Let me say first of all that I loved Sarah Palin when she was announced as John McCain’s running mate. To the extent I am biased, I am biased in her favor. After she was announced, I did a lot of research on her, since I am the kind of person who actually likes to know about the people I vote for. I loved the fact that a hard working, normal person had managed to take on the establishment up in Alaska. As a woman, I found it refreshing that another woman was seeking high office based on her own qualifications, and not because she was riding on her husband’s coat-tails or using her affiliation with a famous political family. The more I found out about Palin, the more I liked her. And then she gave that speech at the Republican Convention – she blew me away. I had recorded it, and I ended up watching it three times – each time with a different set of neighbors who I invited over to see it. I also think she blew away the debate with Biden.
Then came the disastrous interviews with Couric and Gibson, the media attacks, the unfair (but funny) SNL skit… was Palin clue-less, or was it the McCain camp mishandling her? To me it was obvious that Palin did have some gaps in knowledge when it came to some areas, particularly foreign affairs – but, on the other hand, she wasn’t going for the highest office in the land. And given the fact that she is obviously a quick study, I felt sure that, if she did get elected, she would quickly pick up what she needed to know. She certainly would have made less of a mess in foreign affairs than Hillary Clinton seems to have done.
So, despite everything, I was still very pro-Sarah and looking forward to voting for her in 2012 if she decided to run.
Unfortunately, when she gave up the Governorship of Alaska, she made me have serious doubts. I understand that the media treatment of her has been brutal – and way beyond anything most politicians have to put up with. I realize that as a mother, her first instinct is going to be to protect her family. And the whole Levy Johnston thing – who knew the guy would be so incredibly disloyal to the mother of his child as to tell vicious tales about her mother?
However, despite the inferno of bad press that Palin was subjected to – she had a reputation as a fighter, and I was hoping she could persevere. When she resigned, she not only made me wonder if she really is as tough as I thought she was, she also let down the people who voted for her.
The reason this is relevant to her possible run as President – who really thinks that if Palin gets nominated again, and then runs and gets elected, she won’t have to run through the gamut of even more brutal media attention? Ronald Reagan was treated shabbily and dishonestly by the press. So was George W. Bush. It’s a truism that if you are a conservative politician in America who is actually accomplishing something towards the advancement of conservatism – you are going to be a huge target for media attacks.
Given that Palin bailed on Alaska, does she have what it takes not to bail on the rest of us if we give her a second chance? To me that is the most important question.
Now, I do think she is being quite clever to position herself in the public eye in a different way – she’s obviously re-branding herself. And I think no matter what she will be able to exert a great deal of power in the conservative movement as a King-maker. But does she have what it takes to become our next President? On that question, as far as I’m concerned – she needs to prove herself to me.