The ongoing Sarah Palin drama is almost as bad the media extravaganza for the Michael Jackson memorial (here)!
So what to make of Dan Riehl's latest essay, "Why It's Time To Move Beyond Sarah Palin"?
As a Palin fan, I wanted to re-visit this John Fund piece I previously linked after taking some time to consider the implications of what appears to be a thoughtful, balanced and fair analysis surrounding Palin's recent resignation. Given the facts, it is all but impossible to see her as a viable presidential contender in the near term. And we need a good one in 2012 in the face of Obama's ever growing agenda ....
I believe she is a fine person with much to give to and do for America and conservatism. But I hope it isn't about running for president in 2012. I simply can't judge her ready for that given everything we've seen. I wish it were possible to reach a different conslusion. Unfortunately, right now I can't.
My position all along has been that Palin will be the odds-on frontrunner in 2016, assuming that Barack Obama is reelected to a second term.
Yet, as Chris Cillizza laid out recently, all signs are pointing to a Palin candidacy in 2012. She's the "it girl" of American politics. She continues to have a huge block of support among the conservative base of the Republican Party. But even more importantly, from Gallup's new survey: "The poll finds 70% saying their opinion of Palin has not changed as a result of her resignation" (via Memeorandum).
That's big, and it's still two and a half years before the first caucuses and primaries. Pamela Geller is pumped, "PALIN LEADS POLLS! The Coming of the Second American Revolution." And as Jennifer Rubin notes, "If the Alaska governor can learn the hard lessons of the last few months, her career may not be over."
In fact, contrary to Dan Riehl's fears, the decisions surrounding Palin's resignation may eventually be less important than how well she positions herself for a run in the primaries. Palin's two biggest goals can be summed up thus: Iowa and New Hampshire. Politically, Palin needs money. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama raised $100 million in 2007, the year leading into the primaries. The "entry fee" for the 2012 primaries will probably be twice that.
A good early indicator of Palin's donor power will be in how quickly she retires the $500,000 in legal bills she racked up defending against ethics charges. After that, let's see how well she performs in the money race. Readers should check this long comment at Conservatives for Sarah Palin, from March of this year, speculating on a Palin 2012 run for the nomination. The main suggestion at that time? Decline a second term as Alaska's governor, then, build a massive war chest for 2012:
... I believe that Sarah Palin should not run for re-election if she means to pursue the presidency in 2012.
Folks, $100m is a lot of money. I believe that SarahPAC can raise that kind of money or even more by November 2010. SarahPAC has the potential to match the $749m that Obama raised for his entire 2008 campaign.
I have no doubt that Palin can raise the $100 million, and with $200 million she'll deter a number of other second-tier candidates from throwing their hats in the ring.
But what else? If she'll have popular support, and money, what else does Sarah Palin need? Well, as Fred Barnes noted yesterday, Palin is awash in charisma and magnetism, but she needs "experience in office and enough knowledge of foreign and domestic issues to talk about them persuasively." For 2012, she's going to have to (1) develop a compelling narrative for her campaign that also works to mute criticism of her early departure from office, and (2) build up a substantial base of policy knowledge.
These are large tasks, but not insurmountable. As for the narrative, Palin should form a campaign organization right away. Someone remind her (or her advisors) that President Bill Clinton ran an effective ad campaign against the GOP in June 1995 (pushing for an assault weapons ban). And in November 1995, Clinton hammered Republicans on "Medicare and Medicaid, education, and the environment." Since Clinton, as the incumbent president, was assured the Democratic nomination, the practical effect was that the 1996 general election campaign began in the summer of 1995.
On policy knowledge, Palin needs to write her tell-all book from the 2008 campaign. She'll need to begin a wonkish speaking tour on her specialties of energy, the environment, and free-market economics. On foreign policy, she'll help herself with travel and by gaining the advice and consent of top experts in foreign relations.
But most of all, she cannot continue to be dragged into the vindictive politics of personal destruction. After she leaves office at the end of this month, she'll need to recede from the media glare on start amassing her campaing war chest. The expertise will come in time, although as much as I love her, my hunch in that she wouldn't be damaged politically be skipping the 2012 election cycle. That situtation is looking increasingly unlikely (IMHO) so she'll need to fire up some version of the strategic plan I've laid out here.