One of the more amusing aspects of following politics over the past couple years is watching political pundits, whether on television or in the print media, insist they know what Governor Palin’s future plans are. Her trip to India is proof she’s not running, her trip to India is proof she is. Her failure to meet with a particular political operative in a certain state means she’s not running, the hiring of a chief of staff means she is. Visiting Israel and having dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is indisputable evidence she’s running, but not taking David Frum’s advice on travel agent selection is evidence she’s not. And that’s just in the past few days.
As I said above, watching these so-called experts make fools of themselves by promoting their unfounded pronouncements as somehow authoritative when in fact they are nothing more than uneducated guesses (or wishful thinking on their parts) is a source of great amusement for me. I suspect that the one person who actually knows what Governor Palin’s future plans are — that would be Governor Palin — is also having a good laugh watching these beltway clowns aver that they know more about her next move than she does. All of these predictions, of course, have a fatal flaw: they are tainted by conventional wisdom, and even a cursory glance at Governor Palin’s highly successful 20-year political career indicates that predictions based on that paradigm have little chance of coming to fruition.
Today, in a reasonably balanced piece at Real Clear Politics, Scott Conroy discusses the utter futility of relying on conventional wisdom to predict what Governor Palin will do in 2012.
Since the midterm elections, conventional wisdom in Washington has steadily coalesced around a collective belief that Palin is no longer interested in running for president in 2012. She has recognized the extent to which her dismal early-state polling numbers would make her candidacy dead on arrival, this line of thinking goes, and if she were to enter the race and then fall short of the Republican nomination, Palin’s still-bright star would surely dim.
But assumptions that she is all but certain to rule out a presidential bid ignore several factors: Sarah Palin has never done things the traditional way; she built her career on challenging political powerbrokers rather than courting them; and she has long demonstrated an uncanny self-confidence and grand ambitions for her own life that have confounded critics at every turn.
“She does not follow the typical playbook,” Alaska Republican pollster Dave Dittman said. “Both the RNC and the DNC have a playbook, which is for the most part pretty predictable. And she’s just writing a whole new book.”
Dittman recalled that when Palin was deciding whether to run for governor in 2005, many Alaska Republicans correctly pegged her as a rising star but were unconvinced that she could win a primary contest to unseat incumbent GOP Governor Frank Murkowski. Although the odds were stacked against the relatively unknown former Mayor of Wasilla, and the party establishment voices were many and vocal in their discouragement, Palin ignored them.
“There were other people who’d announced they were going to run, and people were saying to her, ‘Why don’t you run for lieutenant governor,’ because that was the predictable thing-that she’d run behind John Binkley, who was a known individual,” Dittman said. “And her response was, ‘Why doesn’t he run for lieutenant governor?'”
Her decision to take on a veteran incumbent from her own party was emblematic of a natural aversion to Republican machinery – and following normal conventions — that Palin has demonstrated throughout her career.
From her whistleblowing of ethical lapses committed by Alaska Republican Party chairman Randy Ruedrich before her gubernatorial run to her frequent battles with members of her own party in the Alaska state legislature and beyond, Palin has relished opportunities to take on the GOP powers-that-be. And time and again she has exceeded her critics’ expectations as she has embraced seemingly every chance she has gotten to grow her star power.
Read the rest of Conroy’s piece here. Although I don’t agree with all his conclusions, it’s an interesting read.