Thursday, October 06, 2011

Sarah Palin will not seek the White House

On the day the death of Apple's Steve Jobs is announced, we learn that Sarah Palin will not run for US President against Barack Obama after all. This ends months (years?) of speculation. The Brooks Blog readership will remember that I predicted Palin would not run post-Tucson shooting in January. Despite a major media presence and even new film, her poll numbers have remained very disappointing. (Perhaps she would have run if Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry hadn't entered the race.) When you were once a Vice Presidential hopeful, but now can't outpoll about anyone interested in the job . . . you've fallen down the totem poll of political life.

While I would expect we will see Palin on our television sets for some time to come, I suspect she will not win a major office again. She may well try - for the US Senate, perhaps - but she has bottled her post-election buzz. It was a major political mistake to quit as Alaska's Governor mid-term. The idea must have been to keep the spotlights on her in the run up to a historic campaign to be America's first female president.

But the problem of spotlights is that they can catch you in their full glare - and the comments re: Tucson and elsewhere got attention, but (from Palin's perspective) for the wrong reasons.

If I were one of her political advisors, then I'd strongly recommend returning to the drawing board. Palin must begin to re-define herself in the eyes of the public, not unlike Hillary Clinton. Not unlike Palin, Clinton had been a polarising figure but she had a clear strategy. Moving to New York was one part of it, but also becoming involved in central issues. Palin's advisors would do well to choose an issue or two where Palin can focus her efforts. We've so done the Mama Grizzly stuff, now let's see her help the homeless or lead some initiative on banking reform. This may help her return from the political wilderness, but I wouldn't think it likely to happen.

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