I do not prophesy.
I only offer a calculated human prediction:
Obama will be reelected in 2012.
There, you heard it here first.
Why do I think so?
America, its luck exhausted, at last has a president from the academic culture, that grating blend of knowingness and unrealism. But the reaction against this must somewhat please him. That reaction is populism, a celebration of intellectual ordinariness. This is not a stance that will strengthen the Republican Party, which recently has become ruinously weak among highly educated whites. Besides, full-throated populism has not won a national election in 178 years, since Andrew Jackson was reelected in 1832.
I don’t dislike Palin. I would be happy with her as my Congressman or even my Senator. I would be wary of her as Governor, less perhaps than would be the case if my state did not have such a fearsome Democratic machine. My nervousness at the idea of Palin as Vice President is in proportion to the age and unwellness of her running mate. I could not be comfortable with her as President. She is energetic, intelligent in a superficial way, and some find her charismatic. She is also inexperienced and, judging from her resignation as Governor of Alaska, not as driven by a sense of public duty as I would prefer to see in a leader.
But, through no particular defect of her own, she has become the most divisive figure in Republican/conservative/libertarian politics. She is not a divisive figure in Democratic/liberal politics, of course; she is uniformly loathed on that side of the fever swamps. If she does not disavow, convincingly, any intention of running for President in 2012, she will be at best the kingmaker and at worst the Republican nominee. Either bodes very poorly for the Republicans, or for any other movement around which opposition to Obama congeals.
Meanwhile, Obama is slowly learning the art of triangulation; his is a steep learning curve but the lesson is being driven home forcefully. And he somehow retains the affection of over 40% of the voters. That’s all he needs if Palin does not take herself out of the picture and make room for another charismatic opposition leader. And there is no indication whatsoever that Palin means to do that.