On my twitter, Marc Ambinder has retweeted a story from Tim Lee, of theAmerican Thinker blog, about Sarah Palin’s chances of running for President in 2012. It’s assumed by most people that she intends on running, given her enormous popularity and financial situation. Lee believes that Palin is in a better position now, in 2010, than Obama was in 2006.
Lee compares Obama and Palin by looking at their momentum, base consitituancies, internet organziation, and political brand. The biggest flaw in Lee’s analysis comes in the brand section:
Should she challenge Obama in 2012, Palin, who has run a state and a small business, will have to answer similar doubts about her leadership abilities. Team Obama and its allies will consistently call her a “quitter” or a “half-term governor,” and Palin, like Obama in ’08, can quell these doubts by hiring the right people and running a seamless organization devoid of turmoil and drama. How she manages Palin, Inc. will determine whether voters will trust her to lead the country.
When Obama was mulling a presidential run in 2006, his chief advisor David Axelrod, as reported by Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson, told him that “history is replete with potential candidates for the presidency who waited too long rather than examples of people who ran too soon. … You will never be hotter than you are right now.”
History is indeed unkind to those who hesitate, but how often does history have a repeat performance? My instincts tell me that Palin would be at a disadvantage for running another transformative campaign because Obama stole her thunder. It’s widely assumed that the only reason McCain snatched Palin up from obscurity was to compete with Obama. This tactic worked for about two weeks, until the infamous Katie Couric interview and whole Tina Fay Saturday Night Live skits.
Americans just had a transformative presidency and we’ve seen that Obama was mainly the product of a well oiled marketing machine. Is a Palin wave going to come from the so called “silent majority”? Obama’s main selling point was that he transcended the politics of the silent majority vs. liberal establishment. He was the post-partisan riding up to rescue us from Bushian trench warfare of the past eight years.
Equally, I’m less convenced that any amount of marketing is going to resolve the fact that Palin quit after her first term as Governor. Either way you slice it, Palin comes off looking like a loser.
While there is no denying that Lee is correct that Palin’s best opportunity may be 2012; I fear that giving Obama a chance to run against Palin would be the equivalent of Reagan vs. Mondale–we all know how that turned out. As far as 2010 goes, I’m with Ross Douthat, bullish on Indiana’s Mitch Daniels