Om Pandya, Staff Writer
Ideology: Conservative | Writing from: New York, NY
The spotlight was on Sarah Palin the last couple weeks with the release of her new book “Going Rogue”, a life story of the former Alaska governor filled with accusations leveled against the McCain presidential campaign advisors. The book has been a smash hit so far, easily outstripping Joe Biden’s autobiography in press coverage, with both lovers and haters of Palin clamoring to get their hands on it.
In the weeks following the release, political punditry has been kicking around the subject of Palin’s possible presidential aspirations, the two million-dollar questions being if she will run and if so, can she win. As for the first question, no answer is better than the last, because if Palin has proved one thing over the last few years, it is that she truly is a maverick that no one can predict. The book release combined with several interviews and endorsements of political campaigns could be preparation for a 2012 run or it could just be Palin the businesswoman trying to sell more copies of her book. The content of the book could be a blame-shifting effort in an attempt to clear her name and improve her image for 2012 or it could be an honest account of what really happened.
However, the temptation to run is definitely there, since the GOP has very few candidates that actually have a chance of winning in 2012. The frontrunner Mike Huckabee turns off many swing voters with his overly folksy attitude and alienates the pro-business side of the Republican Party with his moderate fiscal policy. Close on his heels is Mitt Romney, who while capable of wooing independent voters, cannot ignite the same passion in the base that Palin can. There is a political vacuum in the GOP, waiting to be filled with a candidate of presidential material, and Sarah Palin might just slip into it.
Adding to that is the media’s obsession with Sarah Palin. While coverage was very negative in 2008, it is steadily improving. An Obama-Palin race would receive massive media coverage and high ratings, far more than an Obama-Romney or Obama-Huckabee race. Media networks will find it in their advantage to treat Palin favorably (at least until she wins the nomination) and kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, they will increase their ratings of course, and secondly, they will make the path easier for Obama to win since Palin is far easier of an opponent than Romney or Huckabee. However, we cannot expect her status as media darling to last past the primary, as the media love affair with Obama is not predicted to wane soon.
Also, her “rogue” and impulsive actions could be a positive for the primary season but could hurt her in the long run. The Republican base would appreciate a breath of fresh air from the choreographed campaign of 2008 and in their eyes Sarah Palin can do no wrong. But on the campaign trail a few spontaneous comments that can be construed as politically incorrect, racist, or unknowledgeable can sink a campaign. Her appeal is that she is real and raw, no hiding behind advisors or following strategists like a dog on a leash. The only problem is that if she gets the nomination she will be going up against a skilled and polished politician handled by the best political team money can buy. If she insists on running her campaign her own way, she could potentially fumble a speech or make a politically fatal mistake that any campaign manager could have easily avoided.
If we do see a Palin-Obama matchup in 2012, it could quite possible be the best argument against the primary system we have seen in a long time. Two candidates from the extremes of their respective parties might convince moderates to just stay home or support an independent candidate. Independent voters have a strongly negative view of Palin, and the recent elections of Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie shows how important independent voters are in any election. Sarah Palin just does not command the same control over them as Obama did in 2008. Her enthusiasm and charisma will serve her to win the nomination if she so wishes, but winning the presidency is a bit out of reach for the former governor of Alaska.