Back in 2008, there were plenty of people counting out Sarah Palin. They denigrated her intelligence. They thought she was a lightweight and a joke.
Those people were wrong. At the time, I characterized Sarah Palin as a soon to be transformative figure in American politics. I think that was the right call.
Nevertheless, she cannot and must not be considered a strong candidate for the GOP nomination in 2012. When I say that, I don't mean it would be impossible for her to be nominated, but rather that it would be a major mistake.
If Sarah Palin wanted to be president, then she needed to stick it out in Alaska and successfully complete her term as governor. It would have been better still for her to complete two full terms or to finish one term and then go to the U.S. Senate to gain exposure to a broader array of national issues.
She hasn't done that. Instead, she has chosen to become a political celebrity AND one heckuva force in Republican primaries. I think her influence is positive. She deserves a lot of credit for the current focus on our fiscal woes, which is really the issue that drove the GOP to victory overall.
What will be required in 2012 is a conservative deemed to be a serious expert with regard to both the economy and budget reform. This person will have to be seen as an equal to President Obama as an intellectual and superior to him as a political executive. Even if Sarah Palin were to extensively prepare herself and gain razor-edged perfection with the issues, she would still be viewed as someone who gave up on governing Alaska. Bright, fiscally-conservative governors will be the proper prescription for taking back the White House, the Senate, and beginning the arduous work of reforming the entitlement state. Bobby Jindal will be an option. Mitch Daniels will be an option. Perhaps Tim Pawlenty or Jeb Bush. Those are the kinds of names to look for if victory (and real governing success) is the desired outcome.