Kristi Noem and The Mama Grizzlies find themselves flush with cash.
In 2008 people faulted the Republican party for not having a cohesive message. The Democrats had Barack Obama—a unifying force unto himself who stood for something clear, simple, and easy to express: hope. Republicans, on the other hand, were all over the map—they had no consistency. They had a creepy, old and possibly senile vietnam vet paired with a startlingly incoherent former beauty queen. And the closest they got to cohesive messaging was something akin to, “If you let the Democrats win, the terrorists will kill us all.”
Fast forward two short years, and the seed that was Sarah Palin seems to have bloomed a few more flowers. Suddenly there is an army of Tea Party Mama Grizzlies running in tandem, the arms of their agendas linked like a giant rouged and rogue wall of Red Rover. “Red rover red rover, send Democrats on over.”
The Republicans have stumbled on a new kind of consistency. The message is a little amorphous (anti-gay, anti-immigration, anti-economic stimulus, anti-taxes…) but the appearance is highly consistent. The party has found its new message: female, attractive, and tough.
And for the most part, it’s working. Which makes sense—we tend to like consistency. We usually don’t have enough time in the day to keep up with friends, say nothing of political candidates, so party messaging is important. And “female, attractive and tough” is a message that tends to grab our attention.
Yesterday’s fundraising announcements revealed that four Tea Party candidates, Sarah Palin (come on, you know she’ll be a candidate in 2012) Michelle Bachmann, Sharon Angle (although she falls short on one pillar of the party messaging) and South Dakota congressional candidate Kristi Noem have all turned in impressive fundraising performances in the third quarter of this year.
Kristi Noem, referred to as “the Next Sarah Palin” in the Washington Post (wasn’t that supposed to be Christine O’Donnell?) raised fully twice as much as her Democratic opponent, incumbent Herseth Sandlin.
Political parties always change identity and appearance as one generation rolls inexorably into the next. For ages it seemed the Republican party was the party of old white men with old oil money. When John McCain tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate, it was supposed to be a lark—a last-ditch effort, a joke, almost. Who would have thought that the choice would precipitate an entire generational shift in appearance and messaging in the Republican party.
With Palin, Bachmann, O’Donell and Noem marching in lock-step as a unified army toward the November midterm elections it’ll be interesting to see how well the consistency pays off, and whether we’re looking at a new face of Republican dynasty. If they’re successful, we’ll have to see what kinds of policy choices “female, attractive and tough” translate to. While female, attractive, and tough all sound like good qualities to me, something tells me I don’t want to find out.