I've said multiple times on my radio program that I have a great deal of appreciation for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. And certainly anyone who reads my work or listens to it knows as much. But I've also said that she would not be one of my top choices for the Republican presidential candidate in 2012.
Topping that list would be names like Mike Pence and Bobby Jindal.
But consistently praising Palin's contributions to American politics while still expressing a hesitancy about seeing her win the Republican nomination has provoked the logical question of why. It's a good question, and there are multiple reasons.
Mona Charen's recent piece at National Review tackles what she sees as some of the reasons Sarah Palin should not run for the White House in 2012. I find myself in agreement with some of these points, less agreement with others:
The Republican nominee should be someone with a vast and impressive record in government and the private sector. Voters chose a novice with plenty of star power in 2008 and will be inclined to swing strongly in the other direction in 2012. Americans will be looking for sober competence, managerial skill, and maturity ? not sizzle and flash.
I think Ms. Charen has a fair point here. Palin will not be the candidate that exudes sober competence in the election. Charen may overestimate the somber mood of the electorate in 2012 however. An energetic and boisterous conservative would have faired well in 2010, so it remains to be seen what transpires over the next two years.
There is no denying that Sarah Palin has been harshly, sometimes even brutally, treated by the press and the entertainment gaggle. But any prominent Republican must expect and be able to transcend that. Palin compares herself to Reagan. But Reagan didn't mud-wrestle with the press. Palin seems consumed and obsessed by it, as her rapid Twitter finger attests, and thus she encourages the sniping. She should be presiding over meetings on oil and gas leases in the North Slope, or devising alternatives to Obamacare. Every public spat with Dave Letterman or Politico, or the "lamestream media," or (God help us) Levi Johnston, diminishes her.
Again, a fair point. It would be wise of Palin to spend the next two years tackling the stupidity of our national policy under Obama to a greater degree than tackling the stupidity of the press. She's won the latter battle. Whether she can win the former is what will seal her fate.
Speaking of television, have you watched "Dancing with the Stars"? Calling the show cheesy would be too generous. Perhaps the former governor should not be blamed for the decisions of her adult daughter. Yet there in the audience we see Sarah and Todd Palin, mugging for the camera and cheering on their unwed-mother daughter as she bumps and grinds to the tune of "Mamma Told Me Not To Come." Her parents had advised her, the 20-year-old Bristol told an interviewer, that she had to stay "in character" if she expected to win. Being "in character" evidently meant descending to the vulgarity that DWTS peddles on a weekly basis. The mama grizzly was apparently unfazed by, or ? equally disturbingly ? unaware of, the indignity. And she is supposed to be a conservative culture warrior?
On this point I find myself agreeing with Ms. Charen. Kids of politicians may be (and should be) off limits for criticism. But when the politician encourages or embraces poor decisions of their children, it becomes a different story. Palin's detractors lament how well Bristol has done in the voting on this show. But an early exit for Bristol might have actually been the best thing to happen to Sarah's presidential hopes.
Charen closes with this assessment:
Palin has many strengths. I admire her fortitude and her principles. Her ability to connect with a crowd is something most politicians can only dream of. I will always remember her 2008 convention speech as a rollicking star turn. She would be terrific as a talk-show host ? the new Oprah.
I don't think Sarah Palin has her eyes on day time television right now. But oh what a drastic improvement it would be to go from Oprah to Sarah.