(And that’s a BIG if. I don’t think she’ll do it. Palin’s playing coy for now because media interest in her would drop dramatically if she were no longer a “possible 2012 presidential candidate.” Did anyone write about Newt Gingrich, the perennial “potential contender,” in 2008? Exactly. The minute Palin decides not to run, she goes from being a contender to being Ann Coulter. Ann Coulter without the warm sense of humor.)
Alex wrote of Palin: “Her critics are always the same cabal of America-haters cooking up plots to stifle the truth, silence patriotic debate or steal your freedom.” That’s her schtick and it’s served to rally her base of conservative supporters. But in a GOP primary, Palin’s critics won’t be the “lame-stream media” or those evil socialist Democrats. The critics will be her Republican opponents.
The universe of Palin Patriots willing to believe the worst about Tim Pawlenty or John Thune or Mitch Daniels has to be significantly smaller than those who currently rally behind the Alaskan when she portrays herself as a victim. She’ll be asked about her policy views, and she won’t be able to complain that Katie Couric has it out for her. And unless there’s a Twitter debate (please, God, no), she’ll have to confront criticism from her Republican opponents directly.
Oh, you say, but she can always stick to making an affirmative case for her candidacy and avoid punching back at her opponents and continuing to play the role of Queen Esther. Sure, she could. But have you met Sarah Palin? She is, as Alex noted, someone who will not even acknowledge the legitimacy of someone else’s view. She has never met a word that can’t be redefined to suit her purposes, nor a criticism that can’t be characterized as anti-woman, anti-Alaskan, or anti-real-American.
Let’s be clear that this isn’t a matter of Palin needing to be all sweetness and sugar in the presidential primaries. In the past few decades, Bob Dole, John McCain, and George W. Bush were all known to let loose a few smirks, sneers, and cutting jokes in primary battles. But it was just one side of their candidate persona. I just think that GOP primary voters would eventually weary of Palin’s defensiveness and refusal to allow that someone might disagree with her for reasons other than wanting to bring down the republic. Her GOP opponents definitely would.