Politico reports on the latest from Sarah Palin: “ ‘Not only do I love my freedom of not having a title and being a declared candidate — that is liberating — I know you can make a difference as an individual,’ she said. ‘Hopefully, I can inspire others to know that you don’t need a title. You don’t need to be in office to effect positive change.’ ’’
In the many things Palin has said, some to provoke and some revealing of her limitations as a national politician, these are perhaps the most honest words she has ever uttered. One senses that the motorcycle tour, perceived as a desperate effort to stay in the limelight, was actually an effort to justify her non-candidacy as president. See, I can say what I want. Can’t you see they are robotic pols, and I am unbound by convention? I’m more important on a motorcycle than Mitt Romney is in an Iowa coffee klatch.
As I have written before, following the 2008 presidential election Palin had two choices: be a serious political leader or occupy that space between celebrity and conservative rabble-rouser. She was far better suited to the latter, which pays better and demand less wonkery (which she has demonstrated is outside her comfort zone). And now what is left? To explain the choice in a way that concedes nothing to her opponents and that maintains her status as a base icon. You’d be hard pressed to come up with a better mechanism than a motorcycle caravan, which highlights how unlike the disciplined pols she is.
Palin has never been criticized for lack of smarts when it came to cultivating an image and a career that frees her from the restraints and demands that encumber national politicians. She’s the ultimate self-made woman, with a career and identity unique to her. You can understand why it would be ludicrous to give that up and risk her place in the conservative movement for a race she doesn’t want to run and likely can’t win.
Once this sinks in, the media horde will thin out a bit, but it won’t disappear. The press needs her as much as she needs to them. They are the political Odd Couple — quibbling and jabbing at one another and entirely incapable of doing without the other. The Palin-Lamestream Media show isn’t going to end, but you do sense her days as a presidential contender are about to.