Why Be President When You Can Be King(maker)?

09/01/2010 12:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Though he served as Prime Minister of Japan for a mere two years in the early '70's before being driven from power in Nixonian fashion in a Watergate-like scandal, for the next decade and a half Kakuei Tanaka served as Japan's shadow leader, known forever as The Kingmaker for his uncanny ability to govern Japan from the shadows, often hand-picking who would lead the country by controlling a powerful bloc of legislators.

In modern American political history we haven't had a Tanaka-like Kingmaker, until now, when Sarah Palin's handpicked candidate Joe Miller came out of nowhere to defeat Lisa Murkowski. The Miller victory was but the latest in the successes Palin has had in races across the country, but it was clearly the most dramatic and portends what could be a political presence far more powerful than even a Palin presidential run and it raises a most interesting question: Why should Palin even try to run for President when she can essentially govern from her kitchen table in Alaska by endorsing candidates who share her political beliefs?

Like Kakuei Tanaka who wielded power far more powerfully and effectively through others, Sarah Palin may find that she can pursue her agenda far more effectively through the likes of Nikki Haley and Joe Miller than she ever could by running for President herself.