Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What Is the Future for Sarah Palin?

The continuing fascination around Sarah Palin seems to have no bounds. How many other losing vice presidential candidates would still be in the pubic eye after this long? That she said she would not run for re-election as Alaska’s governor was not all that surprising. After all, many politicians with ambitions for national office like present Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney made the decision to leave office at the end of their terms to concentrate on future campaigns.

But the Palin’s decision to resign from her present term is a stunner from someone who was thought to be in the running for a future presidential bid. With one of the main raps against her being a lack of government experience, leaving office in the middle of her term would seem to make her a long shot for any real consideration even among many Republican strategists.

So why did she really resign and what are her future options?

Before trying to answer those questions, let’s take a look back at her part in the presidential campaign. In one of my previous postings back in August,
Is Sarah Palin Fit to Be Vice President?, I concluded with…
…in the end, we may look back at this risky choice as having sealed John McCain’s defeat in November.
In looking back, the choice was indeed risky. But it really didn’t seal McCain’s defeat — more than anything else, the terrible economy did. And in the position McCain was in at the time, perhaps he really had no better choice.

Going back to the months right before the GOP Convention, Barack Obama’s campaign was clearly gaining momentum. After the prior European visits of President Bush and McCain got little more than a yawn, the spectacle of countless thousands of admirers gathering for Obama’s appearance in Berlin left little doubt of who was getting all of the attention from voters and the media. While McCain could have selected a more solid running mate like Pawlenty or Romney, the campaign would likely have continued to die a slow death from neglect.

So while many speculated that the VP choice of Palin was to attract former Hillary Clinton supporters, I suspect that those behind the McCain campaign chose Palin to recapture some of that buzz that had been lost to the Obama campaign. And in that respect, it really worked!

Immediately afterward, everybody in the media wanted to talk to Palin. There was that spunky personality and sex appeal along with a curiosity of whether someone so inexperienced could possibly have what it takes to be VP or possibly president someday. And the more the McCain campaign made her unavailable, the more the media wanted her.

But the more we heard from her, the more we discovered that there was very little substance behind the style. Her knowledge of the world around her seemed to be so appallingly lacking that even some conservative pundits turned on her during the campaign.

So coming back to today, it seems unlikely that she will be seriously considered as a future presidential candidate. The only exception would be if President Obama maintains his present high popularity into 2012 and nobody else in the GOP wants to run and take the chance of getting crushed by a popular incumbent.

If a run for political office is not in her future, there is always a future for her in media — especially on a conservative outlet. Most of us have seen her
sports reporter footage on an Alaskan TV station back in 1988 before getting into politics. No doubt the glow in the national spotlight has given Palin the urge to stay there and returning to Juneau will not do that. Just as important, Palin cannot be signed to a TV deal until she leaves office. Unless a scandal erupts to make her unmarketable, I see her on Fox News in the not too distant future...which is sure as hell better than the damage she would inflict while in office!

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