The Campaign Spot

Palin Fans, Left Wondering What to Do Next

In the Thursday Morning Jolt, the conservative blogosphere digests the news that Sarah Palin will not launch a presidential bid in the 2012 cycle:

Upside for Sarah Palin 2012 Fans: That Memorabilia Just Got Rarer and More Valuable

The news that Sarah Palin would not be running for president wasn’t as surprising as it might have been at the beginning of the year, or at any point in 2010 or 2009. As the legal deadlines approached (November 1 to qualify for the South Carolina ballot), and we saw no action out of the Palin camp, no hiring of staff, no reserving of campaign office space, no feelers out to fundraisers, and no word to the thousands of eager volunteers waiting for orders . . . well, the handwriting was on the wall. You’ll recall in the Morning Jolt of September 26 . . .

Why would a liberal — or anyone, really — feel presidential-level loathing over a figure that is unlikely to be running for president anytime soon?*

*Yes, yes, I know, she’s going to jump in right before the Nov. 1 deadline and shock the world and skeptics like me will have egg on our faces. We’ll see.

I kept hearing that if Palin wanted to jump in, she could run a different kind of campaign, that because of her huge name ID and her diehard fan base, she wouldn’t need all the infrastructure of a traditional campaign. The political world and technology have changed, but not that much. Somebody still has to organize the maximum turnout of supporters at the 1,784 caucuses in Iowa; somebody has to man the phone banks, design the mailers, answer the phone calls, tell the volunteers what to do and where to do it to be most effective, etc. The most important resource of any campaign is the time, attention, and energy of the candidate; the whole point of a campaign is to help do everything else that needs to be done so that the candidate’s time can be used most effectively. To do this, you need a team; to do that, you need to recruit, and to do that, you need, if not a declared campaign, a nascent one.

Kathryn noted a detail that some were buzzing about Wednesday night: “She did not leave the door open for a third-party run. Mark directly asked her and she answered: ‘the consideration is not there for a third party.’”

At Legal Insurrection, William Jacobson is disappointed, but understands: “Probably for the better in the drive to unseat Obama, but only because of the political corruption of the media and establishment Republicans, who have been relentless in their attacks on her.  It disgusts me that a candidate of such quality cannot run as a practical matter, and that we are left with second and third choices.  But reality is reality, and it would have been a tough road to overcome the past three years. Palin had the opportunity to be a game-changer in the direction of this country; someone who really understood at a gut level how far down the road we are on the path to a country we will not recognize; someone who understands that the political class holds the country by the throat, and that removing the grip is necessary not just changing who holds the grip. I do not begrudge her the time she took at all.  I respect that she took the time, and in the end made a sound decision, even if it is a decision which leaves me profoundly disappointed in the coming year.”

Robert Stacy McCain posts a photo of a crow on a dinner plate, and also reports, “Just got off the phone with Michelle McCormick of Organize4Palin, who is in a bar in Clive, Iowa, working up a big bar tab. McCormick says she has ‘no regrets’ about spending months trying to build a grassroots campaign for Palin, and says she will ‘always have respect for Governor Palin.’”

. . . There was a wide variety of responses over at Conservatives4Palin, but I found this one interesting:

“I’m disappointed because I feel this will make Palin irrelevant in the future. She can’t forever be a 2008 V.P. candidate. No matter how she keeps denying it, a title does give you authority and respect. Soon she’ll be that has-been from Wasilla, I’m afraid. Then again, I don’t think the US deserves Palin. She has a track record one can only dream his representatives have, yet she has been treated beyond horribly. Americans deserve people like Obama and Romney. Not clean politicians who actually do fight for the little guy.”

A lot of the speculation last night surrounded where Palin supporters go now that she’s no longer an option: Herman Cain? Rick Perry? (It was striking that Michele Bachmann, once widely perceived as the candidate most similar to Palin, was so rarely mentioned.) Perhaps the answers is, “to no one, for now.” In Palin, her supporters saw something unique and special, and she had a deep emotional bond to her base. Those folks may not be all that eager to figure out who’s the next best thing.