George Will on Michele Bachmann:

Looking toward 2012, she is not drawn merely to Sarah Palin or other darlings of social conservatives. She certainly is one of those, but she knows that economic hardship and government elephantiasis now trump other issues.

Indeed, but what’s really of interest is the way Bachmann points toward a post-Palin style of “rogue” conservative populism. Palin’s downfall was her inability to interface well with handlers — especially her own handlers. Ultimately, Palin’s need for handlers is to blame. The instinctive retort is that, without handlers, the aspiring politico of today will live and die in attention-starved obscurity. But this is a trick put on by the system, an idiosyncratic emergent property of a concatenation of circumstances. It too shall pass. Imagine if Palin had done her homework first. Eventually, possibly soon, a post-Palin rogue Republican will emerge who will turn the tables on the handling class in American politics. Possibly their candidacy will be a failure. But George W. Bush’s candidacy, which was a success, failed hugely to tap into anything at all roguish in the popular soul, and it burned him for both terms in office. Sometimes folksy Presidents get an iron grip on their handlers. Sometimes they don’t. Here’s betting the next one will — for good or for ill, and probably both.

Articles by James Poulos


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