Posted by Brad @ 3:51 pm on August 26th 2010

Sarah Palin: Kingmaker

Good post from Talking Points Memo on the sheer power that Sarah Palin is beginning to wield in GOP primaries. It is not that she can simply swoop in and declare anybody she likes the winner – her win % is good, but not phenomenal. But likewise, she isn’t just picking winners, and her winning percentage is good despite picking some pretty dark horses. But the key is that her endorsement has shown an enormous power to transform races, in a way almost unique in the recent history of political endorsements (normally a fairly flaccid business). She almost overnight brings in a swoon of national media attention, a sudden powerfully strong brand loyalty that she can practically merely anoint people with, and immediately puts who she doesn’t endorse in an incredibly uncomfortable defensive position that has them not just having to push back against Palin and her brigades but, in a sense, the larger energy and ranks of the grassroots right—never a good thing to suddenly have to do a week before a Republican election.

I have guffawed at claims to Palin’s political importance before, but she really is starting to turn into an enormously interesting and influential figure on the right. And I’m further beholden in my belief that she will, in fact, sit out the 2012 race. Better to be the Queen than the Prime Minister. Why have to get on the record and do hostile interviews and debates and be considered for your governing potential, when instead she can sit out, have the entire political and media landscape hang on her every tweet, and be the most coveted potential endorsement – and most potentially fatal non-endorsement – since…I don’t know when. Can you imagine the level of prostration Romney, Pawlenty, Huckabee, Gingrich, et al will go to to woo her? More to the point, is there any more surefire way to advance her brand, clout, and earning potential—all while entirely and eternally insulating her? In some ways, it would be BETTER if Palin ran in 2012…then people will have to run against her. Not if she sits out and plays the game the way she’s been playing…then they have to run for, and to, her. If you’re a relatively vapid but media savvy egomaniac who who loves the spotlight of politics but hates the pressure of, you know, governing, or knowing anything about policy, which would you choose? I don’t think it’s even close.

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