(Writer's note: By arrangement with my syndicators, these columns are held for a week after their newspaper release before they appear here)
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FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, NOV. 16, 2010
BY BOB FRANKEN
Now that we have just a little more than 700 days to the 2012 presidential election, and the campaign is well under way, there is one question that dominates the conversation: Do you think Sarah Palin is really going to be a candidate?
She already is. Actually, she's careening around a learning curve, trying to prove to her many skeptics that she is not an empty sound bite.
To dispel that notion, Palin's ghost thinkers have decided that she should talk some trash about monetary policy. So she's flitting over the Federal Reserve and has landed on the Fed's latest policy to attack the depressing non-recession by pumping new money and hopefully new life into the economy. One of her nuggets of enlightenment includes her demand to the Fed to “cease and desist” -- melodramatic to be sure, but less so than the snit she has gotten into with a Wall Street Journal reporter who pointed out she got some of her facts wrong. Oh picky, picky, picky.
Certainly, there are knowledgeable arguments against the Fed's approach, including the one that Palin recites, which is that it invites future inflation. But for the Palin campaign, that's not what her economic focus is about. What matters to her is inflating her image from know-nothing to know-something. She's expanding her repertoire of policy positions beyond being anti-Death Panel, anti-New York mosque near ground zero and all around anti-“hater.”
She's making the right moves. When she's not, uh, dabbling in policy, she's addressing her own monetary policy, bringing in some big bucks. In fact, in her new cable TV show “Sarah Palin's Alaska,” she'll be surrounded by big bucks. And grizzlies, of course.
What follows next in so many conversations is the incredulous question: “You don't really think she has a chance, do you?”
To quote Ms. Palin herself, “You betcha.” She already has demonstrated her amazing ability to cause establishment Republicans to scatter like the proverbial headless chickens. And Democrats don't need anybody to make them do that. It comes naturally.
Add to that the probability that her opponent will be Barack Obama, who is proving to be his own worst enemy, and there you have it.
There inevitably is someone who says “Well, if that happens, I'm moving to Canada.” For many liberals, that would make sense, since Canada already has nationalized health care. Note to Canadian authorities: Beef up contingency plans for your immigration department, eh.
Some may worry about the cold up there. They can head in the other direction. Wouldn't it be ironic if Mexico suddenly had to deal with a flood of immigrants from the U.S.?
This scenario might not unfold. For starters, there are Republicans who have other ideas. If the country is looking for dopey sound bites, we can't go wrong with Newt Gingrich. Mitt Romney is hovering in the wings if the Republicans opt for dull.
For the record, a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll shows that as of Nov. 4, registered voter respondents said they would favor President Obama over Palin 52 percent to 44 percent. By the way, Romney is ahead of the president.
But when it comes to the base, Palin's the boss. While a new Gallup poll shows a general 52 percent unfavorable rating for her, 80 percent of Republicans viewed her favorably. Quoting the Gallup analysis: “She is clearly in a strong position to seek” the party's nomination. After that, it's highly plausible that the Democrats will do their best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and Presto! -- President Palin.
She has 700-plus days to fire her cheap shots and see if they hit a national nerve. It's no accident her TV appearances include regular gigs on Fox. Because she's dumb like one.
© 2010 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.