Sarah Palin isn't back. She never left. But the publicity surrounding her new book, Going Rogue, suggests that Palin will be the most formidable Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Even Levi Johnston's appearance in Playgirl with a lone hockey stick couldn't be more helpful--the Palin clan has become a permanent reality show with America's viewers glued to the drama. The longer the act goes on, the more publicity Palin wins. So far, it shows no signs of faltering.
If Palin chooses to enter the political ring again--and it would be surprising if she doesn't--then she will be trying not simply to reshape America, but also the GOP. The truth is that Palin's current and most immediate struggle isn't against President Obama or the Democratic party or even liberals. It's against the GOP itself.
In seeking to vindicate her performance, Palin is aiming some serious slap shots at the McCain camp, particularly campaign strategist Steve Schmidt. Her disdain for establishment Republicans is palpable and, of course, it's mutual. Palin wants to portray herself as a maverick, not just in her unabashedly socially conservative views, but also in terms of the Republican party. She's the one that will upend the ancient regime that has brought the GOP to grief. She's represents the vox populi. She'll take the fight to Washington, DC, where, incidentally, she's never served in Congress, leaving her untainted. And so on.
The irony of the Palin crusade is that her most stalwart backers are the neoconservatives based in Washington, DC, who are pushing her to run. Today's Wall Street Journal, for example, features a lively op-ed by Matthew Continetti of the Weekly Standard, who has also just published a book chronicling the efforts of an elitist media supposedly seeking to persecute Palin. But the neocons have, of course, themselves become Washington insiders with their various perches in think-tanks and magazines, not to mention government service in the George W. Bush administration.
But Palin could use some intellectual sparks. Both she and the neocons are intent on attacking what neocon founder Irving Kristol called the "new class" of intellectuals and government bureaucrats who allegedly form a kind of unpatriotic and parasitic elite. It will be interesting to see if she pursues an alliance with her well-wishers. As with so much, it's Sarah's choice.