A story on National Journal’s Hotline on Call blog handicapped the potential successors to Michael Steele as Chairman of the RNC in the event of his resignation. Most illuminating were the thoughts of RNC members on Sarah Palin, “they don’t believe she will be a player in the party’s future.”
Reid Wilson of Hotline on Call summed up Palin’s prospects within both the RNC and the Republican Party, “Despite a brief round of stories this weekend, ex-AK Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is not a serious contender to chair the RNC. RNC members who control and influence big blocs of votes respect Palin, but they don’t believe she will be a player in the party’s future. Steele has made a few gaffes, but RNC members shudder to think of a Palin chairmanship.”
I can think of a lot of reasons for RNC members to shudder at the prospect of a potential Palin regime. First, she could not handle running the most off the beaten path state in the Union, without quitting. Would you trust her with the responsibility to run the entire coordinating, fundraising, and message apparatus for a political party? Second, Palin’s behavior is erratic. As much of a gaffe machine as Michael Steele is, he is nothing compared to the damage that Palin’s mouth could do to the RNC on a regular basis. Third, a party chairperson, especially when that party is in the minority is often the face and voice of the party’s message. If I’m a member of the RNC, I don’t want my message being delivered by a politician with a 29% approval rating. The point is to attract voters, not alienate them.
There is one big reason that I can think of why Sarah Palin would not be interested in the position, even if it was offered, money. Palin has shown time and time again that she is all about the cash. She would never exchange those $100,000 speaking engagements of hers for speaking for free on behalf of the party. An additional downside is that Palin would also be forced to break out of her Facebook/Twitter/Fox News media bubble. She would have to appear on other networks and answer questions. The results would be disastrous for both her and the RNC.
The RNC members who believe that Palin doesn’t have a long term future in the GOP are correct, but their criticism might also be a boon for her as well. Sarah Palin has not shown any signs of having any long term political staying power. She wastes more time attacking talk show hosts and authors than she spends building her political base, but there could be no greater badge for her to wear if she is serious about running for the Republican nomination in 2012 as the outsider candidate than to be deemed as having no future by the RNC.
The rumor that Palin could be the leader of the RNC was born in the minds of desperate Republicans who are looking for a hero ride in and rescue their rudderless party. The fact that Palin was even rumored as a potential Steele replacement reeks more of desperation than logic. It is a gross overestimation of Palin’s abilities and represents nothing more than a pipe dream. The danger for the GOP is that Palin senses that the Party is in a dreaming mood, which is why she continues to sell herself as Reagan reincarnate. If she manages to cash in on their desperation, and sell enough Republican primary voters a nostalgic feel good dream of bygone era, she could actually capture the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
My opinion has long been that Sarah Palin is a celebrity in a hapless political party which is virtually devoid of star power. It isn’t that Palin is a future political star. It is that she is the closest thing to a charismatic figure as the GOP has got. I think the clock runs out on Palin’s fame if/when she runs for the Republican nomination in 2012. Either the primary process will reveal her weaknesses, or she will be crushed by Obama and the Democrats in 2012.
The bloom will be off the rose, and Sarah Palin will become another also ran failed presidential candidate. Long term, Sarah is destined for the conservative speaking circuit, right wing book tours, and a long term gig on Fox News. Barring some sort of magic personal transformation, Palin has no long term future as a serious political figure, but she could make things interesting in 2012.