Yesterday I was in traffic behind a truck that had a "Palin in 2012" sticker on its rear window. Conventional wisdom is that she'll run for president in 2012 (and every poll so far shows her losing disastrously to Obama, far behind every other serious contender). I think she probably will, but not because she genuinely expects, or wants, to win. I think she'll do it because it will bump up her speaking fees yet again, and her book royalties. Sarah Palin is not involved in politics because she wants to make a positive difference in the country, or the world. She wants to make a positive difference in her bank account. It's all about Sarah Palin, not about America.
Of course, her supporters don't see it this way. But to them, I ask, what has Palin gone out of her way to accomplish for the country? She is, in almost every way, the political version of Paris Hilton. Hilton is famous purely because she came from a wealthy, well known family, and she will do virtually anything in front of a camera. Palin is famous because the Republican establishment (you know, the one she routinely skewers) picked her as John McCain's running mate, when they overruled McCain's choice of Democrat Joe Lieberman.
Her political accomplishments are limited to being the part-time mayor of a small Alaska town, and the half-term governor of Alaska, a job she bailed on when the opportunity to make more cash elsewhere presented itself. I'd be willing to put cash money on the proposition that 98% of the people who want Palin to run for president don't know who was governor of Alaska before her, or after. Those who do know--Alaskans--have already made clear that they wouldn't vote for her in 2012.
Sarah Palin is not, I suspect, genuinely stupid (and in Paris Hilton's case, what seems to be stupidity could be an act, for all I know). I believe Palin at least has a sort of native cunning, akin to George W. Bush's. What she is, which is worse, is willfully ignorant. She has a national presence, and she could, if she wanted, make an actual contribution to the debate on national issues. The trouble is that she seems to know nothing about those issues, and she appears to have gone out of her way to avoid learning anything. She was very vocal about the health insurance plan's death panels, for instance, but those were never part of the plan. It's easy to be opposed to things that don't actually exist, as long as you're not expected to intellectually defend your argument. Based on her public pronouncements, she seems to be the same Sarah Palin who stumbled her way through a presidential campaign and a debate against Joe Biden in an almost fact-free way. She didn't know the first thing about American history, American government, or really, America. To her, the "real" America is the Tea Party America, when in fact only about 2% of voters identify themselves as Tea Partiers.
All of this indicates to me that Palin isn't serious about the presidency. Why would she be? Accepting the job would give her the kind of responsibility she has studiously avoided, force her to make actual decisions, and to accept a temporary cut in pay. If she were interested in government, she would know something about it. What a run for the presidency does for her, as stated before, is increase her visibility, her name recognition, which makes it easier to bring in the high-paying speaking gigs and TV ratings and to sell lots of books. When Paris Hilton feels her popularity slipping, all she has to do is release a sex tape. So far, Palin has not inflicted that upon us. If the presidential tease ever stops working for her, though, all bets are off.