It's All Downhill For Sarah Palin

According to the New York Post, Gov. unemployed quitter pundit Sarah Palin is having a hard time finding work on the lecture circuit because most groups that pay for big name speakers -- businesses, conferences, universities, etc. -- think she's a "blithering idiot" and are afraid of the effect she would have on their reputation among professionals.

Sarah Palin is said to have pocketed a $7 million advance for the 400-page memoir she turned in four months early, but she might not have such an easy time on the lecture circuit.

After quitting as governor of Alaska in July, Palin signed with the top-notch Washington Speakers Bureau, which also reps George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Condoleezza Rice, hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger, LA Dodgers manager Joe Torre and magician David Blaine.

Palin's bookers are said to be asking for $100,000 per speech, but an industry expert tells Page Six: "The big lecture buyers in the US are paralyzed with fear about booking her, basically because they think she is a blithering idiot."...

"Palin is so uninteresting to so many groups -- unless they are interested in moose hunting," said our insider. "What does she have to say? She can't even describe what she reads."

Thankfully, Mrs. Foreign-Policy-Cred-Means-Seeing-Other-Countries-From-Far-Away may not have much of a political future. My own line of thought has been that in a 2012 GOP primary, she and Mike Huckabee would split the "populist fundamentalist" vote (Jeff Sharlett's term for the Religious Right), leaving a Pawlenty or Romney to take the nomination. And now there's this: Huckabee trounced her in the Values Voter Summit strawpoll. He took 28% while she was left in a Joe Lieberman-style three way tie for second with Pawlenty and Romney at 12%. It's extremely early and this is just a straw poll, but it's also a straw poll among her Carrie Prejean-Phyllis Schlafly-James Dobson base. Maybe I was wrong; maybe the Stephen Baldwins of the world DO know that talking about Iraq when you can't explain the Bush Doctrine is not the best qualification for head-of-state...

On this day of all days, however, I do want to say one thing for the Palins: unlike most conservative families, they really are sacrificing for the wars they support, and I give thanks for Track's safe return from Iraq. I give this thanks in part because I'm heading to California in a few hours for my baby brother's graduation from Marine boot camp. Semper Fi.

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Huckabee Wins Values Voter Straw Poll

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was the first choice of participants in a straw poll held today at the Values Voter Summit sponsored by the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council. Huckabee, a Baptist preacher who finished second in total delegates in the GOP nomination contest last year, took 28 percent in the straw poll easily outpacing the other presumed contenders for the GOP nomination in 2012.

Second place was effectively a four-way tie between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who ran for president in 2008 finishing third; Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty; former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee; and Indiana Congressman Mike Pence. Each of these received between between 12.4 and 11.9 percent of the vote.

Rounding out the field were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the favorite of 6.7 percent of straw poll voters; Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal at 4.7 percent; former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum with 2.5 percent; Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, with just 2.2 percent.

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Mike Huckabee says Palestine has no right to exist

(On an unrelated note, I checked with Jerome today, and will start some regular lite blogging on weekdays. Hence this post.)

I had the chance to meet Mike Huckabee in January 2008. As Republicans go, I'd always been impressed - but from John McCain to Chuck Grassley, Republican stars have a way of losing their shine, and Huckabee is no exception. From Think Progress:

On a visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories this week, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee supported Israel's right to build settlements on Palestinian land. He also stated his opposition to a two-state solution, saying that there is no room for a Palestinian state "in the middle of the Jewish homeland":

Speaking to a small group of foreign reporters in Jerusalem, Huckabee, seen as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, said the international community should consider establishing a Palestinian state some place else.

"The question is should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes, I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That's what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic."

So Huckabee joins Eric Cantor in slamming the American president while on foreign soil - a far cry from the way their party called Dubya's critics unpatriotic. You also have to wonder why Huck ignores history - the middle of the Jewish homeland? Well, yes, it is the Jewish homeland, but the Palestinian people have also been there for centuries upon centuries. It's not just a Jewish homeland, but rather a two-culture homeland.

Matthew Yglesias' headline goes too far: "Huckabee Calls for Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinian Territories." No, he didn't say the people should be removed, just that Israel had a right to be the region's sole government, and that if Palestine has a state, it should be somewhere else. He didn't say the people should be forced to live in that state - that'd be like saying Florida Jews should be deported to Israel. Still, what he did say is pretty bad on its own.

I'd rather see the Republicans nominate Huckabee than I would Palin or Romney, but if Huckabee does emerge as a major 2012 contender, his opponents would be wise to focus on his foreign policy failings. This is not unlike his 2007 slips on Pakistan and Iran.

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Newt on Paganism in America

If Newt Gingrich is to be believed then we are "surrounded by paganism." Speaking at the Rock Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia at an event called "Rediscovering God in America," the former Speaker of the House was joined by Mike Huckabee and Oliver North. The event was closed to reporters but was broadcast live on God.TV, an evangelical Web site. More from the Virginian-Pilot:

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee urged Christians to get involved in politics to preserve the presence of religion in American life.

"I think this is one of the most critical moments in American history," Gingrich said. "We are living in a period where we are surrounded by paganism."

They and other speakers warned about the continuing availability of abortion, the spread of gay rights, and attempts to remove religion from American public life and school history books.

Gingrich and Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, argued the rights of Americans stem from God and to ignore that connection is perilous. The two were among several speakers, including former U.S. Senate candidate Oliver North, at the three-hour "Rediscovering God in America" event. The event was closed to reporters but was broadcast live on God.TV, an evangelical Web site.

Huckabee told the audience he was disturbed to hear President Barack Obama say during his speech in Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday that one nation shouldn't be exalted over another.

"The notion that we are just one of many among equals is nonsense," Huckabee said. The United States is a "blessed" nation, he said, calling American revolutionaries' defeat of the British empire "a miracle from God's hand."

The same kind of miracle, he said, led California voters to approve Proposition 8, which overturned a state law legalizing same-sex marriages.

I'll say this for a man who has a PhD in History, Newt is quite the ignoramus. Paganism, using its broadest definition, refers to ancient mostly polytheistic religions outside the traditions of Abraham and his rather bizarre God. I mean what sort of God asks you to sacrifice your only son. I'm an atheist, hardly a pagan though on warm sunny afternoons I do tend to worship the Sun.

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Handicapping the 2012 Republican field

Senator John Ensign of Nevada is coming to northwest Iowa today for stops at Trans Ova Genetics in Sioux Center and a famous ice cream shop in Le Mars before he delivers a speech in Sioux City.

The American Future Fund invited Ensign as part of a lecture series, and American Future Fund spokesman Tim Albrecht spoke to Radio Iowa about him:

Albrecht describes the 51-year-old Ensign as a "strong" conservative.

"I think that Senator Ensign will be able to introduce himself to a group of active conservatives who are thirsty for a new voice, a new person, to really pick up the banner and carry it on their behalf," Albrecht says.

Are conservatives "thirsty for a new voice," as in someone who hasn't already run for president? The Republican Party has a history of nominating presidential candidates on their second or third try: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain.

Ensign looks like a fairly generic Republican to me. He would need to do something to distinguish himself in the next few years to avoid becoming the Sam Brownback or Tommy Thompson of 2012.

UPDATE: Ensign gave Iowa Politics an interview:

"I'm not running for president," said Ensign, who's chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "What I'm doing is raising my profile. I believe we need new voices and fresh voices in the Republican Party who can articulate a message of our core Republican principles."

More thoughts on likely Republican presidential candidates are after the jump.

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