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Thursday 26 May 2011

Waiting For Sarah Godot

As the days count down to the start of the Primaries, the media on both sides of the north Atlantic maintains its watch on the field for the GOP nomination, and the right leaning part of it clearly despairs at what it sees: Newt Gingrich already in trouble, Mitt Romney with a Tea Party group wanting to derail his campaign, Jeb Bush sitting the whole thing out, and no Chris Christie.

So the flights of fancy from Maily Telegraph USA editor Toby Harnden are understandable. Mike Huckabee has already ruled himself out, preferring to take the money at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), Mitch Daniels has also said no, and the only others so far are Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, and Jon Huntsman.

But I still think that Harnden should have thought twice before rushing to publish his piece suggesting that Rudy Giuliani would run, mainly because the former New York governor is not a credible candidate. Moreover, I also think his assertion today that half-term Alaska governor Sarah Palin is about to declare does not give the GOP hope, but rather an unwanted sideshow.

Lots of pundits want Palin to run. Many voters want Palin to run. And Palin herself wants Palin to run. This, however, is not sufficient reason for Palin to run: she also needs to be able to (a) unite the GOP around her candidacy, (b) gain a plurality of votes across the USA, and (c) withstand the inevitable turbulence that close to a year and a half of media exposure will bring.

And, while the likelihood of her managing the first two of those three is debateable, the third will be a very big ask for someone who has demonstrated – most notoriously after the Tucson shootings – that she not only has a very thin skin, but also a singularly unfortunate way of opening mouth while simultaneously inserting foot.

It will be no use complaining about the “lamestream media” and retreating into the Fox comfort zone, either: although it is the most watched cable news operation, Fox doesn’t average much more than two million viewers in weekday primetime. If she runs, she will have to take on potentially hostile interviewers, pundits, and yes, citizens.

And putting out a feature length documentary to build up her image is not going to make that reality go away. Palin would be best advised to remain a kingmaker, and leave Harnden and all the other cheerleaders waiting.

1 comment:

Toby Harnden said...

If you think I am a Palin cheerleader you clearly haven't been reading much I've written. On Giuliani, it's news that a congressman says the former NY mayor is close to running in 2012. Does it means Giuliani is a likely or even possible GOP nominee? No it doesn't - and the reasons why not were in my blog post.