Well, I guess it is all but official now: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has just announced that she will resign from office in late July 2009 to "affect positive change from outside government." Sounds like a noble thing to do, but as someone who has followed politics for the past 20 years or so I can tell you it is a "bogus" statement which is simply code for "I'm running for president."
As a lifelong moderate-centrist Republican woman I want to offer the soon-to-be former governor and presumed GOP nominee hopeful in 2012 some unsolicited, but hopefully useful political counsel:
1. Surround yourself with political advisors who have real life experience and who get that the GOP has to "broaden" its base, not shrink it to be successful in 2010 and 2012. Do not recycle the same old hacks that have run our political party into the ground over the last 8-12 years. It will be your undoing.
2. Reach out to the bigger GOP tent -- you have the love and support of the GOP Conservative base. I was there in Leesburg, Virginia a few days before the 2008 election covering your speech to about 7,000 Virginians for XM's POTUS08 and you did a great job. You are at your best when you are being yourself -- get out and mix it up with the people and you will do well. Your 2008 GOP Convention Speech was fabulous -- you need to sound like that woman every time you speak, give an interview, etc.
3. Build coalitions -- Governor, respectfully you cannot win the nomination in 2012 if you try to do it as the "old boys" do it. My money is on Mitt Romney in 2012. The GOP loves to give the nomination to people that they feel are "owed" their chance -- Bush '41, Dole, McCain. The "boys" will start to tear you apart now that you have stepped into the arena -- so get ready. You had better have some smart women, and people of color around you who can build real inroads for you nationally in diverse communities. This is the only shot you have of winning the nomination in 2012. Period.
4. Take time to learn and educate yourself about world affairs -- go get a degree from the Kennedy School of Government, Lecture at some universities in Europe, take some courses in foreign affairs from Heritage or Cato. You must do better when you speak to the American people about serious issues of national importance. President Obama's charisma covers for his shortcomings as a serious student of foreign affairs, etc. You have this possibility also, but you are not quite there yet. Work on this seriously over the next 12 months or so.
5. Be a woman of conviction. I admire your spunk, passion, and grit in running for office in Alaska and ascending to the Governorship of Alaska in such a short time -- but you are in the arena now -- be a woman of your word. Fight for change, reform, inspire people, speak truth, be a consensus builder not a divider, refocus Americans on our founding documents and principles -- we need that now. If you prove that you can do this, it will serve you well in 2010 for a Senate run or in 2012 for the presidential nomination.
This is my immediate reaction to what Gov. Palin needs to do in order to be taken seriously as a candidate for federal office in either 2010 or 2012. If she can hunker down, stay out of trouble, write a serious best-selling memoir and show herself able to speak to serious national issues she will be as they say " a real contender."