So Sarah Palin, the reality television star and former McCain veep candidate, finally admitted to New York Times reporter Robert Draper something many long suspected (and, in my case, dreaded): She is seriously considering a run for the presidency in 2012—despite not having finished her single term as Alaska governor.
"I am," Sarah Palin told me the next day when I asked her if she was already weighing a run for president. "I'm engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here." Palin went on to say that there weren't meaningful differences in policy among the field of G.O.P. hopefuls "but that in fact there's more to the presidency than that" and that her decision would involve evaluating whether she could bring unique qualities to the table.
"Yes, the organization would have to change," Palin said during an hourlong phone conversation. "I'd have to bring in more people — more people who are trustworthy," she clarified. Palin said that her experience as John McCain's running mate was for the most part "amazing, wonderful, do it again in a heartbeat." But she added, "What Todd and I learned was that the view inside the bus was much better than underneath it, and we knew we got thrown under it by certain aides who weren't principled" and that "the experience taught us, yes, to be on guard and be very discerning about who we can and can't trust in the political arena."
She is, of course, talking about people like former McCain campaign staffers Nicole Wallace and Steve Schmidt. But comments like this only underscore the strongest point made by her critics; that Palin is far too inexperienced to be president. If, in her late 40s, Palin didn't understand the sordid nature of Beltway politics, that national politics ain't beanbag and that political operatives are not to be trusted—and barely two years after she couldn't name a single newspaper or magazine that she regularly consumed—she most likely isn't qualified to lead the United States through a financial crisis.
The metaphor-mangling Wasillan (In conversation with the Times: "I know that a hurdle I would have to cross, that some other potential candidates wouldn't have to cross right out of the chute") is rather good at separating cable news executives from their money, though it is unclear that this talent will be useful in the Oval Office. Palin, a paid Fox News contributor, is the cable news candidate—someone capable of speaking only in clipped, confusing sentences, an expert in responding to substantive criticism or complex policy problems with embarrassing cliché. When CNN's Kathleen Parker joked that she "led" the media assassination of the Alaska governor, Palin responded on Twitter that she was "still standing; Standing by family, faith & flag. Who do u stand by today?" Press a few buttons on the saccharine patriotism generator—faith, family, flag—and the crowd cheers, despite the incoherence of the sentiment.
Worst of all, Palin embraces something conservatives are supposed to eschew: victimhood. She tells the Times that those Republicans who oppose her are members of the "good-old-boys' club" and that her critics are motivated by sexism; she tweets that this perfectly normal photograph of Michelle Bachmann demonstrates Politico's hidden liberal agenda (Palin recently told Fox News that "Politico, Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, they're jokes," for quoting anonymous Republicans worried that she would run for president). When talking with Draper, she casually speaks of the "lamestream media", a verbal tick that qualifies one for an AM radio talk show, but should be disqualifying for a serious presidential candidate.
Let's hope that the "old boys club" conspiracy isn't a figment of Palin's imagination.
Read the whole Times piece here.