Sarah Palin’s running for president. The best political news I’ve heard in a while, it should be enough to put a smile back on any sullen Democrat’s face.
You might have guessed, as I did, that when the former vice-presidential nominee resigned halfway through her single term as Alaska governor, she had traded elected office for the world of media celebrity. But we, apparently, were wrong. Proof of Palin’s presidential intention is no further than the shock-and-awe campaign she recently undertook against veteran political reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei for their Oct. 31 Politico story.
Allen and VandeHei reported unnamed Washington Republicans want to block Palin from becoming their 2012 nominee. The tea party princess responded by calling Allen and VandeHei “jokes,” and telling the pair to “man up.”
That Palin went to such extraordinary, and fierce, lengths to knock down that story during the final week of what was a hectic season of campaigning for her endorsed candidates in the midterm elections, well, it doesn’t take an expert to see that perhaps the story hit just a bit too close to home. There should now be no doubt that Palin very much intends to be the one to try to knock Barack Obama out of the Oval Office. To which I say, “Bring it on.”
The reasons for Democrats to warmly embrace a Palin candidacy are myriad, both politically and substantively. The most obvious argument of course, is the simple horse race analysis. Even as Obama has begun to trail other potential rivals in recent polling, the president continues to trounce Palin in head-to-head contests. This is the essential worry expressed in that Allen/VandeHei piece that Palin savaged. While she is wildly popular among the tea party crowd, Palin is dramatically less revered elsewhere among the electorate. Her unfavorability continues to poll higher than her favorability.
To Palin supporters who argue their heroine can rehabilitate her image, such as via her upcoming TLC cable series, I have two words: Tina Fey. Every time Palin appears to be coming off as serious, her comedic doppleganger will be right there on the following Saturday night to knock her back down for laughs, and don’t think Fey’s satire doesn’t matter; it does. A poll at the end of the 2008 race very much found an “SNL effect” in how Palin came to be perceived by voters. Let’s just say Fey’s schtick didn’t do Palin any favors then, and it won’t two years from now, either.
My enthusiasm for Palin in 2012 isn’t merely confined to base political considerations, however. Previously, I had been rooting for Newt Gingrich to take the GOP nomination. As he is often credited as the “idea factory” of the Republican Party, I would have enjoyed watching the former House speaker debate the president.
But, after what we just experienced in the 2010 midterms, I think a Palin candidacy would be the best thing for our country. If the tea party wants to demonstrate its ascendancy, and the superiority of its ideas, let its standard-bearer become the GOP standard-bearer, and let’s have that fight. To be sure, debating Palin could present potential pitfalls for Obama, a la “lipstick on a pig.”
In the end, though, the president would come off the 2012 election with a much stronger mandate for a second term, having just faced down the personification of the tea party movement. Heck, an Obama victory over Palin could be so overwhelming as to push Democrats back to the majority in the House of Representatives.
See, there’s that smile I promised.
Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade. Capitol Idea is his regular column from Washington. This article was first published as Run, Sarah, Run on Blogcritics.