Sarah Palin has lost her mojo
By Margaret Carlson
Sarah Palin is learning that attention is a depreciating asset.
Her latest melodrama revolved around whether she would show up at a Tea Party event in Iowa on Sept. 3. In the end, she did. Yet that only begged a question: Does anyone, including Republican primary voters, still care?
In 2009, Palin similarly backed in and out of appearances including a keynote address before the annual joint fundraiser of the Republican Senate and House campaign committees. The dysfunction of her brand of politics as performance art was laid embarrassingly bare. The best her defenders could do was blame a staff that Politico characterized as “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”
In advance of Saturday’s tea party rally in Indianola, Iowa, Palin reverted to form. Yes, she’s coming. No, she’s not. Yes, she will come if organizers provide her with a bucolic setting, bomb-sniffing dogs and two exits. No, on second thought, make that a bale of hay, a bullhorn and a very public dismissal of Christine O’Donnell, the former Republican Senate candidate from Delaware whom Palin had endorsed but now doesn’t want to be seen with.
In the end, the Delaware non-witch got the boot and Palin got her way. What’s left of Palin’s core constituency – the media – showed up on a slow news weekend to chronicle her soap opera histrionics, operational anarchy and rock-ribbed narcissism. But it’s hard to keep running on the fumes of old celebrity. Having failed to finish a single term as governor, master any policy issues, or build a competent organization, she is noted largely for the fun stuff – looking good and appearing on television, both on her travelogue show and within the safe ideological cocoon of Fox News. She cheered her daughter Bristol on “Dancing with the Stars.” She gives lucrative speeches to friendly audiences. She got rich in a Paris Hilton kind of way, and now finds herself ridiculous in much the same vein.
That doesn’t mean Palin wouldn’t be a factor in the Republican presidential primary in the unlikely event she entered it. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney would like nothing better than for Palin to create a tea party brawl on his right. While she wouldn’t win more than a toy in a Cracker Jack box, she could still destabilize the field, creating problems for Texas Governor Rick Perry and veritable conniptions for Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann – all just as a new poll shows most Republicans have finally grown satisfied with their candidate options.
Yet her travails as a celebrity are nothing compared with what she would face as a candidate.