Sarah Palin Strikes Out on the Field of Presidential Dreams - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Sarah Palin Strikes Out on the Field of Presidential Dreams

Our world is full of confounding mysteries, among them, whether Bigfoot exists (according to that Animal Planet show, the answer is clearly no), whether dairy-free cheese can rightly be considered cheese, why Nicki Minaj continues to record music, whether leggings can really be considered pants, and why Americans start their presidential campaigns more than a year ahead of time.

The Republican Party could revert to the age-old method of choosing its candidates in smoke-filled back rooms, out of the prying eyes of the public and away from disorienting flashbulbs and 24-hour news channels. But like moths, we find something strangely attractive about self-immolation. So, unsettled by the more reliable methods for choosing a standard-bearer for 2016, we instead parade our shame through flyover country beginning now, at the behest of a congressman who thinks climbing the border fence is a great workout for your calves.

This past weekend, nearly two dozen GOP White House hopefuls descended on Congressman Steve King’s candidate forum in Des Moines in a bid to terrify the residents of Iowa, who will vote this summer in the vitally important Ames straw poll, which has a proven track record of predicting the winner of (you probably guessed it) the Ames Straw Poll. In 2012, Michele Bachmann narrowly bested Ron Paul in the contest, leading both to drop out of the presidential race mere weeks later. Regardless, year after unfailingly pointless year, we return so that the people of the Hawkeye State can pretend to be a proud voice in our nation’s electoral process.

King’s event did not feature two prominent names in the 2016 field, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, who chose to pow-wow by themselves in Utah, which does not, at all, indicate that they might be plotting to join their moderate forces. While exact details of that meeting remain scant, we do know that Mitt, at least, left the meeting committed to “being himself” this time around, which can only mean that we’re about to learn what happens when artificial intelligence attempts to ascend to elected office.

Among the nominees that were there vying for Iowa’s love, however, were: Chris Christie, now with free weekends since the Dallas Cowboys are out of the playoffs; Mike Huckabee, now with free weekends since he cancelled his own Fox News show; and Rick Santorum, who has had free weekends since 2011. The aforementiond impressed the crowd so little that next to nothing has been said about their speeches since Saturday, and that’s a feat, since all three truly enjoy hearing the sound of their own voices echo off the walls of the empty rooms they normally appeal to.

More prominent among the field were Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, and Rick Perry, the latter two having had only limited previous exposure on a national stage. Surprisingly, both did very well, leaving their audiences with a firm belief that either could be a considerable contender for the nomination. Rick Perry was Rick Perry. Texas is fantastic. And I say that because I’m afraid they’ll kill me otherwise, and I am loath to defend myself as Illinois has severe restrictions on gun ownership that keep our murder rates comfortably under 1,000 per year. Walker, for his part, left his crowd literally stunned. He lived up to every fevered fantasy any grassroots Republican has ever had, privately or otherwise. Up until now, a serious Walker run has been for many just a Schadenfreude-laced dream. Now the nation’s supply of smelling salts is not nearly adequate enough to revive every dues-paying member of every teachers’ union in the country.

There was Ted Cruz. Who was very much Ted Cruz. And then there was Sarah Palin. Who was very much somewhere other than Iowa. Much has been written, of course, about Palin’s thirty-minute long rambling address, peppered with catchphrases and poorly-delivered quotables, but most people take for granted that she intended to give a speech paving the way for eventually entering the race. Even Sarah, at this point, cannot completely delude herself into believing that she has any chance against the field as it stands, or as it will stand. She exists for two reasons. First, to “fire up” what’s left of the conservative base — those brave souls still unalienated by the endless infighting. And second, to promote Sarah Palin, which she does best in short bursts of language that only make the bumper reels for basic cable prime time news programs and headlines on For someone who spends most of her time bemoaning the state of the “lamestream media,” she surely depends on its masochistic fascination with her family. Without it, she would scarcely stay relevant to any national conversation, except perhaps one taking place among her reality star children in the Big Brother house.

What America witnessed this weekend wasn’t a failure of Sarah Palin to make herself a viable candidate for president. It was a failure of Sarah Palin to adapt to the niche marketing required for a debutante candidate forum. The audience wasn’t C-Span cameras and Bloggers Row, but a group of genuinely interested middle Americans who take their job as first-in-the-nation caucus voters very seriously. The other candidates understood that they were giving the inaugural speeches of their campaigns — even Ted Cruz, who has been known to deliver speeches not to the audience present physically, but to the future one on cable news. Sarah Palin, however, was counting on the media to chop her diatribe into soundbites and deliver them to people who could discern their meaning and make the check out accordingly.

Utimately, I think this development — that conservatives are as confused by Palin’s stream-of-consciousness ramble as anyone outside the political sphere has been by Palin herself for half a decade — is a positive one, though maybe not for Sarah. While we might still struggle, as conservatives and libertarians, with a strain of anti-intellectualism, there’s at least a suggestion that we’re looking for something more in 2016. Granted, that “something more” could just as easily end up being something warmed over or something half-digestible or something with slowly rusting robot parts behind its face, but if we’re now taking full speeches into consideration this early in the process, at least we’re moving in the right direction. 

And now on to the several hundred other candidate forums (and ten candidate debates). If only they can be as productive and, at the same time, as utterly useless, as this one.

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