Paul Goldman, political strategist and former chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, has penned the rarest of Washington Post op-eds: an opinion piece that, for the most part, finds Sarah Palin praiseworthy. Instead of the usual WaPo ad hominem smears against the governor, Goldman has crafted an essay that is a testament to both Sarah Palin's strength of character and her value to the Republican Party. The author makes the case that the Delaware GOP primary results are compelling evidence that Gov. Palin is "the best asset the GOP has right now":
There has been a lot of carping about Republicans' prospects for November since Palin-backed candidate Christine O'Donnell defeated longtime Delaware officeholder Mike Castle for the Republican Senate nomination Tuesday. But contrary to conventional wisdom, the 2008 vice presidential nominee has kept the party strong. How? She has kept the Tea Party faithful inside the GOP tent. Had she instead encouraged these disillusioned voters to mount third-party challenges across the 2010 general-election ballot, dozens of Democratic incumbents, not to mention challengers, would be smiling like Woodrow Wilson in 1912.Read the full Goldman article here.
O'Donnell's victory follows a long GOP pattern in the Northeast of established, old-school moderates being denied the nomination in favor of fresh, sharper-edged conservatives, as happened with New Jersey Sen. Clifford Case in the 1978 Republican primary, Sen. Jacob Javits in New York (1980) and, most recently, Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. The bigger picture here is not about a dearth of moderate Republicans in the Northeast. And yes, on Nov. 2, events in Delaware might leave some Republicans wondering what might have been. But this would seem a small price to pay to avoid a massive party split thanks to the protest vote still sweeping across the country.
Consider: If Newt Gingrich or Glenn Beck held Palin's political clout, they might very well have used this power to encourage independent conservative challenges, figuring the resulting GOP chaos would redound to their benefit. Palin rejected this course, even though it probably would have been in her political interest.
Consider also that Palin has received no credit for being loyal to a party establishment that continues to treat her with maximum low regard. Americans have never sent to the White House an individual rejected four years earlier as a vice presidential nominee. So it is doubtful that Palin stuck with the GOP because she hoped to be rewarded with the chance to lead it in 2012. Think about it: A lesser person would have opted for payback, not party.
That the GOP establishment fails to appreciate the debt it owes her is reflective of the elitist outlook that is contributing to Tea Party activism nationwide.
Simply put, Palin started as Tonto but has become the Lone Ranger. Instead of fading out last summer, she remained strong and stood by her party. She has become a bridge between the old Republican guard and the growing right-wing dissatisfaction with not just Democrats but also Republican officeholders. Palin's ability to advocate for using the GOP, not a third party, to channel this angst has allowed Republican voter anger to boil, yet not boil over.
Should Republicans run up the score in November, Sarah Palin will deserve a lot of credit she will never get.