If you get into the fight, the other kids will fight back
Let’s face it. Right now you’re perched in the catbird seat. You’ve established yourself as a political king/queen maker. (Even if you did pick a few clunkers in the midterms.) And the beautiful part of this arrangement is that none of the other expected presidential candidates are ever allowed to criticize you while you maintain the role of Interested Private Citizen. If they do they are rapidly beaten down and dragged out to apologize by your minions in the conservative media and the blogs.
But the moment your elk fur-lined ushanka gets tossed into the ring you become a valid target for the rest of the field. Then they’re just going to start pestering you at every turn with questions, questions, and more questions. What specific cuts will you make in the budget? How will you handle Social Security? What will you do about North Korea and Iran and the Russians? And every stumbling response, each three-heartbeat pause before answering, any perceived misstep in your comments will be loudly “refudiated” in the press and run in a non-stop loop on cable television for weeks at a time. And really … who needs that kind of pressure?
You’ll make Tina Fey into a billionaire
You remember Tina, right? And surely you recall how much you secretly despise her. Well, she’s still out there, watching and waiting. Yes, she’s pretty busy with her top rated TV show and all the awards she has to go pick up, but believe me … she’ll make time for you. The moment you officially enter the race she’s not only going to be on Saturday Night Live every week, but she’ll be a regular fixture on MSNBC and all of the late-night comedy gigs. Tina will be showing up on the small screen more often than you do yourself, and once again a large portion of the voting public won’t even be sure which one of you is real. By November of 2012 she’ll be worth more than Oprah and it will all be your doing. Is that what you want? I didn’t think so.
You’re going to lose
Allow me to apologize in advance if that final header is a bit on the blunt side, but it’s time to face up to some harsh realities here. President Obama should be vulnerable in the next election given the current arc of the economy, but his personal popularity and the power of incumbency still make him a formidable opponent. For a Republican to beat him it’s either going to take somebody who already holds enough popularity to finish the march to the finish line or a new face with a lot of room to grow in both name recognition and approval.
Sadly, you don’t fill the bill for either description. You have an impressive army of followers who are loyal to the bitter end, but that’s exactly what the end will be. There is virtually no one left in the country that hasn’t gotten to know you and formed an opinion, and there are no second chances at a first impression in this game. Your disapproval numbers are north of fifty and stubbornly show no signs of budging. If you run you’ll probably come close, but close won’t be good enough. The president knows he is in trouble politically and your best indicator of your prospects should come from looking at a boatload of those less than $200 “anonymous” contributions that have been mailed in to SarahPAC lately. (Hint — they’re coming from Obama.)
And if you lose, what then? You’ve got a great gig going right now, but people may very well stop flocking to the banner of somebody who has either lost or quit three executive level positions in a row. At that point the cash cow may well dry up and the fear factor you now wield will shrink along with it. Is the risk really worth the prize here?
So there you have it — a nickel’s worth of free advice from somebody who may not be one of your supporters, but truly wants to help in the spirit of the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Barbara Bush wasn’t trying to insult you, Governor Palin. She was just trying to help.
But I will disagree with Mrs. Bush on one count. I don’t think you should stay in Alaska at all. It’s damned cold and mostly dark for half the year. Save up a bit more of that cash you’ve been stockpiling and buy yourself an island in the Florida Keys. Just be sure to spring for the extra hurricane insurance.