Sarah Palin spoke to the faithful Saturday at a Tea Party of America rally in Indianola,Iowa. The speech highlighted her strengths, showing off her conservative populist appeal. It also revealed the fundamental flaw of her prospective presidential candidacy: the absence of policy solutions to fix the nation’s problems.
Palin, on the stump, is a pleasure to watch. The former Alaska governor can turn a phrase better than any politician today. She offered one quote after another worthy of a front-page headline.
She endorsed a “bona-fide pro-workin’ man’s” economic platform. She said entitlement reform and repealing Obamacare for essential to get the economy turned around. She blasted “crony capitalism” and the “permanent political class.” She supported Tea Party Americans, saying they embodied the common sense American values that made the country great.
Her supporters ate it up. Frequently during her 40 minute speech, they interrupted her, chanting: “Run, Sarah, run.”
The press couldn’t get enough, either. Fox News sent their chief political correspondent, Carl Cameron, to cover the address. The Washington Post sent ace political reporter Dan Balz to do the same. The media wanted to be there in case Palin said she was seeking the presidency.
Alas, Palin did not.
Perhaps she’s keeping people guessing to maintain her brand and command high speaking fees. Perhaps she wants to use the spotlight so that her views are widely covered. But perhaps, she knows that she’s not ready to govern.
Sarah Palin is one of the nation’s most gifted politicians, but her career consists of time as councilwomen of Wasilla, mayor of that town, and two and a half years as governor of Alaska. She has plenty of ideas to restore America, but hasn’t put her rhetoric into a policy plan. She excites the conservative base, but has turned into the most polarizing figure in U.S.politics.
In theory, she is the ideal GOP contender for the 2012 presidential contest.
She is a populist who decries career politicians and the Left, who want to tell others how to live.
She wraps herself around the flag, praising American Exceptionalism and questioning the president’s commitment to that idea.
She wears her religion on her sleeve.
She celebrates the free market and argues Washington has its back on small business and prevents the country from having an economic recovery.
Unfortunately Palin hasn’t spent the time preparing for a presidential run.
After her 2008 vice-presidential candidacy, Republicans urged her to “hit the books,” and learn about foreign policy. She didn’t do that, preferring to get her points across via Facebook or on soft-ball interviews on Fox News (where she is a paid pundit).
Presidential candidates have spent 2011 in Iowa and New Hampshire working these early caucus and primary states. They built a political organization from the ground up, making contact with local Republican officials who’ve handled things at the grass roots level for several presidential cycles. Palin has spent most of 2011 on her “One Nation” bus tour around the country.
Finally, they begin to come out with their plans to improve the country. Jon Huntsman delivered his jobs plan last week in New Hampshire. Mitt Romney will do the same thing tomorrow inNevada.
So far Palin has followed the lead of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. These candidates have issued no specific plan or policy solutions; instead they spent their time on the trail blasting the president.
They also have an “electability’ problem. A recent Fox News poll shows 18% of voters think Bachmann is “too extreme” to be president. Frontrunner Rick Perry had the same dilemma: 14% said his views were outside the mainstream.
The poll also showed public discontent with Sarah Palin. 74% thought she should stay out of the 2012 race. 72% of conservatives think so, 71% of Republicans and 66% of independents say she should remain on the sidelines. Only 20% of those polled said she should jump into the race.
Those numbers didn’t seem to faze Palin Saturday. She was at her best and her speech had the political world wondering when/if she’ll run.
One thing’s for sure: she’ll keep things interesting in the meantime.