EASTON, Md, June 3, 2011 — Sheeeee’s back!
Just when Republican hopefuls thought it was safe to go back into the political waters, former Governor Sarah Palin roared into sight, literally.
You have to feel sorry for the likes of former Governors Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty. Here they were sitting pretty with many of the other Republican threats out of the race.
Governor Mitch Daniels chickened out, Donald Trump flamed out, and former Governor Huckabee strummed out (playing an obscene song with, who else, but Ted Nugent).
Newt Gingrich had already shot himself in the foot and was hobbling around New Hampshire, suddenly a has-been.
And then pretty, perky Palin rumbled through DC on the back of a Harley at the head of the pack, basically stealing the thunder from Rolling Thunder which had come to honor our veterans.
The organizers didn’t invite her, even labeling her a “distraction.” There’s an understatement. Now Rolling Thunder understands how the GOP candidates must feel.
Romney declared his candidacy this past Thursday on a New Hampshire farm, but the big story all last week leading up to his announcement was not Mitt, but where was Sarah stopping next?
Sure, the media showed up and dutifully recorded Mitt’s announcement, but their ears were cocked for the rumble of the “One Nation” tour bus.
So what did the media ask Mitt? Not about Romneycare, but what did he think about Palin’s grand arrival in New Hampshire. What could the poor guy say, except: “I think it’s great. New Hampshire is action central today.”
Palin’s timing was Palin perfect. Or as she explained: her just happening to roll into New Hampshire on Romney’s big day was a “coincidence.”
Palin Punked the Press
As Palin moved up the East Coast this past week, ogling and ahhhhing over our country’s founding documents, never letting the media know what significant historical site she would bless next with her presence, and with a compliant press trailing her breathlessly, she didn’t leave much space for coverage of Romney or Pawlenty.
Pity T-Paw plowing through Iowa in search of support, even getting flooded out of a Sioux City appearance, but did the press care? Naw. Sorry, T-Paw.
The press, which is now more paparazzi than Fourth Estate, was on the hunt for the next Palin sighting.
Now she’s at Mt. Vernon. Now at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry. Now at the Liberty bell. Is that her at Gettysburg? Look, it’s Lady Liberty with Mama Grizzly.
Oh my gawd, she’s eating pizza with Trump! Oh no, a tornado almost whisked Sarah away!
But all along Palin was zeroing in on the Granite State, home of the first GOP primary. Only thing is that she didn’t bother to let Republican bigwigs in places like New Hampshire and Pennsylvania know she was coming. But they know now.
For Palin watchers this is cotton candy on the Fourth of July. For the GOP this has to be Excedrin time.
What to do about Sarah? That’s the GOP dilemma.
On one hand, she can fire up the base: the social conservatives, the Tea Party, and Evangicals. She can also take the oxygen out of the room and the votes with it. So how to keep that fire in voters’ bellies while not losing oxygen?
If Palin chose to run, giving up her profitable gig at Fox News, she probably could take the primaries, knocking off Romney. In the May 26th Gallup poll, Romney tops the hopefuls at 17% with Palin snapping at his heels at 15%. So she could do it.
However, when she goes head to head with President Obama, she gets creamed. The major polls show her being trounced by nearly 20 points.
Romney would have to fight hard, but he would have a real shot since he trails Obama by only 6.5 points.
True, this is only a snapshot in time, but even Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-WI) would do better than Palin, with Obama taking her by 18.3 points.
So What’s the GOP To Do?
Should Republicans embrace their inner Palin and pray she doesn’t run, deciding instead to take her cable cash, build the big house in Arizona, and churn out books of Palin political philosophy?
If the Republicans haven’t alienated her, then perhaps she will anoint their frontrunner, giving that candidate access to her base.
Or should they suck it up, as she sweeps the caucuses and primaries, destroying any hopes the GOP had for the White House in 2012?
With Palin at the top of the ticket, there’s a good chance that Democrats and Independents would be energized to come out and defeat not only her, but every Republican running anywhere.
The GOP is not left with many options. And as things stand now, Republican Party leaders are marginalized as Palin circumvents their efforts to corral her, much less advise her. You may have thought McCain was a maverick, but Palin is the real thing.
As Palin told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, who was the only reporter allowed to interview her on the tour, she’s not a “conventional politician.” That’s for sure.
Joan of Arc or Joke?
Even Palin’s new film, The Undefeated, which she will first unleash on Iowa next month, features her as an almost Joan of Arc action figure, battling the Forces Out There. (Wonder if she remembers enough history to know that Joan went up in flames.)
The film reintroduces Palin to those Republicans who have been disillusioned by the caricature she has become, showing her as the fighting Governor who took on Exxon and the oil big boys.
I am curious if it will also show her as the Governor who quit only two years into her term.
So is Palin out there running amuck, or is there “a method to her madness?” to quote Hamlet.
If so, she’s crazy like a fox. What looks like a candidate gone wild seems mighty savvy to me.
Palin is no political novice, not with Van Susternen’s husband, John Coale, as the wizard behind the woman.
A well-known Washington lawyer, Coale made headlines when he endorsed Senator John McCain’s presidential bid because of the way he said then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom he backed in the primary, had been treated.
Coale helped Palin start her leadership PAC and got her through some of the thorny questions surrounding her family during and after the campaign.
Coale admits he talks with Palin regularly, describing her as not the person most people think she is. Most insiders say he is more than a mere friend.
As a recent article in the LA Times noted, Coale is the shaper of “Palin’s political image in Washington.”
Why do you think she allowed Van Susteren unlimited access to her as the One Nation bus tour wended its way towards New Hampshire? Why do you think there was a bus tour in the first place?
For all of you doubters out there, who don’t think Palin is testing the waters, trying to see if her candidacy will sink or swim, I have one word for you, direct from Sarah herself:
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