FOX News Commentator and former governor Sarah Palin announced yesterday in a statement that she would not be running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
Her supporters were not thrilled. After months of tireless organizing, fighting back on Palinâ€™s behalf and hoping against hope that all the signs pointing against a run were false, her supporters experienced a painful blow. The candidate whom they sincerely believed was the GOPâ€™s best hope in 2012 let them down.
Palin claimed that it was her dedication to her family that prevented her from mounting a run, an argument that is difficult to make, seeing as America already knows all there is to know about them and all the attacks that could have been slung their way, unfortunately, have been.
Ever since she entered the national stage in 2008, she and her familyâ€™s personal lives have been a target. None of that will disappear now that she has decided not to run. Gossip about her will be clumped with information about soap operas, former child stars and miracle medicines, and her life will continue to be a source of interest for those who find her views and lack of a record amusing.
And that is precisely why she should have mounted a run. Running would have given her a chance to set the record straight, to impress in debates and make serious statements on policy. She could have given America another opportunity to see her as something other than an SNL caricature of questionable intelligence. I am not saying she could have won. But she could have restored her image. That isnâ€™t exactly what one would call a â€œlegitimateâ€ reason to run for the highest office in the nation, but Sarah Palin and â€œlegitimacyâ€ are less than synonyms.
But she chose not to run. Perhaps she prefers the easier path â€“â€“ playing rabble-rouser for the right, rather than holding serious jobs with serious responsibilities. Even her excuse for stepping down as governor in 2009 seems far weaker now â€“â€“ she is simply reinforcing what her opponents said all along. Is it, as Jon Stewart has mentioned, that she simply does not appreciate that being â€œpresident,â€ like being â€œgovernor,â€ is more than a title, but an actual job?
If elected, would she have been willing to serve?
In 2008, Palin was handed a microphone and called up on stage. America since turned that microphone off, but Palin hadnâ€™t been willing to leave. She kept voicing her concerns on national issues, acting as a sort of pseudo-spokesperson for the right even when much of the right no longer took her seriously. But now, she has money. She can build herself her own stage, possibly covered with a grizzly bear pelt, with a giant American flag backdrop and a cubic zirconium-encrusted podium right in the center, a megaphone placed neatly on top.
She can do what she loves â€“â€“ be â€œunshackledâ€ and say what she wants â€“â€“ without worrying about â€œconsequences.â€ If she isnâ€™t worried about her national image, she can continue to cater to a small fan club that will continue to write her checks. Her career as a commentator is alive and well. But her political career â€“â€“ and though I would ordinarily be wary of such statements, I make one now â€“â€“ is over.
The also-ran-for-2nd-place from Whatâ€™s-itâ€™s-name, Alaska couldnâ€™t possibly mount a presidential run in 2016, or later. She could potentially run for lower office at some point, build a resumÃ©, and get back in the game, but her reluctance to do any sort of real government work over the last three years indicates that she has no plans to do so.
Had she run in 2012, she would have had some sort of national political resume to speak of down the line. Not anymore. Sheâ€™ll keep ghostwriting more and more books, which will sell fewer and fewer copies. Her contingent of die-hard fans, which already took a major hit today, will shrink.
The country will remember little more about her than that she was, for McCain, The Great Mistake of 2008.
And now, though she has loitered around the corner of the national stage for some time, the cue has come for her to exit â€“â€“ naturally, to the right.