Say what you will about Sarah Palin, you have to admit she is an expert at attracting media attention. Just as the Republican primary begins to heat up, still with no clear frontrunner, Palin has announced a bus tour across the North East, including a visit to the crucial primary state of New Hampshire. The bus tour is timed to coincide with the premier of a documentary about Palin, which will be first released in the other key primary state, Iowa. All this activity is timed to soak up the maximum amount of media attention, exploiting the rumors of a potential Presidential run to further raise Palin’s profile. Will she run? My personal suspicion is that nobody knows, including Palin, the bus tour is likely an exploratory move, designed to measure the level of support she can muster among blue state Republicans. Either way, one thing is certain, regardless of her final decision, she is helping Romney and Obama at the expense of her own conservative base.
What if she does run? Three possible outcomes. If she wins the primary she will be destroyed by Obama in the general election. Every poll ever conducted on the subject shows that Palin is the weakest candidate Obama could potentially face. Currently the President is at 50% approval despite a stagnant economy and a collapsing dollar, Palin on the other hand has shockingly high negativity numbers among not only Democrats and independents, but Republicans. The day Palin is nominated, Obama has won reelection. If she runs for the nomination but loses, she will effectively shutout any other conservative candidate from gaining the nomination, this means that Romney would be the Republican candidate in the 2012 election. Romney, with his past of supporting abortion, gay rights, and government healthcare, will be a weak candidate; hamstrung by his past, rejected by half his own party, he will likely lose to Obama. Even if he somehow defeats the incumbent, Republicans will be stuck with a weak, moderate, ideologically unreliable President.
But what if she decides not to run? Even worse. By attracting the national spotlight at this critical moment, she is taking away precious media time from conservative candidates struggling to be heard. Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and any as of yet undeclared conservative candidates, need to get their message out, without name recognition and media attention they stand no chance against Romney. Every second spent covering Palin is directly stolen from these candidates, if Palin does not run, she still can hurt conservative candidates by depriving them of media oxygen. Furthermore, while Palin continues to flirt with the possibility of a campaign, these candidates are not taken seriously since they are all basically fighting for the Palin constituency, if she runs, they are finished. With the conservative wing of the GOP fractured between several candidates all overshadowed by Palin, Romney’s billions, name recognition, and massive campaign infrastructure will be enough to deliver him the nomination, and then we’ll find out if he decides to clean house like house cleaning in Dallas.
So what should Sarah do? She should go fishing. Seriously, she needs to unequivocally declare she will not run for President, disappear from the spotlight, and come back a year from now when the nominee is chosen. Once that is done she can stump for the candidate and help the GOP gain the Presidency. So far she seems to have chosen the opposite course, hobbling conservatives instead of helping them.