Normally, I try to avoid predictions. But after seeing and hearing Sarah Palin speak (from very close proximity) and reading others’ accounts of it (getting their impressions) and giving it a lot of thought, I think I can make a prediction on whether or not Sarah Palin will run for president this time around.
And I think the answer is no.
So, then, just what the hell is she doing, bombing around the country and (mostly) acting like a candidate?
Her dectractors have their own answers. Self-aggrandizing. Self-promoting. Increasing her value as a speaker and visibility as a way to make more money.
Horse crap. She’s pretty much maximized all that without this running around.
Laying groundwork for a future run. Just soaking up the attention and near-worship.
Again, horsecrap. She also gets a lot of insults and denigration and burns up a lot of time she could spend with her family.
So, why is she doing this?
Here’s my gut hunch, pretty much devoid of any concrete evidence: we, the people, aren’t the object of her moves. We’re just the props. We’re just the tools she’s using.
No, the real target of her moves are the actual Republican candidates.
As noted elsewhere, Mitt Romney went to a Tea Party event on Sunday, and Palin was at one on Monday. Romney, the quasi-homeboy (he was Massachusetts’ governor, and owns a home in New Hampshire) and actual top-tier candidate, drew about half the crowd Palin did. And that’s not even discounting his supporters he brought with him.
The message she’s sending? Guys and gal, take careful note: if I get into this race, you all will lose support as all of my people who have chosen to settle for you will flock to me. And all those “undecideds” who are still holding out for me will suddenly swing to me. And I will suck up all the oxygen in the media attention. Don’t make me do that. And the best way to do that is to look at the things that all my supporters like, and get right with them.
She’s not looking to win the nomination for herself, she’s looking to win the nomination for her principles. She’s not looking to be the standard bearer, but the Betsy Ross who stitches it together.
Look at her history. She’s never been slow to sacrifice her own goals for her principles. When she was under attack by bullshit ethics charges by her detractors, she didn’t fight like hell to keep her office. She looked at it very coolly and calmly and rationally, and realized several things: she’d already fulfilled all her campaign promises, the bullshit attacks weren’t going to cease any time soon, the legal costs to her family and the state were only going to get higher and higher, and she had a great deal of trust in her lieutenant governor to keep the state going fine. If she did the unimaginable for any high-profile politician — resign and willingly give up the power and prestige and, possibly, cripple her future career — then things would work out pretty damned well for all others concerned. So she did so without a moment’s hesitation.
So here she has two choices: she can run, herself, to get her agenda forward, or she can play kingmaker (or queenmaker) and make certain that whoever does get the nomination knows full well that they did so in part because she let them. And she will be a potent force in the campaign against Obama — if they embrace at least a part of her agenda, which is backed by some of the most passionate grass roots people this side of the Ronulans. (The Star Trek nerd in me likes that better than “Paulbots.”)
But that means she has to keep playing the “will she or won’t she” game, at least publicly. And it’s working — three months ago, who could imagine Mitt Romney actually going to a Tea Party event and trying to sway that crowd?
Keep playing the game, Sarah. It’s working.