Less than 24 hours after her speech to the Tea Party Convention in Nashville on Saturday night, Palin said on FoxNews that she would run for president "if I believe that it's right for the country." In her next breath, she was quick to annotate that declaration with a mandatory qualifier that "many, many other men and women across our country" were "in as strong or stronger position than
I am to take on the White House and if they're in a better position than I in three years, I'll support them."
Like who? Mitt Romney? Tim Pawlenty? Sure.
People have lots of opinions about Palin but critics and supporters know that she's a lot cleverer than the caricatures suggest. Palin for president? No reason why she wouldn't give it a whirl given the current short list of potential nominees. Much to the chagrin of the naysayers, all the stars are lining up in her favor.
Quitting as Alaska's governor turned out to be the second smartest thing Palin ever did (The first was accepting John McCain's invitation to become his running mate in 2008.) That freed her to rake in a fortune writing a best-seller and land a lucrative deal as a FoxNews regular. All the while, she's Tweeting and typing away on Facebook, leaving us in breathless anticipation of her next pronouncement on life, liberty and the future of U.S. politics. What with the Tea Party movement emerging as the most dynamic part of the American conservative movement, it's impossible to imagine why she woundn't have a place at the Republican table in deciding who will face Barack Obama in 2012.
Of course, Palin was playing on home court. Even though there was nothing new in the speech - a concatenation of platitudes and partisan attacks knocking the "Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda" - the crowd ate it up. All the lines worked - my particular fave' being when she declared that the nation needs "a commander of chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern." The crowd came to its feet and exploded in applause as she pursed her lips and stuck out a defiant chin. As the Washington Post noted, Palin dropped weight and looked great. She's ready for a fight.
For all their self-congratulatory bombast, however, it would be a mistake to conflate America with the folks congregating this weekend at the Tea Party conclave. Watching the speech a second time after a night's sleep, I was struck by the homogeneity of the crowd. Did this look like America? Well, it looked like one part of America. Each time C-SPAN's cameras panned the room, all I saw were white people. Lots and lots of middle-aged and older white people. Earlier in the day, Angela McGlowan served as the opening act for birther Joseph Farah, but she was the exception, not the rule.)
But Palin has time to expand her "base." What comes next, as Dan Farber suggests, is more $100,000 speeches, prime-time TV bloviation and barnstorming on behalf of favored political candidates. This was just the start. Get ready for all Sarah, all of the time.