Sarah Palin is having a bad month. After having brazenly helped lead the Tea Party movement, which helped the Republicans takeover the House of Representatives last fall, the sky appeared the limit for this former half-term Governor of Alaska.
But things change. After the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, three weeks ago, Palin to many — whether fair or unfair — became associated with attacking Democratic Congressman with vitriolic rhetoric. Her online message dedicated to attacking the media’s “blood libel” against her, just hours before what even conservative pundit Glenn Beck stated was Obama’s best speech while in office, didn’t exactly do her any favors. She appeared petty and malicious, proving exactly what her detractors have argued about her since she came onto the scene almost two years ago. The Republican establishment, which has been waiting for an opportunity to dump her, took it when they failed to rise to her defense.
Her response and the reactions to it from across the political spectrum indicate what most people have known: Sarah Palin will never be President. Shocking, I know! Although she more than likely had no direct or indirect role in the Tucson shooting, people will likely be a bit warier of her rhetoric, which, if her latest interview with Sean Hannity is an indicator of her future actions, doesn’t seem to be abating. The lackluster defense of fellow Republicans also indicates a far-reaching coalition against her within the GOP establishment. Not even Ronald Reagan was able to win the nomination with virtually no support from the establishment, and she’s no Reagan.
Now even though I greatly dislike everything she stands for, I like Sarah Palin. She has done wonders for people who write about politics. In the age of GoogleNews and internet blogs, mentioning her name in any opinion column is sure to get a few extra hits and comments than would normally be expected.
So for all of the help that she has given me, I would like to offer her a bit of advice: don’t run for President.
I’m not just saying that because I can’t stand listening to her. If that were the case, I’d tell her to run. There would be no better way to ruin her than for the nation to watch as her candidacy runs into ultimate defeat before a ballot is cast in New Hampshire. Electoral meltdowns like that only come once or twice in a generation and would leave her publicly humiliated and repudiated by the voters who her supporters claim she represents.
It would also take away the lead story in most media outlets when they talk about Palin. Every evening on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and so on, you’re likely to see at least one segment talking about her future. “What will Sarah do” or “Will she run” tend to be the headlines as pundits on the right and left speculate about her future. If she ran, there wouldn’t be any need for more speculation. They would know what she’s doing and suddenly the story would change from “what’s her future” to “how is she doing in the polls and in raising money compared to her competitors.”
She’s also likely to split the very conservatives whom she purports to represent. In our plurality rewarding system of elections, it doesn’t cut it for movements to simply be numerically superior to opponents. If they want that, they should consider moving to Belgium. If the Tea Party remains divided due to Sarah’s entry into the race, it will permit the more moderate elements of the GOP to unite around a candidate like Mitt Romney, who is arguably the father of Obamacare as well as a notorious flip flopper.
Her movement would be better served if she bowed from the 2012 race and allowed them to unite around a less internally divisive candidate like Mike Huckabee. Or, she could help unite it around another candidate. Imagine the headline “Sarah Palin: the GOP’s Kingmaker.” Running for President would take away her clout among GOP candidates who would no longer be jockeying for her support and her electoral influence. Entering the race, and her almost certain defeat, would leave her open to attacks within her own party and expose her true electoral strength within the Republican Party.
But, alas, the odds are still fixed in favor of her running. Her performance these last few weeks has shown that her default setting is to attack, which means that she is unlikely to back down from the challenge of a Presidential campaign after such a long build-up.
If she does decide to run, it would be a shame not just for her but also, and more importantly, for me. Because when all is said and done, she really does not stand a chance of winning the GOP’s nomination. And when she exits the race as a loser, with her standing in the party and the media severely diminished, I — and for that matter the media — won’t have Sarah to boost readership. And then what are we gonna do?
Asst. Editorials Editor James Sunshine is a College sophomore from Boca Raton, Fla.