palin-mask.jpgOne of the top (online) pundits in the country, The Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder, thinks a McCain loss would make Sarah Palin the top contender for a Big Oil-fueled presidential run in 2012. ThinkProgress’s uber-pundit Matthew Yglesias agrees.

Since the notion should be pretty scary to those concerned about clean energy and climate, and since Halloween is coming fast upon us, I thought I’d share with you Ambinder’s frightful thinking:

There’s a suspicion in some McCain loyalist precincts that Gov. Sarah Palin is beginning to play the Republican base against John McCain — McCain won’t let her campaign in Michigan … McCain won’t let her bring up Jeremiah Wright … McCain doesn’t like her terrorist pal talks … Think ahead to 2010 … 2011 … 2012.

Palin is ambitious. Very ambitious.

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And if she wants the job, she’s easily the frontrunner to become THE voice of the angry Right in the Wilderness.

She is a favorite of talk radio and Fox News conservatives, and speaks their language as only a true member of the club can. (Her recent Limbaugh interview was full of dog whistles that any Dittohead would recognize. Including her actual use of the word ditto.)

Palin will have plenty of time to become fluent on national issues. She will easily benefit from the low expectations threshold, and will probably even garner positive reviews from the MSM types who disparage her today …

Palin is an enormously talented politician. When she knows what she’s talking about, or even when she knows enough to fake it, she is very, very appealing, and very good at redirecting questions to whatever her message is …

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With Republicans completely out of power, and President Obama running what is likely to be a bigger government that spends more on social programs, Republicans are likely to run the most anti-government, anti-Washington campaign this side of Barry Goldwater. Again, Palin is perfectly positioned for this campaign.

Republicans tend to pick the next guy in line. Strangely enough, the next guy in line is now Sarah Palin, by virtue of her being the VP nominee this year. She will have the benefit of being both an outsider candidate and the natural heir to the nomination; indeed, the only candidate who will have experience in a general election campaign.

Her main obstacles to the nomination are Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.

The Republicans are going to want someone willing to really go for Obama’s throat, and be able to do it with a smile. Depending on the outcome of the GOP’s War of the Roses, the evangelical community might be a stronger force in 2012 than it was in 2008, at least when it comes to dominating the GOP nominating process. They are a solid bloc of voters and footsoldiers amidst a rapidly splintering coalition.

Palin will be the most well-financed candidate aside from Mitt Romney. She will raise gobs of money from old energy interests (who will be running scared against Obama’s green energy initiatives), and will in turn raise gobs of money from small donors online.

Of course, we must consider black swans and the like. We don’t know what will occur during Obama’s first term, and he could have either a historic high point (like Bush did with 9/11) or a historic low point (like Bush did with Katrina). Or, he could have an unremarkable first term.

We just don’t know. That being said, GOP voters simply don’t nominate new candidates who came from nowhere. Therefore, no matter what events transpire, we can safely predict that the GOP will nominate someone who is already known to us today.

Not everyone agrees. The New Republic scoffs at the notion. The U.K.’s Guardian says, "We’ve seen the last of Sarah Palin If she fails to win the vice-presidency, Palin won’t be back in 2012. Too many forces are aligned against her.”

I’m not so sure. Yes, 10 days is a lifetime in politics — who would have guessed she would sign on for a $150,00 wardrobe and a $10,000 a week makeup artist — let alone three years. She most certainly has the hunger and that is often the biggest factor.


This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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