It won’t be early front-runner Rick Perry, commentator Eugene Robinson argues, because earlier this month Perry had trouble standing his ground at the CNN Tea Party Debate (he did not sound as lame as his competetitor Jon Huntsman with his flawed Nirvana joke, but nobody seems to care much about Huntsman in the first place).
Subsequently, Perry failed to win a Florida straw poll last weekend. Instead, Herman Cain won by a clear margin („nearly 40%“, according to an NYT blog). However, this was not a vote of confidence in the politically inexperienced businessman Cain, Robinson writes: „Instead, it was a vote of no confidence in what still looks like a strikingly weak field [of Republican candidates].“
Despite all the buzz about the power of the Tea Party, it’s worth remembering that Sarah Palin, the early Tea Party Heroine, was never actually voted for on the national stage (outside of bookstores, that is). She was picked by presidential candidate John McCain and his aides and brought into the limelight coming from… well, not nowhere, but close to Russia. Though she was asked repeatedly whether she planned to run in 2012, she doesn’t seem to be too inclined to do so. On Tuesday she said, according to the Huffington Post:
Does a title shackle a person? Are they — someone like me, maverick, you know, I do go rogue, and I call it like I see it, and I don’t mind stirring it up…. is a title and is a campaign too shackling? Does that prohibit me from being out there, out of the box, not allowing handlers to shape me?
Now, this is a remarkable statement. After all, it seems to be something of a general rule that once you have reached a certain threshold of prominence, running for president pays. It will increase your visibility as a politician and/or commentator, make your message heard, it will likely solidify your base, increase your speaking fees and book sales, etc. There are reasons why politicians with a sharp profile and a clear message (e.g. Ron Paul, Ralph Nader) continue to campaign even though there’s no chance they’ll ever win. Even if Palin decides that her real influence is in metapolitics rather than politics, in influencing public opinion rather than striking deals behind closed doors in Washington DC, this is no reason not to run, at least not per se.
So maybe she’s afraid that running would only harm her brand value and political influence? After all, another thing we should not forget is that in 2008 she never had to compete in the kind of debate that hurt Rick Perry earlier this month. She only had to deal with the questions of critical journalists, which was devastating enough. After the early interviews with Charles Gibson and with Katie Couric, she limited her public appearances to solo shows and talks with sympathetic journalists. This time, if Palin entered a debate with fellow Republicans and conservatives and ended like Perry (or Huntsman, or worse) there’d be no way of blaming „liberal media bias“.
As for Michele Bachmann, the only woman in the field, John Feehery argues she won’t be given a chance by the „silent majority“ of Republican primary voters:
They nominated Ford over Reagan, Reagan over Bush, Bush over Dole, Dole over Buchanan, Bush II over McCain and McCain over Romney. They like to pick the people they know. They like to pick the guy (and it has always been a guy) who has paid his dues on the national stage. They don’t pick insurgents, they don’t pick revolutionaries
I don’t quite understand why this should rule out former Speaker of the House Newt Gingricht, who is also in the race, but in Feehery’s equation there’s currently no other candidate more likely to win the hearts and minds (or at least: the votes) of the „silent majority“ than Mitt Romney. Joe Scarborough seems to agree, at least in that „Crazy never wins.“ Crazy as in: some of the Tea Party activists‘ rhetoric. Crazy as in: Rick Perry calling Social Security unconstitutional.
However, conservative and libertarian bloggers and pundits are already out to destroy Romney. He’s a hypocrite, writes Roger Stone. Even worse, he’s the darling of the „liberal media“, writes Douglas MacKinnon. And don’t dismiss Rick Perry just because of a few „gotcha“ moments at the debate, warns Thomas Sowell: „Error-free leaders don’t exist.“
Gosh, I’m thrilled the horse race is on again.
[thanks to RealClearPolitics for keeping the adrenaline high]