With her recent attacks on "corporate crony capitalism" and the "permanent political class," Sarah Palin is telling supporters she is indeed running for president. But in 2016, not 2012.
There is likely no mileage in running a late-entry campaign now. And Palin believes that Republicans could lose in 2012. The reason? The party's indebtedness to those crony capitalists and their retainers in the political class. Her recent speeches make the case why the GOP leaders for the nomination -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney -- are too tied to this problem to be the solution America needs.
She didn't need to predict their defeat, much less name names. The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, whose book Going Rogue holds the GOP establishment in low regard, seems to understand that these forces remain too strong for her to overcome in next year's nomination contest.
Angry white workers
Palin's attack against "the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest" is a classic rendition of white working-class anger. Her attack is the anti-Wall Street, pro-Main Street mantra liberals begged Obama to use upon taking office. The president refused because he knew both parties were in bed with the crony capitalists through ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, lobbyist gigs and corporate boards. He didn't want to open that Pandora's box.
From the Populists to the Progressives to the Ross Perot supporters, a "keep the big shots honest" mantra has fueled protests from the left and right since the Great Deflation of the 1870s.
Until now, Palin has focused too much on her claim of being unfairly treated by what she calls the "lamestream" media. This "woe is me" persona has proved self-defeating. According to the recent Battleground Poll, she is viewed negatively by 61% of the public.
Lay claim to middle class
She will do far better being seen as a 24/7 advocate for the growing Middle Class Squeeze facing her white working-class supporters. True, she is a well-paid commentator on Fox News. But at least she hasn't taken Wall Street money.
More important for her presidential ambitions, economic populism has a wider constituency than her current support base. Palin stands as the first potentially serious Republican presidential candidate in the modern era to seize this banner previously reserved for Democrats or third parties. In Iowa, she laid out her economic plan, based on cutting the corporate income tax to zero, but "balancing" the lost revenue by eliminating other corporate tax loopholes. This math doesn't add up, which suggests that indeed she needs four more years to sharpen her skills and build credibility.
From Palin's vantage point, Perry and Romney represent more of the same. Her criticism is understandable when considering that she helped keep the Tea Party movement inside the GOP tent last year, though the party establishment gave her no credit in the Republican sweep. So she owes the GOP nothing. With Michele Bachmann continuing to pose a threat in Iowa, Palin knows the cronies would love to see both women kill each other off in the first round. Though Palin and Bachmann deny any such rivalry, the Tea Party favorites have similar appeal, leaving room for only one.
Palin is letting the Minnesota congresswoman have her chance. "Mama Grizzly" figures she knows better when to make the fight. But as Tom Petty sang, the waiting is the hardest part.
Paul Goldman is former chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. Mark J. Rozell is professor of public policy at George Mason University.
Most Popular Stories
- The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., John Beifuss column
- Cabot Street Cinema in Beverly for sale
- Entrepreneurs Chase Social Media
- European Car Sales up First Time in 20 Months
- Travel Startup Localeur Expands to Houston
- Financial Times Twitter, Email Hacked
- Will Yahoo Splurge on $1-Billion acquisition of Tumblr?
- 'Star Trek Into Darkness': The Return of Khan?
- Exciting Night for UFC Fans
- Summer Movies Aimed at Young Men, Teen Boys