Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just Run, Already

Dear Mrs. Sarah Palin,

Watching your bus tour and photo-ops and the buzz that surround them, and reading you answer "Don't know," when people ask if you're running for president reminds me of a scene from the closing minutes of The Godfather: Michael Corleone is confronting the traitor Carlo when he says, "Don't tell me you're innocent, because it insults my intelligence."

Sarah -- you don't mind if I call you Sarah, do you? -- we all know what you're doing. We all know how the game is played in Washington. Your assertion that you don't know if you're running has about as much authenticity as a copy of Das Capital autographed by Margaret Thatcher.

Sarah, it's time to grizzly up and say you're running. No more claims that your campaign bus isn't a campaign bus. No bob and weave around the press. You're touring like a candidate. You're planning to hit Iowa. It's not a listening tour, it's not a unity tour, it's not a rolling pep rally for the GOP. It's the start of a campaign.

But we know why you want it this way. This non-campaign campaign gives you an exit strategy. It's an easy way to bail when the polls don't come around and the competition gets too tough. You can always claim you were never campaigning in the first place, and technically, you're right. And as a bonus, because you're not a real candidate, you don't have to answer real questions from real reporters, including the ones you like at Fox News. Really, though, since when did you worry so much about the "lame-stream media?" Or, as I contend, is Fox part of it now?

What are you afraid of? A year and a half is forever in campaign time. It's plenty of days to build and organize and woo those moderates and independents you can't stand, even though you'll never publicly admit you can't. And what can you do to your image that Tina Fey and Katie Couric haven't done already? (Katie's off the tube for now, by the way.)

Making it official now also provides you with competitive advantages. Once you're in, you'll eclipse the early birds -- Pawlenty and Bachmann and Gingrich and Cain and Paul -- and overshadow the leaders. You'll begin to thin the herd and save yourself some headaches once we head into primary season early next year, but you have to commit.

You and I know politics is no game for the meek, and championship politics can't be won on assumptions. You're becoming dependent on your base, as if you're expecting a coronation once you announce, either because you think you can grab the nomination or the GOP thinks it's committing campaignicide if it doesn't give it to you. Learn from the experience of your adversary Hillary Clinton: nothing comes on a platter in Washington except people's heads.

So it's your call, your mission if you're willing to accept it. I think you are, but it's the fallback position that's killing you. After John McCain, you refused to go into the sunset, even though it would've been the safe thing to do. If you're tough enough to keep your name in play, you can put your hat in the ring.

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