Sarah Palin

Full disclosure, she was pretty hot before the starvation diet made her resemble Skeletor a little too much. Let us remember the good times (i.e. before any of us had heard of her)...

But it’s looking more and more like Sarah Palin will run for president.

The past few weeks have had some very politically interesting developments. Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels and Donald Trump have all decided against running for the Republican nomination for president. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, and all the rest seem inclined to sit it out.

This is all very good news for Mitt Romney. He’s the frontrunner, and he’s on the short list of candidates the Republican establishment is willing to back. The others are Jon Huntsman, who just doesn’t strike me as a serious contender at this point for so very many reasons; Tim Pawlenty, who can’t raise money and seems to be running as the beige candidate; and Newt Gingrich, who might already have crippled himself. In fact, I fully expect Romney’s position to strengthen over the next few weeks. He’s the best-known candidate and the frontrunner of the pack, and as the reality begins to dawn that this is the field, Romney should consolidate support from the people holding out for someone better. Believing that Romneycare will disqualify Romney is to assume that the far-right’s ideology is consistent, when the truth is that no ideology is consistent. Aside from Protestantism, Pawlenty’s got nothing Romney doesn’t have, and it’s hard to see how he convinces people not to back Romney. Then follows consolidation. And then Romney will be inevitable.

What’s more, there’s no obvious right-populist candidate at this point. Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann are possibilities, but they have nowhere near the stature with the base that Palin has. Here’s the thing though…they could get there if Palin doesn’t run. If she does run, I find it very hard to believe another populist candidate will be able to get attention. Palin would suck all the oxygen out of the tent for sure.

I know the arguments for why Palin might not run: she’s an entertainer, she just wants wealth and celebrity, she’s a basket case who isn’t disciplined enough to win a campaign. But, in a way, these things actually add to the reason why it would make sense for her to run. Here’s why: assuming that Palin is only interested in becoming filthy rich and doesn’t want to do the job of the presidency at all (safe enough assumptions, in my opinion), then all she needs to worry about is that people stop buying her books, watching her reality shows, and so on. The most likely way of this coming about is if people just ignored her and left her with a rapidly-diminishing cult of personality, one leading to rapidly-diminishing monetary returns. Palin’s enemy isn’t antipathy–she eats that for breakfast. Her enemy is apathy, and it’s already creeping up on her. I would think that an entire presidential campaign going by without a Palin candidacy, in which conservative Republicans found an entirely new set of ideological idols and campaign crushes, would be disastrous for Palin. She’d become yesterday’s news, and suddenly her fans would be flocking to, say, Michele Bachmann. Bachmann would be getting way more attention than Palin, as Bachmann would be an active candidate with an electoral base–Palin’s base–and not just a reality star with a viewing audience. Bachmann could lift Palin’s act and add in little things like sentence structure and some sort of sensible timing for outbursts. If I know anything about Palin, my guess is that this would drive her absolutely nuts. When you get down to it, Palin offers nothing that a dozen young right-wingers couldn’t offer nearly as well. All she has in her favor is that she already has a certain established status in the party, that’s all, and it’s very tenuous.

The bottom line is that, under the most cynical rationale, running makes sense for Palin. If she runs, she keeps her profile unless she loses badly, which would kill it slightly sooner than if she didn’t run at all. If she doesn’t run, my guess is that she’ll be almost entirely forgotten within a matter of years. Life goes on and, without Palin, Bachmann could easily usurp her mentor’s place. I enthusiastically welcome a Palin run because she’s unelectable unless the situation in America becomes so awful that a President Palin would be the least of our problems. That’s perhaps a little too tightly tautological, but I can’t tell you how not afraid of Palin I am, and a McGovern-like loss could finally start to set in motion a more centrist direction for the GOP. Or so I hope.

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  1. 0whole1 says:

    If she’s in it at all, I’m thinking she’s in it for a VP slot. Only one debate, the hope that she’ll be able to have no real press conferences again, the hope that there’s no real work if she wins.

    God help the running mate that chooses her though.

  2. Rupert Psmith says:

    Very sharp analysis, Lev. My only question is she is remarkably lazy and running for president is a LOT of work. I suppose she could run sort of half-assed and still accomplish the goal of staying a leading figure on the Right… In terms of work ethic though, I think Bachmann will eat her lunch. Iowa is all about the glad-handing of retail politics and I think Bachmann will connect well there with the evangelical GOP base. Neither Palin nor Bachmann have a chance in New Hampshire so then it’s South Carolina to determine the anti-Romney candidate and I’m not seeing the social conservative/rural populist vote coalesce on anyone yet but maybe that would be where Palin could make a stand? In any case, I hope Palin does run even if it’s just a cynical promotion tour as she is always entertaining.

    • Lev says:

      I think half-assed is probably an optimistic guess at how much effort she’ll put into it. But people underestimate how good a foil Romney is for her, and if she gets in she kills off Pawlenty, Bachmann and Cain. None of them will get any sort of media attention with the sentient media magnet that is Palin hanging out.

  3. Lockwood says:

    I’ve been arguing for the last couple of years that Palin will run, by much the same logic you pursue. She wants the spotlight, attention, and adoration. More important, she wants the income and power that come with those. She does not have the intelligence or work ethic to run a winning campaign, but that’s beside the point. She blows the campaign, blames lamestream media for its implosion, then contracts as a talking head on Faux News and/or other facets of the Tea Punditry, nd laughs all the way to bank. As you note, her continued viability as a conservative voice seems to hinge on her running (though not winning or placing), but I disagree that even the most catastrophic failure would hurt her income potential. These people thrive on scapegoats for their own failures.

    • Lev says:

      I think you might have a point there--it is amazing to me how frequently Republicans prop up epic failures, like Newt Gingrich or George W. Bush.

  4. Metavirus says:

    I definitely think she’ll run but I doubt she’ll make much of a serious effort. I agree with a lot of the above in terms of laziness, etc. She definitely needs a failed primary run to keep the tiller primed.

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