Sarah Palin is one of the headliners at CPAC this year, with a big speech scheduled for Saturday. But, does she have a future in politics, or has she become, as Politico puts it, another Kardashian type figure, famous for being famous?
In January 2009, Sarah Palin had the world on a string. A potential Republican presidential field-clearer for the presidency, every sentence she uttered was news. A Fox News contract awaited her. So did book deals.
Four years later, Palin is without a clear option for elected office – or a clear sense she has an interest in any position of real public influence. She never took an active, leadership role in the tea party movement, beyond showing up at a scattered handful of events and talking it up on television. For many Americans, her name is now primarily a punchline and if she is envisioning a comeback, it may simply be too late.
You probably know by now that I am not a big fan of Sarah anymore, after being a huge supporter even before she was picked to be John McCain’s running mate (it was more like “mccain-PALIN”). That said, that part about her showing up at scattered events and having no leadership is rather disingenuous, as she was a huge force behind the historic 2010 midterms beat down of the Democrats. After that, though, it was flirting with running for president, then saying nope, then really not doing a whole lot to help the Republican candidates win in 2012, especially Romney.
Is it too late for a comeback? Reagan did it. Heck, Joe Biden did it. Others have. How many times did Lincoln run and lose? Of course, there’s the problem: she doesn’t run, and she needs to.
But as a force within the party, Palin has gone from sixty to zero within the span of a single presidential cycle.
“There was a ton of potential there, and it’s conceivable that there could be a second act, but it’s a little hard to see it now,” said Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who championed Sarah from Alaska as a potential VP pick in 2008 for Sen. John McCain.
“She didn’t run, obviously, in 2012, and she hasn’t really made herself a leader on any particular issue,” added Kristol, arguing that one either needs to hold office or make themselves relevant on an issues front . “Usually you have to do one of those things…otherwise you’re just another pundit.”
She can get out there and excite the base with a speech. Her Facebook posts tend to trend. But there’s nothing sustained anymore. What are her positions? I hate to put it this way, but she’s much like Michael Moore and Al Gore. Once a huge force for Liberals, Moore and Gore now are mostly invisible, popping up every once in a while. Then fading out again.
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer argued she has as much of a chance of a second act as Joe Biden managed after being “laughed out of the race” in 1988 amid a plagiarism scandal.
However, he added, “Her act as a celebrity is done. Her act as a political figure is possible – if she applies herself.”
Others in the article discuss the celebrity factor. Palin has to decide what she wants to do. Be an occasional pundit, or be a force. To be a force, she needs to run, and win, a federally elected position. I maintain she should have run for the Senate. She still could. And should. But, is it too late?