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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Economy of Effort

There’s a lot going on this morning, what with stocks sliding in the wake of last night’s debt limit fiasco in the House and a bad GDP report, and people in Washington finally beginning to realize that yes, the Tea Party folk are perfectly willing and able to deliberately wreck the U.S. economy if they don’t get their way.
But because it didn’t get that much attention, and yet it represents a microcosm of the strange new territory Americans politics seems to have entered, I want to mention a small but telling incident from yesterday.
At 4:03 p.m., Sarah Palin did a Facebook post that didn’t explicitly tell Republican House members how to vote on the Boehner plan, but did pretty clearly threaten primary challenges to those who forgot the mandate they supposedly had to turn Washington upside down. It also strikes the classic Palin note of self-identification with right-wing activists in “flyover country” against “elitists.”

I respectfully ask these GOP Freshman to re-read this letter and remember us “little people” who believed in them, donated to their campaigns, spent hours tirelessly volunteering for them, and trusted them with our votes. This new wave of public servants may recall that they were sent to D.C. for such a time as this….
P.S.–Everyone I talk to still believes in contested primaries.

A prediction: If the withdrawal of the Boehner plan last night due to insufficient Republican support turns out to be a big moment in this fiscal melodrama, the Palin Facebook post will get a lot of the credit or blame, depending on your point of view.
If I’m right about that, Palin will have proven once again that for all her manifest flaws, nobody quite knows how to play the media–both the “lamestream” and the conservative ideological variety–quite like St. Joan of the Tundra. I mean, really: the Republican House Study Committee and Jim DeMint managed to badger all but one presidential candidate plus 183 conservative organizations into signing the “cut, cap, and balance” pledge that swore signatories to exhibit unwavering hostility to any debt limit increase plan other than their own. Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty have been careening around Iowa the last week shrieking at Congress to vote down the Boehner plan. Sarah Palin, meanwhile, waited to the very last hour and simply did a Facebook post, yet it’s her intervention that will probably be remembered.
You have to admire Palin’s economy of effort.
UPDATE: Dave Weigel has a good metaphor for Palin’s involvement in the debt limit vote:

Her Facebook note was familiar to anyone who’s put out a call for friends to help him move, and watches one of the friends show up at the last minute to lift one box then dig into the pizza you’ve provided.

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