The Sarah Palin Show

Wow, it just keeps going. Has a losing Vice Presidential candidate ever kept the spotlight for this long? She lost, and still seems to be getting far more coverage than Joe Biden. Aren’t losing candidates supposed to disappear, if not forever then at least for a while?

On some level, the media remain fascinated with her. She makes for good tv and good ratings, as was proven during the campaign. But she’s obviously milking it for all that it’s worth- no one is forcing her to have Matt Lauer and The Today Show crew in her kitchen.

Sarah hearts the spotlight. Fame really is addictive.

But the real question is this: Does she have a future?

My take: the concept of Sarah Palin turned out to be far better than the reality. What I mean by that is the following- in concept, I love the idea of nominating a young, attractive, solid-conservative mom for president or vice president. What could be better than a candidate who would fire up the base and at the same time pick up some female and younger voters who don’t usually vote Republican? What better way to spruce up the party’s old-white-guy image?

And for the first two weeks after her nomination, this formula seemed to be working. McCain moved ahead in all the polls in the days after her nomination, and he stayed ahead until around September 12.

Then the financial markets collapsed, and that probably was the fatal blow to the McCain campaign.

But something else also happened- Palin performed terribly in that Katie Couric interview, she never held a press conference, and by the end of the campaign she seemed unprepared to become President.

Yes, she did get shabby treatment from the media. Three front-page stories in the New York Times about her daughter’s pregnancy was simply ridiculous- contrast that with the minimal coverage given, for example, to the endless legal escapades of Al Gore’s son. The stories about her wardrobe- like the stories about McCain’s houses- were quite a contrast to the limited coverage devoted in 2004 to the vast wealth of the John Kerry/ Theresa Heinz family. The same reporters who bashed conservatives for teasing John Edwards about his expensive haircuts had no problem bashing Sarah Palin for her alleged vanity. I love it when the same people who say campaigns should be “issue-oriented” start talking about candidates’ wardrobes or homes.

But I can’t get away from the main problem for Palin- she had an opportunity to overcome the doubts about her lack of experience and lack of preparation. And she failed to do so.

Obama’s election proves that voters have no problem overlooking a thin resume. George Bush himself had a pretty thin resume prior to becoming President (though not as thin as Obama’s).

So Palin could have reassured voters. Instead, she only heightened their concerns.

My one gripe with the media and the NewYork/DC/LA spin is the claim that somehow Palin was too conservative and that’s what doomed her. Nonsense. Republicans have won five of the last eight presidential elections by running conservative candidates with conservative platforms. On all the key issues, she was no more conservative than any of those winning candidates (Reagan, Bush I, Bush II). And her conservatism was immediately known, and as noted, the ticket moved ahead for about two weeks after she was nominated.

So her problem was not her conservatism. And let’s be honest, no moderate Republican could ever get 60,000 people to show up at a campaign rally. Remember, we Republicans don’t really go to rallies- I doubt Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge could have drawn more than 500 people to an event. Many of those 60,000 who showed up for a Palin rally also undoubtedly gave money, made phone calls, and drove people to the polls. And the fact that liberal California voted to ban gay marriage is proof-positive that our country has not turned hard-left.

So the concept was right- but Sarah Palin ultimately was the wrong person to turn the concept into reality.

And so if it were up to me, I would look elsewhere for the next great Republican leader. We can find a different young, articulate, conservative star who can take the spotlight, and reassure voters that he or she has the gravitas to be president.

I hear Bobby Jindal is giving a speech in Iowa next week. Hmmm……

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