Blogs, particularly those written by and for a female audience, seem awhirl with discussion of who Sarah Palin really is. I think we make a mistake when we assume that she is easily quantifiable — she is at once a very different character than many female candidates we are familiar with, but at the same time, very similar. And, most of all, I think she is someone that will be a part of American politics for a very long time, and it behooves us to consider who she is today, and what we will see from her in the future.
If John McCain and Sarah Palin lose the election this November (and I say that holding my breath, knocking on wood, and biting my tongue), we will certainly not have seen the last of the Governor from Alaska. Sarah Palin may not be an intellectual, but you can’t say that she isn’t politically savvy.
Before this past August, only a handful of Americans had ever heard of her — including my brother Jordan, who told me that on August 29th, he woke up and went to his midday political science class. The professor asked if anyone had heard of Sarah Palin. Jordan raised his hand. The professor then asked if Jordan knew anything of her before that morning. Jordan said, “Why? What happened this morning?”
My brother, like everyone in my family, is a political junkie. Sarah Palin was far from a household name across the United States. Today she is as well known as…macaroni & cheese, OJ Simpson, and Britney Spears. Even if we know her for some of the stupid things she has said, or for how Tina Fey has protrayed her, Sarah Palin is astoundingly famous.
American politics, particularly Republican politics, likes a comeback, a has been that reinvents her/himself to rise again. Richard Nixon, after his loss to Kennedy in 1960, was elected president in 1968. John McCain lost the 2000 primary to triumph in among the Republican field in 2008. Even Joe Biden lost the 1988 Democratic Primary, pretty pathetically and embarrassingly amidst accusations of plagurism, and yet here he is running today for the vice presidency.
Say what you will about Sarah Palin’s intelligence. She’s shown herself to be an incredibly shrewd, if at times secretive and semi-despotic, politician. I wouldn’t believe for one minute that she accepted John McCain’s offer believing herself to be the messiah of the GOP in 2008. She wants to be president, and she’ll have her shot — whatever form the Republican Party takes over the next decade, I would be shocked if Sarah Palin didn’t emerge as it’s hero. And what’s to say that in 4 or 8 years, she won’t have her second chance, her rebirth as an American Icon.
I would be surprised if she won, when the time comes, just because we seem to be entering a progressive cycle in American politics, but she will likely be the contender. I’m not a betting woman, of course, but I’m willing to presume that the next big primary battle will be Palin v. Jindal in 2012.
I was moved to write about this today after I read some thoughts on the subject over at the XX Factor.