The majority of Sarah Palin watchers seem certain that there is no way, no how the half-term governor from Alaska is going to run for President in 2012. Nu-uh, isn't gonna happen, totally sure of it. She's just going on the road with her motorcycle helmet and personally branded tour bus to stay in the spotlight and carve out a corner of relevance in the politically conservative world, sort of like Newt Gingrich, but without the Tiffany's bill.
But if she's not running for the POTUS slot, how do you explain her decision to drive her big-a$$ tour bus straight through a tornado with her family aboard just to make sure she got to New Hampshire in time to steal Mitt Romney's thunder for his 2012 bid announcement? It's certainly not on the list of approved Mama Grizzly cub parenting techniques.
Her actions are a sure sign that she's going to announce her own presidential candidacy. If she wasn't, would there be any talk of Sarah Palin's movie, The Undefeated?
Let's be clear. I'm not saying Sarah Palin wants to be President, or even that she wants to be on the campaign trail very long. Palin is ruthless and ambitious -- anyone who wants to be a major political player almost has to be these days. But her goal isn't the White House. Her plan is to say she ran for President of the United States and then milk that for another four years of fame the way she did with her accidental vice presidential run.
Palin is a girl who knows how to bide her time when it comes to attention getting to further her own interests. She knew there was no sense jumping in when the field was overly-crowded with the likes of Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour, three uber-conservatives the political right were hoping would be in the race for a while.
There's nothing Palin hates more than someone horning in on her political space. Just ask Michele Bachmann. She's made it clear that stealing attention away from Romney's big announcement was political fair game, and you can be sure one of the other items on her 2012 "to do" list is to pit Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty against each other as fellow Minnesotans. If she can get them out of the way, then she really just needs to worry about Jon Huntsman, who will be painted as an Obama Democrat in sheep's clothing as he's just coming off a stint as President Obama's ambassador to China.
The problem with this potential Palin strategy for the GOP is this -- once Palin has sucked all the air out of the political back rooms and dispatched her opponents, what will the Republicans do for a real candidate when she drops out, saying that she needs to spend more time to focus on her daughter Bristol, the single mom living in Hollywood with a couple of single guys for a TV reality show, two daughters still in school and a special needs toddler? All the GOP will have left then will be anyone who has been hand-picked by Palin, who will serve to keep her in the spotlight as a presidential campaign advisor and give her access to the power influence she craves without any of the responsibility.
Palin and Donald "I might get back into the race" Trump just had a little Big Apple bonding time over pizza. It's not a leap to wonder if she sees Trump as the right person to step into that role for her in 2012. If and when this scenario plays itself out, the Republicans just have to remember that they're the ones who fed the Palin machine for their own purposes. They're going to have to live with the consequences.
Joanne Bamberger is the author of the new book, Mothers of Intention: How Women & Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America, the first book to examine the rise of the political motherhood movement and how social media has enabled women to exercise more political power than before. Joanne is the author of the political blog, PunditMom, and the founder and publisher of the soon-to-be launched site The Broad Side: Real Women. Real Opinions. Real Politics.
Follow Joanne Bamberger on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JLCBamberger