The ambitious former Alaska governor has hinted that she may be going for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Democrats should be so lucky.
Sarah Palin has indicated that she's open to a presidential bid in 2012. Therefore, President Obama and every one of his supporters should pray nightly that she enters the race and wins the Republican nomination.
Although there's a "be careful what you wish for" risk in that scenario, I refuse to believe that most voters in a general election would choose Palin as their commander in chief. They might choose to put her on a Bridge to Anywhere Else, but definitely not the Oval Office. She's easy on the eyes, but not with her finger on the button. She'd be in over her head so deep, she'd need custom-made stilettos to see her way clear.
Most of us understand this. According to a recent ABC News-Washington Post poll, only 27 percent of registered voters believe that Palin is qualified to be president. But those aren't the numbers that Palin ponders while enjoying her "Mama Grizzly" role on Fox News and headlining events across the nation. She'd much rather concentrate on the 55 percent of conservative Republicans who say she's qualified. Or the whopping 73 percent of Tea Party supporters who believe she's qualified. Palin's base marvels at her like the crowd in "The Emperor's New Clothes," oblivious to the fact that she's butt-naked. But everyone else sees right through her, folksy charm and all.
Change roiled the political landscape Tuesday night, but Palin got mixed grades as a powerbroker. Two of her highest-profile endorsements -- Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada -- lost Senate bids that establishment Republican candidates might have won easily. Another pick, Joe Miller, the Republican candidate for Senate in her home state of Alaska, is poised to lose to Lisa Murkowski, who would become the first Senate candidate to win as a write-in since Strom Thurmond did it in 1954. And although Palin had a winning record overall with her candidates on Tuesday's ballot, many of the winners were in noncompetitive races and considered shoo-ins.
Top Republicans in Washington and in the national GOP establishment understand the dilemma they face in a potential Palin bid in 2012. Embrace it and they can kiss off the White House. Denounce it and they can piss off the Tea Party. But they'll take their chances with the latter, according to a recent Politico article. If the Republicans' No. 1 priority is making sure President Obama serves a single term, than No. 1A is making sure anyone but Palin wins the party's nomination. While her supporters (and silent Democrats with crossed fingers) will urge, "Run, Sarah, run," the GOP power structure will think "No, Sarah, no!"
Republicans must tiptoe on a thin line here, lest they face more wrath and energy from the Tea Party, which has already wreaked enough havoc on party dynamics. Perhaps that's why Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, when asked if Palin is electable, responded, "Sure. Why not?" On NBC's Today Show, South Carolina Gov.-elect Nikki Haley said she was grateful for Palin's endorsement but also said, "It's definitely too early" to reciprocate. Palin's fellow Fox News contributor, Republican strategist Karl Rove, has tried to have it both ways, saying on Face the Nation that Palin is "formidable," but telling The Daily Telegraph that Palin lacks the "gravitas" to be president.
But in some races during primary season, Palin and her Tea Partiers couldn't care less about a candidate's chances in the general election. Winning primaries against establishment picks was victory in itself, and that same reasoning could lead to a Palin presidential candidacy if she's dissatisfied with the field. She told Entertainment Tonight, "If there's nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should [run]." When Fox News' Chris Wallace said Palin had too much going for her -- fortune, fame and freedom -- to run for president, she said she wasn't that selfish: "If the country needed me -- and I'm not saying that the country does and that the country would ever necessarily want to choose me over anyone else -- but I would be willing to make the sacrifices if need be for America."
Yes, Sarah. We need you. Please make the sacrifice. Do it for America.
Deron Snyder is a regular contributor to The Root. He can be reached at email@example.com.