Sarah Palin’s Reality Campaign for the Presidency
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by Chip Krakoff

Not long ago I would have said that Sarah Palin has no chance whatsoever of becoming President, but now I am not so sure. People talked about how Howard Dean and then Barack Obama used the Internet and new media to raise money and energize a base of voters, but they are both rank amateurs compared to Palin, who has proven herself amazingly adept at using the mainstream media, which she derides for their liberal bias, to promote herself. She has become the first Reality TV and Twitter candidate, and although she may be stupid about matters of policy and governance (and geography) she is a genius at understanding and using a combination of new and traditional media to make her a ubiquitous and dominant presence.

So easy to ridicule, she is no longer a joke – or if she is, she’s a very dangerous one. She will enter the primaries with name recognition that dwarfs that of any of her competitors and a base of people who like what they see in her TV presence – someone just like them but hugely famous. There is a risk, I suppose, of overexposure. People could grow tired of her, but if people haven’t yet grown tired of the Kardashians and the gang on Jersey Shore, the risk is slight.

She has invented a new way of campaigning that the political mainstream has yet to comprehend and still dismisses as inconsequential. By the time everyone wakes up to what she is doing, it could be too late.

It’s a fool’s game to try to predict the outcome of a presidential election two years out, but I think Palin will be a very strong contender for the Republican nomination. Her cause is not hurt by the deep flaws of the other probable candidates: Newt Gingrich – once, arguably, an intelligent person, who has gone completely whacko (see his comments on understanding Barack Obama only through the lens of 1960s post colonial anti-Americanism); Mike Huckabee – a halfway decent bass player and fairly engaging personality who is also a religious fanatic who believes the universe is only 6,000 years old; and Mitt Romney – brilliant beyond doubt, but also someone who would say or do anything to get elected President, to the point where it’s impossible to know what he really believes or predict what he would actually do if elected.

Whether she can beat President Obama in the general election depends to a huge extent on the state of the U.S. economy and the unemployment rate, but if our economy is still in the doldrums and the President’s approval ratings still in the cellar you’d have to give a Palin victory even money.

The prospect of a Palin Presidency is too scary to leave it up to a last roll of the dice in the general election. She has to be stopped before things get to that point. Could some reasonably responsible and sane Republican – there must be at least a few out there – stand up and run before it’s too late?

Posted 12-01-2010 12:11 PM by Charles Krakoff