
Once (Sen. John) McCain put Palin on the ticket, Republican “grown-ups,” who presumably knew better, had to bite their tongues. But after the election, when they were free to speak their minds, they either remained quiet or abetted the dumbing-down of the party. They stood by as Donald Trump and others noisily pushed claims that Obama was born in Kenya. And they gladly rode the tea party tiger to sweeping victories in 2010 and 2014.
Now that tiger is devouring the GOP establishment. Party elders had hoped new presidential debate rules would give them greater control. But they are watching helplessly as Trump leads the pack and House Republicans engage in fratricide.
It’s hard to feel much sympathy. The Republican establishment’s 2008 embrace of Palin set an irresponsibly low bar. Coincidence or not, a batch of nonsense-spewing, hard-right candidates quickly followed, often to disastrous effect.
Daley pointed to other examples of the mess the GOP has found itself in, including choosing then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) as the party’s nominee to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Akin’s hopes of victory were dashed when he said a woman’s body will reject pregnancies caused by “legitimate rape.”
Daley also torched the failed campaigns of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) for President and Christine O’Donnell for U.S. Senate in Delaware.
Now Republicans ask Americans to give them full control of the government, adding the presidency to their House and Senate majorities. This comes as Trump and Carson consistently top the GOP polls. Republican leaders brought this on themselves. Trump calls Palin “a special person” he’d like in his Cabinet. That seems only fair, because he’s thriving in the same cynical value system that puts opportunistic soundbites above seriousness, preparedness and intellectual heft.
Read the full column here.