War is hell, life is unfair ... get over it! Isn't that what Gov. Palin tried to say in her Facebook post last night?
I was shocked at the level of angst I unwittingly inspired yesterday (475+ comments) with the seemingly innocuous suggestion that there might be a few silver linings in a Bachmann candidacy. When I discussed these "Bachmann Benefits" with others on the C4P team, they didn't seem like such radically stupid ideas. Then again, this wouldn't be the first time I have been accused of being completely naive. I prefer to think of myself as being a consumate pragmatist.
Let me first say that I completely agree with the sentiment that Bachmann's potential run "feels" wrong and does have potential negative consequences. It wasn't supposed to go down like this. (And for all we know, it won't. It's still SO early.) In "fairness," Gov. Palin shouldn't have to defend her right flank against "one of her own" while simultaneously taking on RINO Nation and Media Derangement Syndrome.
But why the hell not?
I will give you a few more reasons why a Bachmann run could strengthen Palin. For one, it forces Gov. Palin to "walk the walk" on her praise of contested primaries.
Governor Palin has earned my respect in countless ways, but one of the most glaring is her belief in free market competition. It shows in everything she has done in her career. Shall we review? The woman who would eventually open up competitive bidding on the largest private infrastructure project in North American history has never been afraid to challenge entrenched (and often corrupt) power brokers. From her first days on the city council, she was not about to be CONTROLLED by anyone. She voted against the financial interests of the man who recruited her to the city council! She later challenged the incumbent mayor who had also been one of her key supporters. Yeah, I'll say it: she went Bachmann on him. Let us simply be grateful that in going "Bachmann," she didn't pull an "Obama": try to get him kicked off the ballot.
See, that's the difference between the crony system and the free market system. Cronies attempt to guarantee outcomes -- either by intimidation, bribery or legal shenanigans. Free marketers like Governor Palin promote honest competition and healthy debate on a level playing field. Palin has never subscribed to the "next in line" philosophy so often employed by cronies in the Republican party, most noticiably in presidential politics. Hell, she didn't even endorse her own mother-in-law for mayor (and later regretted it, as Michelle Bachmann may ultimately regret challenging Palin). Can Palin really be surprised that the powerful Tea Party movement would spawn a challenger for her when so often she has insisted there is no single leader of the movement? Don't Americans engaged in the most inspiring grassroots movement in recent political history deserve to have a choice?
And who are we to question Bachmann's motives? Who is to say they aren't just as high-minded as Governor Palin's.
And even if they're not ... so what?
At the end of the day, Bachmann is just another politician Palin will have to defeat in the quest to win more votes. As she has said time and again: contested primaries produce a better product.
And that brings me to my next point ... competition prepares you for the next level by making you a better candidate. On paper, the person who faces the easier path to the nomination should be better off, right? But that's hardly ever the case for presidential challengers. Wrapping up the nomination easily usually means that the public has lost interest in you because you're a sure loser in the general. Drama means interest, and interest means votes.
For presidential challengers, epic primary battles force you to hone your message to appeal to the largest number of people. They also attract the very attention that gives you a boost heading into the general. Heated rivalries suck the oxygen out of the room. We saw this with the monster showdown bewteen Obama and Hillary last time around, and with Bush and McCain in 2000. Seriously, I'm trying to imagine Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour or Tim Pawlenty drawing any attention with Palin and Bachmann in the room.
But how exactly will Gov. Palin compete for the Tea Party vote against Bachmann or any of her other competitors?
She will do something that Obama can never do: she will run on her record.
And if any of Governor Palin's competitors can match her pro-growth, pro-limited government record, more power to them. We have just learned this week the extent of Governor Palin's visionary leadership. Her ACES plan directly led to a $12 billion surplus for Alaska. We'll say it again: $12 billion surplus! Even Alaska Democrats are praising the way Palin's plan attracted private-sector business growth while simultaneously preventing the state from going through the fiscal crisis faced by so many other states. It wasn't inevitable ... it required Palin's leadership and courage to shake things up.
Palin also can point to her record of vetoing wasteful spending projects (the most in Alaska history), forward funding education, and opening up energy development while leveling the competitive field. None of this was a given ... she had to lead.
No one can match Palin on energy development. It is her ace in the hole. In an election that promises to be about "digging" out of a fiscal hell hole, Palin can point to the sure way to get America back on track: unleashing her natural resources. Can you imagine if Palin could do for America's balance sheet what she did for Alaska's? America is only gonna survive our current difficulties if we elect a leader who will stand up to the entitlement classes, call out environmental obstructionists, and sideline the special interest looters.
There is only ONE candidate with a track record of doing just that ... Governor Palin. Through the twists and turns of the heated campaign, let's try to keep that front and center.
Bachmann may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, folks. The next presidential election will be about implementing the Tea Party vision of America. Isn't it only fitting to have two strong, beautiful, fearless conservative women leading the charge, both vying for the opportunity to preside over the rebirth of American exceptionalism?
As a writer, I couldn't think of a better storyline.
And for Tea Party Americans, it may come down to a choice between "good" and "better." In an era of voting for the "lesser" of two evils, that's more than we could ever ask.
Now go ahead and tell I"m completely wrong. Ha!