Thursday, September 01, 2011


I was about to congratulate the US media for going nearly an entire week without featuring Sarah "Will-She-or-Won't-She-Run" Palin in some story, but that didn't quite pan out. Apparently a week without Sarah is a week without sunshine. Or something. I suppose the press isn't entirely to blame: Ms. Palin has done a pretty good job of positioning herself for regular coverage, making reporters' jobs ever so much easier.

The latest burst of Palin stories was occasioned by just such positioning. Sarah was set to make a speech for a Tea Party group on Sunday, and most figured that she would finally make that announcement on her running for the GOP nomination at that time. Monday is Labor Day, the traditional start to the "real campaign" for 2012, so even Doyle McManus, the Mr. Sober-Sides of the Los Angeles Times punditry, felt compelled to weigh in on her long delayed announcement. It's clear he's become exasperated with her manipulative ways, especially with respect to a possible candidacy.

But Palin? The former Alaska governor surfaces without warning every month or so, like the Loch Ness monster, to let her supporters know she still exists. She insists that she has what it takes to run for president — "that fire in the belly" — and that she believes she could win.

"That passion is real, it's sincere, because I love this country," she told Fox News last month.

But she never quite says yes or no.

"I'm still considering it," she said.

While McManus tries to be fair and notes the downside of joining the campaign (it would be tough on her family, she'd have to start working a lot harder), he also rather slyly points to the real reason why this little game has continued for nearly a year: it's a lucrative one, especially with such a compliant press.

Two years ago, one of the elders of the Republican Party, former Richard Nixon aide Fred Malek, gave Palin some friendly advice on how to prepare for a presidential campaign. Malek told Palin, then still governor of Alaska, that she should do three things: finish at least one full term in office, master some tough subjects such as fiscal policy and foreign affairs (and give speeches to show it), and build a staff that could serve as the core of a campaign machine.

But Palin didn't do any of that. Instead, she has devoted herself to less-demanding activities that have kept her in the public eye and provided a handsome income besides. She wrote (or, more precisely, coauthored) a bestselling memoir that made at least $7 million. She starred in a television travelogue that earned her a reported $2 million. She makes $1 million a year from a three-year contract as an exclusive "contributor" to Fox News. And she has given dozens of speeches at rates that sometimes top $100,000 per appearance (although she agreed to do this weekend's tea party rally in Iowa for free, organizers say). That adds up to an average gross income of at least $5 million a year since she left her $125,000-a-year job as governor.
[Emphasis added]

At least Doyle McManus finally gets it, even if he can't quite take the next logical step of cutting her off.

That's the problem with Palin: She seems to want it both ways. She wants to be in the spotlight, but only if she's the one who decides when the light is on.

So, I suspect we'll have a weekend filled with Sarah Palin news, whether she shows for that speaking engagement on Sunday or not (and there does seem to be some question as to whether she will appear). Then it will be quiet for a while, at least until Sarah manages another tour.

It's the way she rolls.

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