Sarah Palin’s got tricks up her sleeve

By Shane Cronin

Sarah Palin is the only potential GOP candidate with a personality.

Sorry Mitt, but you’re as stale as your haircut. How he still has a fan club is a mystery to me. Palin may have abdicated her governorship early, but Romney stayed on the payroll, and skipped out of Massachusetts on more than 200 days in 2006 in preparation for his 2008 run. Since then, he’s been hiding under a rock – where he should remain. (Not likely)

As of this writing Palin is the only Republican candidate consistently commenting on the issues: from the Federal Reserve’s decision to further devalue the already depressed U.S. dollar, to American nuclear weapons policy, the BP oil spill, cap and trade, healthcare and many more. The woman is visible.

However, I would like to see her get more specific. In her first book, “Going Rogue,” Palin reminisces about her family, growing up, her stint as a sportscaster, and of course campaign trail ’08. Although I enjoyed learning more about the personal life of America’s most famous, if not polarizing, political figure, she left me wanting her detailed views on the issues. A year later, her second book is also a “New York Times” best seller, and focuses more on politics. Cable television appearances are another matter.

I find her argumentations often lack depth. In her Fox News interviews with Bill O’Reilly and other commentators, I can’t help but to think, “I need more from you, Sarah. Tell us what the game plan is.” It isn’t enough to patronize America and its citizens and wrap yourself in the flag.

I, and many people, who identify more as fans than political supporters, are not yet convinced of Palin’s political acumen. In the year between the 2008 presidential campaign and her first book release, “Going Rogue,” I think she should have better developed her political philosophy. She needs to be able to articulate her talking points in a way that inspires confidence in the American people. It isn’t enough to criticize the Obama administration and the “lame-stream media.” If a GOP or third party candidate is to take the White House in 2012, she or he needs a tangible plan of action that resonates with Americans.

No doubt, Palin has the gun lobby in the bag. Her new TLC reality series, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” is like an infomercial for hunting rifles. Almost contradictorily, she is also using the show as an opportunity to identify with working mothers. She juggles baking brownies with her pre-teen daughter Piper and answering messages on her Blackberry. In between she’s deep sea fishing and dodging grizzly bears. But the reality TV publicity stunt has yet to tilt the polls in her favor.

A Gallup Poll released last month indicates that more than 50 percent of Americans view her unfavorably. Half that number feels that she is qualified to be president, and with registered Democrats her name is as good as poison. Of course, the 2012 elections are a long way off – especially in political time and anything could happen.

Palin’s current unfavorability can largely be attributed to the left leaning media, which is hell bent on embarrassing her and undermining her intellect. Admittedly, the former governor has made some notable gaffes- the infamous Katie Couric interview comes to mind. The difference between Palin’s gaffes and liberal politicans’ gaffes is that Palin doesn’t get a pass.

Criticizing Palin as the “half governor” isn’t fair either. No one refers to Barack Obama as the “half senator.” In “Going Rogue” Palin explains that she could not afford to defend herself against copious ethics violations (she asserts these charges were frivolous and filed by agents with a personal vendetta against her) on her governor’s salary. Furthermore, the ethics violations detracted from her ability to govern as well as other familial obligations. So she stepped down. Some pundits dismiss this explanation and feel she should have finished her term. But what’s done is done.

I pose the question; was it any more acceptable for Barack Obama to leave the Senate to become president than it was for Sarah Palin to quit the governorship to support her family and serve the American public in another forum? In addition to capitalizing on her celebrity as a private citizen, she successfully endorsed 32 gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional campaigns in the 2010 election cycle.

The next several months will certainly be interesting. Palin may not have everyone’s vote, but she has everyone’s attention. Every tweet, every status update, every sound bite makes national news. Americans want to know where Sarah Palin stands whether they hate her or love her. She wields incredible power. I hope she effectively harnesses it, and if she does officially throw her hat into the 2012 presidential race, I hope she is able to shed her polarizing identity and better unite America.

Shane Cronin is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]